Battlefield Heroes

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Overview

Battlefield Heroes Overview

Battlefield Heroes is the latest in the popular Battlefield series, and the first to be offered free-to-play.  Unlike previous titles, Heroes has a third-person view, cartoony graphics, and is aimed at a broad, casual audience with streamlined controls and low system requirements.  There are two factions to chose from – the National Army and the Royal Army, both of which have access to the same three classes.  Players earn valor and hero points as they play the game, with which they can purchase new weapons and items.  Each class has multiple guns available for purchase, and more are likely to be added in future updates.  As of the open beta there is no lobby system.  Instead, Battlefield Heroes relies on match-making, though players can hop into the same room with others added as friends.  Vehicles, which have always been a big part of the Battlefield experience, make a return in Heroes.  There are currently three vehicle types, including jeeps, tanks, and airplanes, all of which can be easily used by players.  The three classes are:

Commando - Sneaky fighters who rely on cunning and subterfuge to achieve their objectives.  Their starting gear includes a long-ranged rifle, TNT, a knife, the stealth ability, and a self heal ability.

Soldier – The standard soldier on the Battlefield!  Soldiers have diverse abilities that make them useful in all situations.  Their starting gear includes an assault rifle, shotgun, TNT, a self heal ability, and a group heal ability.

Gunner - The heavy class of Battlefield Heroes.  Gunners have the most health of all fighters.  Their starting gear includes a machine gun, shotgun, TNT, a self heal ability, and an absorb damage ability.

Battlefield Heroes Screenshots

Battlefield Heroes Featured Video

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Full Review

Battlefield Heroes Full Review

By Erhan Altay

Battlefield Heroes is the first in what will hopefully be a new trend in gaming here in the West.  While Asian developers have been churning out free-to-play titles for years, most Western game companies like EA stuck with the tried-and-true retail and subscription-based distribution methods.  Battlefield Heroes takes a much different approach than previous titles in the series.  Known for cutting edge, realistic first-person shooters (FPS), DICE (the studio behind the Battlefield series), has opted for a casual, third-person shooter with cartoony graphics supported entirely by optional micro transactions.  The game was first announced in early 2008, but saw a series of delays during the development and closed beta phases.  It finally went into Open Beta in late June of 2009.

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Sunshine Soldiers

One of the most important features of Battlefield Heroes is accessibility.  The creators have made the sign-up and download/install process as easy as possible.  Rather than downloading a game client, players are prompted to install a browser add-on, which automatically installs and updates the game.  The downside to this is that Heroes can only be launched from the official website, so no desktop shortcuts are available.  Other recent ‘casual’ F2P games have opted for this approach as well (like Free Realms).  I find the whole launch-from-website concept a step backwards in accessibility, but it’s probably because I’m used to the old school method; younger gamers who grew up with the browser likely have different views on this issue.  Another step towards accessibility which I do approve of is the cartoon-styled graphics.  Battlefield games have always aimed for top-tier, realistic graphics, which tended to alienate a large percentage gamers who just didn’t have the hardware to run the games.  With Heroes, the mentality is completely different.  The graphics have been specifically designed to accommodate a broad range of system specs, ensuring that anyone who wants to play can do so.  This does make the visuals less impressive from a technical standpoint, but it is more than made up for with the new goofy atmosphere that the game exudes.

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Pick a Side!

Gameplay in all Battlefield games, Heroes included, is exclusively team based.  Two teams battle it out for control of strategic locations scattered across large maps.  In Battlefield Heroes, players must chose which of the two factions each character they create will join.  The Royal Army represents the British, while the National Army represents the German side.  Previous BF titles allowed players to play as members of other Allied and Axis armies, but for simplicity’s sake, the field has been narrowed to just these two.  Each faction has the same three class choices – Commando, Soldier, and Gunner.  Your character is stuck with the class and faction choice you make during character creation, which is an unfortunate departure from the series’ norm of allowing players to switch teams and roles at any time during a match.  Luckily, each account has enough character slots to allow players to experiment with the factions & classes.  Appearance customization is a bit limited during the creation process, but can be enhanced later with item purchases.  Players chose from several hair & beard styles and colors, along with their skin tone.

