Battlefield 2142 Preview
EA found they had a huge, surprise hit on their hands when they published Battlefield 1942 - the Swedish developers at Digital Illusions CE (otherwise known as DICE) put together large maps, plenty of players at once, and a fun mix of naval, aerial, ground, and infantry combat together. Since then we've seen a couple of expansions for BF1942, a spinoff game called Battlefield: Vietnam which was not quite as well-received as the original, and last year's highly acclaimed Battlefield 2. Now, DICE is moving the franchise to the future with Battlefield 2142, where two futuristic factions - the Pan Asian Coalition and the European Union - use high-tech toys to try and win a war for rare usable soil in the newly dawning Ice Age.
The current beta test for Battlefield 2142 includes a single map to play on with the new Titan gameplay mode. In this mode each team has a huge floating base called a Titan - and whereas in BF2 players had to capture points to reduce the number of enemy "tickets" (which worked like a shared number of respawns, or lives), here instead the capture points control missile batteries. When you capture a point, the missiles will start firing at the enemy's Titan, reducing its shield down to zero. Now, you can keep the points controlled and missiles will keep firing and will eventually blow up your enemy's Titan, or you can hop into a chooper and make an on-foot assault into the Titan's cramped hallways to speed up the process. By destroying control consoles stationed around inside the enemy Titan, you will trigger a destruct sequence - and can make the hilariously crazy run outside to jump off before it blows up. Or don't bother if you don't feel like it, because as soon as one of the Titans blows up on map, it's game over. The original Conquest mode seen in past games will return as well, although
This time around, DICE are really trying to put more effort into the unlock system that was popular yet felt only half-finished in BF2. Now, you won't get things like grenades or mines on every character right from the start - you'll have to rank up and unlock them. Unlike the single unlock for each class in BF2, you will actually progress through one of several "trees" of unlocked weapons, items, and skills in BF2142 - yes, much like many RPGs. This means that a higher-rank player will have more gear and a real head start on a new player, but DICE is softening the blow by making sure that at least your first few unlocks will come after only a short time played. All together there are around 40 unlockables, and the final items in several of the trees are new weapons for you to use.
Still, not all unlocks are weapons - the engineer gets new EMP grenades and mines which can really screw with a vehicle driver, and the Scout will get his chance at new battlefield intelligence-type items that give damage bonuses to his buddies who have similar items. While there is a tree of several unlocks for each of the game's four classes: Scout, Soldier, Engineer, and Support, there's also a fifth set of unlocks that's geared mostly towards squad leaders - including some abilities that came by default to squad leaders before, like the power to have your squadmates spawn next to you.
Your unlocked abilities and items can't all be carried at once into battle, so you'll need to choose carefully when going out with a squad and make sure that your gear and abilities complement each other correctly. With the built-in voice chat that's carried over from BF2 pretty much directly, it's not too difficult to do this, either.
Commander mode will make its triumphant return in BF2142, and while some gamers out there feel that this might take away from the overall experience of an online first person shooter, they certainly seem to be in the minority. And in the new Titan mode, Commanders will be able to take control of the huge, floating Titans themselves to slowly move them around the battlefield, firing powerful guns downwards from the underside of the hull.
The single map included in this beta looks like it's on the border of Siberia, as things feel a little cold and dead. Luckily there are plenty tanks, APCs, jeeps, and hoverchoppers to warm the place up - the vehicle design here doesn't really fit in with the setting in my opinion, but it doesn't really need to. Many vehicles are pretty similar to what you might remember from BF2, but everything's tweaked or changed around just enough that it feels pretty new.
That being said, you'll find a lot of things are very similar to BF2, except they're being given a quick re-skin. I'd say that if there's one thing that BF2142 is lacking, is originality - despite the futuristic setting and whole new set of maps, vehicles, and weapons, it seems just too eerily familiar. I'm hoping that with the full version the developers can differentiate the two games a bit better overall. Battlefield 2142 is set for a PC release this coming October.