Battlefield 3's Multiplayer Is A Sneak Peek Of The Next Generation - E3 Hands-On

By James Hawkins in Hands-on
Thursday, June 9, 2011 at 1:00 pm
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A lot of hype surrounds Battlefield 3 and its graphics engine. The game looks absolutely brilliant -- frighteningly realistic, gritty, and lavishly rendered. Its $100,000,000 marketing campaign is working, and the name is on everybody's lips all the time. But how something looks and how something plays can be totally different. I got to sit down on a game of Battlefield 3's multiplayer and tool around with about two dozen other gamers.

From what I can tell, this game is the next level. We don't need to see the Xbox 720 or the PlayStation 4 to see the next generation. Battlefield's gameplay, mechanics, and overall multiplayer experience is unparalleled. It's so advanced it makes other games look kind of silly in terms of being a pure exercise in combat simulation.

I went into this hands-on totally skeptical of the game. I am beginning to hate the whole modern-shooter genre, having played four or five in a row that promised new things, but only recycled well-worn formulas. The Battlefield 3 experience is so far beyond those games that it's almost disgusting. DICE is entrenched in the development of this game, and they're proving themselves as some of the best developers in the world.

The game mode we ran through today was the Rush. Essentially, the level is broken up into four sections, and the offensive squad must capture points to move to the next part of the level. This mode has been in previous games, but the level design has been sharply augmented to keep each match constantly fresh and with a constant sense of motion. For instance, the beginning of the level we played was a wide field, complete with bridges and trees and courtyards. Long distance suppressing fire and a few scattered snipers helped back the rush of soldiers. After capturing the two points we moved to a subway system, forcing us to use flashlights to blind our enemies, and fight mostly in corridors.

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This made the whole team change its gameplan, and work tactically to get past the narrow subway halls and escalators. The enemies poured out of thin doorways and posted up behind half-walls, lifting light machine guns, deploying bi-pods and resting their weapons on cover. It was so strategic, with portions of the game encouraging switching between different classes, and there was never any annoying, constant sniper fire. It was possible that a sniper could hold a hallway, but it would be more reasonable to load up an ACOG-equipped M16 and hit targets at mid range. It forced the players to think deeply about how they were going to approach a new situation.

In the end, it was totally invigorating, and the new methods incorporated in the game were hugely refreshing. The whole game might not be perfect -- Bad Company 2's narrative was garbage -- but there is a lot to be excited for in this next Battlefield iteration. Hopefully they continue doing things right.
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