Battlefield 2 and its expansion pack have kept countless players online fighting in pitched battles with up to 64 other players. Battlefield 2 is immersive to say the least, and it captivated me and my friends as we tried to level up our weapons and rank. This fall EA takes the Battlefield series to a new level with the introduction of Battlefield 2142.
Playing Battlefield 2142 on the E3 show floor brought the biggest smile to my face. I'd always found Battlefield 2 to be exceptionally realistic for modern times, but I'm a sci-fi nerd that loves the future and seeing what battles can be played out by the designers of this award-winning FPS franchise. I was not disappointed by what I saw.
The set up for Battlefield 2142 is simple. The future is bleak, with a new ice age wreaking havoc on the entire world. The surviving people and forces must take hold of all remaining land. The surviving governments and people have split into two factions: the EU, which consists of the US and Europe, and the PAC which stands for the Pan Asian Coalition. These two forces must battle it out in order to survive. I thought that the acronyms and storylines were OK for the online Battlefield series as you're concerned, mainly, with annihilating the opposite team, but in single player and co-op campaigns these cliche factions have been used countless times before. The future-war, East vs. West, premise is nothing we haven't seen already.
On the show floor, the people at EA were showing off a new combat map called "Titan." In this map you have two opposing massive battleships floating a couple hundred feet in the air. Your mission is to either take down the enemy floating battleship by destroying its energy core, or by holding the missile outposts long enough for them to shoot down the enemy Titan. The missile outposts work like the flags in Battlefield 2. You roll up to one, stand by it for long enough and it becomes yours. You may then spawn by it just like in Battlefield 2. The cool thing is that every couple of minutes a missile from your captured outposts fires at the enemy Titan. So if you hold enough of them for long enough, they can shoot down the opposing Titan. The Titan itself is massive and stationary. Player controlled weapons line the outside of the ship and act as deterrents to would-be attackers. This was a really cool concept and will be tremendously fun to play online.
Since I only played as the EU force, I can not comment on the weapons of the PAC. However, the new EU weapons were awesome. I must note, however, that playing as squad commander gives you special features that are not usable by the normal grunts on the field. These include options for two different personal UAV's. One simply shows enemy locations (the RD-4 Otus drone). While the other UAV drone is armored and hovers above your head shooting anything that comes near, it's called the SD-8 Accipiter. If you play as support gunner you may also chose the A12 sentry gun to be placed wherever you want and act as an unmanned defender. Squad leaders may also place an SLSB which acts as an impromptu spawn point anywhere on the battlefield. A final tool that the squad leader may use is the PDD-200, it acts as a scanner and will show enemies hiding behind objects. These new tools open up a wide array of tactics and strategies that will really enhance the game and make for some interesting play. My only gripe is that I wish that they would allow all of these options for everyone; this would make everything a bit more interesting...
The EU only had four weapon types to choose from, i.e. the engineer, sniper, support, and assault. There was mention of a medic by the developers I talked to; however, I was never able to play as one on the level in the demo. The rocket launcher is unique to the Engineer and the three rockets that it shoots out are controllable. The assault rifle no longer has a grenade launcher but a semi-auto shotgun is slung under your machinegun. Playing as a sniper is a lot easier now, the bullets fire true, but the scope will wavier back and forth as you aim. Another feature unique to the sniper is a cloaking ability. You may cloak whenever you want to, but your vision will also become blurry and you will not be able to run. The support weapon is also much more accurate, but the barrel overheats faster than in it did in Battlefield 2.
The vehicles in Battlefield 2142 also show a lot of early promise, both in design and cool factor. The EU had the tank, APC, hummer variant with turbo, two different walker units, and I think two different hover/jet/helicopter variants. The new helicopter units were much easier to fly than the ones in Battlefield 2. With each vehicle there is a secondary weapon position that acts as an anti air, personnel, or vehicle weapon system and is dependent on the vehicle. A cool feature on the APC was the ability for you to eject yourself hundreds of feet into the air within a little pod, this pod is steereble, and can act as a way to get yourself onto the enemy Titan. Some of the vehicles also shoot EMP weapons that will stall any vehicle in its place, not allowing for movement, but only the immobile fire from the vehicle's weapons.
Of course, the game still features upgrades and improving your soldier. Leveling up in Battlefield 2 was incredibly slow and painstaking. Not anymore; Battlefield 2142 will have 40 different levels and numerous ways to increase your soldiers abilities. With the points you earn on the battlefield, you may increase your stealth, speed, ability to heal and revive allies faster, bigger magazines, body armor, more grenades and more. Suffice to say this will be a big boon to players and keep people interested longer than before.
Overall I was extremely impressed by what I saw. The people at Digital Illusions have even tweaked the physics, made the particle effects more real, and reworked other rendering process to streamline what was already a beautiful game. There was even talk that the loading system was reworked so maps should pop up a lot faster after a battle. There are still two things that stand out as annoyances that I see so far. The game's plot is unoriginal, which is a missed opportunity. My other gripe is that when you die, you must click on your "kit" tab before you can select your new spawn point. This always drove me crazy in Battlefield 2. I want to be able to die then select my new spawn point in the fewest mouse strokes possible. Other than these two complaints I'm really looking forward to this fall and seeing the full potential of Battlefield 2142.