PC Battlefield Heroes Hands-On

Battlefield Heroes is launching on EA's free download service later in the year. We met with developer Dice in London to see whether we'll want to enlist.

When EA-owned Digital Illusions CE announced it would be releasing a completely free version of Battlefield under its new Play 4 Free service, it certainly raised the eyebrows of some fans. It was a bold move for EA and it remains to be seen if the new addition will be given as warm a welcome as its full-priced brothers.

We were able to spend some time with the game recently at EA's first European Spring Showcase, along with its other upcoming Battlefield game, Battlefield: Bad Company. While that game looks and feels like a regular member of the series, Heroes has been dubbed by the company as a "cartoon shooter"--essentially the same experience but with a cute, stylised face-lift. The artistic style of Battlefield Heroes isn't unique; it follows in the footsteps of EA partner Valve's Team Fortress 2, with both games looking strikingly similar to Pixar's movie The Incredibles.

Battlefield Heroes boasts a range of crazy characters and vehicles.

The game certainly lives up to the cartoon billing, being cute, cheery, and bright throughout. The map we played looked gorgeous, with bright-green fields, yellow wild flowers, and blue skies, but the real stars prove to be the quirky characters, which are all animated in a rubbery, cartoon style. Along with their general moves, characters will be able to pull off a number of wacky animations with which to taunt other players. These differ according to the character that you're using. Each character belongs to one of the two armies in the game: the Royal Army or the National Army, which are loosely based on the British and German armies, respectively.

It looks like Digital Illusions has put a lot of work into streamlining the game, which runs on the Battlefield 2142 engine. Impressively, the company claims it has managed to reduce it from 500MB to 200MB, and the game should work on a wide range of PCs, including those with mid to low specifications (think a 1.2GHz CPU, and higher), when it launches later this year. While the game will be free to download, it will feature adverts in menus and will offer microtransactions, such as clothes to buy, which you can then use to customise your players. These options will not affect your performance (they're merely cosmetic), and you won't have to buy weapon upgrades. There aren't any adverts visible while playing the game itself either, which we're happy to see.

Heroes contains only two 16-player maps thus far, but expect to see more added after its release. Digital Illusions is also considering adding larger maps that can support 32 and 64 players, if there's enough demand from the community. Despite the limited choice in maps, the game compensates in other areas. There are 50-odd weapons available, for instance. There are also 10 customisable boxes found within the main menu system, which let you drag and drop accessories onto your characters--of which you can have up to four. You'll also have access to jeeps, tanks, and planes in the game, all modelled on typical World War II vehicles (such as Spitfires, Panzers, and Sherman tanks). Each character also has an antitank weapon, in addition to a primary and secondary weapon.

There are three character classes to choose from--soldier, gunner, and commando--and each character can be levelled up throughout the game. When you complete missions you'll earn points that you can use to level up your characters' abilities. However, you'll have more ways to spend points than actual points to spend; therefore, you'll have to balance your characters' strengths effectively. Nonetheless, you can always change your mind and change your abilities.

Someone else grabbed that plane? That's cool. Jump on the wings for a free ride.

The game seems to be just as much fun as other games in the Battlefield series. The controls are smooth and the characters respond well to your commands. The map we played had a few strategic checkpoints to conquer, including a lighthouse, a farm, and a village. The village, although small, provided a good checkpoint from which to demolish tanks, after which you could jump into a nearby jeep and set off to go conquer the next checkpoint. If that doesn't sound fast paced enough for you, you can always pilot a plane, with up to two wingmen who will literally sit on the edge of your wings as you perform loop-the-loops and barrel rolls. The local network matches we played on were frantic, fun, and fast--with no lag issues to report.

The Web site for Heroes will also play an important part of the experience. Each player can have a profile, complete with links to friends for comparing progress. Digital Illusions also plans to roll out what it calls "facebook style" features, including status messages so that you can see what your friends are up to in the game, all of which it hopes will provide some lunchtime distractions at workplaces around the globe.

Heroes includes the same frantic conquest missions as previous instalments, with a fun new cast of cartoon characters and, best of all, without any cost to players. Coming to PCs this summer, Battlefield Heroes will be available as a free download from http://www.battlefield-heroes.com.

Written By

Former staff writer for GameSpot.co.uk, now marketing guy for a certain major online retailer....

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Discussion

45 comments
LtBladeKAW
LtBladeKAW

Already in the beta, have four classes and two in each side. This game rocks, sweet game play and its fun. Although it’s hard to master you will still be coming back for more.

hippyc
hippyc

Cool i'm already in the beta

Mike0193
Mike0193

This is a must get ! it is at the best price tag !

MrGoldenBullet
MrGoldenBullet

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOTTTTT 64 PLAYERS IN A FREE GAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ive always loved the bf series over them all set in modern age and 20th century. ive always liked bf2 over call of duty. i have big hopes for this. i cant play bf2 again because my graphics card crashed but im getting a new one from bb soon. so ill be there im usually on texas team players server. cant wait. oops peed my pants i gotta change bye-bye!

