A Noob Plays Battlefield: Day 1

Welcome to the first installment of a new journal-style series that will ultimately build up into a full-fledged review of Battlefield 3. Unlike most game outlets, I don’t have a deadline to get my review up on Metacritic the day of launch, and so I can actually take my time with a game, and play it the way it was meant to be played, over time.

Battlefield is uncharted territory for me. I’ve never once played another installment in the series, and therefore come in with a blank slate when it comes to expectations. This new game has a large amount of hype due to its rather insane graphics and the fact that it is positioning itself as a direct competitor to the Call of Duty behemoth, a series that has really never had a worthy adversary in the last few years.

I have been an avid Call of Duty player for a few years now, with MW1, MW2 and Black Ops under my belt. But even I must admit that by this point, the games are getting to be a pretty repetitive, with only minor tweaks thrown in to justify a new chapter that’s now being released like a yearly Madden installment. I was hoping that Battlefield 3 was going to be an entirely different experience in some ways, using strategy over the Rambo-style play that dominates COD, and hey, you get to play around in vehicles too! Things are looking up.

So coming into this series as a complete noob, I’ll describe a little bit of my learning curve with the game so far, and perhaps there are some of you out there like me who are undergoing a similar experience.

I must start with the Single Player campaign, as though it’s not admittedly the focus of the title, is an important element. The Call of Duty series may be multiplayer focused as well, but its single player campaigns have all produced memorable jaw dropping moments whether it’s sniping a neverending horde of enemies in Chernobyl, watching your character slowly die from radiation poisoning after a nuke detonates, or gunning down innocent civilians in an airport terminal undercover in a terrorist cell.

Simply put, there are no such moments in Battlefield 3’s campaign. Though it’s similar in length to COD stories, and has a similar plot structure (Middle Eastern bad guy works with Russian bad guy to destroy the world with WMDs), it lacks any sort of punch.

Instead, it plays in part like a tutorial for multiplayer, there are tank levels, shotgun levels, jet levels, sniper levels and so on, and partially like a visual tech demo, meant to show off the extraordinary graphical capabilities of the game. And they are worth showing off.

This is without a doubt one of, or perhaps the best looking game I’ve played on Xbox, which I’m told still looks like crap when compared to the PC version. With a 1.5 gig install of texture packs (goodbye Borderlands DLC), it had better look damn good, and the final product delivers. It blows Black Ops out of the water, although that game was significantly less pretty than Modern Warfare 2. Battlefield definitely bests all entries in that regard, and I think we have finally reached the absolute max of what this console generation is capable of graphically.

Prettiness will only take you so far however, and the content must be present to back it up. Single player doesn’t have the magic, simply put, and even if that was expected for the series, it’s still a disappointment. (spoilers ahoy if you seriously care about the intricacies of this inane plot). If you’re going to detonate a nuke in Paris, you had better damn well show the Eiffel Tower crumbling in front of a mushroom cloud, not just cut to black. If you’re going to make me turn on my superior officer and kill him, you better give me a damn good reason. and not set up a scene that makes no sense which I auto-die in the first time through because I have no idea what the hell is going on. Battlefield makes stabs at these poignant or epic moments, but it has NO idea how to tell a story through gameplay, and comes off like a cheap imitation.

Enough of that however, even if we’re docking a singular point for the campaign being supbar when compared to COD, the meat of the game is the multiplayer, and that’s what the majority of this journal, and all those after it, will cover.

I really do need to do a few segments of this, because trying to play this game on launch day was a goddamn nightmare, and I was too busy screaming at error messages that kept booting me out of games every five minutes. It wasn’t even that I couldn’t connect, often times my game would actually tell me it was loading and then straight up freeze, forcing me to restart my console. The king of all f*ck ups was during one game where my HUD suddenly disappeared. Like, everything disappeared. No sight, no radar, no enemy or friendly indicators, not even a class change screen or pause menu. It was all very cinematic, but it was impossible to play as I was shooting at my own team 90% of the time with no way to tell they were on my side. It was one of the weirder glitches I’ve encountered in any game, and one I hope I won’t see again.

But I’m a patient man, I can forgive EA dropping the ball during peak hours on launch day. Outside of those times, I’ve managed to level up ALL the way to rank 3 (yeah, I’m a pro like that), and have been able to craft more informed judgment.

At first, I wasn’t so sure about it all. After being told that “Deathmatch” wasn’t the main mode in this game like COD, I tried out “Conquest” which was supposed to be the signature staple. It’s a capture the flag game, but it’s more like Territories combined with Deathmatch. You capture objectives which makes your opponents score go down, and also when you kill them, it goes down. Whoever hits zero first loses.

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  1. And none of this will really matter in a week and a half when CoD comes out. Honestly, this game might look pretty and all but once MW3 comes out the only people playing Battlefield will be PC gamers. And seriously fuck those guys. I keed, I keed. I do believe the only reason most people will play this though is because it comes out a couple weeks before call of duty, but I’m sure this has Its advantages. I’ll probably go rent it today and at least try it out. This quasi review did make me more interested in playing it though.

