Battlefield: Bad Company Hands-on

This time around, there's no place to hide. We check out what's new in EA's next Battlefield game.

One thing you've always been able to count on in EA's long-running Battlefield series is a chance to take a breather. Pinned down while you're awaiting some air support? No problem, just crouch down behind a wall or duck inside a building to buy yourself a few seconds of cover and a chance to catch your breath. But judging from our early look at the next game in the series, Battlefield: Bad Company, that might not be the case anymore, thanks to intense action and destructible environments that look to change how you play the game.

Battlefield: Bad Company's destructible environments means there's few, if any, places to hide.

While it isn't fair to say that everything in Bad Company is destructible--the base skeletal architecture of buildings can't be ruined--walls, trees, and other free-standing objects are as vulnerable to weaponry as you on the battlefield. Bullets won't be able to penetrate the walls of building, but if you (or your enemy) have access to any sort of an explosive--from a grenade to a rocket-propelled grenade--then taking a breather behind the drywall just isn't going to cut it anymore.

With walls and other barriers no longer a problem, or as much of an advantage in the environment, it changes how you approach movement in the game. In the single-player game demo we tried, our four-man squad of renegade soldiers were tasked with invading a neutral country (yeah, we'll talk more about the story in a bit). However, to do so, they had to get through a heavily fortified border crossing. Thanks to the open-ended nature that's built into the design of Bad Company's single-player and multiplayer modes, you'll have multiple options for how you want to attack. Do you flank the main entrance and cherry pick the outlying enemies or barrel through the front door with guns blazing? In our case, we preferred the direct route, and the lack of permanent cover meant we had to move--and keep moving. In fact, with enemies everywhere, few--if any--places to hide, and an artificial intelligence that was tuned to be higher than normal, the action was always intense.

While we've established that you'll be moving a lot in Bad Company, what we couldn't have known until playing it is that the increased destructibility also changes how you move in the game. For example, take the heavy caliber machine gun that was nested toward the back of the border crossing. In other shooters, your tactic might be to dart around buildings while exposing yourself to crossfire. In Bad Company, if you've got an RPG or a grenade launcher equipped, you can blast right through the walls of buildings and more or less take a straight shot to your objective. We found that this direct approach also worked on the walls and fencing that surrounded the outskirts of the checkpoint. Instead of looking for a path to sneak through, we simply blasted a grenade and traipsed through the wreckage.

Bringing in a tactical missile strike right on target is one of the more satisfying moments in the game.

OK, now, about that "invading a neutral country thing." Yeah, that probably requires some explanation. As the developers behind Bad Company told us, the team working on the game wanted to make its single-player experience different from previous Battlefield games, both in look and feel. In doing so, they reached toward some well-known inspirations; namely, such movies as Three Kings and Kelly's Heroes. These are war-time movies that aren't necessarily about war, but rather the soldiers caught up in the struggle and their various motivations. In Bad Company, you've got a squad of soldiers who, like the protagonists in Three Kings, are tempted by the lure of gold to do some things that...well, let's just say they aren't really spelled out in the U.S. Army Field Manual. This is where invading the neutral fictional country of Serkozache comes in, although it's far from the only environment you'll be exploring (and likely blowing up) in the game.

Of course, there's more that's new in Bad Company than simply buildings that go boom. If you've seen the original trailer, you know the game is going to have a distinct sense of humor that hasn't been seen in the Battlefield series before. You've also met two of the main characters. Marlow is the main character you will control, while Sarge, as you might expect, yells a lot when keeping you informed of your game objectives. Rounding out the quartet is Haggard, a demo expert who's big on explosions but short on brains, and Sweetwater, who's got a light machine gun to go with his quieter, more cautious demeanor. Your squad will always be together in the game, though curiously, you won't be able to give squad orders as you go nor are your squadmates able to die. In all, there seems to be a definite Gears of War type of vibe happening among the four wise-cracking meatheads that make up part of B Company.

Tough soldiers need big weapons to get their job done, and Bad Company's weapons won't disappoint. You start off with a basic kit that comes with a machine gun and a grenade launcher. You'll also get some extras, such as grenades, knives, and more. As you fight, you'll come upon different kits that feature a variety of weapons. There's a demo kit with a shotgun and explosive weapons, as well as a sniper kit with a high-powered rifle. In addition to the guns, there are more indirect weapons, including a remote-controlled mortar strike weapon and a cool laser guide, which you can use to call in a missile strike. When you're tired of humping it on foot, you can always take control of one of the many vehicles and weaponry in the game, including jeeps, tanks, antiaircraft guns, or helicopters.

