Battlefield 3 First Look Preview

We head to the Iraqi border and see some impressive sights in this hands-off demo of DICE's returning shooter.

In the more than five years since the release of Battlefield 2, the first-person shooter landscape has come to be dominated by one franchise alone--Activision's Call of Duty behemoth. EA and developer DICE are hoping to steal the thunder away from Call of Duty with Battlefield 3, the long-awaited sequel to one of the best multiplayer shooter experiences of the past decade. Battlefield 3--which is set to hit PCs, the Xbox 360, and the PlayStation 3 in the fall of this year--is once again promising an extensive multiplayer side, but EA chose to focus on the game's single-player component at an event held overnight during this year's Game Developer's Conference in San Francisco.

First up, there are some technical details. Battlefield 3 will run on DICE's internally developed Frostbite 2 engine, the predecessor of which powered the last few Battlefield: Bad Company games. One of the biggest things the original Frostbite engine did for the Bad Company series was give its environments a good level of destructibility, and DICE has amped up that aspect with Frostbite 2 to extend the damage on a building-level scale. So not only will small structures collapse, but entire multistory constructions can and will also topple in Battlefield 3, given the right amount of destructive pressure. Animations, too, will receive an upgrade, with the sequel co-opting the ANT system--which is used for EA's sports titles--for use with its character models. DICE says this will result in more lifelike animations for all of the characters you'll see within the game. The Frostbite 2 engine--which in itself has been in development for more than two years--also supposedly markedly improves rendering and audio, resulting in extremely realistic lighting effects coupled with immersive sound.

The reason for all this technical focus, according to DICE, was to create a game that would be able to push the FPS genre as far forward as Battlefield 2 did when it was released back in 2005. And from what we saw at EA's GDC event, the long wait for Battlefield 3 seems to have paid off, with the game looking truly impressive at this stage of development. The hands-off demo--which was running off the PC build of the game (with PC being the lead platform for the Battlefield 3)--didn't give away too many story details, but we did manage to eke out some facts. The year is 2014, and Iranian insurgents (named the PLR) are starting to amass on the border between Iraq and Iran. You'll play as Sgt. Henry "Buck" Blackburn, a US Marine stationed along the border (although it's not clear whether the good sergeant will be the only character you'll play throughout the entire game).

At the start of the demo, Blackburn and a small group of marines were tasked with finding a squad of missing soldiers that were on the trail of a possible chemical weapons site. Blackburn and his teammates travelled through some tight alleyways and an abandoned school on their search for the missing soldiers, which was a neat way to showcase the great ambient lighting on show as the sun's rays filtered, bounced, and blazed through different sections of narrow spaces. When the team hit a car park surrounded by tall buildings, things went south, with a sniper shooting down one of Blackburn's teammates. As bullets started flying from insurgents using the cars as cover, the DICE developer controlling our demo showed off a new move to be found in Battlefield 3: the ability to drag downed teammates into cover with, from what we could see of onscreen prompts, some rapid pressing of buttons in what amounted to a mini quick-time event. This, as you can imagine, is a fairly slow process, but Blackburn soon managed to drag the fallen soldier into a building before heading out into the fray. As well as being shot at by insurgents in the car park, one rocket launcher-wielding enemy was positioned on a balcony in a nearby building, making things even more difficult for Blackburn and his team. The DICE demo driver threw a grenade into the balcony, killing the enemy and once again showing off the impressive destructibility of Frostbite 2, with the balcony exploding in a shower of dust and debris in an extremely believable manner.

The demo then skipped ahead in the level, with the squad now atop a building in an attempt to take out that pesky sniper. This was a pretty tense sequence, with the team having to run from cover to cover as the sniper's bullets flew by, sending chunks of concrete flying as they narrowly missed Blackburn. With no cover left, the entire squad then went prone (and yes, prone is back), crawling along the ground to the edge of a low wall encircling the roof. Blackburn then armed himself with a rocket launcher, and once the rest of his squad had popped up from behind the wall to provide covering fire, he stood up and sent a rocket flying into a nearby building. On impact, the rocket's explosion shockwave caused shards of glass and other material to fall from the structure, as well as destroyed the enemy sniper opponent's position.

