The lights are on
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I wrote a blog post last month about how much I was enjoying the BC2 demo. Now that the game is out and I’ve gotten a chance to play some of the full-fledged multiplayer, I thought it would be fun to do a follow up and post some more detailed impressions on the cool things BC2 does.A Balancing ActMy favorite part of the demo was how balanced the gameplay was. I was concerned that this might be the result of the demo’s simplicity – everyone had the same weapons and abilities, and everyone was the same level. Like Battlefield 1943, I posited that by minimizing the number of variables in its multiplayer formula, DICE was able to achieve a greater balance. I’ve never been so relieved to be wrong. It wasn’t just the stripped down nature of the demo. This game is balanced. Last night was my first real night of multiplayer (some stupid EA server problems thwarted my attempt on the night of the game's release, and before yesterday I had only logged an hour of play), so those who have been playing since launch had a significant advantage. But even stumbling blindly into new maps with the default weapons, I was able to hold my own and contribute to my team. There have only been one or two times where I’ve felt robbed in shootouts (I swear I knifed one guy too, but whatever), which is seldom enough to acknowledge the fact that I was just outplayed or unlucky. Otherwise, my time with BC2’s multiplayer has been without frustration, and the gameplay feels remarkably fair – you can still get one hit kills with even the weakest sniper rifle provided it’s a headshot, while even the most powerful tank can be taken down with a couple of bazooka rounds.
The mortar strike may be the primary candidate for a good tweak, but once you know it’s inbound (provided you don’t die during that revelation), you can usually see where the other shells are going to hit thanks to the large smoke trails they leave in the sky. But Reiner was right in last week's podcast when he said the mortar strike is the only part of BC2 where the game is playing you, instead of the other way around. We'll see if DICE addresses the mortar strike in the future, but otherwise, the only way you have a significant advantage over your enemy is when using more advanced squad tactics, which in some ways is the point of BC2’s multiplayer. Even if you do have an exceptionally adept squad, balance is restored when the opposing team pulls together and starts playing as squads, too. And if they don’t? They deserve to lose.
Less ImmaturityThere’s no bigger online gaming turnoff for me than hearing some prepubescent loser shrieking racial slurs over his headset. It doesn’t just make me mute every person that’s not on my Friends List – it makes me avoid playing some team-oriented online games altogether. In the early days of Xbox Live I met a few people playing in random Rainbow Six 3 matches that I liked and befriended. Since then the level of discourse (if you can even call it that) has hit such a subterranean depth that I don’t even attempt to meet new people – doing so would be like arranging a blind date on Craig’s List.
Sometimes stuff accidentally explodes. Get over it.
But Bad Company 2 has a heavy focus on squads, so against my better judgment, I jumped into a few random squads during the demo. It ended up being a surprisingly pleasant experience (aside from the fart chopper kid I commented on in my last blog). I’ve played in a number of random squads since launch as well, and have only had more positive experiences so far. I’m not guaranteeing your mute button still won’t get some exercise, but there are two reasons I think Bad Company 2's multiplayer promotes a little more maturity than other titles. The first reason is that your teammates are actually a valuable asset to you. The ability to spawn on squad members instead of starting at a far-off base will save you from countless transit time, something that's impossible not to feel grateful for. You'll also feel a rush of relief every time a squad mate spawns on you when you're outnumbered. The bonus experience you get from saving, avenging, or just sticking with your squad encourages everyone to play nice. Every time a medic or assault class doles out extra supplies to you, an engineer fixes up your vehicle, or a recon spots distant enemies (all of which net them experience points), you’ll appreciate their camaraderie, instead of merely tolerating their existence. Best of all, none of this requires communication over the headset, so even if your partners are 14-year-old jackasses, you don’t have to know it.The second aspect that BC2’s multiplayer has working in its favor is that when you join a squad, you’re voluntarily choosing to be placed in a group with three other people, versus being thrown into a room of 16 random yokels. There is no big stage for an immature griefer to perform on, and when you choose to enter a squad, the anonymity of online gaming is made a little less anonymous. I suppose that potency could amplify negative behavior as well, but based on my experience thus far it seems that people who choose to be placed in a squad are genuinely focused on teamwork, and tend to be less…d*ck-ish. It's still way more fun to play with people you know, but for those who don't have enough teammates, I'd say give a random squad a chance. Also, I apologize in advance if that squad ends up having fart chopper boy in it. In The ModeI covered my biggest turnoff for online gaming, so I guess it’s fair to end with my biggest turn-on: creative multiplayer modes. A lot of games have multiplayer now, and for FPSes in particular, a lot of developers have perfected their control schemes. What makes or breaks a multiplayer experience – that is, what keeps you coming back hour after hour – is the rule set a multiplayer mode employs.
