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GDC: Battlefield 3 single-player Preview

We detail our thoughts on a lengthy single-player demo of the upcoming shooter Battlefield 3, played live in front of us by a member of the developer DICE at an event during GDC 2011...

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The ground shakes beneath my feet as an earthquake decimates the street before my eyes. It's jarring at first but I'm quick to remind myself, I'm not standing in the middle of the carnage but watching it play out on a monitor in front of me. The first in-game demo for Battlefield 3 from developer DICE has a few moments like this. So much happens in the ten (or so) minute demo that it's difficult to process how to even write about it. Marines shoot insurgents known as the PLR. Cars and buildings are reduced to rubble. Mayhem finds a home in the near future world on the Iraq and Iran border. These are the core elements at play during the demo. The first leg of the adventure has been spoiled in a gameplay trailer released late last night (found below). As one of the developers plays the game on PC in front of a hushed crowd, we're introduced to a Marine named Black and his team in the year 2014. Tasked with finding a missing squad of marines investigating a cache of chemical weapons, Black and his team set out to a market on the "bad side of town." Looking at the world, it's hard to imagine there's a good side to be found anywhere. In the video, you can spot one of the first battle sequences in the demo. Black's team is ambushed in a parking lot, which kicks off when one of his team is hit by a sniper round. After manually dragging him to safety, Black and his team proceed to dismantle the opposition before they flee. Throughout the demo the NPCs make a few mentions of tremors. The border is located right above a fault line and it seems that Mother Nature wants to join in on the fight. Pushing past hordes of enemy insurgents, the team sets out to find the sniper that nearly took the life of one of their own. Eventually they find themselves on a rooftop, across from the sniper's perch. Here they stalk from cover to cover, then crawl across the roof to locate the shooter. Across the street is a hotel where the sniper seems to take up his position, a thought that the NPCs confirm when the sparkle of a scope appears in the distance. Though the team could take fire at the sniper from their position, doing so isn't guaranteed to end the threat. Instead, one marine rolls a shoulder-mounted missile launcher (which may be a M136 AT4, originally we noted it as a M72 LAW) towards Black, the playable character. "You're the best shot," he yells and the team sets up to cover him. "Three. Two. One." The squad rises to their feet and fire at the sniper as Black fires a the missile into the open area. Not only is the sniper reduced to ashes, but the front-face of the building buckles and falls to the ground. There are definitely vacancies in this hotel tonight. The demo skips ahead to an underground section. The last of Jackson's team has been found taken hostage and Black goes to investigate a suspicious red wire leading into an underground bunker. As he makes his way down, more tremors hit. A sign of things to come. After crawling through vents and tight corridors, he's faced with a room filled with munitions connected to a bomb, which slowly beeps. Quickly, Black pulls one of the two wires powering the device before an insurgent sneaks up behind him and attempts to knock him out. But Marines? They fight back. What ensues next is a brutal hand-to-hand exchange where Black, still controlled by the DICE developer, deals and takes devastating punches, all the while the bomb's beep becomes louder and more panicked. The battle lasts about a minute, ending with the insurgents head repeatedly smashed against the pole holding up a chain-link fence that wraps the room. Before it seems like it's too late, Black yanks the last wire from the device and the situation calms. But only for a second. A fellow Marine calls to Black to make it topside to help with a wave of insurgent activity. The situation is fierce. Hordes of enemies rush an open area, in the middle of the downtown environment. Taking position on a bridge, Black fends off waves by destroying vehicles used as enemy cover and shooting through weak structures to the insurgents laying in wait behind. As the bridge's own cover begins to disappear, Black rushes to an enemy vehicle and jumps aboard the .50 caliber gun on the back, firing into crowds of hostiles. Soon, gunfire is the last of anyone's worries, on either side of the battle. The quiet tremors from before disappear and the world begins to shake and erupt with sonic sounds. A giant earthquake hits the street and the earth beneath the fighters rips apart sending Black onto the ground. In the distance a building buckles and begins to break apart from its foundation, falling onto the street below and--it appears--on to Black. The demo ends there. Though it was heavily scripted, it was very impressive. In its current state, Battlefield 3 looks and sounds outstanding. However, that's the single-player, which some might cite as the "added bonus" to a multiplayer-focused shooter.

