It looks like virtual soldiers--particularly those fond of unlockable content--will have plenty of swag to keep them coming back to Battlefield 3. Battlefield 2 was the first game in the series (and one of the first shooters, in general) to contain (the now nearly ubiquitous) persistent unlockable perks, and Battlefield 3 is poised to deliver a list of unlockables that's an order of magnitude larger than that of it's predecessor.
"Compared to Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Battlefield 3 will have more than 10 times the hardware unlocks spread over weapons, weapons attachments, gadgets," notes the fifth entry to the Battlefield 3 Battleblog, "and a huge unlock tree for vehicles alone."
Skill-based ribbons and medals are also in the mix, and based on what you've earned, other players can get a general glimpse into your relative level of badassery.
On top of these ingame hardware items, players will also be richly rewarded with medals, ribbons and service stars displaying their skill, commitment, and teamplay prowess. You will be rewarded handsomely in Battlefield 3 for exemplary skill, such as capturing X amount of bases in one round. Excellent teamplayers who keep the team’s vehicles in mint condition and revive fallen comrades will not go unnoticed either. These type of skill-driven rewards are typically handed out in the form of ribbons, and good players can often get more than one ribbon in a single round.
These awards are structured so that players can work toward achieving them without distracting from in-game battles, and some are even commitment-based, like the reward for "playing x amount of hours as a U.S. soldier."
Service Stars are the crown-jewels of achievement, and though unlocked similarly to medals and ribbons, they're described as "hardcore" achievements that apply to your "weapon skill badge, your vehicle, your kit, and your overall rank." They'll be very tough to earn.
The Battleblog notes:
The ultimate bragging right would be for a player to be awarded the rank of Colonel with 100 Service Stars attached, and to have 100 stars in all weapons, kits, and vehicles. Getting there will be a massive task – consider that a challenge!
Using a particular gun or vehicle kit will unlock progressive upgrades relative the weapon or kit being used, while accrued experience feeds into the player's overall rank. Those experience points can then be used to "unlocks new weapons, specializations, and camouflages usable by any class."
The announcement goes on to further tout Battlefield 3's "play it your way" mentality, explaining that each of the game's four classes (Assault, Engineer, Support, Recon) are highly customizable. They encourage players to carefully consider how they outfit themselves, given the specific parameters of the battle. Does one kit themselves out with healing equipment before rushing to the front-lines, or bring a 40mm grenade launcher attachment instead?
Battlefield 3 is planned for an October 25 release on PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. A public beta for the game is set to launch in September.