Battlefield: Bad Company represented a major shift for both developer DICE and for the Battlefield name that made it famous. Here was a console-specific Battlefield game that focused on a single-player experience, one that was action-packed and stocked with likably misanthropic characters on a mission that necessitated the blowing up of, well, pretty much everything.
Still, Battlefield is Battlefield, and Bad Company's single-player experience was complimented by a multiplayer component that recalled the series' class-based, competitive roots in a way that worked well on consoles. Bad Company 2 is coming early next year, and while DICE and publisher EA are being tight with information about the Bad Company's next mission, I recently got to spend a little time with the game's multiplayer, which looks to refine the online experience offered by the original.
Keeping with the theme of the Bad Company 2 assets that have been released so far, the map being shown took place in snowy terrain littered with various structures, though DICE promises that there will be more variety to the setting than the first game. The asymmetrical map was large, but there were several ways to get to where the action was. Like the original, you could respawn near one of your teammates, and each base was stocked with tanks and four-wheeler ATVs, the latter of which had an appropriately and pleasingly squirrely handling profile.
The game mode being shown was a retooled version of the first game's Gold Rush mode, though since precious metals apparently aren't the focus of the sequel, it's been renamed to simply Rush. In it, control points were scattered across the map, and the objective was to place an explosive charge at an enemy's control point, which you would then have to defend until the charge went off, lest the enemy defuse it.
There were several class options to choose from each time you respawned, and each class offered a few different load-out choices as well. Load-out customization is a point that DICE is expanding upon significantly, and I was told that what I saw was just a taste of what the final game will offer. Taking a cue from the wildly popular multiplayer in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Bad Company 2 will have some persistence online, with certain weapons and perks being awarded based your performance in the game.
One of the defining characteristics of Bad Company was the ability to blow dramatic holes in the structures in the game. Bad Company 2 promises to up the ante on this, allowing you to take buildings down to their foundations. I didn't experience any of this first-hand during my multiplayer session, I definitely found that a building provided little safe haven from an enemy player in a tank. I had the poor luck of being on a team made up mostly of press while going against a number of DICE employees, who soundly handed our hats and our asses to us. Aside from the other team simply having more experience with the game, this really highlighted the fact that, more than the original, Bad Company 2 will require you to work well with the rest of your squad.
The multiplayer in Bad Company 2 is looking solid, but to be honest, it was the single-player game that made the original so memorable. EA promises we'll learn more about that at the upcoming Gamescom in Cologne this fall.