Battlefield 3 is coming to PC, Xbox 360, and PS3 this fall.

When I spoke with DICE GM Karl Magnus Troedsson, the first handful of questions I threw at him during my extremely short ten minute interview were focused on Shack community questions. Questions that revolved around things like spawn mechanics and dedicated servers. Unfortunately, DICE isn't showing its hand at this time. Presumably, the game is still too far off to discuss how it will function at launch. On the specific subject of dedicated servers Troedsson said that although DICE isn't talking about that at this time he reminds me that it's something they have done in the past. "[DICE believes] that its crucial for the experience." Ending that line of questioning by saying that Shackers "can bet on it." This isn't the last we'll see of Battlefield 3. This was only the debut and we're going to be following up on every critical piece of multiplayer information we get. Because at the end of the day, even though Battlefield 3 looks to sport an action-packed single-player experience, multiplayer is at the heart of the series.

Filed Under

From The Chatty

  • reply
    March 2, 2011 10:40 AM

    Comment on GDC: Battlefield 3 single-player Preview, by Xav de Matos.

    • reply
      March 2, 2011 10:52 AM

      We detail our thoughts on a lengthy single-player demo of the upcoming shooter Battlefield 3, played live in front of us by a member of the developer DICE at an event during GDC 2011...

    • reply
      March 2, 2011 10:55 AM

      stonedonkey, I need you! I can't click this link (although it displays perfectly now)!

    • reply
      March 2, 2011 1:19 PM

      So quiet!

      • reply
        March 2, 2011 1:22 PM

        single-player preview :(

        • reply
          March 2, 2011 1:28 PM

          ^^^^ what he said

        • reply
          March 2, 2011 1:32 PM

          Pretty much this. Battlefield is multiplayer through and through; the SP campaign is basically for the console players and/or CoD fans.

          • reply
            March 2, 2011 1:43 PM

            Hey now, plenty of "console players" can appreciate a MP only experience. BF 1943 and MNC say hiyooooo.

            • reply
              March 2, 2011 4:59 PM

              BF1943 can die in a fucking fire. I don't know what's funnier, that it was an absolutely dead-on copy of PC-BF1942 for consoles or that the PC version was on life support for so goddamn long. A travesty, regardless.

              MNC is the odd duck, true.

              • reply
                March 2, 2011 6:00 PM

                I just find it strange to think of the inclusion of a single player campaign as some sort of platform-specific "concession" they're making.

        • reply
          March 2, 2011 2:04 PM

          ^^^^right here, I doubt i will play SP much, if at all.

      • reply
        March 2, 2011 1:51 PM

        To be fair we already have two or three HUGE BF3 threads. So most of the commenting is in there.

        When you have 3 articles on the same subject matter in the same day --- you're going to lose one or two of them to the second page, in which case they're only going to be revived by FPP's

        • reply
          March 2, 2011 1:54 PM

          See what you can do to fix the formatting of comments on front page topics.

          In the chatty --- shit is spread across the width of the page. On the front page articles -- you're squished to the middle third of the screen --- comments included. Really annoying to read through especially when responding to comments after doing "Parent Author Searches" --- as those take you to the front page article, rather than the chatty. It's inconsistent and therefore broken.

          • reply
            March 2, 2011 2:20 PM

            Send feedback to greg-m.

            This isn't the place.

        • reply
          March 2, 2011 3:36 PM

          I agree 100%

      • reply
        March 2, 2011 2:03 PM

        i hate previews articles, i want videos

    • reply
      March 2, 2011 1:26 PM

      Everything I don't mind seeing.. but.. Battlefield series.. people thing MP. Wheres the damn mp previews :(!

