LOS ANGELES--We got our hands on Battlefield 2142 at E3, with senior producer Marcus Nilsson himself giving us a tour of what's new in the latest game in the incredibly popular Battlefield series. If you haven't heard yet, Battlefield 2142 takes place in the future, and it pits the American-European Alliance against the Pan Asian Coalition for the battle for territory after a new ice age renders most of the planet uninhabitable.
Of course, developer DICE and publisher EA are showing off the new Titan mode, the first major new mode for Battlefield in pretty much ever, as earlier Battlefields featured only the popular conquest mode. Titan mode requires you to destroy the enemy's Titan while defending your own (the Titan is a flying aircraft carrier of sorts defended by incredibly strong energy shields).
In order to bring down the shields you'll need a total team effort. You can try to whittle the shields down using regular weapons and vehicles, but that will take a long time. The easiest way is to seize missile silos, which are sort of like the flag-capture points in other Battlefield games. Seize a silo, and a timer counts down to the time it will launch a Bloc-2 ATM missile at the enemy Titan, inflicting damage on its shields. You now have a tactical decision. Do you defend the silo after you capture it, to make sure the missile launches, or do you try to capture an enemy silo to prevent it from launching its missile at your Titan? Fire enough missiles at a Titan, and its shields will collapse, allowing you to board it by using assault pods to "shoot" infantry up to the Titan.
Once on board the Titan, it's a close-quarters battle to destroy four security consoles scattered throughout the vessel. Do so, and you gain access to the nuclear reactor. You'll again need a team effort to destroy the reactor quickly. But if you do destroy it, you'll need to race to get off the Titan in time, leaping off and parachuting to Earth. That's important, because even though your team will win if you destroy an enemy Titan, you only get a special pin and other bonuses if you successfully escape the explosion.
Battlefield 2142 itself feels like Battlefield, but with really cool new weapons and vehicles. The hovertank is unlike any other tank in a Battlefield game, because it slides around like it's on ice. It lets you strafe left and right, and that gives you new mobility to try to dodge attacks. The aircraft, we're told, will be easier to fly than those found in existing Battlefield games (flying a helicopter in Battlefield 2 is remarkably as hard as flying one in real life). But to compensate, the aircraft will be nerfed so that they don't dominate the map like they do in Battlefield 2. (Speaking of which, Nilsson says that DICE is currently working to fix that issue in Battlefield 2.)
We got to see a montage of various vehicles, with their names, including the L-5 Riesig, the MK-1 Titan, the Type 21 Nekomata, the T-39 Bogatyr walking tank, and the UD-6 Talon gunship. It's all ironic that none of this stuff exists in the real world, but that similar naming conventions are used with real-world military vehicles and equipment.
Yet perhaps the biggest appeal in Battlefield 2142 will be the customization options of your character. Even though the game features only four class types, you can modify your character's weapons and loadouts in countless ways. Pack up on lots of weapons and gear and you'll slow down. Go with a lighter load, and you won't have as much firepower, but you'll move faster. You can create a load that's just right for you. And perhaps the coolest thing in terms of persistence that we learned is that if you get a knife kill on someone, you will always be able to commemorate that kill because you will have your victim's dog tags. You'll have dog tags for every knife kill, with the victim's name on it, so you can really rub it in if you get multiple knife kills on your friend.
Battlefield 2142 looks very cool. It uses a slightly more advanced version of the Battlefield 2 engine, and it looks a bit sharper up close and in person. The famed Battlefield gameplay appears to be just as sharp as ever, and we'll find out for sure when the game ships this fall.