E3 2011: Battlefield 3 Updated Multiplayer Hands-On - A Second Look

We try our hand at another multiplayer round of Battlefield 3 at the 2011 Electronic Entertainment Expo and come away with a few additional details.

E3 2011 is under way, and many high-profile games are in attendance. Few games have a higher profile than DICE Studios' Battlefield 3, the remarkable-looking modern military shooter that made a tremendous showing at Monday's press conferences. While we've already posted the majority of the details on the Operation Metro map, which takes place in near-future Paris, in our exclusive hands-on preview, we had the opportunity to spend some more time with the multiplayer mission on the PC to glean a few more details.

Operation Metro takes place in the Paris of 2014, and in Rush mode, which we played, the game's two warring factions fight it out across four areas, which unlock successively as the attacking team captures each area's two objectives. (Venturing outside of the current "hot" area will pull up a massive "Warning! Leaving Combat Zone!" message onscreen and gives you 10 seconds to get back into the right area.) The areas were surprisingly varied--while the first zone was an outdoor park with plenty of leafy vegetation to provide concealment (but not much in the way of cover), the successive areas delved deeper into the heart of the city, turning into the streets of Paris, the city's subway system (escalators and all), and ending in the Parisian stock exchange. As we mentioned in our original preview, this mission is intended to be "infantry focused," and as we've mentioned, infantry have become highly streamlined in Battlefield 3.

There are only four different kits (the weapon loadouts that define a character class in the Battlefield games) this time around, but now that the assault and medic classes have been merged into a single combat medic class, each of the four kits seems very well rounded and capable. The engineer continues to act as an antitank class that can also repair damaged vehicles, and as mentioned, the class also carries an M4 carbine as a primary weapon mounted with a flashlight, which will become important in the game's darker subterranean areas and can blind enemy soldiers if shone directly in their eyes. The scout class can still call UAV drones and still carries a long-range sniper rifle, though this time around, the weapon will have suboptimal accuracy when fired from the hip and will be at its absolute best when used by a player who is lying prone and holding his breath (performed in the PC version by pressing and holding the space bar) to reduce the drifting of your sights as your character breathes.

Most interestingly, the support class (also known as the heavy weapons class) has been tweaked so that players can drop ammo packs for allies--and they can automatically mount their heavy automatic weapons when sitting still and putting their weapons into zoom mode. When support players' weapons are mounted, any gunfire they lay down near enemy players--even shots that don't hit home--will be considered suppressive fire, for which support players will receive points that contribute to their cooperative squad score (the statistic that shows how much you've contributed to your team). When enemies are suppressed, their screens get slightly blurry, hampering their accuracy somewhat, so providing covering fire seems like it'll actually be a worthwhile benefit that support players can bring to their team--especially for those players who don't have amazingly good aim. Also, should allies take out enemies that have been suppressed by support players, those support players will also earn additional squad score points. In addition to equipping each kit's default set of weapons and items, each class will apparently have three different slots for further character customization. You can even customize your character's dog tags--most likely with your character's most impressive statistics, such as number of sniper rifle kills, number of objectives captured, and more, so on the off chance you somehow get killed in battle and your tags get stolen, they'll at least know what a tough son of a gun you were. Even more intriguingly, you'll also be able to customize Battlefield 3's vehicles, though it's not completely clear how that will work.

Speaking of vehicles, we should mention that despite Operation Metro's infantry focus, the attacking team in the park has access to one drivable vehicle, an LAV-25A2--a modified recon vehicle whose heavier armor and mounted turret essentially make it a light tank. Since we happened to be on the attacking side, as soon as the match began, we found ourselves unable to resist our innate Battlefield vehicle-hoarding-jackass instincts. We completely ignored our surroundings, mission objectives, teammates, DICE staffers' personal space, and the bounds of basic human decency in favor of sprinting toward and commandeering the vehicle.