    • reply
      March 2, 2011 1:30 PM

      Not really a big fan of scripted linear shooters; no replay value limits the appeal.
      I'm definitely in for the multiplayer though.

    • reply
      March 2, 2011 1:41 PM

      This is really nit-picky, but I love how you call the rocket launcher an M72 LAW (it looks like an M136 AT4) and then link to the wiki article about a soviet copy.

      Still, I can't wait. I want it all over my face.

      • reply
        March 2, 2011 1:49 PM

        The weapons nerd in me said the same thing.

      • reply
        March 2, 2011 2:11 PM

        Thanks. I made the change.

        • reply
          March 2, 2011 2:32 PM

          "My producer is telling me this isn't an RPG it's an AT-4. It may in fact be a Karl Gustav. But look at the zoom down the scope... you can see details on the sniper."

        • reply
          March 2, 2011 2:48 PM

          Cheers! It isn't something important, and I almost didn't post it myself for fear of seeming petty. It is a great article and I doubt anyone really gives a shit about whether you get that right or not.

          • reply
            March 3, 2011 7:05 AM

            Deject this might be a sign that you need to get a life

    • reply
      March 2, 2011 1:42 PM

      Sadly, they have not shown off any multiplayer and aren't talking about it.

      • reply
        March 2, 2011 1:55 PM

        My feeling is this: if they havent already shown off any multiplayer, it wont be good.

        Having good multiplayer is SUCH a boon to selling the game, that its stupid to hide the fact that the multiplayer will be awesome. Therefore, it won't be.

        • reply
          March 2, 2011 2:27 PM

          I suspect it has more to do with holding it back until E3 so that they have something new and exciting to showoff in order to keep the hype machine going. Developers/Publishers generally don't blow their newsworthy content load this early in the year.

        • reply
          March 2, 2011 3:19 PM

          That's ridiculous. The game isn't going to be out until like December or something. Saying it's shit because they aren't showing anything now is absurd.

        • reply
          March 2, 2011 3:34 PM

          Truly, yours is a dizzying logic.

        • reply
          March 2, 2011 4:10 PM

          This is just silly Haxim.

        • reply
          March 2, 2011 4:39 PM

          Completely ridiculous assertion. The BF series has had amazing MP in every other game, including BC2 which also had a single player game mode - I have no doubt that will be the case here too.

        • reply
          March 2, 2011 5:04 PM

          Haxim, I thought better of you

      • reply
        March 2, 2011 1:56 PM

        The one thing most of us care about. I hope the next installment on the 16th shows some multiplayer.

        • reply
          March 2, 2011 2:02 PM

          What? No, the video on the 16th will just be a continuation of the existing footage. Everything's been teased of the exact same locale. First the GI images (all from the video). Then the pathetic teaser --- chopped from this video. The next video will contain the stuff off the roof, and hopefully the destruction of the 7 Story Hotel structure that's seen in the background / showcased in one of the GI images. The earliest you can expect to see any MP footage would likely be May/June. E3 is my guess. Perhaps an exclusive MP demo beta in July. Followed by it's release in September.

      • reply
        March 2, 2011 3:40 PM

        Probably down to the ability to script the crap out of it so it looks great.

        Crytek tried to show off MP of Crysis 2 at E3, but they actually showed a pre-recorded (and 'acted') session that had been leaked and even had people stand with xbox pads in front of PC's to make people think it was live.

        • reply
          March 2, 2011 3:54 PM

          yah i remember that video, all the actors playing looked bored as fuck. lol

    • reply
      March 2, 2011 2:00 PM

      Please stop the videos from auto-playing. Shack articles are starting to turn into garbage like ESPN.com. It's really bad when it's the same video across 5 articles.

      • reply
        March 2, 2011 2:06 PM

        I second this request. Autoplay is evil.

      • reply
        March 2, 2011 2:06 PM

        I guess I should be glad I haven't filled in the age gate yet then?