The demo once again skipped ahead to a different section of the level, and Blackburn was alone in the basement of a building, following a wire that led to a bomb. Blackburn followed the wire through some tight air vents, before dropping into a small storage area where the explosive was located. But as he moved to disarm it, he was pulled back by a lone soldier who started raining blows on him in what looked to be another quick-time sequence. Blackburn and the insurgent engaged in hand-to-hand combat, with Blackburn's strikes activated by hitting the indicated mouse button. Once he dispatched the attacker, Blackburn turned and disarmed the device before heading outside to rejoin his squad, which was once again embroiled in a serious firefight. Blackburn ran to a nearby overpass and grabbed a heavy assault rifle to mow down advancing enemies. With only weak sheets of metal covering the overpass, Blackburn had to continually reposition as the metal he was using for cover was shot to pieces, but thankfully, a friendly chopper soon joined the fight to lend support. With that wave of enemies defeated, Blackburn got off the overpass and rushed to a nearby jeep to man a mounted .50 cal to once again tear shreds off advancing insurgents. But this moment of firepower superiority was short lived. A massive tremor suddenly rocked the city, sending Blackburn flying from the jeep. As he looked up, a tall building slowly started to crumble before collapsing entirely, taking out the chopper as it fell and headed straight for Blackburn. With that cliff-hanger, the demo ended.

Battlefield 3 is looking sharp.

There are still plenty of questions we want answers to, such as what the background story is, what locations you'll be fighting in, and most importantly, what sort of improvements are being planned for multiplayer. But what was clear from this short demo was that Battlefield 3--at least with its single-player side--is aiming for a high-impact, cinematic experience. What the game is absolutely nailing right now is its visuals, which looked amazing from start to finish, with plenty of impressive detail to help flesh out this realistic-looking world. We're definitely looking forward to seeing more of this great-looking shooter, which is scheduled for release in fall of 2011 on the PC, Xbox 360, and PS3.

Written By

Randolph is the managing editor of GameSpot, and needs more time to play games.

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673 comments
Dominic_18
Dominic_18

i wish Battlefield 2 days come back " on the pc version of course" , until now its the best multiplayer war game i ever played

p4kman88
p4kman88

it would be really...REALLY...nice to see an extra mode...where there is a no respond OPTION so for ur TROLLS before u start wigging out i'm not saying NO RESPOND ONLY! i'm saying an option....for those who want a little more than just "hardcore"......and people would ACTUALLY use the damn mic and RELAY communication and TEAMWORK....and not just have random douche bags running around and kill intensity ultimately killing the fun..i just like CAPPING some words....it really has NO meaning.....WHAT SO EVER....

bschroth
bschroth

Can't wait for this game. To me the battlefield series is far better than COD now since every new COD is just the original modern warfare with a new skin over it.

max_1111
max_1111

@Xbox360Gamer15 Troll harder. @mio82 Yea you don't even need a top end PC to shame an Xbox.

meleekill989
meleekill989

see call of duty? see!? this is what you are supposed to be doing. but no, you give us the same graphics, same gameplay, and same nondescript storylines for three games in a row. this is why BF3 will put Call of Duty in its grave. sad really, but there you have it

mio82
mio82

@Xbox360Gamer15 A top end PC will kill a 360....PC's evolve monthly, the 360 is what 6 years old now, a brand new top of the line PC is brand new! It may cost more but it definitely looks and plays far beyond a 360.

jchristenberry
jchristenberry

I am really looking forward to this. WIth these huge graphical improvements I did notice one thing that kinda bugged me... Anyone else notice during the end of the 10 minute video they released when the main character is on the big gun on the back of the pickup... the ammo chain doesnt move while he is shooting lol. All these round going down range and not even a slight blur effect on it! Its minor, but it stuck out a lot for me lol.

