People often assume that if you can rattle through dozens of first-person shooters then you're well placed to kick arse online. Hilarity. Whether or not you've aced the single-player campaign on the hardest difficulty level, going online is almost always a humiliation endurance test as you spend most of your time waiting to respawn.
The older the game, the worse it tends to get, with squeaky trash-talking teenagers taking cackling delight in pwning n00bs. It's hardly the most satisfying introduction to a game's online component.
Investing the time required to get good enough is often well beyond the sort of player who wants to just dive in for a quick session, and catering to this kind of 'casual hardcore' player has long been well down the list of priorities for most developers.
But when you've already sold five million copies of your game, and fancy making it attractive to the next five million, you've got to figure out a more approachable route - and that's precisely where Bad Company 2's forthcoming co-op orientated Onslaught mode comes in.
DICE producer Bjorn Johnsson describes Onslaught as the "perfect training ground for all Battlefield: Bad Company 2 players". Available as downloadable content on Xbox 360 (2nd June) and PS3 (16th June), it's designed to be played alone or in co-op for two-to-four players, and "to test and perfect skills of the casual and the hardcore player".
It's playable over tweaked versions of four already available maps (Valparaiso, Atacama Desert, Isla Inocentes and Nelson Bay), and you will battle it out against waves of AI soldiers to take over a series of locations in the quickest possible time. Sticking together and working effectively alongside your squad buddies is the order of the day, with at least one of you needing to stay alive to keep the match going.
"Each map has been redesigned with a dedicated focus to give a different flavour to the action," Johnsson tells me while I play Onslaught for the first time. As well as the lighting and visibility conditions for each map being changed, new enemies, vehicles and set-pieces will challenge players as well. For example, Valparaiso now features the "deadly" Mark 5 enemy patrol boat, as well as a revised night-time setting that makes the map feel "tighter" and "more unpredictable."
Just when you think you're getting the edge, working the flanks and flushing out well-protected emplacements, enemy reinforcements pitch up in unexpected ways to put you back in your place. The arrival of scores of bad guys in speed boats is one incidence, but you can also bet that enemies will come charging down the hill or start parachuting in whenever you get cocky. They don't just endlessly respawn, fortunately, and with the Frostbite engine's superb levels of destruction playing its part the sense of credible raging battle is convincing.
The other three maps will present their own specific challenges. While Valparaiso is a blend of infantry and vehicle warfare, the 'remixed' daylight version of Nelson Bay is much more infantry-focused, with dogged ground warfare placed front and centre featuring "vehicles that you haven't seen in that map" according to Johnsson.
Atacama Desert favours "all-out vehicle warfare" with choppers and tanks available, and the added challenge of sandstorms to battle against. Finally, Isla Inocentes will boast a variety of vehicles including the Black Hawk helicopter and the patrol boat, and be played out against an evening setting. "It'll be twilight combat and very foggy, so you won't have the same visibility you're used to on that map."
Four difficulties will be available to choose from, catering for complete beginners, right up to the super hardcore. "What we're aiming for is a blend of experiences," explains Johnsson. "We're trying to give variety to the player, and a chance for the novice to give online mode a whirl before they venture out into the real thing."
But that doesn't mean the old hands needn't sign up for duty. "It will be extremely competitive at the higher difficulty levels, and your finishing time will be ranked on a global leaderboard for all skill levels," he says, also confirming there will be an additional eight new Achievements and Trophies to attain.
For those who have already sunk countless of hours into the game, all existing weapons that you've previously unlocked will be available for selection, but no new ones, curiously. All teamplay gadgets will also be available.
Onslaught is only scheduled for release on PS3 and Xbox 360. When grilled on the Bad Company 2 forum by angry PC gamers, associate producer Bazajaytee insisted: "We haven't signed away rights to console on this... At this time we are researching how to bring it to PC without affecting players who don't have Onslaught or their own server to run it on."
He continued: "The problem we have on PC is that all our servers are dedicated with providers. Changing a server from Conquest 32 players to Onslaught four players cuts out 28 player slots from the total amount available. This could have a dramatic affect on the PC online environment if enough servers changed to Onslaught."
Security issues also rule out the chances of a peer-to-peer connection for PC owners, meaning that Onslaught will be firmly console-only for the time being. But with Battlefield: Bad Company 2's popularity exceeding all initial expectations, maybe EA and DICE will address the demands of the PC community once enough noise is made.
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 - Onslaught will be released for download on 22nd June for Xbox 360 and 23rd June for PS3.