Battlefield 3 (PC) Review

Ten Ton Hammer
Ten Ton Hammer Rating

Multiplayer - 100 / 100

Fans of Battlefield 2142 and its large-scale multiplayer mode, rejoice. At its most inclusive ("Conquest Large"), Battlefield 3 multiplayer pits 64 players against each other (32 per team), which means even the noobest of nublets can get happily lost in the milieu. That's fortunate, because the starting kits for the assault class and recon class (in particular) suck in the extreme and aren't likely to improve much in your first few hours of multiplayer.  It's good to blend into the background as you tier up, and thanks to the large scale multiplayer, you can.

Battlefield 3 review
Multiplayer is at least as chaotic as this looks.

It might come as a surprise that all three Battlefield 3 game modes are launched from your browser. Firing up the game will take you to EA's fully integrated social network experience, complete with platoon associations (similar to guilds), a friends list, a Battle feed that tracks your accomplishments and allows you to "Hooah!" (or "Like") your friends' achievements.

Finding out I dropped $60 on a browser-based game was something of a disappointment until I found out how extensive the BF3 site is. Everything is tracked, and almost everything is rewarded. Individual weapons  and vehicles progress as you do - sights, suppressors, vehicle upgrades, and better ammo being rewards for reaching different kill milestones from 10 kills all the way up to 270 kills. BF3's 70+  exquisitely detailed weapons are unlocked by ranking up either in each class or by progressing through the game's  evening sized co-op campaign - a tree of six missions playable on easy, medium, or hard difficulty. Interestingly, different players in co-op can play in the same match on different difficulty settings.

Not all was roses and kills. The smaller, indoor-centric multiplayer maps featured easily defensible chokepoints, which seemed to lead to few point changes once flags were initially captured. Even though the game featured a League of Legends: Dominion style countdown to loss format, I have yet to see a team pull out a win from almost certain defeat.

Battlefield 3 review
A beautiful night for an op in Tehran.

The game's built-in matchmaking system was the low point; I'm apparently such an awesome player (or such a terrible one) that no match could be found for me. The alternative was to seek out a server with a low ping, which inevitably pitted me against players way above my pay grade, skill level, and equipment tier.  Which brought death, early and often.

Value - 70 / 100

I remain a proponent of having separate SKUs for campaign and multiplayer in games like Battlefield 3 - not only are Campaign and Multiplayer essentially separate games, I think they're separate audiences as well.  If you have no interest in multiplayer, it's impossible for me to recommend that you drop even half the current price point on this game.   

Lasting Appeal - 87 / 100

On the other hand, the multiplayer depth goes well beyond anything we've seen before  in the military FPS genre. The social network-inspired approach is impressive - I wish all MMOGs exposed half the stats and offered half the skill-based unlockables - that Battlefield 3 does.  If you're the type of player to wring a game out of ranks, unlockables, and achievements for all it's worth and have a high tolerance for online FPS shenanigans (the more-than-occasional headshot from the blue, a solitary teammate taking off with a four person vehicle), then BF3 will be a sixty-spot well spent.

Battlefield 3 review
The F18F Super Hornet is one of the 32 vehicles you can control.

Pros and Cons

  • Incredible level of graphical detail and rich sound direction.
  • Deep multiplayer progression that could keep a dedicated online shootist busy for weeks, if not months.
  • Graphical gotchas - scratched up goggles, blinding flashlights, and retina-seeking laser dots go beyond realistic and enter the realm of the exploitative.
  • Little done to address Battlefield's constant gameplay thorns, the impossibility of piloting aircraft with a mouse and keyboard, a solo teammate zooming off with a multi-person vehicle, fast scoping, etc.


Boasting a robust multiplayer experience (including a satisfying amount of co-op), Battlefield 3 is a solid continuation  of a franchise which (to this reviewer) never deserved its underdog status. With the inevitable duel with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 less than a week away, BF3 seems primed to take the multiplayer FPS throne, even though the campaign mode was fairly forgettable.

Overall 90/100 - Great


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