    P.S. what’s up with the censoring, Paul? I can understand not saying “fuck” in your actual write up, you gotta think about sponsors and readers and what not. But what’s the point of saying “f*ck?” I believe Louie CK made a very good point when he said that saying “the f-word” or “the N-word” Is worse because you are making the listener, or reader in this case, say or read the actual word to themselves. Rather than them just hearing you say “fuck” they have to make that connection from f-word to fuck in their mind.

  2. @Sam

    You’re wrong, at least if COD is the same as the last three games, I’ll stick with Battlefield more often than not as it’s a new experience.

    And for your second point, it’s advertisers. As goofy as it may seem, there’s a difference to them.


    This is a recurring feature for longer games. Check out some of my past journals:


  3. As an avid CoD player, Battlefield is my new favorite FPS, ever. Maps are huge, vehicles are epic and it’s all about team work so far in what I’ve seen.

    I’ve probably already played for about 12 hours since monday @ midnight on the 360. Outside of the occasional problems with squadding up with friends, it’s been a pretty solid experience.

    Just a note to Paul: Conquest is fun, but my friends and I usually only play it because it’s an unlocked map all around and you can fly all over it. Rush is a lot of fun if you want to only have to worry about 2 objectives and killing your opponents. Vehicles on Rush arent as great for aerical attacks but tanks, hummers, and buggys still work just fine.

    Good luck to you and hopefulyl you enjoy. I probably wont be buying a CoD title for quite some time now that I have BF.

  4. Dammit I wish I could edit my comments instead of just adding random comments: Paul, if you have free space, install the multiplayer disc, it helps with the glitches from what I’ve heard.

  5. @J5

    Yeah, that’s pretty much been my experience too. Almost all of my COD friends that have played it are converts already.

    I liked rush on defense because you can just camp and mow people down to defend. Rush on offense is getting murdered by snipers the moment you move out of cover. Perhaps I need to refine my tactics.

  6. @ Paul

    Did you pick up any of the packs from Gamestop or Amazon or where ever you got the game? Cause with the Gamestop pack I’ve been beasting on people with the Type 88 LMG. It might be an unlockable further in the game (in Bad Co 2 it was the 3rd unlocked LMG) but it just mows people down.

    Also with most of the assualt rifles, unless your in a tight area you can always switch to single shot, which boosts accuracy. Shotguns are legit for the one shot kills, but rarely are you in that range to use it. Unless you’re rolling in a mobile death squad of friends. Also if you plan on flying the jets regularly start as soon as possible. My friend is getting so frustrated with jets because he doesnt have the IR Flares and gets shot down inside of the first couple seconds of taking off by either heat seeking missiles or Stinger rockets.

    Christ, just talking about the game is sending me into a frenzy. Looks like I know what I’ll be doing on my lunch break.

  7. @J5

    I preordered, but I didn’t get any weapon packs. Was I supposed to? I haven’t tried LMGs yet except in campaign.

    Can you answer my questions about what it is you’re supposed to…do in a plane? How do you attack ground forces, or even helis for that matter when you’re whizzing by at 1,000 mph?

  8. @ Paul

    I think the preorders were Amazon – Dog tags, Best Buy – same? Gamestop – Type 88 LMG, DAO 12 Shotgun, Flechette ammo for the DAo (Think nails in a shotgun shell) a flash hider for the SKS.

    As for planes, as long as handling isnt a problem, your first and best bet it to try and take out other jets with the machine gun fire to rank up. Without the IR Flares you’re defenseless, meaning you’ll die right off the bat like my buddy. Once you get the IR Flares keep taking out other planes, because then you can get the heat seeking missiles and THOSE are what take out Helos and other Jets, much easier. Until then it’s all machine gun fire, so if you need to make sure you switch back and forth from 3rd person view and the cockpit, 3rd person for flying, cockpit for dogfights.

    As for the ground, usually it’s just dive bombing and firing your machine gun into the ground, I’m guessing they’ll have some sort of bombing action a little later, but I havent unlocked anything like that yet.

  9. Oh the Best Buy pack was “Exclusive SPECACT kit upgrade:
    This kit includes a set of 8 multiplayer skins, one for each class and side in Battlefield 3.”

  10. @ Paul

    Hi Paul, I have a little advice if you are wanting to start on jets. Jets start of with cannon, which stomps on other jets but not that good at ground attack. Use it to get good at dogfighting (this is a basic must tbh anyway) You will unlock flares very soon and eventually the rocket pods.

    These bad boys are great for ground attack because they have decent range and punch, they will destroy a damaged tank, and if all hit, disable it from new. So 2 passes are usually needed.

    Slow down when lining up (jets can go quite slow before stalling) and then power to escape. Go from high to low for good angle.

