It seems to be increasingly standard for big-budget releases to split up exclusive DLC between different retailers, and Battlefield 3 isn't about to say things should be any different. Before we get to talking up its exclusive DLC, however, you should know that everyone who pre-orders, regardless of location, will receive the Back To Karkand DLC, which includes Battlefield 2 vehicles, weapons and maps (including Strike at Karkand, Gulf of Oman and the Sharqi Peninsula) remade for Battlefield 3. Those who wait until launch to pick up the game, meanwhile, will have to purchase Back to Karkand separately for $14.99.
Above: What a GameStop pre-order gets you
If you want more than that – and you probably do – simply pre-ordering isn't enough. It's all about where you pre-order. GameStop, Amazon, Best Buy and EA’s own Origin download service each have “exclusive” content to offer on top of the Karkand DLC, with the most lavish offerings coming from Origin. Opt for EA’s download service, and you’ll get exclusive open beta access this September, as well as an in-game 870 combat shotgun and a beret. You’ll also get the Physical Warfare pack, which grants access to the Type 88 light machine gun (with a trusty bipod for stability), the KS sniper rifle flash suppressor for sneaking, armor-piercing flechette ammo and the semiautomatic DAO-12 “Shooting” Shotgun (we may have made its nickname up ourselves).
GameStop’s offerings are the next-most-generous, with pre-orders netting the Physical Warfare pack (but no beta access). PowerUp Rewards members also get a free Battlefield 3 digital strategy guide from Prima. Meanwhile, Best Buy pre-orders include The SPECACT Kit, which includes eight multiplayer weapons and uniform skins, one for each class (so nobody gets their feelings hurt).
Amazon orders get a pack of five exclusive multiplayer dog tags. This is the worst one.
If you don’t pre-order from GameStop or Origin, don’t worry; the Physical Warfare pack will be given to all players, for free, sometime later this year.
Above: The multiplayer skins from Best Buy
Battlefield 3 isn't coming out until Oct. 25, so you’ll have plenty of time to decide who to give your money to. And while EA says that, right now, the game has 10 times the number of pre-orders that Battlefield 2 did when it was three months from launch, there's no real limit to the number of copies that can be sold.
Aug 4, 2011