"Dance, you handsome ***, dance!"
In my opinion, no game developer trumps DICE in this regard. Rush seems to get the most play in BC2 so far, and continually tackling pairs of M-Com stations is fun whether you’re attacking or defending. Or winning or losing for that matter – some of my favorite matches I’ve played have been rounds where my team has eventually lost, but where I excelled (including the match I snagged Nick’s dog tags in – not that I'd gloat about something like...). I’m not avowing an “If you had fun you won” mentality; more like, “If you blew up a couple of tanks and crashed a helicopter into a crow’s nest full of snipers, then you done good.” Rush mode offers players plenty of opportunities for excellence in each round, and any of the M-Com stations can be that final stand where a group of losing defenders can redeem themselves, or where even the most elite attacking squads can be humbled.But as addictive as Rush mode is, DICE’s first multiplayer success came from Conquest mode, and it’s just as fun in Bad Company 2 as any other previous Battlefield games. Whereas Modern Warfare 2’s claustrophobic maps make Domination an exercise in frustration, BC2’s map size, destructible buildings, and wide variety of vehicles make the battle for each control point unique and exciting every time. The rules are just different enough from Rush to give Conquest a different feel, and while I look forward to trying out the new squad-based modes, Rush and Conquest give me everything I could ask for from Bad Company 2’s multiplayer. Except for more maps.*Alas, I’d like to keep writing about Bad Company 2, but I have other work to do today (which sadly doesn’t involve playing Bad Company 2). If you’re enjoying the game as much as I am, keep an eye out for part 2 of this post, where I’ll be discussing some of the more debated aspects of BC2’s multiplayer. Until then, feel free to add your two cents in the comments below. *I fully acknowledge that there is no number of maps that DICE could release for Bad Company 2 that would prevent me from greedily requesting even more maps, in a scarily authentic Gollum voice.
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Wow I can't wait to get my hands on this game now! I was a big fan of the first one.
first....one to say nice blog
idk im still skeptical when i played the demo i felt like im really heavy moving around compared to mw2
i got this game on Thursday and it is most defiantly my favorite multiplayer game ever. Saying that I do feel like it could have had a few more multiplayer maps for rush mode and i have also had some problems with squads i have joined.
i ll probably get it later only because sniping is so dam easy
I completely agree with you on everything you've said. BFBC2 is amazing and the only thing that has made me stop playing it is FFXIII's release, which of course I will take a break from to play BFBC2.
I don't really think the mortar is unbalanced though, I mean I could see where you're coming at with it that point, but I don't know, a game always has room for improvement. BFBC2 is one of them, but not that much improvement.(One improvement would be a remake of Strike at Karkand map for BFBC2, then it would be perfect honestly.)
This is my "go to" game right now. I only have a half hour to an hour to play, BC2. Unfortunately, everyone I know is playing on Xbox and I'm playing on PS3...but on the flipside,I haven't had any difficulty finding matches, squading up and I've only had about 3 server drops.
Still can't get in the store yet, though.
only had time to skim this, but good points. i prefer bfbc series for its large maps, rank progression, classes, vehicles and teamwork.
jacen, send me a friend invite on psn. i play this almost exclusively and hate that so few squad up (aside from friends); it's a tactical advantage.
