The True Story of Battlefield 3, the Battlefield Franchise, Its Community, and EA/DICE
I set out with the intention of clearing the air.
You see, the Battlefield community at large is splintered. There are the veterans that have played every game and there are newcomers that have started the Battlefield franchise with Battlefield 3. There are people that obsessively tracked BF3's development from the moment it was announced and there are those that first saw it sitting on a shelf in a retail store. There are inbetweeners that played one or two games previously and those that occasionally would stumble onto the official forums, Reddit, or a YouTube channel. There's even the publisher and developers themselves and with all these differing audiences there are many different sides to the story that is Battlefield 3.
There is an untold story that few know and that story is the whole story.
That last line may seem naive, foolhardy, or even arrogant but my goal here is to tell the full story. From all sides. It is a lofty goal and I am fully aware that there is almost no doubt that I will fall short but I think it's important someone tries. There is far too much infighting among people which, at the core, want the exact same things.
My hope is not to change anyone's opinion. My hope is to simply explain the other side of the coin. To make people aware, not only of the differing opinions, but the reasons for those opinions. So that we may better understand each other.
Battlefield 3 was officially announced the 30th of September 2010 on the official Battlefield Blog (1). At that time, all that was known was there would be a Beta and that the only guaranteed way to get into the Beta was to pre-order the latest entry in Electronic Arts' other first person shooter franchise, Medal of Honor.
All was quiet for the next few months until the 4th of February 2011 and another official blog post (2). This blog post let players know that Battlefield 3 would be a "true successor to Battlefield 2" as well as confirming that certain features missing from the console-centered Bad Company series would be returning. The Battlefield community at large, the PC veteran crowd especially, rejoiced.
The unanimous joy was short lived however. The March 2011 Game Informer cover story was Battlefield 3 (3) and the interview with DICE Executive Producer Patrick Bach left quite a few long-time fans concerned for the first time. It was in this article that the now dreaded phrase "lowering the threshold" first appears. However that slipped by most and instead people noticed that despite being called "true successor to Battlefield 2" Battlefield 3 would have four kits instead of BF2's seven. Even the reduced number of kits took a backseat to the fact that the Commander position (4) would not be returning.
For many, the Commander position was a game defining feature of Battlefield 2 and to have it excluded from the sequel made no sense. In their view, the Commander turned a team of 32 chaotic individuals into a clearly structured and organized military unit. The response was swift. As early as the 9th of February 2011 there was petition supported by a number of Battlefield communities (5) in favor of having the position available. By the time BF3 released on the 25th of October later that year the petition had over 1,000 signatures (6). But the support did not end there.
On Battlefield 3's official forums a poll was put up the first half of February (7). The question "Does BF3 need the 'Commander' position as seen in BF2 and BF2142?" was answered yes with a nearly two-thirds majority. I think it's important to note two things about the question asked in this poll. First, it asks if the position is needed instead of wanted and second, it asks for the commander to remain the same as seen in BF2 and BF2142. These two things possibly hurt the 'for' vote. At least a few of those that voted against could have been persuaded to vote in favor had some of the flaws of Commander been worked on. Perhaps a few voted no because while they would have liked to see the Commander role return, for them, it was not an absolute "must-have".
Electronic Arts UK forums were where the official Battlefield 3 forums (8) were held and this forum was lucky enough to have DICE developers personally respond to posts and a few even started threads of their own. Are you worried about DICE’s vision of a Lower Complexity Threshold? (9) This was the title of a thread one concerned Battlefield fan started in response to the Game Informer article. Alan "Demize99" Kertz, Core Gameplay Designer on Battlefield 3 responded to the concern in this thread by saying, "Have some bloody faith will you?" (10) From my perspective this is when the DICE Defense Force first came into being.
Those eagerly awaiting any and all things Battlefield related were suddenly divided into two camps. You had one camp that was very concerned about the future of Battlefield 3 and another group that had faith DICE knew what they were doing. The people belonging to the skeptical group were labeled 'whiners' by the second group whose members were referred to as the 'DICE Defense force'. Supposedly the whiners would complain about the smallest non-issues and could never be pleased (11), whereas the DDF would blindly defend any and all actions made by DICE no matter how unpolarizing the topic might seem.
Only the Beginning
The March 2011 Game Informer cover story was only the beginning of the endless debates between the whiners and the DDF. This was compounded by the fact that DICE released very little information to the public. Kertz addressed this concern in the thread previously mentioned by saying, "Somethings aren't decided, or are just planned and not done. Announcing something and then having it change down the road is difficult to explain, we'd rather stay quiet until we're done." (12)
This mentality was quickly (and quietly) abandoned however and the community would not find out until units were shipped and DICE had their money in hand. Perhaps the best example of this is the often touted line PC is lead platform for Battlefield 3. In the March 2011 Game Informer cover story it was mentioned that the PC would be the lead platform for Battlefield 3 (13). PC being the lead was reiterated several times up to and even after release. April (14), September (15), and even the day after the US release in October (16) all saw articles published wherein DICE still claimed that the PC was the platform development was focused on. However, only one week later it was announced that the lead platform was switched to consoles mid-development (17).
