Hardcore Battlefield fans will be quick to point out that the series has left its roots in recent years, ignoring the PC, and focusing on more single-player experiences. Battlefield: Bad Company, for example, added a campaign and never even saw a PC release.
Although Battlefield: Bad Company 2's multiplayer was topnotch (and personally, my favorite of recent modern shooters) and it hit PC alongside consoles, the BF series is still missing a few key ingredients that made players fall in love with it back in 2002. Enter Battlefield 3, a game that developer DICE is promising will return the franchise back to the glory of the original Battlefield titles, for the first time in six years.
Though it debuted to a single-player demo at GDC 2011, DICE has finally begun to irk out details of the game's multiplayer component--arguably the most important element in any modern day shooter.
On the official Battlefield Blog, lead multiplayer designer Lars Gustavsson took a moment to discuss DICE's philosophy for multiplayer in Battlefield 3. "The mindset at DICE during the development of Battlefield 2 was pretty much: “Play the game our way, or play something else”. Now, we have made a conscious effort to reverse that mentality," Gustavsson says.
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For Battlefield 3, the idea is to allow gamers to play the game the way they want to play it. Some of that, Gustavsson says, is in the geometry of the levels. Some areas offer wide-open areas like classic Battlefield 2 maps to "urban gritty maps with their tighter gameplay focus."
One of the more surprising additions is the return of Team Deathmatch to Battlefield, which has been absent from the series since Battlefield 1942. According to Gustavsson, omitting the mode "would almost be a criminal offense," noting that TDM lends itself well to "the tactical destruction and realistic soldier movement that Frostbite 2 brings to the game."
Other core elements are still in play, including the return of Conquest and Rush modes, which Gustavsson calls "bolder and more beautiful than ever."
"We discussed the strengths of Battlefield and ended up with a lot of interesting questions," Gustavsson said, speaking around the roles of squads in Battlefield 3. "Does teamplay have to be squad based, or can it be in a more general sense of playing together? Am I less of a gamer if I don’t want to play in squads? If I want Team Deathmatch? If I want infantry only gameplay?"
One of the things that I enjoy most about Battlefield is that it isn't as straightforward as other shooters. It has a strategic element to it that I just don't find in games like Black Ops. Whether asking these questions aloud means we're in for a more streamlined, accessible gameplay experience is yet to be seen, and whether any of those decisions will take away from the game's quality is something we'll need to examine when Battlefield 3 launches on October 25 for the PC, Xbox 360, and PS3.