    Just keep hammering away and the unlocks will make them more useful. They require skill to use so i dont think jets are overpowered, prob the opposite, since in battlefield 2 they were pretty much unstoppable. Oh and ALWAYS have radar expanded. Situational awareness is key!

    Hope that helps! Off to pwn some more in jets! 😀

  11. @Paul

    Great review. That paragraph where you mentioned that “no one knew” what was going on is because of the new fanbase Battlefield has. Battlefield vets like myself know the gameplay and what is required to be an effective player. This new fanbase are “CoD” aficionados who run and gun and dont know the importance of tagging enemies so the rest of the team can kill him for you.

  12. @J5

    Yeh the regular gun is the cannon mate. Stealth is ok but the real important one imo is the air radar unlock.

    Cant really stress this enough, because the view in your cockpit is so constricting and your speed so fast, you will play exponentially better if you know whats happening around you. Ask teammates to spot planes before round starts.

    eg. In a dogfight, which way your opponent is turning or if he is fleeing. For ground attack, which direction to come from so not to get shot (try coming out of the sun, SO useful)

    Also use the ENTIRE map. The maps are massive for jets now, so use ALL OF IT.

  13. @ Faz

    Ok, yeah, I thought I was missing out on something, but definitely using the cannon every chance I get. I have the Radar unlocked (I think…) so I’ll have to equip it today and check it out.

    I never even thought about flying into or away from the sun, good call man. I’m decent at flying and evading, usually going full boosters into a hard braking turn and so on, but every now and again some other team comes out with an ace pilot that just levels me, so thanks for the tips.

  14. @J5

    Yeh I though I was pretty decent too, being a dedicated jet veteran for BF2 for so long, but played last night and got absolutely schooled by this one guy. He was so awesome though, we were dogfighting round after round all night, he showed me some great advanced manoeuvres and we batted tips to each other, like how continuously pumping afterburner and brake with a certain timing, you can out turn anyone.

    And this is why I love this game. The team spirit and camaraderie are second to none. Without teamwork its like any other shooter, but when people work and play together with mutual respect for how awesome it can be, this game is in another league entirely.

  15. @ Faz

    Yeah, with CoD it always felt like people were just constantly saying “LOOK AT MY AWESOME!!!!” Rather than working together, even friends on the same team. But BF just makes it to where you HAVE to work together and call out what’s happening in your area rather than just say “Group of guys at A.” you have to actually know where that group is or whoever is on your squad is gonna run in there and get taken out in a second.

    Also the community for BF3 is pretty awesome. I’ve only played a couple games not in a party with friends, but everyone’s pretty laid back and enjoying the game. Granted, it’s only been out for 2 days….

  16. I’ve really been enjoying your game reviews. Especially since you’ve just made the jump to PS3 and I’m getting ready to do the same. Thanks for the real reviews instead of just a number rating. Keep up the good work.

  17. the whole “it makes you work together” argument is stupid. sometimes i dont want to turn the mic on, and sometime i want to simply kill the other team….

    COD, aside from BrownOps, is superior, and MW3 should be pretty lights out…

    i think both games are good, just a matter of what your preference is….

    i hope we get a similar review of MW3

  18. @ OG

    That’s great, but that’s how YOU feel. I play with a bunch of friends online in a squad usually so it’s nice to have a team oriented game. I just got back form lunch playing by myself and I still had fun, but I did terrible in my k/d, but in CoD that rarely happened. Having a team just works out better in BF than it does for CoD, for me anyway.

  19. Glad you’re enjoying the game so far, Paul. I’m also glad you realize that’s it NOT Call of Duty.

    This has probably stated many times but the best way to play is not run & gun, but a more deliberate and cerebral approach. And try to be in a squad. Or jump to another one of yours is really bad.

    I think my fave mode is Rush, though. My friends and I have had some epic finishes on both offense and defense and its probably the bread and butter of the BF experience.

  20. Well that’s just retarded! I just rented Battlefield and went to post online and guess what? You need an online pass and blockbuster removes all passes because “that’s only for people that buy the game new” this generation of gaming is really starting to annoy me. They need to reward people that buy the game new rather than punishing people that can’t afford that. I’m sorry EA I’m not going to put down 60 bucks for your game that I’ve never played. There was a chance I would have if I rented it and really enjoyed it, but considering you won’t even let me try out the multiplayer, the feature that would give me a reason to buy, I’m not even going to consider it. And I’m definitely not going to pay 10 bucks on top of what I’ve already paid for the rental. GRRR! This is really annoying, just had to vent guys.

  21. When COD comes out, you’ll see more BF vets running around that will result in better games.

    If you’re looking for quicker weapon unlocks I suggest everyone running a few hardcore matches where kills are faster and easier.

    Jets are great but are a pain to use till you unlock flares since they do get shot down easy. Best thing to do before then is to us diving maneuvers on tanks and such and just pull up before crashing and then circle back around for another pass. Also jets are great for spotting (back button). Everyone should be spotting like crazy, it helps everyone and it’s free points for you even if you don’t get the kill.

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