The open beta for Battlefield 3, the new war shooter from DICE and EA doesn't start until Thursday September 29, 2011, but Newsarama is in the beta early and thought we should let fans know whether or not they should be excited.
Man oh man, should you be excited. My initial experience with the game at E3 found me shocked by how tight the game played in an alpha build. Now, BF3 plays smoother than any war shooter I've ever played; everything just works the way it's supposed to. From the animations for leaping, to the way you skid to a stop if you suddenly drop into a crouch from mid-run, to the way scopes smoothly pull into your view until your eye is against the lens, it's easy to get instantly immersed in the look of the game, even on console (we've been playing the Xbox 360 beta so far). The destructible environments, like craters that form in the ground after a big explosion and cover that can be shot away and picked apart by high-powered rifles, bring you further into the game's world as your living room fades away into your periphery.
Weapons seem amazingly balanced as well. If you get a well aimed head-shot (don't forget to account for the helmet!) with the sniper rifle, you'll take a guy out in one hit, but if you hit him center mass, it's gonna take two or three. Firing while running throws off aim better than in most games, as well, so just zig-zagging back and forth shooting your weapon constantly won't really net you kills; another nice bit of accuracy that's missing from most games of this type.
The first game type available is Rush. In Rush, two teams work on opposing sides, one defending a series of ever-forward bases, one attacking them with intent to blow them sky high. Because of the objective-based gameplay, it's easy for newcomers to take on more support roles, still feeling like they're making a difference while more experienced players rush forward (no pun intended) to work on blowing up the actual bases. It's a fun mix of controlled chaos, death match shooter sensibilities and a good bit of strategy. It also really encourages team play; I can't wait to play with friends whose style I'm familiar with, as it will likely feel like a completely different experience.
This is just the first peek at the game that ships October 25, 2011, and already it's easy to be completely hooked. There are some initial beta-typical issues, like some troubles connecting (just took a couple tries, and once connected I played three games without interruption), and a couple little audio blips here and there. However, with the big fall and winter shipping season beginning in earnest this week and next, the entire games industry should be a bit worried. If one multiplayer game mode in day negative 2 of the beta of Battlefield 3 provides this fun and polished of an experience, then other companies, especially others releasing first person shooters this season need to really step up their game in order to contend. I know I'll be playing this beta as often as possible in-between other games to review; just a couple of hours has me hooked in more than any FPS in recent memory.