Single Player Campaign
I’d love to tell you about Battlefield 3’s single player campaign in its entirety, but I can’t. About halfway through the fourth mission, I encountered a bug that impedes my ability to progress. See, I’m at a point where a scripted explosion occurs and I need to regroup with three of my squadmates at a certain location. When I get there, only two of them are there; the third is still back site of the explosion and refuses to run forward and regroup with us. Without the entire group, I can’t get past a door that is further along in the level, because certain doors can only be breached as part of a scripted event. In this case, that scripted event is having all of my squadmates with me, and they refuse to follow me to the door until our third man regroups with us. When I can’t play certain parts of a game that I’m supposed to be able to play, I consider that an unfinished product.
Now, I’m a fair critic. I have given this bug many, many opportunities to fix itself, thinking that maybe it was a one (or two, or three) time thing. But at this point, I’ve reloaded my save point at least a dozen times, and I’ve even restarted the entire level and worked my way back to the same point, only to still encounter the same bug. So thanks to this rather serious technical issue, I am literally unable to experience the campaign in its entirety and tell you what it’s like on the whole.
Perhaps the worst part is that I have yet to hear anything about an official patch being on its way from EA or DICE. It could be coming and they’re probably aware of this issue, but they have yet to make any public announcements. They claim to be all ears and taking feedback very seriously, but until they actually start issuing patches and fixes, I paid $60 for an incomplete title.
What I can tell you from what I experienced so far in the campaign is that it’s got a distinct feeling of old and new being mixed, but its deviations from past Battlefield titles don’t work out that well. In many ways, it feels like a Battlefield campaign because of its intensity, large sense of scale, and somewhat campy story. But on the other hand, it also features a shameless amount of scripted events and, worst of all, tons of quicktime events.
My roommate, a fellow Battlefield fan who happened to be watching me play through one of the earlier campaign missions, put it best: “This isn’t Battlefield,” he said simply in reference to the litany of quicktime events I had to work my way through. And he’s right; that sort of thing just isn’t Battlefield in nature and it’s more of a gimmicky part of modern-day gaming that managed to worm its way into the gameplay. But hey, just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean others will hate it too. This may appeal to some, but I doubt those who enjoy the classic Battlefield feel of the rest of the campaign are going to dig it.
I was also not a fan of the one flying mission that I got to experience before hitting the brick wall in my single-player campaign. First of all, you would think that in a mission in which you are flying around in a fighter jet (one of the most played-up aspects of Battlefield 3) you would actually be the one flying. This is not the case. You are a gunner while the computer flies the jet for you, which really disappointed me, because I would have loved a way to practice my jet flying. Instead, I only get to practice by commandeering a jet in multiplayer, only to crash it seconds later because I don’t know how to fly, and then having to endure the ire of my teammates. This is also the reason why I believe that this game should have a flying tutorial. But I digress.
The point is, this flying mission was disappointing (it may be possible that they let you actually fly later on in the campaign, but as things stand now, I’ll never know) and also insanely annoying because it was impossible to tell when my shots were registering on enemy fighters. I wasted a good half an hour trying to use missiles, only to eventually switch over to machine guns because the former simply was not working. It’s probably not a good sign that one-quarter of my campaign experience was unenjoyable, but once again, I can’t give you a big-picture analysis. So we move on to the co-op campaign.
Oh, wait. I can’t tell you about the co-op campaign either, because it also contained a bug that stopped me from progressing. There are only six co-op missions, a disappointing number in and of itself, but I only got to play through the first one before hitting another technical roadblock in the second that made it impossible for me to move on.
On the second co-op mission, you are tasked with either flying or shooting from a helicopter while your partner does the opposite. The problem I experienced is that some of the troops on the ground (that we’re supposed to be helping with our covering fire) tend to either get stuck or run in the wrong direction, which halts the scripted events…namely, the troops moving forward and allowing me to progress through the mission.
My roommate and I made our way through the entire mission three times, only to encounter the same issue (though in slightly varying forms) each time towards the end that prevented us from actually completing it. At the end of the mission, both squads of troops are supposed to make their way into evac helicopters and fly away. Instead, twice some of our troops were either stuck back at the starting point of the mission or floating somewhere in the mountains, which of course prevented the rest of the troops who were waiting at the helicopters from getting in and flying away. Much like my single player bug, they refuse to proceed without the entire squad.
The third time, one squad piled into a helicopter, which flew away towards the edge of the map and then got caught on the ground and sort of floundered awkwardly. Without that first helicopter successfully leaving, the second one with the rest of the troops refused to take off (plus, I think there might have been a floating man in the mountains here, too…it’s difficult to remember when so much goes wrong so many times). Much like I did in single player, I gave this bug plenty of time to fix itself. Besides retrying and ultimately making my way through the entire mission three times only to run into the same problems, on all three occasions where we had clearly hit a bug-induced wall despite finishing the mission, my partner and I waited a good ten to fifteen minutes to see if things would sort themselves out.
They did not, the mission would not end, and as such, I cannot progress through the rest of the co-op campaign; the third mission (and the rest of them, for that matter) is locked until I complete the second mission. So until this bug is fixed, no more co-op for me.
And I’ve got to say, I was really looking forward to the rest of the co-op missions because I wanted this particular game mode to redeem itself. I love co-op in games and so far Battlefield 3 had not totally impressed me. Besides the fact that scoring points in co-op mode can unlock exclusive weapons for multiplayer usage — something I think is a great idea — I was kind of disappointed by what I had experienced thus far. The first mission was basically horde mode, with my partner and I staying in virtually the same spot the entire time as waves of enemies came at us. The second mission with the helicopter was a refreshing change of pace (even if it is excruciatingly difficult to fly the chopper) since it wasn’t so blatantly horde-like, so I thought maybe things were moving in the right direction. But for now I don’t know if the quality of the co-op missions improves as they progress.
So between this and the single player campaign issue that I ran into, it’s easy for me to consider this to be a failed launch for Battlefield 3, at least from a quality standpoint. In terms of sales, well…EA is already claiming to have sold over 5 million copies globally in the first week and I’m sure a lot of that has to do with the highly-anticipated multiplayer aspect.