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Developer Digital Illusions and publisher EA Games took online PC gaming by storm last year with Battlefield 1942. The World War II-themed first-person shooter let you fight out infantry and vehicle battles to capture control points on maps that were modeled after real-world venues. In that game, you could choose to play as either an Allied or an Axis soldier, then choose your character class--scout, medic, engineer, anti-tank, or assault--which automatically assigned you a loadout of weapons and equipment.

And the follow-up to this popular game will be Battlefield Vietnam, which will also feature team-based gameplay and powerful vehicles, but will take place during the Vietnam War between US forces and Vietnamese troops. In this, our first profile preview for Battlefield Vietnam, we'll take a look at the different infantry kits that you'll be able to choose in the game. The new game will at once be more streamlined, yet will offer more variety in terms of infantry equipment. Like the previous games, your soldier class will be equipped with a melee weapon, a sidearm, a primary weapon, and various other weapons and items like grenades, but Battlefield Vietnam will have only four classes: recon (scout), assault, heavy assault (which includes anti-tank armaments), and engineer. The medic class has been eliminated, though several classes will be able to carry health kits. As before, your choice of equipment will affect your movement speed, so heavy assault troops lugging around M60 heavy machine guns won't be able to hoof it quite as fast as recon troops carrying M21 sniper rifles.

However, depending on which map you're playing, you'll be able to choose from one of four outfits of US soldier--the US Army, the US Marines, the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), and US Special Forces--and one of two Vietnamese outfits, the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) or the Viet Cong (VC). In addition, you'll also be able to customize your soldier's appearance by choosing one of two different heads and one of two different bodies per kit. More importantly, the game will also let each class choose from one of two alternate weapon loadouts--a choice you make each time you spawn into a game. For example, as an engineer, you may end up choosing between carrying Claymore mines or a mortar; and as a heavy assault trooper, you may end up choosing between an M79 grenade launcher or a LAW rocket launcher. In this preview, we'll take an in-depth look at the four major classes in Battlefield Vietnam--the assault, the recon/scout, the engineer, and the heavy assault--and how they'll play, and in the coming months, we'll turn our attention to the game's vehicles and battlefields as well.

The Assault Class

Assault troops carry assault rifles like the M16, close-range weapons like the Mossberg 500 shotgun, or combination assault weapons like the XM148 assault-rifle-with-grenade-launcher. Assault troops excel in infantry operations, such as moving in and capturing spawn points, or providing covering fire when teammates need to move through hostile territory. First, we'll take a look at each of the US troops' assault options, as well as the Vietnamese army's assault classes. You'll have access to different outfits' assault classes depending on which map you're playing on.

US Army, Assault Class
Every US Army assault trooper comes equipped with a combat knife and a handful of frag grenades. Army assaults may also carry either the M16 assault with 20-round magazine or a Mossberg Series 500 shotgun for close quarters battles. Assaults that choose the M16 are issued the M1911 pistol with 9-round magazine, while assaults that carry the shotgun will are equipped with the heavier M19 pistol with a 6-round revolver chamber.

  Primary Loadout Alternate Loadout
Melee weapon: Combat Knife Combat Knife
Sidearm: M1911 M19
Primary weapon: M16 Shotgun
Miscellaneous: Frag grenades Frag grenades

US Marines, Assault Class
Marine Corps assault troops all carry combat knives and sidearms, but their weapon loadouts vary between carrying a shotgun as a primary weapon plus a handful of grenades, or carrying the XM148--which is essentially a 20-round Car 15 assault rifle (a slightly more-compact version of the M16) with an attached grenade launcher that carries three grenade rounds.

  Primary Loadout Alternate Loadout
Melee weapon: Combat Knife Combat Knife
Sidearm: M1911 M19
Primary weapon: XM148 Shotgun
Miscellaneous:   Frag grenades

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