Back when Battlefield 4 was first announced as Digital Illusions Creative Entertainment’s next big triple-A FPS follow up to 2011’s Battlefield 3, not everyone met the idea with open arms.
While the thought of yet another proper Battlefield title certainly carried a sense of excitement with it, it wasn’t quite able to shake that unmistakable longing that lingered within the hearts of a handful of “true” Battlefield followers, a longing for more of what was, for many, an entry point into the long-running Battlefield series, a longing for more Bad Company.
I remember, shortly after Battlefield 4’s announcement, when Battlefield community manager Ian Tornay took to Reddit to address some of the more vocal fans who expressed their disappointed in learning Battlefield: Bad Company 3 would not be seeing the light of day any time soon. He asked something along the lines of, ‘what made Bad Company 2 so magical that you guys would rather see a Bad Company 3 than a Battlefield 4?’
I might be a little late, but with the previous generation of console hardware not so far out of sight of our rear-view mirror, and enjoying night after night of Battlefield 4’s more-or-less “next-gen” FPS experience, I find myself asking the same question. What did make Bad Company 2 so magical?
I could write a thesis on what made Bad Company 2 such a fantastic game, but it’s the aspects I feel are missing in today’s Battlefield that I would like to specifically address. Though there is much to be said about Bad Company’s fantastic single player campaign, we’re going to stick points pertaining to multiplayer for the sake of integrity.
So, in no particular order, let’s get into the top five reasons that I think made Battlefield: Bad Company 2 such an iconic game, and its stand-out features that I think would nicely benefit future Battlefield titles.
1. More Things Blew Up
Visiting only a handful of Bad Company 2’s interiors would reveal a severe scarcity in the number of building assets used in-game, but that didn’t stop DICE from littering the battlefield with houses, cabins, or bunkers that not only offered satisfying close-quarters gameplay, but could be completely levelled through enough C4, tank shell, or other explosive bombardment.
Battlefield 4 touts “Levolution” as a brand new concept to the Battlefield series, but like the hipster that burned his tongue because he drank his coffee before it was cool, Bad Company was doing it before levelling stuff became a ‘thing’. No, the act of toppling a small house isn’t nearly as grandiose as demolishing an entire skyscraper, but the quantity and frequency of Bad Company 2’s smaller Levolution events made it more of a viable and meaningful gameplay tactic.
2. Things Were Simple, Back Then
Battlefield 4 can get overwhelming in the number of gadget options at the disposal of any kit. What happened to the good ol’ days where there was only one tool for any given job. Needed to recon an area? You’d throw a motion ball down the hall. Walls got in your way? Good thing every assault rifle came equipped with an under-barrel attachment. Ran out of ammo? You’d throw down an ammo pack. Enemy infantry in hard-to-reach places? That’s what *ahem* Carl Gustav was for. Right? While a larger variety in options can lead to a higher degree of versatility in ways you can play the game, the basic arsenal of Bad Company 2’s inventory system kept you on the battlefield and out of the loadout screen.
Less toys meant Bad Company 2 avoided overcomplicating the rock-paper-scissors gameplay the Battlefield series is known for. It also meant that the chances of discovering annoying new exploits was kept to a minimal. That’s not to say Bad Company 2 was without its balance issues, but it meant a greater ease in conjuring up strategies to counter specific tactics.
Sometimes, less is more.
We miss you, Carl.
3. Memorable Conquest-Only And Rush-Only Maps
The thing about Battlefield 4’s multiplayer maps is that they work well for all game types; from Conquest to Rush, or TDM to Obliteration, but none of them work great for any specific mode. While I find myself leaving most Rush or Conquest matches with a sense of satisfaction, it’s only just, and it simply doesn’t compare to the number of epic Bad Company 2 battles I’ve survived that have left me completely wow-ed in the same sense a UFC fighter would feel after winning a title match.
Bad Company 2’s most memorable maps, in my eyes, were locations like Panama Canal, Valparaíso, Isla Inocentes, Cold War, or Heavy Metal, all of which were either Conquest- or Rush-only maps. Mind you, even some maps that played well on both Rush or Conquest clearly favored one game mode over the other. Conquest on Atacama Desert and Rush on Arica Harbor come to mind. I think Battlefield 4, or any future Battlefield title, would do well with at least one or two stand-out maps specific to either only Conquest or only Rush.
