The recoil of guns in Battlefield 3 is deeply satisfying, especially when it's followed by an enemy staggering and then falling.
There's still much to be seen and experienced with Battlefield 3, but at this year's E3, Electronic Arts is giving press a first chance to go hands on with the game's multiplayer. In particular, six of us had a chance to sit down with the game's Rush Mode, a mode that has you fighting your way through a series of connected maps to defend or capture objectives.
Before dropping into our first gameplay session (on computers, gameplay on consoles still haven't been seen), the developers explained some of the changes they've brought to their popular shooter.
Battlefield has always been a class-based game and it remains so, but those classes have seen some pretty drastic changes with Battlefield 3.
The Assault class, a typical, balanced front-line soldier, has been combined with a medic to form a sort of combat medic, a class that can charge into the front lines, but also heal and revive other players.
The Engineer can repair vehicles, and take them down. He also has this bizarre little addition: An underslung flashlight mounted to his weapon that can blind other players when its pointed at them. In action, that flashlight makes it hard to pinpoint an enemy, but not impossible to eventually hit them.
The Support class is the heavy gunner of Battlefield 3. This time around he has a bipod that can be mounted to just about anything. When mounted that heavy machine gun has a lot more accuracy. It also allows players to throw down suppressing fire, something that can literally make enemy players have trouble seeing what's going on. When a player is suppressed, their vision blurs.
Finally the Recon, or sniper class has been tweaked so that it's a bit harder to run and gun.
Battlefield 3 brings other changes to multiplayer as well. You can customize your dog tags, dog tags that can be taken from you with a knife kill. You can customize your vehicles to tweak its special abilities and load outs. Destruction, a key element of the series, has once more been amped up.
In previous titles, you could initially chip away at cover with gunfire, they you could take down entire buildings. In Battlefield 3, players will be able to take out the entire facade of a building, exposing all of the enemies hiding inside to easy, unprotected fire.
After being walked through all of the changes, we were dropped into a session of Rush on a map with four areas.
I started out with an Assault class soldier, but had a chance to check out every class briefly as we steamrolled through the match up against a remote group of QA testers. The gameplay was fluid, though there were a few hang-ups in graphics or ping as we played. The developers assured me all of those issues were being ironed out. Battlefield 3 is an impressively gritty game, perhaps not as impressive as the singleplayer, but still attention grabbing.
With the distinct classes and the specific objectives, the gameplay felt a bit more guided, a bit more tactical than a match of standard Call of Duty.
I managed to gun down quite a number of people in the assault class, pulled off the first knife kill of E3 (or so I was told) and even sniped a few folks. It was a fun experience, one that has me looking forward to this shooter as much as I am toward Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.
It's going to be a good year for fans of this genre.