E3 2011: Battlefield 3 Preview

DICE talks online community services, announces open beta, and demos a lengthy desert tank battle for Battlefield 3 during its E3 press conference.

EA saved the best for last in its E3 2011 press conference, wowing the crowd with an extended demo for Battlefield 3. The general manager of DICE, Karl Magnus Troedsson, took the stage to show off this highly anticipated game, talk about online features, and announce a multiplatform open beta. The presentation actually included a few different segments, the first of which was a teaser that flashed a series of gameplay images, including the tank battle, melee combat, urban firefights in the street and underground, and a thermal vision-assisted vehicular assault. These images evoked gameplay from our previous preview coverage and gave us some new glimpses that foreshadowed what was to come.

The second segment was a trailer for the new Frostbite 2.0 game engine that powers Battlefield 3. It highlighted four key areas (animation, destruction, scale, and audio) that are the focus of the improvements made to the original engine that powered some of the previous games in the series, including Battlefield: Bad Company 2. The tech demo was slick, but seeing how it all comes together on the battlefield makes a much bigger impact.

The third segment showed off an "infantry-focused' multiplayer map called Operation Metro, which takes place in the center of Paris. Short glimpses pictured soldiers running through a park, riding in the turret seat of what appeared to be an APC, and driving that same vehicle while manning the main gun. We saw firefights in a city street, in an underground station, and in a subway car. One player died from a brutal stabbing, while another crept along the tracks in prone position. Later, the player mantled over cover and dropped one story to the street, where rockets flew through the air and collided with buildings, scattering large chunks of stone. Troedsson concluded by talking about Battlelog, "a service which adds a hub of powerful social tools, where gamers can connect, communicate, and play with friends." Battlelog lets you form squads and platoons, as well as check out your stats in real time. He then added that the service would be completely free, presumably in reference to Activision's recently announced Call of Duty Elite service.

The presentation concluded with a lengthy live demo of a tank battle against the enemy forces of the PLR that took place in "the Teheran desert" (unclear if he meant a fictional desert or one in the vicinity of Tehran, Iran). The demo began with a dinosaur figurine silhouetted against a clear sky. The wind whipped by and carried the echo of a child's voice, and we noticed the figurine had a label on the bottom, "To Dad." This fatherly moment was interrupted by a command to stop screwing around, and the view leveled off to reveal that the player was in a turret on top of a tank, cruising across a flat desert in a convoy of about a dozen friendly tanks. The audio landscape was rich with the sounds of the wind, the tank treads on the ground, the creaking of the tank chassis, the hum of the engine, the thump of helicopter rotors, radio chatter, and a brooding ambient soundtrack (though this last element faded as the mission progressed, making us wonder if it was inserted for the demo). The visuals were equally robust. The tank rolled over arid ground for a solid minute and a half, showcasing scrub vegetation and looming mountains in the distance. The wind blew dust clouds, and the sun glinted off of specks in the players vision, creating a solid sense of atmosphere.

As the convoy approached a smoking settlement on the horizon, the player climbed down into the tank and took up control of the main gun. A quick prompt indicated the controls for steering, throttle, and reverse, and shortly after, an explosion indicated that enemy tanks had arrived on the scene. Another prompt told the player how to aim and attack, which he began doing with patient accuracy. Each shot kicked up a lot of dust and smoke, making it difficult to visually confirm kills. Fortunately, the radio chatter told the player when he had scored a hit, and the dust eventually cleared to show the flaming husks of enemy tanks. As more enemies approached, the player switched to the thermal camera to get a better bead on them. This fight proved a bit tougher, and a warning tone indicated that the player had taken a bit of damage this time around.

Tanks destroyed, the convoy trucked on until it was brought up short by enemy rocket artillery. The player then switched monitors in the tank, peering into a camera attached to the airplane providing close air support for the assault. In this mostly black-and-white view, we watched a familiar laze-the-target sequence that neutralized many of the enemy vehicles, clearing the way for the tanks to roll on through. The convoy crested a ridge and was greeted with open fires and ruined structures where the airstrike had hit. Enemy soldiers took aim at the tanks with rocket-propelled grenades, and with the closer combat and soft targets (read: human soldiers) came a more zoomed-in view and lower-caliber ammo. The player went into to full assault mode, switching between larger shells to destroy fortified positions and rapid-fire bullets to gun down fleeing enemies. The action came to a fairly decisive end when the player tagged a remaining artillery vehicle that was apparently situated next to an ammo cache. Explosions of all shapes and sizes burst forth, but as the triumphant squad crested another ridge, they saw their fight was far from over.

