Battlefield 3 Review (PC)

For months, gamers have been treated to the PR battle of the year as EA and Activision promote their two flagship titles, Battlefield 3 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. We’ve even compared the two. Now, the first shot in that war has been fired, as Battlefield 3 is available in stores and through EA’s Origin download service. But will it live up to the hype?

Game: Battlefield 3
Platforms: PC (Reviewed), Playstation 3, XBox 360
Developer: DICE
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Released: October 25th, 2011
MSRP: $59.99

Battlefield 3 is the successor to 2005′s Battlefield 2. There were those Bad Company games and Battlefield 2142 in the middle, but DICE has proclaimed BF3 to be the next game in their much heralded core Battlefield line. Like its predecessor, BF3 is a modern war game. Unlike BF2, the newest title also incorporates a full single player campaign experience.

BF3′s single player campaign shows a lot of influences from the current king of the genre, Call of Duty. There are huge set pieces, Russians, terrorists and stolen nukes galore. Unfortunately, it also apes the negative side of CoD campaigns by having a plot so convoluted it makes little sense even at its most coherent. You’re a Marine Sergeant (or a Navy pilot, or a Russian special ops guy) who’s apparently being questioned harshly by two civilians.

Let’s stop right there. This isn’t even believable, as under no circumstances I can conceive of would civilians question a serving NCO of the military about military operations without a JAG rep present, or at the very least a senior officer. To make matters worse, the entire campaign is presented as a series of flashbacks to events that you’re being questioned about (sound familiar?). Admittedly, it’s not necessarily worse than the campaigns offered by the competition, but there’s very little character development here, turning what could be compelling into a disjointed series of missions that really don’t tie together well. It also incorporates far too many quick time events. I’m sorry DICE, but PC gamers aren’t interested in these console-based sequences, and they really need to stop.

Rather than build on the campaign from Bad Company 2 (the first one included in a Battlefield game), which featured some great characters in lackluster missions, it improves the missions and leaves the characters behind. It’s a source of disappointment, especially with the focus DICE is said to have put on it. What’s even worse is that I encountered a bug with one of the aforementioned quick time events that prevented me from finishing the campaign. We figured it out, but that’s something that shouldn’t make it out of QA.

But Battlefield games aren’t really known for their single player campaigns. In the past, they were just bot-populated multiplayer maps that served only one purpose: training you up for the online play.

The Battlefield series is well known for its expansive multiplayer, and BF3 is no exception. The game ships with 9 multiplayer maps across 5 game modes (Rush, Squad Rush, Team Deathmatch, Conquest and Conquest 64). All five game modes are available on every map. Unlike some games, BF3 presents a wide variety of experiences across its maps. You can enjoy large scale, vehicle heavy battles on maps like Operation Firestorm and Caspian Border, or you can go for the more urban, infantry focused experience of Grand Bazaar or Operation Metro. Whatever you choose, prepare to be wowed.

Wisely, DICE hasn’t strayed far from the formula they were so successful with in Bad Company 2. Squad mechanics are basically unchanged, allowing you to spawn on any member of your squad that’s alive instead of at a pre-determined spawn point. You can join or leave a squad at any time, although it does require you to pull up the game menu to do so.

While the leveling and unlock systems haven’t changed much, they have been greatly expanded. Players can still gain points for everything from kills to having a squad member spawn on them to dropping health and ammo. The big expansion is in the amount of available unlocks. Each weapon has a wide array of attachments to unlock as you use it, each class has a bunch of options to unlock, and vehicles offer their own unlocks as well. All of this is in addition to the unlocks gained at each experience rank. It’s a great system that keeps players interested and playing towards the next thing they can acquire.

All of these attendant systems are solid, but the meat of any shooter is the combat, and Battlefield 3 pretty much nails that as well. The action ebbs and flows beautifully, and you can find yourself alternating between stalking an enemy, firing wildly in a pitched battle, or running flat out to escape an advancing vehicle. Weapons feel a bit more lethal than they did in Bad Company 2. There’s still a Hardcore mode, and it still removes crosshairs, minimaps, and other various elements. However, Hardcore and Normal modes feel closer in BF3 than they did in BC2. It’s even accessible to long-time Call of Duty players, once they learn the ropes

BF3 also includes a new co-op mode that is surprisingly fun. You can play alongside a friend or a randomly selected online partner in a series of challenge maps. Basically, these are sections of the multiplayer maps that task you with specific objectives such as defending a base, providing air cover from a chopper, or securing and escorting high value targets. These missions take around 10-20 minutes to complete, and are an enjoyable addition to the Battlefield formula.

Head to page 2 to hear about graphics, sound, and Battlelog

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20 Comments on Battlefield 3 Review (PC)

JosephPS3 Herman Cain 4 Pres

On October 28, 2011 at 4:10 pm

I’ve seen Battlefield3 on my friend’s PC and I have to admit, it makes me jealous. Its hard to go back to my PS3 version after trying out the PC version. This is first game for me that has made me want to upgrade my PC. But I’ll need at least 2 more titles to make the $600 in upgrades worth it.

