Having spent the past three days playing the Battlefield: Bad Company multiplayer beta with other Xbox 360 gamers (Day 1 Diary, Day 2 Diary), the Xbox Live connection issues had all been worked out, and the online fighting had grown more intense. People aren’t exploring the levels anymore; they know where the hard and soft points are, and they’re exploiting them left and right to make every battle much more punishing.
With such intense battles, it’s been important to identify just exactly who you’re playing against. Not in the Gamertag sense, necessarily, but in the sense that different character classes present different obstacles and opportunities. To help give you an idea of the people you’ll be up against when Battlefield: Bad Company ships, we thought we’d give you a low-down on the character classes in Electronic Arts’ first-person shooter.
- Assault: Your standard, default Infantryman, the Assault class is equipped with (you guessed it) assault rifles, which can be tailored with or without grenade launchers. Assault troopers also get hand grenades, as well as the option to unlock the Auto Injector to heal yourself in mid-firefight.
- Demolitions: This handy character is where you’ll find the rocket launcher and shotgun combo, a devastating one-two punch that no self-respecting heavy gunner should be without. This class also has the option to swap out either of those boomsticks for an assault rifle, and after enough play time, mines can be unlocked as well.
- Recon: This is Battlefield: Bad Company’s sniper class, armed with one heck of pistol as well as the sniper rifle. Since this class is in charge of all reconnaissance, though, this character also comes equipped with a GPS unit that shows enemy positions when activated, and it can eventually unlock the ability to “paint” targets and call down a quick missile strike. This missile-strike option, while powerful, is pretty tricky to get used to, because players have guide the missile to the target themselves. But once you get the hang of it, it’s lights out.
- Specialist: This “catch-all” class presents some diverse gameplay options, as he can carry silenced weapons as well as shotguns and can eventually unlock C-4, which brings all the fun of creating car bombs that can be detonated from afar.
- Support: Last but not least, the “human tank” returns, armed with a heavy machine gun and the Power Tool, which repairs vehicles and goes through destructible walls in seconds. The Support class can also equip medkits to aid fellow soldiers, and his unlockable is the Mortar Strike, which acts exactly as it sounds: Your own, personal, mortar strike (apologies to Depeche Mode).
Each of these five classes has two unlockable weapons, as well as its “perk,” so to speak, and starts out with three default weapons (two more will be available as downloadable content). Unlocking weapons is simply a matter of ranking up, accumulating the subsequent points and spending those points on unlockable weapons. Each weapon costs a point, so it’s more of a follow-your-instincts mechanic than it is “save 18 points for the super-duper-mega bazooka.” Aside from points, players can also earn “dog tags” by performing knife kills. Earning these may provide Achievements down the line, but all they do in the beta is show up in your stats. And somehow, the whole “bring a knife to a gunfight” just strikes us as wrong.
Much like Team Fortress 2 and myriad other shooters, players can swap their class every time they respawn, which allows for both a bit of class experimentation and some tactic changes if the situation arises. Of course, it also comes in handy if you want to avoid your teammates’ ire. Say, if you team kill, as we did. Again. It was really just a bad sense of timing…I mean, the guy was almost dead anyway, after being blitzed by two enemies indoors. He just didn’t drop fast enough before my grenade hit him the back.
Yeah, he didn’t exactly buy that excuse either. Sorry, bud. At least we shared that awesome moment on a tank, making a mad yet coordinated dash for the enemy base and taking out their howitzer — twice. That was a Yahoo! moment, and one of the reasons we’ve come to love the Battlefield franchise. With any luck, my dearly departed teammate will focus on that glorious moment instead.
— Phillip Vollmer