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History of Battlefield: From the Front Lines

by on July 8, 2016
 

The year was 2002. I was finishing up my final year of high school (graduating in 2003), and I was ready to break into the PC gaming world very unexpectedly. In the small town of Los Banos, California high speed internet was ungodly expensive and listening to the glorious, now joke-able tones of a dial up modem to play online was music to my ears. At the time my experience with PC gaming were strategy games such as ‘Command and Conquer’ and ‘Warcraft’ as well as a few other classics such as ‘Diablo’ and the ‘Myst’ series. I could remember the frustration of being in the middle of a Command and Conquer match just to have someone pick up the phone and completely kill the game. The kids of today will never know that frustration…if you rage if you think lag is bad, there were no automatic re-connection. You had to sit and wait for the connection back to the ISP, that’s if your parents didn’t need to use the phone first.

Moving ahead, there was a new shop that opened in the same shopping center as the movie theater I was working at. It was called X-Net, and it changed my life forever. It was a PC gaming LAN party shop with a PC repair center inside. A small town country boy like me had never seen anything like that before, I was amazed! I immediately purchased some hours and dove in. Everyone there was playing Counter-Strike. A game I’ve only heard about as my parents PC was too weak to play first person shooters this is where my gaming life excelled (or declined if you looked at my grades). It wasn’t until a couple of weeks that went by that Battlefield 1942 released.

Battlefield 1942 was unlike any game I ever played. There were different classes to play as each specializing in an area of combat or support! Vehicles that you could jump into from land, air, and sea. There was melee fighting if someone got a bit to close! The battles took place on actual places and battlefields from World War II! But one of the best parts? It encouraged teamwork and a bit of coordination to win. There were no “lone wolves” to be found, you had to play as a team. This, on top of 64 player matches absolutely blew my mind and this bond was formed. I may have been bias at the time as my grandfather fought in the pacific campaign of WWII. This may have swayed me to try this game, but it was the game play and the teamwork aspect that sucked me in. Enough to by my own copy as well as the Secret Weapons of WWII expansion and when it was released.

In 2004 Battlefield Vietnam was released, this took the success of BF1942 and added some amazing features. It added a variety of weapons that could be chosen, as well as allowing passengers in vehicles to be able to shoot while in the vehicle! Another slick touch was the addition to the 60’s music that you could play while in the vehicles, granted it didn’t take long for you to get wrecked by a Huey, but awesome nonetheless.

2005 is when EA changed the game. Battlefield 2 was released and my god was it glorious. It was the first Battlefield game to feature a single player story line. BF2 was a modern based setting which got away from their previous history based games. It still kept the 64 man based battles and the strong team based strategies, but what it added again changed the say we played games. They had the option to pick up ‘kits’ from fallen soldiers which allowed you to grab that ‘oh so needed’ rocket launcher against a tank when all you had is a rifle. It added the great feature of Squads and Commander (Please bring commander back). This allowed you to have even more team based control and gained more XP when working as a team. It added VOIP communication, so you could actually talk to your squad/commander when needed. Lastly (that I can remember) it added the player progression. The more you played you were able to unlock new weapons, you were able to earn ribbons and badges for your in-game performance. While this is nothing out of the ordinary today, back in 2005, it was all new to play with. I loved it so much I grabbed the Special Forces and Armored Fury expansion packs. It was this game that made me fall in love with the medic class. I always try to choose that class first unless the squad was overloaded with them.

Battlefield 2142 holds a special place in my heart. Despite all of the backlash it received which I will get into later. The year is in fact 2142 in this game. So of course there are futuristic aspects of the game. They added a ‘Titan’ battle mode. Titans were insanely massive warships that had force fields on them. There were two ways you could bring down the other teams Titan, and win the battle; one was to capture the missile sites that would launch missiles at the enemy Titan as long as you held the point, the other way was much funner. You could use your APC or squad beacon (which shot you down in a pod to a location if your squad leader placed one), and spawn pod yourself into the enemy Titan. Once inside you had to destroy four reactor panels which then opened the reactor of the Titan allowing you to destroy the reactor. Oh you think you’re done there? Hell no you have 30 seconds to get your ass out of a now exploding Titan. I really enjoyed this aspect of the Titan maps. It allowed for more teamwork and objective focus with awesome results. The set back which really hurt the game with many players. There were in-game ads within the game, placed around billboards and such throughout the maps. Players would call this ad-ware and absolutely shot the game down once learning about this feature. I do remember the Discovery Channel having a ‘Future Weapons’ ad towards the beginning of the game. It didn’t really bother me much, but it was a bit annoying and forced. With that said, it didn’t take away from the game play at all.