JosephPS3 Herman Cain 4 Pres

On October 28, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Poll:

Do you think Battlefield3 should have bots? Personally I would have loved to have bots to practice and learn the map and best tactics then go online. If EA asked me during development, I would have told them to ignore the SP and CO-Op and perfect the AI and include bots. Then you can have a SP that’s more like a training ground for the MP where you have to complete tasks against bots.

What do you think?

Bots? yes/no

ap70

On October 28, 2011 at 5:34 pm

THAT SCENE YOU SE IS A RENDERING, YOU WILL NEVER SEE A SCENE LIKE TAHAT DURING THE GAME….IT IS A JOKE…THEY GRABBED $60 FROM ME. NEVER MORE

Drex

On October 28, 2011 at 5:41 pm

I would like it if my scope didn’t light up like a spot light every time I aimed. Even in dark rooms of buildings it lights up…really? Multiplayer is great all in all but the KDR padders who sit and camp instead of taking objectives need to go back to CoD. Just to clarify as well…I’m one of those recon players that actually contributes to the team instead of pitching the tent and being useless…yet my ability to help is severely hinderd by scope glare giving my position away all…the…damn…time. Good article read, games great.

G.A.R.B.A.G.E

On October 28, 2011 at 8:50 pm

Battlefield 3 is the successor to Battlefield Bad Company 2 no more no less. They successfully made people think that BF3 is was developed for PC by implementing PC features on a MULTIPLATFORM PORT, ftw!!! All the while Battlelog and Origin data-mines them on PC, and EA gets paid twice FTW!!!

Phuck boys, you know DICE would have programed team mate bots to shine tactical flashlights in your face FTW!!

Brandon J. Clark

On October 28, 2011 at 9:35 pm

Well, I’ll have to take your words on it gents, because ORIGIN and BF3.

If they want my dollars they’d need to get rid of battelog and origin as well as bring it to Steam.

Heru

On October 29, 2011 at 12:55 am

Quit your ing about Origin will ya? ing people, act like Steam is the be all end all of digital distribution when in fact its just as big of an ass as Origin. Your ok will the devil you know rather than the one you don’t huh? Get a ing clue people, just because your used to Steam don’t mean its actually any better than anything else out there.

Rich

On October 29, 2011 at 9:35 am

I’ve been playing the series since the 1942 demo back in 2002 but i won’t be buying this just yet, there are just too many little bugs that haven’t been sorted out yet, the custom key binding issue being a deal breaker for me. I, like many other PC gamers, don’t use the default key settings so i’ll be waiting to see what’s in the first patch.

Anthony S

On October 29, 2011 at 11:18 am

@Heru – if there was a company that actually offered the same perks that Valve does with Steam, I would be the first to encourage healthy competition. In reality, there is no service that provides the same service – it’s unique in its contribution to the market.

Steam offers:
- UNLIMITED access and storage of games – regardless of installation status
- RIDICULOUS sales on a regular basis
- A HUGE catalog of games
- Reasonably prompt and effective support
- FREE GAMES like Alien Swarm and TF2 – even Portal has been given away for free on two occasions.
- Low interference or no DRM
- Games can be played offline (unless the game developer prohibits it)
- They actually listen and respond to the community

None of the other online distributors offer anything even comparable much less competitive. GoG comes close, as well as a few others, but they are inevitably lacking in some area or another. Origin is laughable thus far, and it doesn’t look like EA will be pulling their heads out of their rear ends any time soon.

I’m yet another who will not be buying BF3 until it is released on Steam. If that means never, that’s fine with me. I’m happy with BF2. Activision / EA and their corporate outlooks have started to remind me of Democrats / Republicans in America – it disgusts me. (Ron Paul is excluded from that feeling. – RP2012!)

Wannkillyou

On October 29, 2011 at 11:48 am

This game rocks. COD has never looked this good and the maps are IMMENSE! Sick graphics, the sound is even better than the graphics if you can believe that, and more weapons and upgrades that make the leveling pleasurable.

This game was made for PC and multiplayer. It was not designed for children who’s mommies and poppies buy them games.

Origin, Steam, who cares you should all sell your souls to get a good enough rig to play this game.

I guess some people don’t like flying in jets or helicopters or driving HUMVa, tanks, AA and transport vehicles into a hot drop zone and engaging the enemy or defending an attack.

I guess parachuting into a mobile spawn point and shooting down on your enemy as you descend is some people’s idea of a bad time.

Yes who really wants to blow the side of a building up with an RPG or C4 and then shoot the SOB on the other side.

All of you negs that get the console version or cry about steam should have children and sell them into slavery to get this game.