Then the demo really did come to an end, concluding a lengthy and visually impressive live showing. It left us eager to see more of the campaign, as well as get our hands on the competitive multiplayer. Battlefield 3 launches for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC on October 25, 2011, though players will get a shot at it in September, during the multiplatform open beta. We'll have more on that beta and on Battlefield 3 as E3 unfolds.

Editor's Note: A few changes were made to correct details about the tank controls.

Written By

Chris enjoys aiming down virtual sights, traipsing through fantastical lands, and striving to be grossly incandescent.

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Discussion

174 comments
sina1374
sina1374

MW3,get ready to have your ass kicked.

F-14-D_TOMCAT
F-14-D_TOMCAT

BF3 will bury CoD-8 MW-3. EA is taking no prisoners in 2011, they are on a killing streak with Crysis 2 and Dead Space 2, and from the looks of it BF3 will also kick a$$. (especially CoD's a$$)

Fanskap1
Fanskap1

going to test this at saturday :P

night_owl2009
night_owl2009

Yes i heard that some part of the game may take place in IRAN, as the company hired some farsi speakers.

shadow551991
shadow551991

and im from iran, during the tank demo, the objective log says "kavir desert". in iran there are two deserts named "kavir" and "loot". the word "kavir" itself means desert in persian language. and im eager to see whats the motivation of this invasion. if its for justice then its the wish of all persian ppl.

shadow551991
shadow551991

and that was a video game!! and i dont think consoles will have the same graphics. the fault line trailer i checked here was on x360 i really coudnt believe and now this tank trailer is on PC. so is it the same on consoles???

KrazzyDJ
KrazzyDJ

How I wish my system could run this !!!

mw2hardcore
mw2hardcore

Unlike my username,i don't take sides.both COD and BF are great.though i hated BF a bit.i am actually from iran and you will be battling iranian people,right?in the tehran desert?

Avaddon8
Avaddon8

@thetrainer1980 ...U mad? :trollface

Gamer_4_Fun
Gamer_4_Fun

still not sure how it looks like on the consoles

Fernin-Ker
Fernin-Ker

@funkmugumbo I'd say I did as well as the next guy, usually in the top 10 or so on my team. No, my problem with Karkand wasn't dying, but rather that it was (and still is) pretty much the only map played on almost every server out there (or at least the one's I can get a decent ping to), and that it's a scrub, grenade spamming zerg rushers paradise. I for one tend to prefer maps like Oman Gulf and Dragon Valley.or Operation Harvest.

asian_pride69
asian_pride69

Awesome. I can't wait for more footage and can't wait to play it.

Psycho2019
Psycho2019

@ztron370 ha ha...nice way to show your pc config to everyone!!

ZEYAAM898
ZEYAAM898

Very cool game i suppose i will get it if its a better sequel than bfbc2.

Sergeant_
Sergeant_

TheTrainer1980@ Haha, yep. I love watching the level 1's rushing out of spawn with their egos all high and mighty because of the false skill setting COD gave them. Then once they reach capture point A, they look around in shock and awe scratching their heads thinking to themselves.."This..game..requires..teamwork?" Several moments later they leave and never to be seen again.

altani_amin19
altani_amin19

I believe Battlefield is actually the start of the new generation of games. i hope this game will be one of the best games ever. trailers are just trailer that will just give you ideas. gameplay is experience. hoping it would be excellent !

ztron370
ztron370

I hope my pc is good enough to run this beast: sentey arvina x4 970 ga-890fxa-ud5 sapphire 6950 2gb 3x4gb modules of kingston hyperx ram v6gt 2x wd1002faex hdd 850ax

Okplay
Okplay

At some points it look like reality.Anyway this is GOTY?

jasonzilla11
jasonzilla11

Are EA, DICE, and Battlefield meant to screw over Activision, Infinity Ward, and Call of Duty in every way possible, including the fact that Call of Duty: Elite isn't free while Battlelog is? 'Cause it seems like Battlefield 3 looks to be much better than Modern Warfare 3 in every way possible.

admund
admund

The time has come, BF3 is the standard.

luneth77
luneth77

Was anyone else somewhat dissapointed that the majority of the demo was a tank sequence?

chyng85
chyng85

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

chyng85
chyng85

The graphic is impressive~!

fenderbender265
fenderbender265

Because of Activision, COD became a sellout. I'm rooting for you, Battlefield.

howie1926
howie1926

Finally, a true sequel to Battlefield 2. I love you CoD, but nothing can beat a true Battlefield game. Goodbye CoD, it's been real.

