Impressions: Battlefield 3

Battlefield 3 is the latest instalment in EA’s Battlefield first-person online shooters and is the 11th variation in the Battlefield franchise.

Objective is to have a large player base with servers maxed out. Epic battles with 64 players duking it out in vehicles, on foot it in the air. The balance of the classes, weapons and vehicles is a delicate one and easy to get wrong but can be nirvana to the FPS online gamer when executed properly. Keeping players interested and not allowing them to get distracted by the next similar title that comes out is also a challenge that DICE and EA have obviously put some thought into.

The Limited Edition version of this game was pre-ordered through EB games after playing the Beta.

Time spent on the multiplayer game is roughly 6 hours in total but over about 5 days.

Activation via battle log was painless for the reviewer but there have been posts on various forums with people who had issues. Basically, we installed the game from the retail DVDs, Origin updated the installation with the latest patch, we entered our unlock keys for the limited edition “Personal Warfare Pack” pamphlet and we were away. Having already created a Battlelog account for the Beta, it was still active and we were able to game within minutes of the installation and update completing.

Initially the game was frustrating – the game style of BC2 doesn’t directly translate to BF3. We found that our ‘life’ was a lot more fragile and with the improved graphics engine, enemies are harder to identify when hiding in cover. At the beginning of our adventure, we spent a fair bit of time getting fragged by bushes and ‘prone’ opponents. It was also discovered quite early that cover is a lot more important in BF3 than previous versions of the dynasty and sticking to cover dramatically improves your longevity when compared to BC2.

Like all games, there is a learning curve. In our case, we were already familiar with the franchise, having played the earlier Battlefield titles – in particular and most recently Bad Company 2. Whilst Battlefield 3 is very similar to BC2, the titles are different enough to force the player into a new way of thinking. To put it simply, it’s much easier to get yourself killed in BF3. Cover is more destructible and sprinting across open ground is far less forgiving than BC2. The challenge of self preservation seems harder with the introduction of suppressive fire, the improved graphics engine and the concussive effects of nearby explosions make it harder to identify, aim at and hit an opponent when it gets ‘busy’.

Unlocks keep the game interesting, in Battlefield 1942, there were no unlocks, in Battlefield 2, each class had an unlock available to it and then in Bad Company 2, we saw the introduction of multiple unlocks for each class and general unlocks based on rank. Battlefield 3 takes this to the next level by also introducing minor unlocks for each weapon depending on how much you persevere with it. For every 10 kills a player makes with a particular primary weapon, an unlock is provided – things suck as new scopes, a bipod or front grip, suppressors, larger magazines can be used to customise your load out. The result of this is that the player is rewarded regularly for playing with the same weapon, and it also means that you can improve the default weapons to a point where you’re not at a major disadvantage for not having unlocked the higher ranking kit yet.

One of our frustrations playing BC2 was how damaging a good opposition pilot in a helicopter could be. On the BC2 ‘Atacama’ map for example, as long as the enemy helicopter routinely took out the AA gun in the middle of the map and didn’t stationary hover, they could decimate your team. and to get on the AA was a suicide mission and a gift to enemy snipers. Not so in BF3. The engineer class has a relatively early unlock of a shoulder launched guided surface to air missile. An engineer can fire these from behind cover without sitting in a fixed position on the map with a giant bulls-eye on their forehead. These guided missiles will at least cause the helicopter or jet to break off their attack if not take the aircraft down – so it’s good for balance. Basically, it isn’t as safe in the air as previous iterations of the franchise. On that note, anti tank weapons also seem more balanced than BC2. 

The sheer size of the maps can mean that you have a long walk ahead of you if your team take off in all the vehicles but at the same time, it makes it harder to predict where someone might be sitting, waiting for a capture point to become less protected. The recon class is able to drop a beacon on the map, allowing players to spawn in a certain location other than a designated spawn point or squad member.


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