Xbox360Gamer15
Xbox360Gamer15

im getting the 360 version...pc sucks so it doesnt make sense that its the lead in the dev line or whatever..the console versions will always be better...the 360 version will look way better.

KingTriceIII
KingTriceIII

BATTLEFIELD over COD all day!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dominic_18
Dominic_18

it looks fun , too bad the game ends up fast like BFBC2 hahaha...

ragflop
ragflop

I will buy copies for pc and xbox and maybe a couple extras. You can't beat the online play of BFBC2... yet.

EricDaMann
EricDaMann

This game looks to insane, i'm gona get an ips panel just for this game man O.O Oh and for the witcher 2 =D

deadreign22
deadreign22

can't wait to buy this game on xbox instead of getting this on a pc

max_1111
max_1111

"(with PC being the lead platform for the Battlefield 3)" THANK YOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOU!!!

Elpadrino159
Elpadrino159

Hopefully this game is optimized to use the best gfx card available, but I might have to get this on the 360 cuz all my friends play on 360. Its weird playing with strangers in a squad based game.

lyncer777
lyncer777

Thumbs up for Frostbite 2 Engine. Thumbs down for Cryengine 3.

Phil-teh-Pirate
Phil-teh-Pirate

Its a sad shame that all CoD could amount to since Modern Warfare is a string of "expansion pack" style releases. Hopefully Battlefield 3 will have them up there game. But I can't see CoD taking hold again after this...

xskaterfreak96
xskaterfreak96

I have never played Battlefield or Battlefield 2, but now i wish i had. I'm sick of spending 60 bucks for the same Call of Duty game with slightly updated graphics and different missions. This looks like an amazing step up from Call of Duty. Even if there aren't bots (which I hope there will be) this game should be in a league of it's own.

ammiedredd
ammiedredd

My husband and i still hope (but of course not because all developers are up to the money) that there are tons of guns, weapons, attachment, tools, accessories, scope, rails, and others that are available and in-game switchable. You know.. something like everything is available instantly and the only-hard-core-challenge matters is how to use it. Also the fps and tps in-game switching. Video is sharp and we think it is the only things that wow the buyers like us. We have the money - we still buy it. Games are more boring as time pass by especially most if it has limited options and capabilities. I hope that government forced a standard features on all shooting game (like tps/fps combination) and other game title. The developers can actually do that but they wont because no one are forcing them. Even those features that i wanted is not available there still lot of buyers, and it sucks. I believe in 2020 all the features that i wanted would be available(sigh).

02050muh
02050muh

can i tag a gamespot staff so that they can ask the developer to put bots in it?

02050muh
02050muh

if they are not putting bots,it will be a dumbed down version of battlefield compare to it's predecessor

02050muh
02050muh

i want ai bots like black ops but work offline just like bf2 pleaseeeeee!!!! anyone,make a petition about this please if u agree

Nerkle01
Nerkle01

@sllimskelter, MW1- 9.5 Mw2- 8.5 If your gonna say something, say it right. If it wasn't for CoD4, modern warfare games wouldn't be around. Mw2 was good for a couple of weeks but it went down the drain. But BF3 will be the best shooter this year, UNLESS the devs drop the ball.

legolash
legolash

i will 2 days non-stop playing this game i swear!

RambutanHead
RambutanHead

Battlefield BC 2 was amazing, can't wait for this one.

OldEnglishTrick
OldEnglishTrick

"DUN DUN DUN DADUNT DUNT" who cares if this dosent win game of the year, all that matters is battlefield 3 will be great regardless, its prolly good that cod is more popular, they can keep there 13 year old crying fanboys.

