The Killzone 3 open beta kicked off early Thursday morning, giving us the opportunity to test out the online multiplayer. Suffice to say, plenty of adjustments have been made since Killzone 2, but the question remains if they are for the better. We've been playing it nonstop and surely you have too, so here's our impression of the Killzone 3 online multiplayer beta.
The Killzone 3 open beta is just that, a beta, so I went into it without expecting a whole lot. The first real problem I noticed when I boot up the game is that the lobby doesn't always work. It freezes while connecting from time to time, forcing me to hard-reboot the PS3. When it does work, I was faced with multiple 30 second lobby countdowns before any game actually started. In addition and honestly speaking, I hope that lobby design isn't the final one. Not only is it hard to look at, but there isn't any real feedback to inform you of your activity. An arbitrary "Connecting"¦" loader isn't the best way to represent loading progress that range between acceptably short to ridiculously long.
More importantly, the gameplay seems to have had a good amount of adjustments made to it. To put things into context, Guerrilla Games have assured Killzone veterans that much of the weapon lag issues apparent in Killzone 2 have been addressed. Aiming is a lot snappier compared to Killzone 2, but the weapons still retain much of their heavy feel, although not as much as in Killzone 2. It's no Battlefield, but it's certainly not a plastic snap-to experience like Call of Duty either.
What's great is that every one of your actions feel weighted without being sluggish. The impact and recoil of your weapons, combined with the incredible sound design, creates a sweet level of immersion. Moreover, the new brutal melee system is a lot more satisfying than I thought it would be. Snapping an enemy's neck or slitting their throats feels strangely satisfying, even more so when stabbing their eyes with my hulk-like thumbs. In addition, visual cues let you know instantly when you've done good for the team without being annoyingly intrusive.
The beta features every game mode, including Guerrilla Warfare, your standard deathmatch; Warzone and Operations. There's even the offline Botzone mode where you can practice before hopping online. It's safe to say that the returning Warzone mode where game objectives change on the fly is where the action's at, since it really keeps you on your toes. Online matches are intense and the level design for Frozen Dam has a fair share of vertical combat involved.
Killzone 3's multiplayer also sports a new career progression system. You earn experience points with each battle, collecting Career Unlock Points as you level up to purchase skills and weapons for whatever class you wish to pursue. In my case, it'll be the Field Medic, simply because not enough people play as medics and that's not good when the objective is Bodycount - reviving is certainly better than respawning.
It's no question that the game looks visually incredible. Compared to Killzone 2, the graphics are a lot cleaner and the atmosphere created with the improved lighting and environmental effects are a job well done. The snow and water alone look incredible - and yes, I've actually died from just staring at the ocean waves. Sometimes you just need to take in your surroundings; sadly, the competitive nature of the game just doesn't quite give you any leeway.
It's also worth mentioning that although there can sometimes be problems connecting and that wait times in the lobby last 30 seconds, there is absolutely no sign of lag when you actually get into a game. This, together with the improved mechanics, sets Killzone 3's online multiplayer apart from the rest. If Guerrilla can fix the lobby problems, this will be an online experience that PS3 users will cherish.
Killzone 3 is out on February 22, 2011 for the PS3. Hopefully, Guerrilla can address the lobby wait times and connection issues before launch. Other than that, there's nothing inherently wrong with Killzone 3's multiplayer. In fact, it's quite a blast to play once you get into the swing of things.