I honestly go back and forth on the mortar. Sometimes it feels really cheap, and other times it doesn't seem like a problem at all. My biggest problem is that some M-Com stations in Rush mode are out in the open, and even the most incompetent recon can stand on a hill somewhere and call in mortar strikes on the station, which is pretty much impossible to defend against.
I agree about Strike at Karkand though, not to mention DICE's other maps -- they have a whole treasure trove of levels from past games that would be awesome additions to BC2!
STRIKE AT KARKLAND FTW!
I played that map til the disk wore down (seriously, it stop working last year)
So I actually officially have had a problem with BC2, not even really BC2, just the people for once. I actually snapped today after 2 games because in those 2 games, there was 2 people running for the M-COM stations and literally the last 10 were snipers.
Now I normally wouldn't have a problem with this, but when you're sitting in your spawn and thinking you might see a guy and hit him that's bad. At least do me a favor(Charging person) and look over the M-COM station! That's been about my only problem so far which happened just about 10 minutes ago.
Honestly, I love being the recon class, but if you're going to be recon on the attacking side, at least make sure you can see the M-COM stations and actually shoot the target crouching down in the head, or mortar it! All of a sudden I'm seeing a bit of incompetent people, but maybe that will change in a few weeks(I hope!)
i love bad company 2,my favorite mode is rush.the only thing i don't like is i'm so used to mw2 that when i shoot someone i expect them to die but they just stand there and take it and then when they shoot me it seems like they kill me without a problem,and when i try to be a sniper i can't seem to hit people in the head(although the only place i sniped at was that map with the litehouse and thats a long way to shoot from.)the sniper rifles do get better right?
It's odd. I've had BC2 since launch, and I haven't even touched the multiplayer. Maybe it's about time I get in on this...
But I'm unfortunately having way too much fun dying in Demon's Souls.
I've been in one or two matches too where my team has had far too many snipers. It is unfortunate, because DICE actually gave the recon class a lot of tools to still be useful, even from a distance. Hopefully people will figure out that you can score a lot more points using some of the recon's other skills than you can just sitting in one place sniping...
I don't know, from playing earlier battlefields it still feels like battlefield: light. Just minor little annoyances like the fact that if people start dropping from a game that it never seems to put people back in, as well as the balance of actual teams where I can be on a team with nothing but level 1 and 2s against a team full of level 11s. Other than that though it's solid, and while it's not quite the pinnacle, it's an improvement over a lot of other multiplayer recently.
I am loving Bad Company 2 and the only issues I have are when the game puts me in a room with 1 or two other people and it doesn't fill up or when I click the join a squad button but don't get put into a squad for the entire 20 minute match.
Also, the map rotation in conquest rarely puts me in the snow map but maybe thats just my experience.
These problems annoy me a little but when you do have a full match going with a helpful squad (which is more often than not), this multiplayer really is brilliant. Holds my interest much longer than Modern Warfare's fragfests.
Oh and a special shoutout to Bad Company 2's destructible environments. That is the one feature all future FPS games need
I think I have Reiner's tags from the other night. My bad.
Iv ony played the demo and iv been on the fence about this or AvP because i absolutly adored both and i must say this article made me decide AvP your going into gamefly b*tch
One map I'm looking forward to is the Laguna Presa rush map. That seriously seems like one that could be a snipers paradise, also a hell for them as well. I mean there is so much room to work with in the conquest mode as it is, can't wait for this one.
@hale_is_back yeah they do but it's not really a case of them getting better, it's what you prefer. For example, I'm really good at using the GOL and the M95, the GOL has a faster fire rate but the M95 just feels more right. I believe it might be the fact that I feel like I could take someones head off with it as opposed to the GOL(Also if you use the M95 as a close range it's instant kill no matter what) So really it's up to you what you like, bolt action, semi auto, also you'll notice when you get better it's easier to decide what sniper rifle to use for what situation.