Battlefield 3 Preview

by on June 27, 2011

The Battlefield series has always been a staple of the PC, but with Battlefield 2: Bad Company DICE managed to crack the console market, while still making a game that is accessible to PC gamers. Battlefield 3 see’s the development team return to its PC roots, concentrating on PC focused development before the console version, and it definitely shows.

As we strolled into the EA booth at E3 2011, we were anxious to get our hands on this eagerly awaited title, but first we needed to be debriefed! (You heard me). We entered what can only be described as a makeshift hut lined with rows of seats, ready to receive a presentation. In it we were shown the Multiplayer map we would “Rush”, which the presenter broke down into four distinct parts. If all the maps in the final version of the game have the same variety as this France based map, then veterans of the series will be very pleased.

The map contained everything from open (although we were informed there would be much bigger battlefields in the final code) to closed spaces, where having your team and tactics in order can mean the difference between success and failure. The map concluded with an open area complete with fully destructible buildings, but more on that later.

DICE have been busy refining their class system since the last game, which on the whole makes the game slightly more balanced. For starters, no longer does your team have to argue over who will take over the arduous task of being the medic, with the healing class all but abolished. This task falls on the “Assault” class, meaning that every M16 gun toting infantry man now has the ability to heal his comrades.

Next we see the addition of the “Support” class, which is an entirely new class for the Battlefield series. The idea of covering fire is not a new feature in gaming, but the development team have implemented it in such a way that it feels like a worthwhile mechanic in Battlefield 3.  As the name suggests, if you choose this class, your role is to support your comrades. To help you with this task the class comes equipped with bipods for your primary weapon, allowing you to lay down that shower of bullets that will have your enemies scrambling for cover. Doing this will increase the stability of the weapon and enable you to more readily handle the recoil. In addition to this, any enemy that fires on a teammate while you are suppressing them will have their accuracy significantly reduced as bullets zip past their screen, and their view blurs, making everything that much more difficult to see. Supporting players are rewarded for their efforts if that enemy is killed, giving you incentive to sit back and spray to your heart’s content.

The “Engineer” also makes a welcome return with their staple repair abilities and anti tank weapons, but most people will probably be more pleased to hear that the “Recon” class has also undergone some tweaks. From what we saw, sniper recoil had been increased, making it more difficult to get of those oh so sweet headshots while shooting in quick succession. We were also informed that you will now be able to pick out a not so discrete lens flair of their scope if you’re observant enough.

Fully debriefed we headed out to begin “Operation Metro” against what we can only presume were the QA team ready to take a beating. The first thing you notice is the amazing animation system. Never before has a FPS felt so realistic and responsive. Every slide into cover, every bolt over a sandbag or railing felt immensely satisfying. Once the beauty of the animation system sunk in, my first reaction was to run straight for the LAV-25 sitting comfortably in the streets of Paris to test out what kind of havoc I could inflict upon the environment. I was pleased to note that the self praise DICE have been lavishing on the upgrades to this system was not an exaggeration. Believe me when I say no one is safe behind cover for very long in this title.

After securing the streets it was time to head down in to the subway for some close quarters combat where Battlefields lighting engine caught my attention. I was immediately blinded by the Tactical Flashlight available to the engineer class and gunned down, but I had already been thoroughly impressed. We have all seen what the Frostbite 2 engine’s lighting system is capable of in an open sprawling environment, but to see it translate to a dark closed environment was refreshing to the say the least, and added an extra layer of tactical depth to proceedings.

When we emerged from the enclosed subway system we were given a chance to see the environmental destruction on a grander scale, with buildings all around to take shelter in. As I raced to take cover in one of the nearby buildings, laying down covering fire to support, it dawned upon me that a destructible building might not be the safest place in the world. No sooner than I had the thought, did an RPG bring down the face of the building on my head, debris spraying everywhere. I was expecting the graphical fidelity and functionality of the system to drop during a multiplayer situation, but it seems fully intact and a great improvement on the system already found in Bad Company 2.

Even the dog tag system has been improved upon, allowing you to customise your own by adding your most prominent stat onto it. Now, if you manage to get shanked in the back by that serial stabber you have been avoiding all game, he will still know what a badass you are.

Battlefield 3 is shaping up to be the FPS to beat this generation, and with the multiplayer side of things looking like it is in the bag we can only hope that the single player delivers too. One thing is for certain, the tech behind this game is nothing short of staggering and the design is not too shabby either. Now all we need to do is wait for October 25th!

Battlefield 3 is due for a October 25th release date, on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.