Beyond the MMORPG: Battlefield 2142
Today, MMORPG.com debuts a new column that will see our writers give their opinions on some of the games that don't fit into the MMORPG genre. In this week's column, Jon Wood talks a little bit about Battlefield 2142 and the franchise behind it.
Today, we kick off a new column here at MMORPG.com. In this column, our writers will be asked to look beyond the MMORPGs that normally fill this site and talk about games from other genres. What they’ve liked, what they haven’t liked and what’s new. After all, man can not survive on bread alone, and neither can gamers survive on MMORPGs alone.
Today, I wanted to talk about my current non-MMO obsession: Battlefield 2142. Made by Dice and aptly published by Electronic Arts, this game fills a fair amount of my computer time.
The Battlefield series has been, in this writer’s opinion, relatively solid in terms of a franchise. War games have always been popular, and the Battlefield games have always done a stellar job of putting players into the action, stripping away most of the pretense of story to create a PvP lover’s dreamland where player skill makes the difference between life and death, and player kits take the place of classes, allowing for more specialized soldiering on the field of battle.
The game itself functions almost exclusively using “capture the flag” scenario. By employing a variety of different settings in the form of maps, and with the human element thrown in, no two games of BF are ever the same.
Still, before we get to the meat of 2142, there’s a little bit of history to this franchise that has to be mentioned:
Battlefield 1942, the first in the series, focused on the Second World War and allowed players to experience terrains and battles from the history books. This first game in the series was, for its time, one of the most entertaining games that I had ever played online. For me, it offered up that feeling of competition, of hunting (or in my case generally being hunted by) human opponents.
Notable Information: It was the addition of expansion packs to this game that really made it shine.
Battlefield Vietnam came next. I’ll let you guys piece together which war this game chose as its model. For the most part, this game played much like its predecessor, but looked a whole lot better. I never really truly enjoyed this version of the game. It felt a little bit to me like the ugly-stepchild of the Battlefield family. It’s that game that just doesn’t really fit in, and it seemed as though it was used by the developers as a stepping stone between 1942 and Vietnam’s successor.
Notable Information: The soundtrack was the stand-out feature of Battlefield: Vietnam, consisting of popular songs from the era, recognizable to everyone and always entertaining. Hush from Deep Purple, Somebody to Love by Jefferson Airplane and War by Edwin Star are just three examples. Unfortunately, this game, Good Gawd Y’all, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing.
The next game in the series was titled. Battlefield 2. This lends credence to my theory that Vietnam was the game that EA would rather forget as technically, this is the third game in the series and not the second. Still, who lets facts get in the way of a catchy title? Not I.
Battlefield 2 is really where I came back into the franchise. Battlefield Vietnam had bored me almost immediately after install, but when I heard about a new game that would bring Modern Warfare to the table, how could I resist. Blowing people up with the newest and shiniest stuff? I’m there.
BF2 introduced the Commander into the fray, and squads really came into their own with this launch as well. The game’s graphics were stunning at the time, and the gameplay was great. The really interesting aspect of BF2 though, is the fact that it really made the first solid steps toward incorporating persistent elements into your soldier by providing unlocks. Play long enough and unlock new and more powerful weapons for your soldier.
Notable Information: With this game, the groundwork has been laid for a more persistent form of Battlefield gameplay that allows players to feel more pride and prestige through their characters, significantly upping the ante for players and creating a more enjoyable gaming experience.
This brings us up to the focus of this article. Battlefield 2142, which takes place in… well, the year 2142. In that not-too-distant future, the world is in the grips of a new ice age, and livable space on the globe is limited. That’s what sends the Pan-Asian Coalition into battle against the European Union for dominance of what’s left of the livable world.
That’s the back story (in an extreme nutshell), but it’s really the gameplay that sets this game apart for me. The pacing, which had been steadily improving throughout the evolution of the franchise, is finally as fast and action-packed as you might expect in a war zone.
War aficionados and historians may enjoy this game a little bit less, as the futuristic setting of the game really removes it from the feeling of “being there” that the other games provided.
The futuristic setting also allows for a new kind of map. No longer are soldiers confined to obtaining control points on the ground, but now the battle takes to the air in the form of massive Titans, essentially flying aircraft carriers, that serve as the goal in these “Titan Maps”. While the capture-the-flag element is still present in the form of missile silos that will ire at the opposing team’s titan, the real battle is for the defense and destruction of the titans themselves, leading to some incredible pitched battles in relatively close quarters.
Now, the reason that I wanted to use our first Beyond MMORPGs column to talk about this game in particular is because, to my mind, it’s one of those games that makes use of conventions that might be familiar to MMORPG players:
Character levels: Your character (soldier) advances as players earn points through game play. When a player earns enough points to advance in level (disguised nicely by the lore as being promoted), he/she earns an unlock. These unlocks range from equipment upgrade (better guns, more ammo, cool gadgets [becoming invisible is awesome!], etc.) to personal upgrades (faster run speed, more endurance, etc.).
Customizable classes: There are four kits in Battlefield 2142: Recon, Assault, Support and Engineer. Each of these kits has two trees that can be followed to customize your character for a certain task. The Recon kit, for example, allows players to follow unlock paths that lead to becoming a sniper (a really kick-butt sniper rifle comes at the top of one of the trees), or a more combat-oriented fighter (an automatic weapon comes at the top of that tree). Players aren’t stuck on one tree or the other though, as you can choose to advance quickly in one, and ignore the other, or choose a more balanced approach. Heck, you aren’t even limited by kit, as, at any time, you can advance another tree in another kit. In the game, kits are chosen by the player at the beginning of the map, with the option of changing or customizing before each re-spawn.
Lewt: While Battlefield doesn’t provide players with drops, there is still phat lewt to be had as players earn medals, badges, ribbons and pins. Players can earn these during gameplay by accomplishing certain tasks. The Combat Efficiency Pin, for example, is awarded to players who manage to rack up five kills before they themselves are taken down (I know it sounds easy, but it’s not as easy as you’d think). These awards can add to your player’s total score (XP) at the end of the map.
Ok, I think that serves as a pretty good introduction of the Battlefield franchise. While it can never take the place of an MMORPG, if you’re in the mood for a PvP extravaganza and just can’t afford that monthly fee, BF2142 should give you your fix. Happy hunting!