Sometimes I dread the day I began playing Battlefield 2. It's as if I had suddenly become wealthy and afforded eating the most expensive dish I could find on this entire planet, and then after becoming addicted to it, it went extinct or became an inedible substance that remains only as a sweet memory. Nothing that came before it even compares to it, and nothing that comes after it hits the spot like it did.
Many dishes had its colors, its size and even its smell, but did any of it actually taste like it? Nothing did.
Then Battlefield 3 was announced, just when the Battlefield 2 well had completely dried up (most of the community had moved on, the server admins went nuts with their rules, the clans lost their mojo and, tech-wise, the game just grew old). I went mad with the anticipation of a sequel to the million dollar dish that I've been starving for for years. I'm sure most of you remember that I single-handedly drove these forums nuts with BF3-mania and anticipation, Alpha and Beta debates, an organized community of 500 soldiers with our own servers and all that. I especially remember this rant blog that exploded like a beautiful pinata!
Good times were had in the months leading up to the release, and even better times were had with you guys running in the stock maps and B2K maps, but did any of it hit my spot? Did I feel like I'm finally back in the virtual heaven I had been kick out of? Sadly not. Until...
Armored Kill is out, a 4-map expansion pack which, according to a DICE employee's post on the late EAUK forums months ago, was designed specifically for those who were dissatisfied with the size and flag placement of the stock maps. That's me, son.
To many people still, Battlefield is about Conquest and Conquest alone. It is the arcade-ish pseudo-realistic virtual military experience whose power relies in its map design; maps that are a few kilometer large, and have nothing less than 7 control points (flags) scattered around the hills and rivers of these maps, difficult to reach, and randomly placed in a way that makes you THINK before you decide which flag to travel to, whether it's gonna cost you time, whether it's too close to the enemy base and will be taken back, whether a tank or a helicopter spawns there that you can use, whether your teammates are around it to help you or whether you'll be on your own.
These maps have the scale that is very reminiscent of Battlefield 2. They have the amazing vehicle variety of jets, attack choppers, little birds, transportation choppers, jeeps, ATVs, heavy tanks, destroyer tanks, artillery trucks and AA vehicles.
But more importantly, to me anyway, are the flags. If you look at the picture above, you'll see how far apart the flags are and how many geographical obstacles there are between them. Traveling from a flag to another is no longer achieved by jumping off a low cliff in a matter of seconds (Caspian Border), it is now a trip to be made to conquer the enemy's control points. This is your conquest, as it should have been since the game was released.
I don't have much else to say other than that this is my multiplayer heaven finally materialized after a long time of being in hell. I'm very happy with DICE taking notice of the dissatisfied Battlefield "veterans" and actually making us our "own" DLC even though they sold ridiculously.
Yet.... Something's missing
While I'm content and thankful for this content (seewhatididthere?), something is missing. Some of these are silly, some of them may seem unnecessary, but I still miss them or think they should exist for the Battlefield experience to be complete.
- Serious lack of communication - No one gives any orders for their squad to work together. No one uses the Commo Rose to have a social feel that makes you feel that you're running with other human beings. The chat is mostly used for Admin spam, and the occasional message from a dissatisfied player. In the BF2 days, everyone gave orders and use voice commands, you continuously felt like you had human team mates who had a mutual purpose and the intent to help one another. Now it's nothing but the same VO lines that we've been hearing since the game launched. To me, a 64-player gig on a massive map feels empty and dead when jets aren't colliding in the air.
- Empty safe bases - Click on these two pictures to see how barren and deserted the carrier and main base are: Pic 1, Pic 2... In BF2, it actually felt like those bases were the "home" of the team where people camped the jets and helicopters, knifed each other, picked each other up and went into the battle.. Now, after driving off at the beginning of the round, those massive bases remain empty. It sucks is all.
Here's a video I made in my BF2 days which shows how everyone was everywhere doing everything, not just crowded on a flag somewhere:
- Restraint - No body wants to take a break and look around. No body wants to enjoy the moment and fight without a tank once in a while. BF3 is a continuous restless race for tanks, the tanks spawn immediately, everyone is jumping into them and everyone else is playing Engineer to take them down.
- Squad names - In past BF titles, squads actually meant something. You make your own squad and you give it a name like "TEAMWORK" or "SNIPERS" or "C4 FUN", which divided people among those squads based on their interests. Now squads consist of 4 green-named strangers who mostly use each other to spawn near the action. Their mutual interest as squad members ends there.
And one thing that's not making me play much anymore is the lack of friends to play with. The game had a great momentum with the awesome PC community of Giant Bomb, but now that I no longer organize gamenights and since people have moved on to other games, I feel the gang has disbanded. And I'm just not in the mood to join a clan, because most clans are probably young XP-hungry kids, either that or overly serious military fanatics.
It's time for your bed time story
This isn't the most amazing thing ever, but it's my first memorable Armored Kill moment.
This continued for quite a while.... I must've dodged that guy's arty about 6 times until the flag finished capturing.
This was amazing to me. One of the defining aspects of Battlefield 2 was the Commander who rained hellish artillery on the enemies' heads trying to clear out a contested flag, and it was amazing for two reasons:
- You could, after a while during a round, see the commander's style and patterns, and predict where he wants to hit next, and when he likes to hit, which allowed you to anticipate it and evade it.
- When you became experienced enough, you could actually hear the artillery cannons pumping in the distance, which meant that in 4 seconds it's gonna start raining on you..
The fact that someone somewhere was in an artillery vehicle waiting for his team's flags to get attacked and shooting his arty in the air trying to hit that position to protect his flag, restored my faith in the Battlefield 3 experience and community.
It felt like a commander was hiding somewhere firing artillery on me.. I need to find that guy and thank him.