Gamescom 2011: Battlefield 3 Co-Op and Conquest Preview

We somehow live to tell the tale of our adventures with two-player co-op on the PlayStation 3 and 64-player Conquest on the PC.

It only makes sense that Battlefield 3, one of the year's biggest European-developed games, would make a huge splash at Europe's biggest gaming event. And what a splash that is: EA and DICE have brought not one but two new playable demos to this year's Gamescom. On one end of the size spectrum there's a two-player demo drawn right from the game's new co-op campaign, and way down there on the far end is the 64-player Conquest multiplayer demo from the PC version of Battlefield 3. It took more than a little time in line, but we managed to go hands-on with both.

We'll start with Conquest. As you've probably heard, the PC version of Battlefield 3 will return to the series' roots with a massive 64-player multiplayer mode to contrast with the 24-player counts found on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. For those who cut their teeth on the Bad Company series, the sheer scale will be a little intimidating at first. The Conquest demo playable at Gamescom takes place on the lush and verdant Caspian Border multiplayer map. It's a map that features forested hillsides, long stretches of dirt roads, and a handful of outposts that house the five capture points that serve as the focal points of Conquest mode.

When the match first started, we were lucky enough to spawn directly into one of the two jets situated at our team's base (the two sides, predictably, are the US and Russia). There's a fairly steep learning curve to the way you maneuver these jets. Taking off is a simple matter of hitting the W key and pulling back on the mouse, but once you get up into the sky, you've got to exercise some real patience for getting the hang of things. The biggest challenge when starting out is that it's really easy to just zip straight over the cluster of capture points on the ground, which forms a relatively small chunk of the map compared to the sprawling outskirts the game gives pilots to turn back around.

More than a few players in our match clearly grew impatient with the jet and just started going full-on kamikaze in a self-inflicted blaze of glory, but we managed to keep at it and get a decent hang of things. There's quite an incentive to do so: the gameworld looks amazing from way up in the sky. You feel like you can see across the entirety of the Middle East from up there, and the way the game's engine renders the battle below--including one smoking and fire-covered hillside--is just terrific.

Down on the ground, we had a blast trying out all the different vehicles, from the jeeps to the M1 Abrams tank. Given the sheer size of the map, vehicles are practically required if you want to get anywhere. We wound up preferring the tank, because like in the Bad Company series, destruction plays a massive strategic role in Battlefield 3. Being able to blow open the wall of an enemy-held building is critical to capturing crates, and the tank cannon certainly does a good job of that.

Given how much time we spent up in the sky, we didn't get a chance to try out all the new classes down on the ground, but we did take a few stabs at the long-ranged recon, or sniper, class. Why this class? Dominating the skyline of this map is a humongous radio tower looming like a red-and-white-striped beacon for all would-be snipers. We couldn't resist the temptation, so we spawned in as a recon and made a beeline for the thing. Inside was a ladder that took us a solid 30 to 45 seconds to scale, but at the top was a dream of a sniper perch that let us see almost the entire map.

Trying to pick off enemies was a genuine challenge given the generous levels of weapon sway DICE has added to the sniper rifles and the fact that your scope now appears to glint and shimmer in the sunlight as a heads-up for enemy players. Still, we managed to get a few solid kills in before we were taken out by a skilled tank driver below. Like in previous Battlefield games, physics are a huge obstacle to sniping. You have to be quick on your toes to compensate for bullet drop while also making sure to lead any running enemies. But if you find that too much of a challenge, you can still spot enemies so that they appear marked with an orange icon on your teammates' screens. That will net you some solid XP as well.

Our time with Conquest was every bit as chaotic and messy as you'd expect from a 64-player match composed entirely of people getting their first hands-on with Battlefield 3 multiplayer. Even so, we can tell that the foundation is there for a truly exceptional multiplayer mode once you put in the time to learn the ins and outs of each vehicle and how best to navigate the gargantuan map.