Devils-DIVISION
Devils-DIVISION

@gamerman_96 Thankfully so! Does anyone know whether Digital Illusions (BF2 devs) changed the name of the company to DICE or were they bought out by them? Or are they a subsidiary? What happened to them?

BrianB0422
BrianB0422

I'm really looking forward to this game. Love the fact that they are putting PC first!

toms123
toms123

this game better have bots on the mp maps for offline play, like BF2 had, if it does not, then I will not get it, like i did not get BF:BC2

DuleDuleROFL
DuleDuleROFL

Damn, I need an HD-TV asap if I'm ever to whitness the graphics at best! :P

gamerman_96
gamerman_96

Everyone should remember that this has no connection to the bad company series.

inuyasha22matt
inuyasha22matt

COD SUCKS SOOOOO MUCH but battlefield is GREAT it looks so real and not so basic like COD

Dz3n0
Dz3n0

this just might be the best fps in a long time let's hope so!

aesndk
aesndk

bringing the house down on MW and of coures BLACK OPS

peanut-butter
peanut-butter

If prone is coming back, I hope I will not see fulling armed and grizzled soldiers dolphin diving all over the war zone like wet noodles.

chris010000
chris010000

This game might be cool if they fix that god awful five second lag between players.

donutje
donutje

I would pick any Battlefield game over any CoD. I never ever understood my friend when he told me he prefers CoD MW2 to Battlefield BC2... He says he prefers CoD's graphics and gameplay o_O And I'm like: CoD scenery consists of walls and little houses, BC2 scenery consists of beautiful drawn landscapes.. CoD consists of closecombat arcade shooting, BC2 of real tactical Modern Warfare O_O Take into consideration that BC2 is a simple itteration of the original series and that battlefield 2 was groundbreaking at its release.. And then I know formyself I will buy battlefield, what ever the hyped and well advertised CoD may get for sales numbers.. I prefer quality(B3= Best game series ever played) over quantity(CoD= more players)

oflow
oflow

BF owns cod.

ff10andff12
ff10andff12

I wish i had a high end PC, so my PS3 will have to do me justice.

ff10andff12
ff10andff12

My new online game of choice. Cant wait for the campaign though!

ersten
ersten

@ AzatiS Neither. I just happened to enjoy BFC1 for its humor. Are you that narrow-minded?

AzatiS
AzatiS

@ersten What the? Do you think "war" as humourous ? Or do you like all these "rambo" cliche war typos?

elitedeadman
elitedeadman

FINNAAALYYY!!!!!!! time for BATTLEFIELD to retake the "king of all ONLINE FPS!"

ersten
ersten

Please make the game funny. BFBC2 did not have much humor.

criticfromhell
criticfromhell

@p4kman88 you are a wonderful example of a human being, and I hope you pass on your sperm, so we can have more ill-spelling, poorly spoken trolls among us to abhor. Anyway, looking forward to this. Always been more of a campaign gamer than multiplayer, but this'll probably change that.

djpetitte
djpetitte

Battlefield: specializing in online warfare since 1942. One of the few reasons I still play video games at my old age. anyone who doesnt have nothing but respect for bf has a cock meat sandwich headed their way.

bass_boy
bass_boy

Screw single player, there are a heaps of single player campaigns out there and they are all the same. BF2 was the best ever multi player game ever hands down no argument, case closed. I hope this lives up to the name, i really miss the 32 v 32 intense battles.

p4kman88
p4kman88

@ApneicMonkey wow...rush games last 30mins to an hour....u dont say...well maybe because...OF RESPAWN... U MORON!!!...WOW..im glad ur not in charge of...anything other than flippin burgers...shhh...u hear that...listen...the uncooked hamburger patties call out ur name they need ur special touch and btw i asked for a no RESPAWN MODE meaning the game would have an OPTION of having it on..or off...like hardcore mode....DERP DERP...it doesnt make any sense to not have it..they have hardcore but i dont see anything hardcore about it...