After clearing out the checkpoint on the border of Serkozache, we were feeling pretty proud of ourselves. But then the tank showed up--a big tank. Because the tank's main cannon was set to make mincemeat of any wall we hid behind, we were presented with the problem of taking it out with practically no place to hide. Luckily, we had the laser-guided missile system at our disposal. To use it, we aimed it at the tank then pressed the left and right trigger together. After a few anxious seconds where we fully expected the tank to send a cannon blast down our throats, we got the shot off. We were immediately transported to a shot high above the earth and behind the called-in missile. Here, we had to guide the missile to its target by moving up or down with the analog stick. Though it isn't that difficult to do, we got lucky with our first shot and blasted the tank to kingdom come. Or at least we blasted the bridge that the tank was rolling on, which caused it to take a nosedive into the riverbank below.

This is what's referred to as a 'Serkozachian Standoff'.

All the battles in Bad Company will be taking place in the same large environments you've gotten used to in the Battlefield series. Thanks to DICE's new Frostbite engine, those massive maps will look great on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. The hallmarks of the new engine include improved lighting and shaders that give the game a dynamic and realistic look. Serkozache's dim woodland area was oppressive in a way that only a fictional former Eastern Bloc country could be--with its muted brown and green color palette. Beyond the subtleties of the textures and lighting, the engine is also able to create some powerful-looking explosions, which is in keeping with the game's focus on destructible environments.

Currently scheduled for release in 2008, Battlefield: Bad Company still has a good ways to go before it's ready for primetime. The developers also aren't ready to talk about the game's multiplayer gameplay, though we expect we'll find out those details later this year. With a strong single-player element and a sense of humor that helps to keep things fresh, Bad Company looks to take the Battlefield series in a new direction while still preserving the things that have made the series successful to date. We'll be keeping you up to date on the game's progress throughout the rest of the year, so stay tuned for more.

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Discussion

233 comments
Skullcandy
Skullcandy

Game rocks if anyone has been able to play the beta. Release date as of now is June but I'm looking forward to the full game so I can wait if I must.

1223334
1223334

cool sounds interesting

Hunter410
Hunter410

Does anyone know the exact date? P.S:Vrgar777 don't even insult battlefield by saying its similar to 'conflict', CONFLICT IS THE WORST GAME EVER, WARNING DO NOT BUY! WARNING DO NOT BUY!

Midgetmen
Midgetmen

i like to play BMC so these should be off the hook

Vrygar777
Vrygar777

Oh wait I thought this game was something like Conflict, oops lol. I hated the old conflict games so maybe this will be fun.

IIHit-and-RunII
IIHit-and-RunII

WOW this game looks awesome, the graphics look really good.

SHReK987
SHReK987

ok i made up my mind battlefield will be better, ive never been a big clancy fan except ghost recon. and in rainbow six you cant blow up the level although you can shoot through almost anything but metal

SHReK987
SHReK987

this is going to be sick, with the knew engine. Rainbow six 2 is going to have a similar engine, im not sure what looks better

87013
87013

I really hope EA will make another version of this game for the PC. Man this game looks hot!!

GANGSTA287
GANGSTA287

I just hope it won't be like Bf1942 where hand gernades are like tactical nukes lol... an exageration... but it took like 4 gernades to take out a tank...

mwcharger
mwcharger

i hope they do a custom class mp setup like in cod4.

dave2thegrave
dave2thegrave

its about time!!! for the last 6 years games havent advanced really at all in terms of gameplay. this is a big step forward. good work ea!!!

valttu
valttu

Yeah! I think it's gonna rock. I expect that it will be the best BF game so far. When playing Rainbow Six Vegas, the walls and such objectives are for taking cover, but when playing BF, the walls are meant to be blowed away! This game will be a very nice multiplayer shooter. :-)

DENKATA1
DENKATA1

when will this game be released it seas 2008 but

kaziechameleon
kaziechameleon

will this game support 64 players in traditional battlefield fashion, also what happened to this games home on the pc, i want to see a pc 128 player support with destructibility!

Teebown24
Teebown24

this will be a great game. im not looking forward to the whole "tank shooting through the wall" thing though. im kind of fond of my walls.

jwnetminder
jwnetminder

this looks like a fun game, but i really hope that they incorporate a co-op into the single player game. i love co-op, and when games such as call of duty don't offer it, i get depressed. so hopefully there is a co-op

kuwaitspot
kuwaitspot

no one can understand our problem when we playing first person shooter with Analog Controler ,, is not easy i really getting boring when good games of FPS coming only on Console like X360 And PS3 ,, i hope from all games company do not forget PC games and make a copy for it . thats will be fine , EA games making for all consoles and each games when we find it on 360 or PS3 we also find it on PC like FiFA08 , Need4speedpro and orange box of these newest games are available on 360 , PS3 and pc .. i wish that every game made going for all consoles except the exclusive one , thats it :)>

person2
person2

They should be, just their making single player better

HaTmAn101DK
HaTmAn101DK

i hope they keep the old, big multi player we've come to love...

