Battlefield 3 was always going to be a hard sell. I had cut my teeth on Battlefield: Bad Company 2, still the greatest of all the Battlefield games, and as Battlefield 3 was the next in the series, it certainly had its work cut out to persuade me to change.
In those days, I had a regular crew that we used to play with every night, a real mixed bunch made up of Americans, Austrians, Norwegians and Brits; we had teamwork down to a fine art. I do miss those days, as the group fragmented with the launch of the PS4/Xbox One, with some staying loyal to Microsoft, and others striking out for pastures new on the Sony side of the fence. Still, this has precisely nothing to do with the launch of Battlefield 3, so let’s get back to the subject in hand, shall we?
Battlefield 3 had the usual strong story-based single player mode, and this time the tale was truly globe-trotting, taking in the scenic delights of the Iran/Iraq border, Paris and the Big Apple itself, New York. It also allowed us to take control of more than one protagonist, as well as exciting vehicle based levels, including those in tanks and even a fighter jet. For the majority of the story, however, we control Sergeant Henry Blackburn, and the game is played out mostly as a series of flashbacks, as Blackburn is interrogated by CIA operatives until late in the game, when we have to break out of custody in order to stop a nuclear weapon attack on New York.
I did enjoy playing through the campaign, but to be honest, after the personality of the Bad Company soldiers, I found Blackburn to be a bit of a cold fish and struggled to care what happened to him. Still, I shall say no more about the narrative in case people still haven’t played it.
There were the usual multiplayer options to take part in, which I shall cover in a bit, but this time around there were also some co-op only missions that could be played with a friend. These were a lot of fun, as I am still a big fan of co-op action, and these missions were varied enough to make them interesting. One involved flying a helicopter, where one person actually flew and the other operated the weapons, and another saw us trying to rescue hostages without alerting enemy forces. With the difficulty able to be jacked up to almost eye bleeding levels, it was always possible to get a challenge out of these missions, and they were a nice diversion.
So, multiplayer then, and like most people, this is where I spent the majority of my time. I always loved the Conquest game mode, where you are charged with taking control of various points on the maps, and this game was no different. Charging about the place in tanks was still awesome fun, running over enemies as they tried to hide, blowing holes in walls to drive through – all the fun bits of Bad Company 2 seemed to be present and correct.
And the challenge of learning new maps was always good fun, and the design of these was pretty cool. The way the classes worked was changed from BC2 however, which again took some getting used to. Instead of Assault troops giving out ammo, they now gave out health packs, and the support guys, with the LMGs, now gave out ammo instead of health. Luckily, engineers and wookies (sorry, recon) stayed as they were, so I was able to keep playing as my favourite class, shooting rockets up enemy tank tailpipes.
In addition to Conquest, there was Rush, where a team is tasked with defending two points while the other throws everything, including the kitchen sink, at them to try and blow them up. Squad Rush – a smaller scale version of Rush and Squad Deathmatch, where two squads fight to get the most kills – was also present, as was Team Deathmatch. To me though, this isn’t really Battlefield; in those days, it seemed like the better way to play was to PTFO, and fight as a team. Deathmatches always felt like they belonged with the faster, more arcadey feel of COD.
As always with EA, new content was released on a regular basis for this title. The first DLC pack was called Back to Karkand, and featured four maps from Battlefield 2 that were remastered, as well as a number of new vehicles and weapons. The second DLC pack, Close Quarters, was mainly focused on infantry action, with again four maps, but this time based around smaller, tighter engagements. It also brought in a new mode, Conquest Domination, which took Conquest and reimagined it for smaller maps.
The third pack, Armoured Kill, was right up my alley, featuring huge maps, lots of vehicles and a ton of vehicle based carnage. This also brought in new vehicles, including self propelled guns which took a lot of getting used to. Aftermath, the fourth pack, launched to little or no fanfare, and the only thing that stood out was the fact that you could get a crossbow that could fire different flavoured bolts. The last pack, End Game, was developed in conjunction with Visceral Games, they of Dead Space fame, and while it didn’t feature any Necromorphs, was still a good way to round out the life cycle of the game.
So, these are my memories of playing Battlefield 3. It wasn’t as good, in my humble opinion, as Bad Company 2, and the destruction was also dialled back a bit by comparison. However, I did have fun, especially in the multiplayer, and as the game is freely playable via EA Play and to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members, it has to be worth a try even today. The Xbox Store will sort you out with the download.
How about you guys out there? Did you play back in the day? Let us know in the comments!