There are going to be quite a few ways to dish out vehicular mayhem in Battlefield 3. Players will find more than twenty class-based vehicles to drive or pilot from categories like "armored transports, infantry fighting vehicles, main battle tanks, scout helicopters, attack helicopters, fighter jets, and attack jets." Developer DICE has released some more information about these deadly war machines, and executive producer Patrick Bach recently expressed some thoughts about the importance of continuing to reward players in a long-running, competitive, multiplayer shooter.
New to the Battlefield series is a refined damage system for vehicles. "Lightly damaged vehicles recover their armor after a set amount of time (if kept away from enemy fire)," DICE's Battleblog notes. It's a design decision meant to give smart non-engineer class drivers a way to survive longer in the field, provided they're not averse to occasionally retreating and regrouping. Regenerating vehicular damage occurs on a sliding scale, however, and vehicles won't recover armor "past a certain damage threshold."
Battlefield 3's vehicle customization system is also detailed. As with customizing weapons, customizing vehicles effectively specializes them, making them more proficient in some attributes, and less in others. The most obvious example of this would be deciding whether to arm a fighter jet so that it's more effective in air-to-air combat, vs. an air-to-ground-appropriate load out.
Each of the game's drivable vehicles include three upgrade slots--one secondary weapon slot, one gadget slot, and one upgrade slot--into which can be plugged an assortment of class-based vehicle perks. More than eighty such perks exist in all, spread across the twelve classes of transportation.
Those perks will likely be unlocked over a longer period of time. Executive producer Patrick Bach recently discussed rewarding players over the long term, in an interview with RPS, Bach said that the team is anticipating "people [playing] even more than Battlefield Bad Company 2." Because of that, "we’re planning for even longer unlocks, a bigger unlock tree."
Battlefield 3 is due on PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 on October 25. You can check out our hands-on multiplayer preview here.
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