        • reply
          March 2, 2011 2:20 PM

          haha -- is that it? It's finally setup to remember my age? Now is that on a per video basis, or across the entire shack now?

      • reply
        March 2, 2011 2:09 PM

        It's a bug. We're aware of it.

        • reply
          March 2, 2011 3:00 PM

          Good to hear! oh and a note on videos, i just noticed they work under skyfire on iPad, yay!

    • reply
      March 2, 2011 3:11 PM

      Why is the M4 front sight so clear when looking through the ACOG? It should be blurred out:
      http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/nickmartinphoto/DSC00292.jpg
      http://media.photobucket.com/image/acog%20front%20sight/moose00015/P1020667.jpg

      • reply
        March 2, 2011 3:25 PM

        because it looks stupid in a videogame

      • reply
        March 2, 2011 3:42 PM

        Why do games zoom the field of view that is outside of the scope's view? Do we all have bionic eyes?

        • reply
          March 2, 2011 3:59 PM

          Another salient point, but you could argue that iron sights are "zoomed" and that rather they are applying that same effect with a fancy reticle, when they should really be zooming the outside area a little like with iron sights, and the center much more.

          Also, if you're using a two-eyes-open aiming device like an ACOG or Aimpoint, why does the scope body still obscure the scenery? Your non-aiming eye should be able to see the scenery, but I guess that would be difficult to simulate via transparency, since it's more of an eye-dominance effect. This is one of the primary advantages of a red-dot over standard iron sights, along with rapid target acquisition.

          • reply
            March 2, 2011 4:06 PM

            I'm curious to know how hard it would be to actually render both FOV's at the same time. Unzoomed outside of the scope and zoomed through the scope. I realize it's 1000% easier to just code zooming to a 20 degree FOV (or whatever) and popping up the scope image, but still.

            • reply
              March 2, 2011 4:12 PM

              I assume doing it would require a second camera to render the zoomed version to a texture, then rendering that texture onto the scope. It's not like it hasn't been done before though, Red Orchestra used that style for their snipers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JjHM1h1MXnI

              • reply
                March 2, 2011 5:00 PM

                I was about to chip in with RO, but red orchestra put a lot more effort into the experience than anything i've seen EA back.

              • reply
                March 2, 2011 5:12 PM

                Too bad it doesn't move, distort, or turn black during the reload animation.

                In a situation like that, I'd also appreciate an ability to focus more or less on the scope, to get more detail in the magnified image at the cost of environmental awareness. I feel like the scope in that video has a really narrow FOV, but it might actually be accurate for a WWII sniper scope.

    • reply
      March 2, 2011 6:03 PM

      it is all about the multiplayer anyways..

    • reply
      March 2, 2011 6:10 PM

      I finally watched that trailer and my thoughts are:

      a) The new Shack videoplayer doesn't suck which is awesome
      b) HOLY SHIT

    • reply
      March 2, 2011 6:15 PM

      Seems pretty clear to me that EA wants the Battlefield series to compete directly with the Call of Duty franchise. And the fact that the cancelled the other content for BF2BC and others is a good indicator of that. EA probably saw the whole CoD drama that caused the studio heads to ragequit, and saw an opportunity.

      BF has always had a strong multiplayer... now they just need to get their single player up to snuff to be a real competitor to CoD. I think current BF fans don't care about single player... but I'm guessing EA and Dice are looking to get lots of new fans now that CoD is slightly defunct... and a solid, well polished single player is going to be the way to get those new customers.

      It's interesting that the CoD franchise was so single-player heavy, and then became a multiplayer power house... and now BF is trying to do the opposite, with its strong multiplayer, it's trying to move into a strong single player. But I'm a bit worried... because I can't think of a single example of where a company who has a strong multiplayer background, has made a strong single player. The Bad Company line has given them some experience... but can they pull off a AAA quality one?