lstgeorget
lstgeorget

wen is it out anyone have any idea

goner_16
goner_16

for myself,i'd have to say its nice for the battlefield series to get away from the strict army only setting. plus your only in a squad of 4 so that opens up the campaign more. i will agree that COD 4 probably does have better multyplayer, but BFBC looks to have a intresting Single player...so i guess well just have to wait and see

rose_please
rose_please

i would rather get call of duty 4, just playing the beta, and them putting a cap is just making me want more. i love that game, and i think any fps would, even if ur bad at fps's. im not into blowing stuff up, ill save that for the enemy, the leveling, customization, ranking, unlockables, challenges, in just the multiplayer alone, is crazy,

p00phead
p00phead

Man call of duty 4 or this

aveiga1000
aveiga1000

This looks like a refreshing twist on the previous battlefield games and in shooters alltogether! Usually you are a hero taking down the enemy and being a good soldier; but a bunch of infantry turned treasure hunters? Im interested!

gamerkingg
gamerkingg

im not gonna pay 7 bucks a month to play bf bad company.

valttu
valttu

Yeah, this really looks great! I'm looking forward to it :)

JJpenguin
JJpenguin

I really hate PC's...i really do, they cost a fortune to just run games and then in 6 months it wont play any more games, at least with consoles you dont have to worry, it will play even though the quality is somewhat worse than the pc, but i understand why people would prefer PC's. More hotkey buttons, mouse control, mods etc, me i prefer an Xbox 360 controller vibrating like crazy for no reason, massages my hands... onto battlefield, next gen for shooters is to get bigger, more open ended, more ways to do one task, now with destrucible cover this adds to the open ended gameplay, should i use this grenade to blow a building full of enemies but forfeit the cover for myself, or pick them off and risk being overwhelmed, although you dont neccessarily think these things, thats what should happen, shooters should give you options, take rainbow 6, with the superb AI you could use squadmates toapproach situations how you wanted, using silencers/grenades/snipers in combination with tactical cover gave an open ended feel to a linear game, that's what shooters need

bublinec
bublinec

This game is very well put together it is the best fps on the x360

TMontana1004
TMontana1004

I think Modern Combat was great but had several flaws--I can't wait for this game though it will pwn!

blairstheman
blairstheman

OMG, I have every single battlefield game (except for veitnam & Road to roam) and this one will diffenatly top them all. I only hope it comes out for computer too. This is just what battlefield needs, a sense of humor.

FearNeutron
FearNeutron

So I'm guessing that all of my waiting for an XBox 360 version of BF2142 was for naught? My computer can't hope to run it but I was hoping to be able to play it. Oh well.

ztron370
ztron370

I played Battlefield:Modern combat and it sucked.So I hope Bad Company will be better.

vd6rb
vd6rb

this game looks pretty good when is it coming out

rokkuman09
rokkuman09

Dude, this looks insanely awesome =O. I can't wait till this comes out.

oumir
oumir

it looks good, but thats not what makes a game good. i hope the game play is good too.

dragthat
dragthat

Looks good cant wait to play it

Bloodhawk_DX
Bloodhawk_DX

I'll get it if the reviews say it's good! The console version of Modern Warfare was.... okay... but this might be a chance for Battlefield to make it really stick!

twocars
twocars

Woo ha, bring it on, sucka! This is my kind of sh*t!

Squirrelman5674
Squirrelman5674

sweet game and it does resemble Red Faction for the PS. I hope to get this game in the future.

jimbo6923
jimbo6923

OK, so it's destructable, but not completely destructable.... remember Red Faction? That game was awsome, it's a shame the the Battlefield series has sucked since Vietnam.

NinjaMunkey01
NinjaMunkey01

cool I might get this if it gets a good review when it comes out.

stewarty77
stewarty77

Will there be an unlock system like the previous versions? If not the game still looks pretty damn good!

kikaiser
kikaiser

I think what they're trying to do here is take Battlefield, look at how they screwed up and hopefully try to fix atleast some of it and give the console players something the PC gamers already had from the series, a damned good game. Its promising yes, and as long as whatever i shoot at dies within the first headshot, not the first FOUR, then i'm sold.

spearhead91
spearhead91

Im skeptical. There are a surprising number of idiots out there who dont know that modern combat was by far the worst BF game ever made... and a large part of that reason was because it was on a console. Battlefield is meant to be on the PC... its okay if they make a console version as well, but the fact that there isnt even going to be a PC version seriously worries me.