Once we were in the driver's seat, we immediately flashed back to the good old days of driving while shooting in Battlefield 2, which is exceedingly easy in the default, third-person driver's view. The camera hung behind and slightly above the vehicle's cockpit, which made steering a breeze since we could clearly see which way the treads were pointing. However, the perspective also gave us plenty of viewspace above the cockpit to aim our turret at enemy soldiers on the horizon. We made our way to the first objective in style, using the turret to blast far-off enemies into oblivion and switching to the secondary antipersonnel cannons--which have an alternate thermal scanner view that does a fantastic job in helping you sort out heavily camouflaged foes from foliage--to deal with enemies that had gotten in close. Sadly, the initial leg of Operation Metro ended near the area's objectives, which were fenced off by crates and industrial flotsam that made further progress by vehicle impossible.

Once we got into urban combat, the tone of the map, and of the action, changed significantly. In indoor environments, cover instantly became more important, and the environmental destruction made possible by DICE's proprietary Frostbite engine became much more apparent. The studio's general manager, Karl Magnus Troedsson, explained that Battlefield 3 will have three levels of environmental destruction: large-scale set-piece destruction that will be scripted into various levels; "facade"-level destruction of medium-sized environmental objects, like small buildings; and "microdestruction"--namely, the chipping away of solid objects under repeated gunfire. We saw plenty of the latter in our foray into Paris. Errant shots caused glass-encased decorations to shatter in the financial building, while concentrated fire chewed up concrete supports in the subway. Of course, modern-day close-quarters combat isn't anything new in today's first-person shooters, but the variety of switching from classic, open-field Battlefield gameplay to CQC on the same map during the same match helps set Battlefield 3 apart. This is an extremely impressive-looking shooter. And it launches this October. Stay tuned to GameSpot for more updates.

Written By

Want the latest news about Battlefield 3?

Battlefield 3

Battlefield 3

Discussion

59 comments
ferntfactor
ferntfactor

yikes: the Beta is rough, real rough.

mopar1498
mopar1498

Sounds like the same old pathetic multiplayer to me. This game will be #1 for a week.....Then MW3 will come out.

straygoat
straygoat

Glad to hear about the breathing affecting snipers...should make it a bit tougher for that class. Nothing worse than being repeatedly taken down by an accurate sniper. [url]www.straygoat.com[/url]

xdayzdx
xdayzdx

Been a COD player since the start...But this may change now.

Scorchstar
Scorchstar

i sooo need to be a game tester for a job, anyone know where i can get one?

Munstable
Munstable

yay...just what we need...another game to make killing seem more real!! And we gamers just cannot deny that killing people is fun fun fun. We wouldn't want to play a game about caring and love, would we? And it will be fun to see how many dislikes I will get from this single comment.

h4wkw0lf613
h4wkw0lf613

Go play COD garcia_jx! Battlefield is about squad base combat.

nrdys
nrdys

@jasonzilla11 nope it wasn't

jasonzilla11
jasonzilla11

@nrdys Was that supposed to be funny? I mean, both comments? :)

kazumashadow
kazumashadow

Man i think i will get this and MW3, they're both good despite what fanboys from both sides say.

nrdys
nrdys

Can't wait to get mw3

nrdys
nrdys

your mom plays battlefield

DuleDuleROFL
DuleDuleROFL

I'm no recon douchebag, but I really liked the open maps of Bad Company 2. I really hope that they keep some of this. Also: SNOWY MAPS! grr.

ferntfactor
ferntfactor

wow, stunning! this looks suweeeeeet.

Gunathar
Gunathar

I love playing Modern Warfare, but this game's graphics and environment destructability are a breath of fresh air to the shooter genre. Battlefield 3 may rock the king from his hill...

The-Freck
The-Freck

1st good game ea makes since most wanted?

