Battlefield 3 Review (PC)

Much of the hoopla surrounding Battlefield 3 has been about its use of the shiny new Frostbite 2 engine. The videos and screens we’ve seen leading up to release have been nearly mind blowing, and the recent ‘Is it real, or is it Battlefield’ campaign is aptly named. If you’ve got the hardware to push it (our review machine is detailed below), Frostbite delivers exactly what you’ve been seeing in all those trailers. Environments are some of the most realistic you’ve ever seen, and the amount of debris and smoke in the air can sometimes get overwhelming. It all contributes to the tension the game creates, and is a major factor in making the multiplayer really come alive.

Another nice thing about Frostbite 2 is how well it scales for less powerful machines. We’ve got people running it smoothly on video cards ranging from GeForce GTX 460s to SLI setups that border on the ridiculous. All of them report excellent performance, although some are running at different settings. So far, it seems the GPU is the most important component, so if you’re looking to skimp on the upgrade, go big on the graphics card.

The audio in Battlefield plays an equally large role in making the battle seem more real. Bullets pinging and whining around you, the rumble of a tank outside the building you’re hiding in, the sound of a nearby mortar launch – all of these help pull you even further into the game. Weapons sound very good, and little touches mean a lot. A running soldier generates a lot of random noise, from boots hitting the ground to various objects sliding, shifting and pinging about his person. Again, it brings the gamer that much closer to reality.

The other major change in Battlefield 3 is the one people are expending a lot of internet bandwidth to discuss right now: Battlelog. Rather than stick with the traditional in-game server browser, EA and DICE have integrated the server browser, stat tracking, friends list and clan (platoon) tracking into one web-based interface. It’s a great idea, and when it works, it’s wonderful. Unfortunately, there are plenty of reports about how often it isn’t working. I personally downloaded the game, installed it, and then had to re-download all 12GB of it when an unexplained ‘install error’ cropped up.

I’m not the only one having issues. Just among GameFront staff we’ve had several of the issues plaguing Battlelog pop up, from invites not appearing to games refusing to start. When I want to play with two of my buddies, it shouldn’t take an hour to get the three of us into a game together, but that’s exactly what happened.

Battlelog does have some high points. Joining as a party with your buddies is a great feature, as is the ability to drag and drop friends to invite them to your server. It’s obviously a system with a ton of potential, but it feels like it got taken out of the oven a little too early.

All in all, Battlefield 3 delivers almost everything I was hoping for. The campaign is lackluster, but that’s almost overshadowed by how damn good the multiplayer is. Quite simply, it’s the best multiplayer shooter I’ve played since Battlefield 2. Fans of the Battlefield series will find a game that isn’t exactly like what you’ve played in the past, but it’s close enough that you’ll feel right at home in a short amount of time. The bugs and hiccups with Battlelog are annoying, but not so much that they make me not want to play. This is a game that every PC shooter fan should play.

If DICE decides to release mod tools for BF3, this could be the game that dominates the PC shooter scene for the next 5 years, just like Battlefield 2 did. As it is, I still expect it to be around a good long while.

We reviewed Battlefield 3 on a Digital Storm ODE PC. Short list specs are i7 2600K @ 4.7GHz, 2x GTX 570 SLI, 8GB RAM. You can see the whole system at the Digital Storm Website

Pros:

  • Frostbite 2 delivers on the promises DICE made.
  • Embodies the classic Battlefield multiplayer with modern features
  • Plenty of unlocks
  • JETS!
  • Co-op missions are surprisingly fun
  • Great audio

Cons:

  • Lackluster-at-best campaign
  • Numerous bugs
  • Lots of issues with Battlelog

Final Score: 88/100

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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