    • reply
      March 2, 2011 6:23 PM

      Hey here's a thought. Can we out our ages in our profiles, that way when we try and view something age gated, it knows how old we are so we don't all have to say that we were born on 01-01-1901. Steam should do this too. :(

      I mean really, is there anything less effective than an age gate? I mean besides abstinence only education.

      • reply
        March 2, 2011 6:50 PM

        It's not really out call.

        • reply
          March 2, 2011 7:09 PM

          It's in call then? Sweet!

        • reply
          March 2, 2011 9:04 PM

          Who's call is it? it's amazingly annoying when combined with the inability to size the player to 720. I watch a lot of the vids at work and I'd rather not have to chose between thumbnail sized and fullscreen so I broadcast it to anyone that walks in the room. I need a step in between, honestly I just go hunting for the youtube version now if it exists.

          I know that sounds like I have some latent OCD but those small details really begin to annoy you after a while. Trust me, I'd much rather stay and watch the vid here.

          • reply
            March 2, 2011 9:25 PM

            It's a requirement imposed by publishers of ESRB-rated games to display media or something.

            • reply
              March 2, 2011 10:13 PM

              Other gaming web pages have the functionality to save the users age to bypass the gate.

            • reply
              March 2, 2011 10:31 PM

              It's pretty lame, gametrailers.com does the same thing (you can register your DOB, but shit is still age-gated)

      • reply
        March 2, 2011 10:03 PM

        There was a good discussion on age gating some time ago: http://www.shacknews.com/article/65513/morning-discussion?id=23958840#itemanchor_23958840

    • reply
      March 2, 2011 8:46 PM

      3 single-player!?

    • reply
      March 2, 2011 9:26 PM

      was there no multiplayer footage shown or coverage at all?

      • reply
        March 2, 2011 9:30 PM

        nope..... .. .

      • reply
        March 2, 2011 9:43 PM

        They're not going to roll out there big guns for GDC. They'll save multiplayer info for E3 and wow everyone with Frostbite tech from the single player campaign in the meantime.

    • reply
      March 2, 2011 10:54 PM

      So, DICE confirmed via twitter that dragging your buddies to safety will not be in multiplayer. To any DICE members that are reading these comments, don't start showing off all sorts of cool features from single player only to turn around and say they aren't available in multiplayer. Dragging a comrade to safety would have been nice to have in mutliplayer, and a no brainer from a next gen battlefield game.

      • reply
        March 2, 2011 10:58 PM

        Ahh that sucks, would have been a great feature for medics. Could have helped the revived and instantly shot scenarios so commonly found in battlefield games.

        • reply
          March 2, 2011 11:24 PM

          Nah, if your going to get gunned down as soon as your revived the medic trying to drag you away would just get gunned down instead. Either way you both are still dead.

      • reply
        March 2, 2011 11:10 PM

        Thats stupid. Why even show it off then.

        • reply
          March 3, 2011 7:51 AM

          Yea, it doesn't make sense -- IT'S A BULLET POINT in the feature list.

          Next thing we're going to be told is that mounting guns on any piece of terrain is restricted to a scripted sequence --- also SP only.

          • reply
            March 3, 2011 7:52 AM

            Oh -- and you can only go prone during the SP campaign sniper level.

      • reply
        March 3, 2011 1:48 AM

        hahahahaha I knew it. The bullshit has started early.

      • reply
        March 3, 2011 3:45 AM

        :(

      • reply
        March 3, 2011 4:17 AM

        I like the throw a syringe technique that Brink uses. Lets the downed party self administer and keeps the medic out of danger.

      • reply
        March 3, 2011 4:39 AM

        I dunno why you would want that feature in MP. What the fuck would it be for? How would it help? How would you define safety? Why would your slow-moving ass not be a huge, inviting target for the other team?

        • reply
          March 3, 2011 7:31 AM

          Use your buddy as a body shield while you drag him to safety, duh.

