Battlefield 3 multiplayer, co-op and campaign preview

One thing is clear, Battlefield 3 wants Modern Warfare’s crown, bad. Their latest trailer and ad campaign is entitled “Above and Beyond the Call”, and their free Battlelog service is clearly a direct competitor to MW3’s paid Elite service. With the game only a few weeks away, we attended a full day event and played a chunk of the campaign, the co-op and, of course, the multiplayer.

Above: The "Gone Hunting" level is a fantastic setpiece that still manages to be fun to play  

We kicked off the day with a sizable chunk of the campaign, and while EA is still a little protective of some of the plot points, expect a lot of the same political intrigue and twists that modern military shooters are famous for. The initial missions take place in a city near the Iraq-Iran border, and there’s a sense of paranoia as you move from building to building, knowing that your enemies are lurking in the shadows. There's a cool sequence in which your squad comes under sniper fire and you're forced to crawl behind cover and find where he's shooting from. Once your squad has spotted him, you whip out an AT4 anti-tank gun and put a fairly large hole in the building where the sniper used to be. The majority of the combat falls well within the regular FPS standard though, with squads of enemies attacking head-on, ducking behind cover and taking potshots. 

After a few missions in the city, the game switched locations and put us in control of a pilot on a nearby battleship preparing to attack a military air base. The mission, “Going hunting” is BF3's answer to Modern Warfare's AC-130 missions, and it's a strong retort. The brief control tutorial is masked as a systems check, and the quiet run up to your first dogfight is intense and exciting. While you're only in charge of the plane’s weapons during this portion, the rival planes are smart and drop flares to throw your homing missiles off. The quiet hum of the jet and the muffled radio chatter contrasts well with the terrifying beeping of a locked missile coming up on your six. The next segment has you peppering the ground unit objectives with lasers and bombing runs, though this one definitely feels like the AC-130 sections we'er familiar with. 

Above: The narrow corridors of the city in the single player are a big shift from traditional Battlefield map design

The game is favoring strong defense over offense at this point, with a heavy emphasis on cover and tactics over just straight run and gun. It took us several deaths to remember that you can once again go prone behind even the most diminutive cover. This explained why we were still catching bullets with our head when ducked behind a too short wall. The weapon recoil also took a steady hand, we picked up a light machine gun and really had to be patient trying to hit enemies at range with it. Fortunately, most of the game’s weapons feature a switch that lets you manually set whether the weapon will fire full automatic, three shot burst, or semi-automatic (single shot).

After a few campaign missions we jumped into co-op mode. If your initial impression of co-op reminds you of Modern Warfare’s Spec Ops, you wouldn't be too far off. Players choose from an number of scenarios and run through them with a friend, trying to complete it as quickly as possible and get the high score. 

The scenario we played had us escaping from a large office/museum after capturing some intel. Even on normal difficulty, the co-op was challenging, there’s a huge number of enemies to handle, so communicating with your buddy as when to move and when to hunker down is important. The enemy does a number of unusual things, and the first few deaths taught us that the enemy isn’t afraid to flank and ambush you. The scenario concluded with us reaching a parking garage and piling into an SUV that one player had to pilot out of the garage while the second player rode shotgun, literally.


  • grantmassey - October 11, 2011 8:02 p.m.

    yea paid and preordered,its when u pay for the game at one time and wait for it to come in!!!
  • BishopofHippo93 - October 10, 2011 2:59 p.m.

    I feel like putting the attacker's spawn in a place where people can just fall and die is a little odd. What happens when someone can't figure out how to pull their chute? The tickets just keep going down and the other team wins.
  • manateesta - October 10, 2011 1:07 p.m.

    That sounds Bah-nanas!
  • EvilWaterman - October 10, 2011 9:26 a.m.

    Paid and pre ordered!!!
  • grantmassey - October 10, 2011 4:49 a.m.

    not gonna b very good for console gamers, u can dream about it but its not going to beat call of duty,who really cares which one has the best campaign,people get these games are for multiplayer,everybody will be back to playing battlefield 2 as soon as this comes out,i preordered paid for the game in full,they dropped the beta and i switched my order to mw3,i luved bf2,i have it for ps3,xbox,and pc,no vehicles,no chat,24 players on consoles,shame on u DICE
  • Budisawesome - October 10, 2011 10:47 p.m.

    Thats why its a beta?
  • Budisawesome - October 10, 2011 10:49 p.m.

    So i heard mw2 is gonna be gay
  • gamereck - October 10, 2011 2:51 a.m.

    I am glad the beta is over so people can stop crying and get their hands on the full game.
  • Yeager1122 - October 9, 2011 9:42 p.m.

    Cant wait to get my hands on the full game after the beta.
  • TheMasterJeef - October 9, 2011 1:43 p.m.

    People seem to forget the beta is an old build. But in fairness, it is odd to release on old build beta a few weeks before the launch *looks confused* Anyway, buggy beta aside, day one purchase for me. Far too few military shooters put emphasis on team work in multiplayer (*cough* CoD *cough*), so its good to see Battlefield back.
  • roryking1981 - October 9, 2011 9:48 a.m.

    Overall I found the 360 beta to be a glitchy mess, and it turned me off the game. If the final game gets great reviews, and theywitaln 215 fix all the problems I might buy it after christmas.
  • CommandantOreo - October 9, 2011 8:35 a.m.

    "While the single player component is trying to beat Modern Warfare at its own game, the multiplayer remains very Battlefield, minimizing the focus on twitch skills in favor of tactics and teamwork." Really? I found the beta to be extremily twitchy, with the whole "I look at you and your dead" thing.
  • Balaska - October 8, 2011 7:25 a.m.

    Gane of the year, maybe even the decade, for me. @ Creeplytuna, Frostbite 2 is all about more destruction, the final game will be more kerplodey than even BFBC2
  • taokaka - October 7, 2011 10:16 p.m.

    I read the preview over at kotaku and this has a much more positive attitude towards the single player, I'm not liking the idea of a more linear single player but I suppose time will tell whether it will be great or not. Also I loved the spec ops from MW2 so if the co-op plays like them then I'm happy.
  • UberNoob - October 7, 2011 9:55 p.m.

    I played the Beta for PC. I must say, the game is extremely optimized for the PC and looks and plays amazing at low settings. I use an HD 6750 and an Athlon II X4 630 @ 2.8GHz (I play Source games, so I don't need a high-end PC) and I'm getting 40 to 60FPS average. At max, 30FPS. I'm impressed. Though I won't get it until I save up enough for my final build for a high-end PC for hardcore gaming (Crysis 2, GTA IV, and the rest are collecting virtual dust ATM).
  • JHawk - October 7, 2011 8:45 p.m.

    I seem to recall hearing that they'd turned off some of the destruction on Metro in the beta notes. Then again I may be totally wrong...wouldn't be the first time.
  • cwdd47 - October 7, 2011 8:26 p.m.

    Nvrmind, im the fail :(
  • CreeplyTuna - October 7, 2011 6:44 p.m.

    Is there still destruction? I'm just wondering because it's not present in the beta but I can't seem to find a reliable source saying if really wasn't put in the beta or if DICE really did get rid of it. Anybody know?
  • lilspooky - October 7, 2011 7:05 p.m.

    I'm playing the PC Beta and destruction is very much in it. You can blow up walls in the subway. It seems like their is less destruction on the metro map. Playing the Caspian Border map destruction rained down all around me. Very epic!
  • firas333 - October 7, 2011 11:15 p.m.

    I believe there will still be terrain destruction, they removed it from beta because of glitch that made you fall through the ground to "bedrock" and could still shoot out. It suffices to say people got mad at that.

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