FrostBox
FrostBox

SO stoked, GOTY here it comes! If like me you've been playing Battlefield since the good old days of BF2 and 2142 or are just plain old in love with the franchise post ---BFFL--- (Battlefield For Life). at bottom of comments to show support! (maybe this way the release date will not change) ---BFFL---

sora123455
sora123455

Yes! Why the HECK did I pre-order MW3? I also pre-ordered this but forget Call of Duty. The Battlefield series shall regain the crown of EPIC first-person shooters! WHO'S WITH ME?!

BAJennings
BAJennings

I PreOrdered for the PS3, and am happy the release date has been nailed down.

Farro
Farro

Cant wait to tear Paris a new one!!

Renoo27
Renoo27

Wow. I was skeptical about this game at first but this really changed my mind. Might get it after all.

madgame23
madgame23

This definitely looks interesting! I may after all pick this game up, Im hopeful that the controls are good. Im a COD player, however, I like PC FPS controls and BF2 was terrible in that department. I had hoped that eith BF2 or Crysis 2 would have been better sadly Im still playing MW2 and BO is terrible!

Bowserpwns
Bowserpwns

Gahh! I honestly cant decide between this and Skyrim!!!! (i know very different games, but i like variety!) Im actually glad they pushed Mass Effect 3 back to march so i know i will get that. In any case, what with Frostbite 2 and the new level of destruction and going from open-ended map to a small urban subway in the SAME match, AND suppressing fire actually doing something in the game, this will make the BF franchise a billion times better than COD (even though it already was ;D)

Dwarf86
Dwarf86

Love this game! Wonder how the C&C game would look with this engine!?

Eludiac
Eludiac

I would really love to see some more voice chat capabilities. In bad company 2, i have been in many situations where communicating with non squad members on the fly would have been crucial in organizing fast-tactics. a proximity voice chat option would be nice, and would add some realism i think.

claymore8
claymore8

For the love of generous strippers, comped bar-tabs and forgiving professors/bosses, please let this game be good. The guillotine held over our heads by BC2 and the console-port psycho is to be feared.

coliobeware
coliobeware

@Ljiggaman except idiocy and a bunch of nooobs

armedvigilante
armedvigilante

looks great Im still waiting for a battle field 2143 (or whatever the date was) sequel i had so much fun with that game(first shooter though so that might have been why) only thing i can say is that i don think combining the medic with the assault class is a good idea because if your in a squad and the frontlines guy goes down whose going to revive him?

Gamer_4_Fun
Gamer_4_Fun

Finally suppressing fire with actual benefits in a game!

mortis1982
mortis1982

I want commander mode back!!!!!!!

mssmss
mssmss

are they going to make steam copy ?/????? please answer ?!

tevic
tevic

Hope it'll tear MF3...

dallask
dallask

gonna be Lengen...wait for it...dary!!

jasonzilla11
jasonzilla11

When debris from, say a wall that was destroyed, falls to the ground, does the debris stay there or does it fall into the ground? If the debris stayed, it would make some awesome makeshift cover.

leandrro
leandrro

gtx 460 8gb ddr3 1333 phenom x6 1075 450w real power suply asus motherboard 320 sata hd dvdrw kb and mouse this set up will be capable to play it on almost all maxed out and costs about U$700

leandrro
leandrro

you see these reporters all "different" and "new" stuff that made them say that sets bf3 appart was already present in bad company 1 in 2008 they are game specialists that skips playing some of the best games

spaztik29
spaztik29

hey guys is there anyway of reply to someones comment? or do i manually have to type "@...." ? thanks (please send me a mssg to my inbox since ill be notified!)

holtrocks
holtrocks

They are bringing so much new things not just to the game to the genre, inovating being creative they are making a game that will be the gold standard for all games especially in graphics Activison take note this is how you make a game.

holtrocks
holtrocks

Have to build a new PC for this so this game is gonna be costing me at least 1600$ meh so worth it.

jsobc
jsobc

MMMMMM, sweet googly moogly! I really can't wait :)