TonnFool23
TonnFool23

@0mricon If the person playing this tech demo was running on a single 580 why wouldn't ANY CARDS run this on a single GPU? Dumb tool.

LernerBrasil
LernerBrasil

BATTLEFIELD, make CoD players jealous since 1942!!!

Cruisemissile
Cruisemissile

Battlelog lets you form squads and platoons, as well as check out your stats in real time. He then added that the service would be completely free, presumably in reference to Activision's recently announced Call of Duty Elite service. Lol see all services like that should be free way to go BF3

Cruisemissile
Cruisemissile

Wait is that what i think it is? .... IT IS!!!! .... WAKE ISLAND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :D

Dougsmoog
Dougsmoog

Looks fantastic, BF2 was a stunning game visually and the audio quality is the best I have ever heard on the PS3. BF3 if anything like 2 will be amazing. Destuctable enviroments rock and I think that's where COD looses it's appeal for me, it's a great game but missing that little bit extra feeling of control and power ...muh hahahahahahahaah (evil laugh). Frostbite 2, can't wait to see it in action. Pre-orders on amazon now for the limited edition £10 off rrp.

mikeqwerty6
mikeqwerty6

Easily my most anticipated game. I can't wait.

RiOrus
RiOrus

I'm really excited about this, I think as someone else mentioned in the comments it looks like congratulations are in order to Dice for producing what looks like a modern masterpiece. The attention to detail from what I can gather thus far seems impeccable. It may very well be a benchmark that all other developers should take note of. I imagine it will surpass BF2 in terms of how immersive it is which is really quite an achievement. I am a console gamer and for the first time in a good 15 years I would consider forking out for a decent PC rig, all because of the visuals on display. Other than doing that I really hope they can put a similar gloss on the console versions and really wring out all the juice from current day hardware

TheTrainer1980
TheTrainer1980

@0mricon If you read, they were using the top end Nvidia GTX. It will run fine. Also you have to understand that games today are a lot more optimized than games 5 or so years ago. Also the hardware of today is so fast, it can easily play 99.9% of games out there. If today's high end video cards and CPUs CANNOT play current and next generation games at its highest detail, we have issues with the code in the game. Do some research before you spew things you have no clue about.

0mricon
0mricon

@ Adema83 I don't think this gen graphics cards (single card) will be able to run this game, kinda like Crysis back in the day

Adema83
Adema83

The true next gen of shooters has arrived. Dont think a GTX 470 will cut it some how if i wana play it in all it's glory. (Orders a new GFX card)

jjjgem
jjjgem

what hardware were they running?

Mkherkzen
Mkherkzen

@ Chris_Watters Now I feel like a total a$$hole. Sorry if my comment was rude. And thanks for the update :)

jmpittman0220
jmpittman0220

I don't think the graphics are gonna look that good on consoles. Makes me wish I could afford a gaming pc.

Tormentor-1000
Tormentor-1000

A graphic masterpiece, gameplay looks tight as well...I think B3 could take out MW3

Gamer_4_Fun
Gamer_4_Fun

I seriously thought I was watching CNN or something, wtf was that Dice! Holy **** the scale, the visuals, the destruction... faints!

awwitz
awwitz

This is A-list coolness!

ColdfireTrilogy
ColdfireTrilogy

Sharqi > karkand ... balanced multi-level and multi vector ... its like the Dust2 of Battlefield2 ... its not one giant chokepoint for the first 30 minutes.

mcniller
mcniller

its not krakand ITS WAKE ISLAND yeah :D

funkmugumbo
funkmugumbo

@Fernin-Ker Somebody must've gotten killed a lot... like a LOT

BlackBaldwin
BlackBaldwin

I'm not a fanboy of Battlefield but I enjoyed the first two much more then I enjoyed alot of other fps games over the last couple of years and the footage they should today just makes me glad to get a chance to play this game when it hits the market..