Valparaíso: one of Bad Company 2’s more iconic Rush maps.
4. Goofy Character Design and Over-the-Top Sound Effects
Bad Company 2’s multiplayer classes, or “kits”, on both the American and Russian side were so clearly defined and unique with such goofy characteristics that they stood out in almost the very same way Team Fortress 2’s iconic classes like the Spy, Engineer or Heavy do today. Be it the Assault with his helmet and visor, the Medic with his bright red beret or green army cap, the Engineer with his black balclava or blast mask, or the Sniper with his full-body “Bush Wookie” (ghillie) suit, each kit was almost a cartoon character in and of itself and was extremely recognizable on the battlefield.
Battlefield 4 does a good job of mixing things up between the US, Russian, and Chinese forces, giving each nation and kit their own unique silhouette, but should Bad Company 3 ever come around the mountain, I’d love to see some of these more light-hearted characters return.
Just look at the Russian Medic’s face on the far right. You know that guy has a fantastic sense of humor.
Say “hello” to Bad Company.
This same sense of playfulness also extended to some of Bad Company 2’s over-the-top, in-your-face sound effects. DICE has done a more than commendable job at crafting a pristine audio experience with Battlefield 4 that is much more attuned to providing a clean and functional aural atmosphere, but firing off a couple of .45 caliber M1911 hand gun rounds in Bad Company 2’s “War Tapes” audio setting was so childishly satisfying. Sometimes, it’s just plain fun to pretend you are in a Michael Bay movie overflowing with deafening explosions and booming assault rifles.
In essence, I firmly believe that these two properties are what gave Bad Company 2 its unique character, and while they might not have a place in Battlefield 4 or Battlefield 5, I sure hope to see same sort of flare return to Bad Company 3.
5. Best Battlefield DLC Ever
Bad Company 2’s last multiplayer expansion may have paved the way for all Battlefield DLCs to come, but no add-on since has ever quite captured the same sort of charm that only the Flight of the Valkyries-blasting, Huey-flying, Flame thrower-wielding Vietnam DLC based on the gruesome jungle combat of the Vietnam war did. Bad Company 2: Vietnam was so bad ass, it even had its own multiplayer menu.
What made Vietnam one of the best Battlefield DLC offerings to-date was not only its selection of vastly different multiplayer maps, but it threw you into an entirely new era all together. With that came brand new character skins, new weapons and vehicles that actually reflected the time period, and best of all, iconic music that really brought that era to life in video game form. I feel a lot of these little touches were left behind in Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 4’s add-ons. Battlefield 3’s Aftermath expansion came pretty darn close, which at least offered weapons and character skins specific to that particular scenario, but wasn’t quite as drastic. While it may be based in Mainland China, Battlefield 4’s China Rising DLC definitely carries some Vietnam vibes, but other than the maps, I was a tad disappointed in some of its offerings. The add-on was advertised to introduce players to brand new, “high-tech” gadgets, so why not throw in some “high-tech”, or perhaps even prototype, weaponry – something we haven’t played with before?
Until then, I’m waiting for the next “Vietnam”.
“Some folks are born, made to wave the flag / Ooh, they’re red, white, ‘n blue.”
If you’re like me, then you, too, found an alluring draw to the fun-filled nature of the Bad Company series. It’s true that not everything that made Bad Company 2 so iconic would benefit the more serious tone that the core Battlefield series offers, but we need to remember that gaming is all about fun, and if aspects of what made Bad Company 2 so undeniably fun can improve future Battlefield experiences, then why not?
What about Battlefield: Bad Company 2 was iconic to you? Do you share the same thoughts, or have some of your own reasons? Maybe you felt Bad Company 2 wasn’t as iconic as I just made it up to be and are more than happy with the direction the Battlefield franchise is currently headed in? Let me know in the comments!
This series analyzes what made some of our favorite multiplayer games so iconic and what inspiration future iterations of these games might learn from past successes. In my next entry, I look at five things that made Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 4 so iconic.