Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Multiplayer Preview: Seriously. Come Back Here With My Tank! [UPDATED]

I have a thing about tanks. If I can drive it, I will. If I can run you over with it, I shall. If you take it from me, I will chase you down and blow it up. Because if I can't have it, nobody can!

Battlefield: Bad Company 2's multiplayer has a tank gimmick, as you may have guessed. I'm not completely sure if it's in every single mode of multiplayer, but it was the centerpiece of EA's game demo. The tank is supposed to change the nature of multiplayer by providing a mobile control point that acts as a magnet for all the action in the game. It also acts as a magnet for tank driving fanatics like myself.

What Is It?
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is a first person war themed shooter set in various locations in and around Russia North and South America*. The multiplayer uses both custom versions of campaign mode maps and original maps — all of which are tailor made for the tank gameplay. We were told that up to four squads could face off at once in any map, for a total of 16 players in a multiplayer match. Matches are ranked and there's a hardcore mode that removes the kill cam, applies friendly fire, ditches your targeting reticule so that you actually have to use the gun's scope and abandons a lot of heads-up display elements. Additionally, there's an unrevealed squad-based multiplayer mode EA plans to announce later.

What We Saw
Due to some technical difficulties and my unfortunate need to leave a little early, I was only able to play three matches of the one vehicle gameplay with only two to three squads on the same jungle map (called Laguna Presa). I tried out all four classes (engineer, assault, scout and medic), but I wound up sticking to engineer because of my tank obsession as the engineer is the only class that can repair tanks and that comes with rocket-propelled grenades for the blowing up of tanks. That and I wasn't able to successfully attack anybody with my defibrillator while playing as the medic. Bummer.

How Far Along Is It?
Pre-alpha. The game isn't due out 'til March 2, 2010 for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Multiplayer Preview: Seriously. Come Back Here With My Tank! [UPDATED]

What Needs Improvement?
Laguna Presa Map: There were two things about the map that didn't work for me. One, there were at least two places where you could drive the tank up onto a hill and rain down tank fire upon approaching enemies. It seemed a little unfair — but that may have been because we didn't have four squads in play for the necessary chaos to balance that out. Second, there were no physical boundaries on the map. So you could just be running toward what looks like likely cover and be told by the game that you're leaving the battlefield and you've got 10 seconds to turn around. It was pretty jarring.

What Should Stay The Same?
The TANK! It's nice to have a mobile magnet like the tank — it means spawn points suddenly become less important for would-be campers. It also gives players a way to switch up the gameplay if they're able to get to the tank before the other squad does. I was only able to get into the tank once, but for the time I had it, I loved it. It was easy to drive, it automatically fired at anybody within range and if I was really worried, I could change positions within the tank and fire out the sides while somebody else drove. Except I never let anybody else drive because I kept running them over. Then I got exploded and spent the next two matches trying to blow up the tank which kept getting occupied by other squads.

Final Thoughts
If not for the tank, I probably would have been very bored because not much else about the multiplayer stood out as special or different. It's also too hard to pull off the defibrillator attack — in theory, I should've been able to put that puppy in a puddle to shock an enemy within range. Sure, I might've died too, but at least I would've taken him out with me.

ETA: Here's the official reply from EA publicist, Jino Talens:

Squad Deathmatch is a brand new mode to BFBC2, so we're still testing and building it out to the way we want it in the final game. The PS3 beta out now is a general term used in the industry when a game is released early to the public for testing purposes, but the game overall is still in early Alpha.

*Additionally, Talens says, "The game is not set in various locations in and around Russia. It's in North and South America. We did say you are fighting against the Russians though."