      • reply
        March 3, 2011 7:13 AM

        It doesn't make sense to be honest. By the time it's safe to claim a body in MP like that, you can respawn. So the only way it would be used is completely unsafe and get you killed again, no thanks.

        • reply
          March 3, 2011 7:20 AM

          It could save the use of a ticket in game terms, which would be cool.

      • reply
        March 3, 2011 7:22 AM

        You might consider that they tested that feature in MP and it just wasn't fun.

      • reply
        March 3, 2011 7:34 AM

        Who cares? What would be the point of such a feature anyway? You would run out and get instantly gunned down while slowly dragging your buddy. Even if it was in multi-player, no one would ever use it for this very reason. If it's not safe for a medic to run out and revive, then it's certainly not safe for somebody to slowly drag.

        • reply
          March 3, 2011 7:49 AM

          Two things:

          1.) healing someone is a channeling function that takes two or three seconds --- requires medic to only heal when not being directly engaged.

          or

          2.) A person can only be revived instantly if they haven't been killed by:
          -a massive explosive---c4, Tank Round, Artillery Strike
          -a head shot
          -a knife

          Option 1 would require the dragging. Option 2 would not.

          Additionally, in order to be revived you have to call for it --- IE Enemy Territory --- wait to be revived, or re-enter the respawn queue immediately.

          • reply
            March 3, 2011 8:30 AM

            ? I still cannot envision any gameplay scenario where the dragging would be useful. The only way it would be useful is if they totally "video-game'd" it up and made you invulnerable while dragging. But that would be stupid.

      • reply
        March 3, 2011 7:45 AM

        Link please?

          • reply
            March 3, 2011 8:51 AM

            Another disconnect between marketing and the developers. Anyone else getting weird feelings about the rest of the bullet points in the BF3 List of Features that they opened up with 2 weeks ago?

            I hope they don't pull an Activision / IW stunt on the PC community with a MP blackout on how servers are going to be run.

      • reply
        March 3, 2011 8:40 AM

        if you're in a position where you have to drag someone back to safety before instantly healing them you're going to get shot as soon as you touch the body

        • reply
          March 3, 2011 1:58 PM

          Is it realistic or fair for the person being medic for someone to revive you only to get shot again and then again and again.

          • reply
            March 3, 2011 11:53 PM

            Is it realistic to have unlimited ammo boxes or that every soldier is trained and equipped to fulfill any task in any military vehicle? Is it fair when both teams can do it? I'm not sure what exactly you're saying, please elaborate.

    • reply
      March 2, 2011 11:22 PM

      Did the AKs (if there were any AK pattern rifles) have wood furniture? I love AKs and I especially love when they have wood furniture. The worst us when they have a lame ass crapco M4 tacticlol stock adapter on them (see MW2).

      • reply
        March 2, 2011 11:29 PM

        Also, how did reload speeds seem? BC2 sometimes had some really slow reloads...I mean the guy is swapping out mags pretty leisurely with the Krinkov and he ALWAYS pulls the bolt back and releases even when it would be simpler not to because a round is already chambered. I think that slightly faster reload times with some of the weapons would be a nice improvement (and at all unrealistic, I mean I can reload my SGL-21 faster than the guy in BC2 reloads his Krinkov...and I have no training and lack any sort of coordination...so it's not beyond belief to think that you could reload the rifles a little faster).

        Holy shit that was an odd tangent to go on about. Oh well, off to bed with me.

        • reply
          March 3, 2011 4:32 AM

          in the gameplay footage you can see him reloading. And how come you own an SGL-21 ? can i have one too, mister ?

    • reply
      March 3, 2011 7:02 PM

      Would like to see gameplay captured from an Xbox 360. I am sure this was captured from a top-end PC with like 16 GB of memory and 4 top-end graphics cards running in SLI mode. Hopefully if will still look great and run smooth on normal hardware and consoles.

      • reply
        March 3, 2011 11:01 PM

        It was running on a single GTX 580 graphics card.