Now onto co-op. This is an entirely separate mode from the single-player story campaign, though there is some overlap in terms of characters and setting. The mission we played, Exfiltration, had us sneaking into a Tehran apartment building to rescue a high-value hostage. The game doesn't force you to play in any particular way, but it was dead obvious that DICE wants you to take a stealthy approach to this mission. There were several occasions when our team of two snuck up behind a conveniently matched pair of enemies who happened to have their backs turned to us. Predictable as it was, there's no denying how satisfying it was to coordinate who would take each enemy, and then counting to three before the two of us pulled the triggers on our silenced pistols.

In fact, the whole tone of the first half of this mission felt worlds apart from what we've seen thus far from Battlefield 3's story campaign. Silently creeping through dimly lit basements and hallways was very different from the sprawling set pieces of the single-player campaign, but that soon changed once we managed to rescue our man. It was loud as soon as we made it back onto the street level, as a convoy of friendly Humvees began moving through the streets. We had to contend with enemies perched up on the balconies and windows of the various buildings flanking the streets. It was a big, open shoot-out that required us to use the thermal sights on our light machine gun in order to be effective. And we managed to make pretty good progress, too, before both of us died and utterly failed the mission.

If nothing else, Battlefield 3's co-op showed us that DICE is willing to veer away from its comfort zone with a different style of action to mix up the overall pacing. But ultimately, we're interested to see how much incentive there is for teamwork over the rest of the campaign. There were those optional stealthy takedowns, and the ability to revive your incapacitated squadmate, but that was really it. Another thing we'd like to see more of is the use of vehicles in co-op; DICE promised you'll be hitting the road in ground vehicles as well as piloting jets.

And that just about wraps up what we played of Battlefield 3 here at Gamescom. Before we finish, we should note one interesting bit of trivia straight from DICE's Karl-Magnus Troedsson: The PC version of Battlefield 3 won't be the only one with multiplayer server browsers; you'll even be able to browse for servers on consoles. We're hoping to find out a few more surprises sometime before the game's release on October 25.

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238 comments
Dominic_18
Dominic_18

i dare anyone say call of duty aka auto aim shooting game is better than Battlefield

obenns
obenns

@collingtonuk Sucks right.... let's hope they have a - and sorry for using the CoD term - "Hardcore mode" -you know, without the auto-find crap.

collingtonuk
collingtonuk

"But if you find that too much of a challenge, you can still spot enemies so that they appear marked with an orange icon on your teammates' screens. That will net you some solid XP as well." Oh dear, ignored all the comments of the people who played the alpha then. 3D spotting was a massive fail on the Alpha. Hiding was a waste of time as you could just spam 'Q' and little red triangles would appear over all the enemy teams head, then it was just a case of shooting blindly at them for kills. Never even saw who you were killing a lot of the time.

Innos007666
Innos007666

One really amazing game is coming out this year. Respect DICE !

xMarex
xMarex

@Lash540 who said there were no jets on consoles?

Lash540
Lash540

LOL NO JETS IN 360 or PS3 HAHAHAHA FAIL! 64 players and Jets = PC Only = Awesome! Having to get Origin to play this game on the PC = Fail! 24 players and no jets Xbox360+PS3.... = Terri-bad Fail! So sad to see the consoles getting the crap end, I would take a graphics pitfall just to support the 64 players on consoles.

straygoat
straygoat

Can't wait for this. Black Ops was the end of COD for me...switched to BF: BC2 and have not loaded a COD game since.