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Finding a Game

Battlefield Heroes has a completely optional tutorial which is offered to first time players, and is available any time afterwards with the click of a button.  New players might as well run through it, if only because it literally takes a few minutes.  Players are asked to walk (W,A,S,D), look around (mouse), shoot (mouse left click), reload (r), and enter/exit several vehicles (e).  There is no reward for the tutorial, beyond a message that says something along the lines of ‘three hurrahs for you!’.  In any case, the controls are nearly identical to those of any other third-person shooters, such as GunZ or S4 League.  But where Battlefield Heroes parts ways from most other shooters is the lack of a lobby system.  Instead, all players need do is hit the ‘Play Now’ button, and they will automatically connect to a server with players around their skill level.  Match making like this is a great feature, but I would prefer it to be side-by-side with the traditional lobby system. Friends can play together by adding each other, then attempting to join the server one of them is connected to.  However, from my experience, it takes quite a lot of time to join a friend’s game, since it usually requires waiting for a current player to disconnect.

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Reporting to the Front

Once players make it into a round, they’ll be blown away by what’s on offer.  Battlefield Heroes manages to preserve the awe-inspiring feeling of being a single soldier in the midst of a massive battle, while speeding up gameplay dramatically.  Even though there are only three maps available so far in the Open Beta, some of them are quite large and would take a long time to traverse on foot.  Luckily, players spawn in bases with several jeeps, tanks, and even airplanes available, which make transportation much easier.  Mixed with this familiar sense of awe is a new touch of humor.  Silly abilities, such as the Soldier’s ‘I eat grenades’ skill allows players to be healed by explosions.  Players can stand on airplane wings and fire while it zips through the air, a stunt often tried in previous Battlefield games with disastrous results.  The three classes all play quite differently from one another, with a different set of starting equipment, abilities, and even health totals.  The cunning Commando is by far the fastest class, and even has a stealth ability, but pays for it with low health and very limited mid-range weaponry.  The Gunner is slow, but built like a tank, and the Soldier comes equipped with a broad range of weapons and team-related abilities.

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Sizzle or Steak?

The early trailers featured a plethora of items, guns, features, and accessories that have not yet made it into the game.  When EA says ‘open beta’, the emphasis is very much on the term ‘beta’.  There are a paltry three maps on offer, only a handful of guns for purchase by each class, and almost all accessories and clothes require Battle Points, which can only be acquired with real cash.  The achievement system helps give the game a sense of direction, and keeps things from getting completely monotonous.  Players will earn valor points every time they hit a player, capture a base, or assist the team effort in some way.  By leveling up, players will gain Hero points, which act like skill points.  Each class has its own skill tree which allows for various builds.  For example, a Commando can concentrate on his long-ranged sniping skills, or up-close ninja skills, but not both at the same time.  Missions act as quests, and reward players with additional valor points when their objectives are achieved.  One mission may ask players to kill ten enemies who are using vehicles, while a more difficult one may ask the same thing, but only with the use of a knife.  As of the beginning of open beta, Battlefield Heroes is a game with potential, but with a severe lack of content.  It may not seem right criticizing a game in beta for lack of content, but EA sure took its time with this one, and now that it is finally available to the public, there should be far more content to play with.  Achievements, character customization, and the shops are thus far only side features in need of more development.

Final Verdict: Great

Battlefield Heroes is a polished MMO shooter with a unique graphical style and an inviting casual atmosphere.  Matches are fast-paced, but still retain the epic feel of previous Battlefield titles.  Battlefield Heroes is a great choice for both new and veteran MMOFPS players alike.

Screenshots

Battlefield Heroes Screenshots

Videos

Battlefield Heroes Videos

Battlefield Heroes Preview Trailer

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Battlefield Heroes Character Customization

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Battlefield Heroes Map Preview

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Battlefield Heroes Gameplay Trailer

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System Requirements

Battlefield Heroes System Requirements

Minimum Requirements:
OS: Windows XP / Vista
CPU: Intel Pentium 4/AMD Athlon 1.0 GHz
RAM: 512 MB
HDD: 1.0 GB
Graphics Card: 64MB DirectX compliant

Recommended Specifications:
OS: Windows XP / Vista
CPU: Pentium 4 3.0 GHz or better
RAM: 1 GB or more
HDD: 2.0 GB
Graphics Card: 128MB DirectX compliant

 
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