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A blocky, low-poly infantryman carrying a rifle runs in the foreground. In the background, several more similarly shaped soldiers run from an explosion

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Battlebit Remastered is the second coming of Battlefield: Bad Company

Slick mechanics and sim-like systems combine in this deceptively deep sandbox shooter

Image: SgtOkiDoki via Polygon
Patrick Gill (he/him) has been making serious and unserious videos for Polygon since 2016. He also co-hosts & produces Polygon’s weekly livestreams on Twitch.

A little more than a decade ago, my friends and I graduated from college and were scattered across the state to our shitty first apartments and reclaimed parents’ basements. Just about every day after work, we’d come back together in Battlefield: Bad Company 2.

This was back before Fortnite, when the default dudes’ online hang zone was Call of Duty. But for us, Bad Company 2 (and eventually Battlefield 3) just made sense. The franchise was running on a wonderful mix of nerdy mechanical depth and absolutely unhinged slapstick sandbox action that made it a joy to return to every night.

Apparently, I’m not the only one with fond memories of this particular era of Battlefield, because Battlebit Remastered has been blowing up the Steam charts lately. The game’s promo art pays tribute to early-2010s Battlefield box art, and the gameplay leans even harder into the franchise’s contrast between silly and simmy.

The first thing you’ll notice is that the game looks like it was built in Roblox. Character models are blocky little cartoon dudes with primitive animations, while the soundscape reaches for verisimilitude, with loud, punchy gunfire. The maps are textureless and flatly shaded, but geometrically complex. Buildings are fully accessible, meaning every window on a crowded city block is a potential sniper’s nest. You can punch out walls to expose enemies or create a quick escape, and level entire structures.

A first person perspective of a low-poly battlefield. A helicopter can be seen swooping through the center of the frame, and a massive wind turbine is toppling over. Image: SgtOkiDoki via Polygon

Even the feel of the game exemplifies that old-time Battlefield contrast. The developers have pulled in nerdy sim elements — but only the ones that create more fun. Weapons have multiple firing modes and detailed recoil models, and you need to pull out your magazine to get an accurate ammo check. Bullet drop and travel time make long-distance engagements a satisfying test of skill, but close-quarters engagements can still be twitchy, full-auto spray-and-pray shootouts.

The time to kill is extremely fast; often, you’ll die after a couple of well-placed shots. But you can also be revived infinitely, as long as there’s a teammate nearby to drag you to cover and dust you off. Vehicles have detailed physics models and a high skill ceiling, but you’ll still see helicopters cruising by with a half dozen blocky infantrymen dangling from a fast rope, and C4-festooned quad bikes plowing into enemy tanks.

A first person perspective of a helicopter cockpit, looking down at a boggy field Image: SgtOkiDoki via Polygon

Battlebit Remastered is still in early access, and it has some early access jank. The simple visual design is usually fine, but there are times where the flat shading makes geometry confusing and distances hard to determine. Game modes also need some tuning: 127-versus-127 matches feel great on the massive zone-control maps, but in the tug-of-war Frontline mode, they feel like a chaotic slog.

Even with its rough edges, Battlebit Remastered is doing an amazing job of recapturing the feel of Battlefield’s good old days. A lot has changed since 2010, and you might not be able to get the old Battlefield squad to come out of retirement — but if you’re looking to try, Battlebit Remastered might be your best shot.

Battlebit Remastered was released in early access on June 15 on Windows PC. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. You can find additional information about Polygon’s ethics policy here.