Skymoses
Skymoses

This year is the first time I will not pre-order CoD since World at War, not trying to down the call of duty franchise, but it just seems like Battlefield will have a lot more to offer this go around compared to last years model, and CoD doesn't looked like it changed much from Modren Warfare 2 (online play wise). I might get it later on, but after I give Battlefield its due. I just like what I see more from Battlefield than CoD so far.

dcrabiddog
dcrabiddog

@xw1ng ok you got me i never have got the hang of battlefield games not because i am incapable of being tactical my issue w the game really does boil down to line of sight issues aka too much glare and w the 360 port you could hear someone in the bushes but could not tell what direction and the reloading was very clunky and the melee takes way too long also the menu system of black and white outlined weapons was kind of beat. so really the game felt inaccessible to me over all oh wildly careening vehicle controls were odd as well. i appreciate the civility of your comments though. thanks

xw1ng
xw1ng

@dcrabiddog i'm not sure frames per second is going to make a difference in seeing past 20 yards. and trust me you can see way the hell past twenty yards without a scope (done it and had it done to me). or maybe i'm just more experienced at the game. you clearly play cod more than battlefield so thats probably why cod is better for you. i dont like cod becasue i dont play it as much and arent so good at it either.

JOKER677
JOKER677

I would pay 200$ to get this game. Everytime I watch the multiplayer it gets better. CoD hasn't shown much though...I wonder why.

KrazzyDJ
KrazzyDJ

How I wish I had a configuration capable of playing this game at the highest settings. The screenshots in this article look simply awesome. Perhaps, someday, I will be able to play this game !!!

ghoward79
ghoward79

Would be awesome if they had artillery pieces as options

kazumashadow
kazumashadow

@theshonen8899 maybe you are right, but still i won't simply assume the game is going to be crap because it is being developed by a new team. Many "new" teams made good games so i think i will give it a shot. Anyway, i didn't say Battlefield was going to be bad, because i'm pretty sure it is going to be AWESOME and i'm buying it.

dcrabiddog
dcrabiddog

dear holtrocks that wasn't very nice, i am allowed my opinion and the vehicles in battlefield do take a bit of getting used to. and it is true my kd in battlefield games is like .38 lol! it's mostly because i can't see past twenty yards on the field cause this crappy game doesn't run at 60 frames per second like call of duty does. big sounds big whoop. any one can make a great commercial. it's cool though i ain't haten on you, i will play the beta and see how it goes. my guess is i will be shifting my pre order money to dead island. while i wait for rage..... if you say something nice about me i will let you have my first child though lmao! grrrrrrrr. woof! now you space rabies!

captain_hitec
captain_hitec

@littleghostie Well, let's say it's information that hasn't been officially released.

Lastbullet777
Lastbullet777

battlefield 3 will be the greatest game ever made in the history of videogames, it will be a step forward for mankind...

littleghostie
littleghostie

@captain_hitec Wow! this a lot of info. Did you know that off hand or did you look it up? Good thing i pre-ordered it extra maps. Anyway i thought i read jets and 64 players are exclusive to pc only.

captain_hitec
captain_hitec

@littleghostie The only thing that's PC only is Conquest 64. Some EXCLUSIVE BF3 NUMBERS you'll get excited about: - 350+ Dogtag customizations - 55 Weapons - 27 Weapon customizations, including 12 different optics. - 16 Soldier Equipment, including Claymores, C4, Medkit, Knife, Ammobox etc. - 14 Solder Specializations, including FLAK vests, Sprint boost etc. - 22 Vehicles - 28 Vehicle Specializations - 6 Different multiplayer game modes - 9 Multiplayer maps in the vanilla game, and the scale of the maps is HUGE. - 13 Multiplayer maps if you pre-order, (because of the 4 extra from Back to Karkand) - 10x more DLC as BC2, and most of it should be free. That's real warfare, not modern warfare.

littleghostie
littleghostie

So their's jets in co-op on consoles? Or jets exclusive to pc only?

crim86
crim86

XxCRAFTYxX, you're obviously a nub who hasn't played any Battlefield titles to make such ignorant remarks.

c1utch2much
c1utch2much

@metaltorn cod fans dont think that mw2 can compete with it, cod fans think that mw3 will compete and probably beat it in sales, and I agree with all with them but i play both games and even though both games are good bf3 is better because it has vehicles(like in real war) and it actually team based

Lastbullet777
Lastbullet777

battlefield 3 will be the greatest game ever made in the history of videogames, it will be a step forward for mankind...

