Battlefield 3 is probably one of the most anticipated games of the year, mainly because lots of shooter fans are interested to see whether or not it can trump the 800-pound gorilla which is Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.
Now, in order to let actual people experience Battlefield 3 before its release around the end of October, Electronic Arts, its publisher, and DICE, its developer, have kicked off an open multiplayer beta stage for it, across the PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 platforms.
So, after all this hype and anticipation, is Battlefield 3 worthy of going head to head with Modern Warfare 3 or should the military shooter be dishonorably discharged? Let's have a quick look.
I tried out the beta on the PC, through EA's own Origin service, and the first thing you're greeted with when starting out the game is an actual web browser window, directing you to the Battlelog online service.
From here, you have an overview of your own progress, as well as notable news about your friends in Battlefield 3, and can start up the single-player, cooperative or multiplayer modes. For the demo, only the online multiplayer is available, so all you need to do is hit the quick match button, wait until a server is found, and then the actual Battlefield 3 game starts.
While this is a bit peculiar, especially after coming from more traditional shooters, Battlelog is no doubt going to be a make or break experience for PC players of the game.
Still, once the actual game starts, it's pretty certain that all players are going to be mesmerized by the stunning beauty of the experience. I only got a chance to go through the Operation Metro map, a pretty huge one set in above and below a subway station, with long corridors perfect for sniping and tighter, darker ones perfect for camping and waiting for your prey.
While the massive 64-player limit is quite impressive, it also means that maps are a bit too big for their own good, and you can easily get lost or at get killed by someone from half a map away. Once you start working as a team, however, things get a bit better, as you can rely on your combined force to spot and eliminate enemies.
The experience was smooth enough and pretty lag free, although there were some funky ragdoll effects on the dead bodies after you eliminate them. Weapons feel pretty good although and the detailed animations, like when you're jumping over a fence, are subtle yet quite impressive.
Battlefield 3, at least from the multiplayer beta, is looking extremely good, not just when you consider the great visuals of the Frostbite 2 engine, but also in terms of gameplay and design.
The Battlefield 3 beta is now available on the PC, through EA's Origin digital distribution service, on the PlayStation 3, via the PlayStation Store, and Xbox 360, throught he Xbox Live Marketplace.
You can check out a video of gameplay from the beta below.