IIHitandRunII
IIHitandRunII

OMG this game looks so cool... and its free. I mean when do gamers get something free which looks THIS GOOD. when is this coming out!!!

derekcrosby
derekcrosby

they won't make you pay... but one day, you'll shoot someone and say: "wow that hat looks cool, i want it for my guy"... and you'll want it and you'll pay for it... cool

rambo_ando
rambo_ando

@dylan545 It's due out this summer (Q3), as it says at the top of the page :)

dylan545
dylan545

Can someone...PLEASE TELL ME, When is this game coming out????

grahamo1
grahamo1

it think this will be a really good game for both core gamers and newbies to the gaming scene, really looking forward to this.

Cookie2-0
Cookie2-0

lol I actually want there to be ingame advertisments in this, what makes a game better than blasting other people with a tank ... blasting other people in a tank who have big stickers on the side saying "I love Coke"

irontigers
irontigers

"...follows in the footsteps of EA partner Valve..." EA and valve? We're screwd!! But, besides that, its sounds like a good game

GANGSTASAN
GANGSTASAN

antaeus1991- Yep, i get what you said. 200mb? That's great!

Payback7
Payback7

Looking forward to this one!

sesquipedalian4
sesquipedalian4

Been following this title for a few months now... the wait is almost over.

Antaeus1991
Antaeus1991

Is it just me...or does the graphical style look alot like that of team fortress 2?

Giantstalker
Giantstalker

As stupid as this sounds, this seems like it'll be better than Bad Company...

Avals
Avals

Why don't give the battlefield 3 straight ahead? Stop torturing us for waiting..imagine, a battlefield 2 and 64 players with the frostbite engine..destructive walls..tanks just roar through forest and pull down every tree...and you don't even want to play for this one 'cause it's not important..!

Rhen_Var
Rhen_Var

Man, TF2 are not, it is NOT TF2, it's Battlefield. EA may be earning money through advertisements but we aren't paying now are we? I'm getting this game and if they make me spend a single cent then I'm heading back to 2142 and 2!

Pete5506
Pete5506

TF2 but battlefield style

SGT4EVA
SGT4EVA

omg freakin amazing im dieing here waiting to play it, until then i got bf2 and i hope this works on my laptop :(

pspeck_1
pspeck_1

Theres FINALLY a new trailer-looks totally (sorry!) LOL and very fun!

nightwraith40k
nightwraith40k

I like it, advertisements won't bother me and its free!

Staryoshi87
Staryoshi87

I'm super excited about this game. I love WW2, I love Battlefield, I love the TF2 art style, and I love the price. It can't get here soon enough. I love in-game advertisements, too, thanks to them we're getting this gem pro-bono :)

andrew_ribbons
andrew_ribbons

"I'm confused...EA are actually doing something for FREE!? Hey, I'm not complaining, it looks awesome!" Ahh, but don't be too fooled. EA are not making this game "for free". The advertisements alone will make them a mint, because millions of people will take up this game (it being free to DL), so advertising companies will gladly fork out vast amounts to EA for a place on the Battlefield Heroes dashboard. EA will make money out of this. Don't you worry XD But i don't mind that because of the way it's being conducted :)

andrew_ribbons
andrew_ribbons

Wow....EA are officially cool again in my book :) If they pull the Mass Effect port off well, they'll be back in the "I like these developers/publishers" section of my book XD

Mutarotation
Mutarotation

this is going to be great! just the kind of game you could fit into a tight schedule. you really shouldn't underestimate the fact that it can run on a low end pc, as most of the people I know at uni has got "non-gamer" laptops

Lord-Viru
Lord-Viru

A free massive shooter that runs on older PC's as well, either I've taken too many hallucenogenics or this is true.

sbjedi
sbjedi

im gunna get this definatly its free whats the worst that could happen

marriage0
marriage0

first thought, this game could be amazing... second thought, with this being free and not demanding, it may be prone to attract a somewhat...immature audience, i guess with its looks, that wont really help either. i cant wait to see how this turns out, i just hope the game isnt plagued by..for lack of a better word...idiots i guess with it being free you cant lose, so yeah, caint wait!

kerrman
kerrman

This game is going to take over my computer. Can't wait!

zoe256
zoe256

I'm confused...EA are actually doing something for FREE!? Hey, I'm not complaining, it looks awesome!

galerian86
galerian86

Love the BF series. Can't wait for this one. Looks good and it`s free!

brok
brok

"it remains to be seen if the new addition will be given as warm a welcome as its full-priced brothers." Are you kidding me? I'm far more interested in this than any battlefield game since the first one. The way it's set up, EA will be FORCED to actually give a damn and deliver updates and listen to the game's fans for the first time.