After Battlefield 3’s exquisite series of reveals at Gamescom earlier this week, anticipation for DICE’s latest is already approaching fever pitch and we’re still more than two months away from launch day. One of the most popular ways that fans are dealing with this agonising level of anticipation is to return to Bad Company 2, a proposition that’s still every bit as entertaining as it ever was, and favourably comparable with any online FPS that has appeared in its wake. That said, Bad Company 2 was the entry point for so many new devotees that a vast number of them won’t have experienced the first Bad Company game at all, and returning to (or discovering afresh) that particular title is a frankly disarming experience.
Though it was only released three short years ago it already feels like an antiquated relic; and a big part of this is down to how ruthless DICE are with the advancement of their own bright ideas. In short, the jump in quality between the two Bad Company games is genuinely startling, with a few alterations (and some full-blown culls) causing the sequel to stand head and shoulders above its predecessor. Below is a list of five lessons that DICE clearly learned in the wake of the first Bad Company…
5. Curb the humour
If you’ve recently been contemplating a debut trip to the single-player universe featured in the first Bad Company game (especially if it is in the aftermath of some time spent with its sequel) be prepared to be very surprised by the tone of the humour. It’s occasionally amiable but primarily it’s just incessantly goofy, and it constantly undermines the entire experience because you’re frequently reminded that this story is supposed to be taking place during an actual war. The same characters returned in Bad Company 2 but they were tougher, quieter and generally less mouthy, and you’d never find them idly playing scissors-paper-stone in the background during a pre-mission debriefing. Good call.
4. Ditch the LIFE-2 Auto Injector
Though still prevalent in many team-based shooters – most notably Zipper Interactive’s perennially underrated/misunderstood MAG – the ability to self-medicate yourself back into rude health on the battlefield has always been something of an enabler for lone wolves; and a dynamic that simply doesn’t fit in such a team-centric game. Hovering over your own medkits in BC2 will do exactly the same job as the LIFE-2 did (albeit very, very slowly) but being in such a vulnerable state will make you constantly hope that a teammate is nearby to assist with any potential enemy strikes. Which is precisely as it should be.
3. The campaign isn’t just an afterthought
The single-player portion of any Battlefield game is always the least important (and least interesting) aspect of the whole package, but Bad Company 2’s campaign came impressively close to competing with the likes of Modern Warfare and its sequel. It wasn’t exactly on a par – providing constant moments of astonishing spectacle was never its intention, for one thing – but tighter missions, the ability to skip the (newly succinct) cutscenes and a general upward spike in mission variety definitely made an impression. Despite the odd colourful interlude (such as the golf buggy section) the first Bad Company game feels like DICE placing a single toe in the water before simply joining the genre dots. It’s impossible to blame them – it was always covertly doubling up as a Frostbite tech demo anyway – but the sequel’s significant progress in this department deserves to be fervently commended.
2. Friendly fire should always be an option, at the very least
One of the most alarming things about playing the first Bad Company today is that you cannot disable friendly fire. This is irritating for obvious reasons – having to contend with blindly aggressive teammates steaming into your line of sight never ceases to irritate – but for fist-chompingly maddening ones as well. Unless you play with a full team of friends in perpetuity, you’ve probably had to contend with a teammate offing you just so that he/she can get their hands on the artillery that you’d recently managed to win control of. The worst part? There’s not even an option to kick them from the game if they keep doing it. The masochistic (or those with a saint-like disposition) can now turn to BC2’s ‘Hardcore’ mode for their knife-edge kicks.
1. Too many cooks spoil the classes
DICE continue to rework Battlefield’s class system with each and every new game, and whether Battlefield 3’s class–melding tempo can match that of Bad Company 2’s similarly four-tiered sweet spot remains to be seen. One thing is for certain though, the demise of Bad Company’s somewhat needless, all-or-nothing half-breed Demolition class was a real step in the right direction. Whether you were a fan of the Demolition specialist or not was moot; it was the least balanced of the five, and a wise sacrifice in the pursuit of streamlining the Battlefield experience into something that steps ever closer to outright perfection.