Next was a series of games that had one of the best storyline and the most memorable characters. I am combining these two as they released very close to each other. These games were Battlefield: Bad Company and Battlefield Bad Company 2. The first of the series was only launched on Xbox 360 and PS3. This also marked the debut of DICE’s Frostbite engine. This is that amazing engine that now allows you to blow through walls and houses like they were nothing (This engine is now on its 3rd update and is found on BF4, BF: Hardline, and BF1). The story follows Private Preston Marlowe and crew from ‘B’ company, (Sgt. Samuel D. Redford, Private Terrence Sweetwater, and Private George Gordon Haggard Jr.) The story starts off with the Bad Company realizing the Legionnaires get paid in gold bars when they find some. While they are withdrawing from the mission they spot Legionnaires loading a truck with gold, which then drove into the nearby country…which happens to be a neutral company in the war between the Russian Federation and the United States. Haggard who then gets overly excited and chases after the truck..single-handedly invading a neutral country yelling, “There’s gold in them there hills!” The humor and story of this game makes this so memorable as one of my all time favorite FPS story lines. Please EA, have part 3 being worked on.

For the next couple of years EA threw out some minor additions to the Battlefield family. They released two free to play games; Battlefield Heroes, and Battlefield Play4Free. Battlefield Heroes was a fun cartoon like third person shooter which allowed fun customization on your heroes. You could play and unlock in-game currency to change the look of your hero or pay actual money to customize them further. This was a fun little game that didn’t take too much PC to run, but still had that Battlefield team based feel. Battlefield Play4Free I personally did not play too much, but it basically a modified version of Battlefield 2. This also did not take too much computer to run and was a fun game to hold you over until the next title came.

Battlefield 1943 came out which was an updated version of Battlefield 1942, it had the Frostbite 1.5 engine which completely changed the game. This two was also launched on consoles only. I believe at this time I was still on a heavy PC kick so I did not play it too much.

Battlefield 3 dropped the hammer on all FPS games. It had pre-order bonuses, it was modern, gritty warfare, it debuted the new Frostbite 2 engine, it had it all. This was the first time I owned copies of a single game on multiple systems. I couldn’t get enough. Once of the coolest things EA launched with this title was the ‘Battlelog”. It was a service you could check out your stats and compare them with other players. You could message other players and join the games your friends were in. It was Battlefield Facebook in a nut shell. One thing that took a little bit getting used to was on PC you used an actual web browser to search for servers, while the consoles had built-in server browsers. Also thanks to YouTube all of the stunts people would do with vehicles could now be proudly displayed. BF3 was a beautiful solid game with a damn near perfect multiplayer experience.

About two years later Battlefield 4 gets launched. It’s single player mode was somewhat lacking, but the gameplay, graphics and multiplayer mode was friggin amazing. EA finally brought back the ‘Commander’ mode which was last utilized in BF2142. This allowed another team dynamic especially with vehicle drops and missile drops around the map. It brought so much more fun to the game, especially when people followed orders you would rack up XP like no other. I do remember introducing camo for the weapons and some vehicles, which was great depending on what level you were on, you didn’t want to be sneaking around with a bright gun that could be seen by that enemy sniper. Now, this game had some MAJOR issues upon launch. It was infested with bugs, glitches were everywhere and it would crash on all systems. It was a mess for people wanting the next Battlefield experience. A year after launch they were still dropping major updates across all systems. Once the dust settled, Battlefield 4 was an amazing game with the multiplayer leading the way for first person shooter games. In fact it is still widely played today.

Battlefield Hardline released in a bit of a crazy time in my life. It was around the time of the launch we found out that I was going to be a dad for the first time. Battlefield Hardline was a ‘cops and robbers’ take on the Battlefield franchise. I enjoyed the fresh take with less militant path they took with it. I wasn’t able to play it as much as I’d like due to the life changing event that was happening. I enjoyed the Hotwire mode, where a car basically becomes the flag and you have to drive around avoiding the enemy trying to stay alive. It was really fun and was a good rush trying to do a reverse 180 before getting obliterated by the enemy. One thing I do applaud EA here is to make the decision to delay the game due to the feedback from the Beta testers, they learned from the Battlefield 4 launch that release dates are ideal, but not worth it for the fans to release a broken game.

We’ve made it. With Battlefield 1 on the horizon, and the NDA lifted off of the Closed Alpha I can finally talk about it. While the name is confusing it is based back in the past in WWI. The trailer is insane, if you haven’t watched it yet I highly recommend watching it! The Closed Alpha so far is amazingly smooth. It really doesn’t feel like an Alpha. There are some weird issues but nothing game breaking that I have found (and can’t be fixed before launch). It’s so smooth and the gameplay is intense and tight. Taking a break from modern war I think is exactly what we need. It was so refreshing…and awesome spawning in a zeppelin as well as seeing old prop planes gunning people down. But the vehicle I am looking forward to most? The horse. Yes a friggin horse! I can’t wait to see what DICE and EA have in store for us. It looks amazing, already plays amazing and has already been touted as the Call of Duty killer. Expect some more updates from us at GameOctane with further development for the game as well as community play events as well as stream events!

Post your memories from your Battlefield experience below!!

 

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