Blowfish9999

On October 30, 2011 at 4:56 pm

To: ap70

THAT SCENE YOU SE IS A RENDERING, YOU WILL NEVER SEE A SCENE LIKE TAHAT DURING THE GAME….IT IS A JOKE…THEY GRABBED $60 FROM ME. NEVER MORE

??????? – It is not rendered… those are true pics from the PC game… you have to have the recommended graphics/CPU for these looks to come out. Whether this is good or bad is questionable. It makes everything look so real that the enemy is soooo hard to see. The damn sun and mist that goes over the field is hard as hell too.

I would suggest before you comment on the graphics to upgrade first and see what ur missing.

Oh and I do hate origin… too many reasons…(account name is player name – one of em)… and battlelog is a terrible idea..

Blowfish9999

On October 30, 2011 at 4:57 pm

BTW I have an I7-2600 and a 560TI overclocked – the views make you gasp… and explosions make the leaves blow too….

Russell

On October 30, 2011 at 6:35 pm

They did a VERY good job on the graphics and sound portion of the game, the most realistic (other than ARMA 2) that I have played. I personally need a videocard upgrade but with an 8800 gts 512 my game still looks fantastic.

They fixed the keybinds so you can change them how you please now. Also origin runs in the background just as steam does, battlelog is a very good idea, just not implemented to its fullest yet. Everybody is complaining about how you have to “jump through hoops” just to get the game launched. Well im sorry, but you can blame piracy, for one, and for another it makes you not have to keep a DVD in your drive, putting unneeded wear and tear on your harddware. Battlelog tracks all your stats, lets you group up and party with your friends or clan, AND gives you free ventrilo basically just for buying the game. I log into battlelog just to talk over the mic with my friends even if im not playing.

As far as the game being buggy, yes there are SOME bugs. These bugs aren’t game breaking by anymeans, and most of these are based on people having inadequate hardware. With any game your getting bugs, some are much smoother but in general the battlefield series is known to have bugs upon release, it HAPPENS. That is why we own a PC and not a Console, we get better graphics and customization but when the developers cant include EVERY configuration; you have bugs.

All in all the game is great, the combat is just as fast paced as CoD but the vehicles and the graphics are what do it for me. Well worth the 60$ if you have ANY interest in the BF series whatsoever.

Heru

On October 30, 2011 at 9:39 pm

@Anthony S – Dude, i get what your saying, but if you look at it a little differently what you describe is exactly my problem with Steam, Origin, Impulse and the like. Your locked in to using YOUR games the way THEY want you to use them. While Steam might not be the biggest douches at the moment about how you use your games, one day they might decide “Oh you can only install your games on one PC at a time”. What you gonna do about that? Not a damn thing you can. Thats the problem.

coc

On October 31, 2011 at 5:56 am

Im still downloading it at 56.3 kbps i have downloaded 20.3 gigs

Ron Whitaker

On October 31, 2011 at 5:59 am

@Rich – Custom Key binding issue? I had no problem rebinding my keys into the scheme I’ve been using since Tribes. There is a small bug with the quick-time events with rebound keys, but there is no issue with getting the keys rebound. That was an issue in the beta, but not in retail.

Russell

On October 31, 2011 at 12:15 pm

@Heru So basically your upset with using a digital service that not only stores the data for you to download, but also patches for you and makes it so you don’t need a DVD, and lets not forget those pesky preorders and OOH DRIVING to pick your game up, man does anybody do that anymore?

Honestly, your all VERY SPOILED. In this day and age its no surprise the digital downloads are taking off, nobody wants to get off their ass other than to reach for their wallet, and even than they that it doesn’t automatically enter their info for them. Honestly every game nowadays that has digital download has people ing about said app needed to run the game.

Again, maybe if you ers would stop being so lazy and get a job so you dont have to pirate games, they wouldn’t need all this DRM.

Mlking21

On November 3, 2011 at 4:23 pm

I honestly hate origin and steam, why don’t they go back to the old system that battlefield 2 had? Its far more convenient, just click on icon and select the multiplayer server you want to play. But, still this game is awesome, great buy anyday. Way better then mw3, for PC at least.

Kyle

On March 11, 2012 at 6:17 pm

wow s battlefield bad company 2 is an offbranch of the battlefield series. some you dont derserve to play bf3 if you know nothing of the series, bad comany 1 and 2 are an offbranch of the battlefield franchise. battlefield 3 is only comarable to an extremely upgraded battlefield 2, if all you ignorant gots dont even know what battlefield 2 is, yur definately as ed up as you sound, nuff said.

Richard

On June 25, 2012 at 7:11 pm

I played this game at my friends house the other day and it’s amazing. I can’t express on here how crazy the graphics are. No console can touch the graphics on a well equipped PC desktop. The game play was very smooth and I felt it was a lot better than COD. Multi-player was very friendly and the cinematics were out of this world 7/10!

Richard,
Gaming Author
Spin Palace Games