superbobo64
superbobo64

You have read the BF3 preview! Hype +5 100% resistance to COD

XxCRAFTYxX
XxCRAFTYxX

Ohh.....a game where you can be an ant with a gun and let everyone in their planes, tanks and helo's crush you from angles you couldnt predict resulting in zero strategy or actual skill based shooter action....and who profits from it EA and you need to download their bloatware Origin for it to work on a PC......F that jazz.........

metaltorn
metaltorn

How can COD fans possibly think that MW2 can compete with this

theshonen8899
theshonen8899

@kazumashadow You understand that no one except Robert Bowling remains at Infinity Ward right? No one who worked on Call of Duty 4 or Modern Warfare 2 is making Modern Warfare 3. Jason West, Frank Zampella and all of the other great minds that were in Infinity Ward were fired by Activision and went to make a new studio: Respawn Entertainment. So no, we have no idea at all whether Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 will be any good, because it's being made by a bunch of random people Activision picked off the street. We know Battlefield 3 will probably be pretty awesome because Battlefield 2 was a masterpiece and the studio wasn't raped and murdered. We know Respawn Entertainment's new game should be excellent because they created the well loved Call of Duty. But Modern Warfare 3 has nothing, it's just a giant brand name pretending to still be Call of Duty.

holtrocks
holtrocks

@Cedar-Teeth are you f****** blind??????

holtrocks
holtrocks

@wars45 M money W wasted 3 3rd time

holtrocks
holtrocks

@dcrabiddog actually the planes were extremely easy to fly you must just suck

kazumashadow
kazumashadow

@theshonen8899 actualy they are both great games so it is a tough choice, of course some fanboys will disagree.

Rovelius
Rovelius

@nap11 If they developed it for consoles first... you would get the. same. damn. thing. It's called HARDWARE LIMITATIONS. PC pretty much doesn't have those. The PS3 is like a 5-year old PC. My own PC is about 4 times the power of a PS3... and it was only $800. Oh and bringing down CoD or not will not change the fact that this game is going to be bloody amazing. If something as TRIVIAL as this is enough to change your mind, you might as well stop gaming altogether for you are not playing games for the good reasons. I play games for fun. Not for MORE DRAMA COD VS BF OOLOLOLOL stupid gamers always whining seriously learn to enjoy what you have.

bluebird08
bluebird08

this looks so much better than what there showed on jimmy fallon.

bluebird08
bluebird08

at 3:09 there was a glitch when he changed weapons, the aimer did not change, but that will be fixed when the game comes out.

NexusSpawn
NexusSpawn

We may be looking at the GOTY here

AceBalls
AceBalls

I'll still get both. But I'll trade in MW3 the minute I finish the SP campaign - and I will keep BF3 forever and ever ;)

Iffy350
Iffy350

Forgotten Hope 0.7 is better than Battlefield 2.

meleekill989
meleekill989

this is awesome to hear. playing recon in battlefield is probably the most challenging and thus the most rewarding experience i've ever had in a video game. bf3 FTW.

ragnar320
ragnar320

dude this game is gonna put cod is the ground. ive played pretty much every single cod there is and i am just stunned by what this game is offering. im bored with the typical arena shooters where you either capture or destroy something or just kill each other. this really looks like a battifield and i am juiced

garcia_jx
garcia_jx

@nigor4life but.......by you posting "no comment" you are youdoing just that; posting a comment.

dcrabiddog
dcrabiddog

great more planes that are too hard to fly! lame lame lame! i hate dice with all my cod heart!

nigor4life
nigor4life

OMG....I DONT KNOW WHAT TO SAY !!! ..NO COMMENT

Gamer_4_Fun
Gamer_4_Fun

This gamescom was pretty much the final nail to the coffin for you know who :P

emartini1222
emartini1222

Its funny though. BF3 won gamerscon game of the show but no websites will post that news. I wonder why? HMMMM. A company named Activision is paying them off very well to promote their game more.