Bad Company 2's Open Beta impressions: Squad Respawns
It definitely isn’t a Modern Warfare 2 killer as I thought. As a fan of the Battlefield series from way back, Bad Company 2 brings back the same tactical excitement with the addition of vulgarity and adrenaline. So the short of it is if you’re wanting that fast, arcade action from shooters, Modern Warfare 2 is the Diablo II “quick in, quick out” of this genre. But if you’re looking for a deeper experience where “there is no I in team” and squad based tactics matter, Bad Company 2 should not be ignored.
The depth of BC2 lies primarily with the fact that you can opt to respawn within your squad. In the past, big battlefield games would force a respawn at your team’s starting point, which later on evolved to spawning on a control point which your team had to capture. When games like Company of Heroes and Dawn of War introduced squad reinforcement, this real time strategy feature was applied into shooters. So with that one detail in, the gameplay changes. The only map available on the PC beta is a RUSH scenario, where players on offense have to destroy a series of communication arrays, which in turn the defending team must protect. Killing off players is just the first part of offense — you need to make sure you get all four squad members down lest you encounter a virtually unlimited supply of reinforcements. A typical defense would consist of three guys on assault holding an area, with the medic entrenched where a tank can’t reach (which is of course virtually impossible). When squad members die, they can easily respawn at the medic who can also in turn pop med kits.
The respawn strategy works in many ways — when a squad member grabs control of a tank, you can suicide kill (in game it’s called an “EPIC FAIL”) and choose to respawn as the tank’s gunner. If the entire squad is wiped out, you start from the beginning of the stage, in this case via paradrop if you’re on offense.
Bad Company 2’s beta time is about a month in resilience and we’re expected to still see a number of improvements (apart from the crashes). Hey, it’s beta. But squad tactics — that’s the heart and soul of Bad Company.