The announcement that the lead platform was switched mid-development came as little shock. The game had already been out for a week and PC players had no doubt that they had been duped. One not so subtle hint was the game's Graphical User Interface. It was clumsy and lacked basic PC features such as being able to click were you wanted to spawn. It was eventually revealed that DICE had outsourced the GUI to a third-party company which had never worked a video game before (18).
Another big gripe for the PC Battlefield 3 crowd was the exclusion of in-game VOIP. This decision was met with confusion since Battlefield 2 had a huge focus on teamwork (19) so how could the sequel not have something so fundamental to a team-oriented experience? DICE's answer was a web-based solution that went hand in hand with their new Battlelog stat tracking service. However this only allowed chatting with friends, people you already knew, and most likely had been accustomed to using other third-party applications such as TeamSpeak. DICE provided no way for you to talk to other people in your squad, much less on your team.
When Gustav Halling, Lead Designer for Battlefield 3, was asked via Twitter about the possibility of in-game VOIP being implemented in the future, he displayed a remarkable lack of knowledge about why so much of the PC community was asking for in-game VOIP (20).
PC was not the only platform to have VOIP issues. The PlayStation 3 suffered with broken chat functionality for over three months (21). Unfortunately for PlayStation3 players this was not their only major issue either. Many users experienced "input lag" or there was a delay between inputting a command with the controller and the action actually taking place in the game. For a highly competitive and reflex-oriented first person shooter this was a serious issue that made the game all but unplayable.
It is important to note that this issue did not exist in the Beta but suddenly popped up on release with many users affected despite using the exact same setups (same TV, PS3, settings, etc.). The story of DICE's reaction to the outcry is a bizarre one. First, they completely denied the problem even existed (22). Then, after weeks of the game being unplayable for many PS3 users, they finally admit the problem exists (23). The first explanation given is the user's TV is causing the problem (24), next they claim it is the anti-aliasing causing the issue and nearly five months after release they announce a patch is in the works to fix the issue (25).
That patch came and went and the issue was still left unresolved. Another month passed and DICE was about to release its first DLC since Back to Karkand (which was free to people that preordered). No doubt they knew future sales would be lost if the game was unplayable, Patrick Bach, Executive Producer at DICE, said that with the new expansion pack Close Quarters DICE was "actually fixing" input lag (26). While talking about the issue though Bach also said “Regarding vocal people on the internet, the statistics we get from the game often prove that certain things aren’t true" and "we can’t always tell people that they’re wrong, because people have the right to feel whatever they feel" implying that there was never any issue at all.
A theme that quickly emerges when looking back on Battlefield 3 is DICE contradicting themselves. Global Battlefield Community Manager at DICE Daniel Matros stated a month before release e-Sports were the focus of Battlefield 3 (27). Yet months after release the competitive community was still looking for basic e-sports features such as battle recorder and a spectate mode. When one fan asked why it had been said e-sports were a focus when clearly there were no features supporting it in the game Matros responded with "at that time, it was" (28). Once again though, around time to launch a new DLC, DICE offered some tidbits of hope (29).
While the exclusion of the commander position was a huge let down for many long time Battlefield players, there was another omission that caused even more backlash. The commo-rose was a communication tool that was brilliant in many ways. After holding a key on the keyboard a wheel of responses would pop up allowing you to ask for a pickup, request more ammo, or say thanks among many other things (30). It was simple, intuitive and allowed bi-directional communication between two people that may or may not even speak the same language and required no special hardware such as a microphone. The console Battlefield: Bad Company series did not have the commo-rose and instead had something called a social button.
The social button was far inferior to the commo-rose in a number of ways. It was context sensitive depending on what you were currently aiming at so if you needed repairs, you would have to turn your eyes away from the action and locate an engineer, and then hit the button. This would send an audio message to that engineer unlike the commo-rose which would send an audio message to all engineers and also show up in the text feed and you needn't turn your back on the enemy to do it. Also the social button completely lacked some of the options the commo-rose had such as bailout (when in a vehicle), sorry, and need back up among others.
Much like the commander position, it did not take long for the community to rally. On the official EA UK forums a thread was made which included a poll (31). An overwhelming majority of the nearly 1500 voters voted not only in favor of the commo-rose but claimed that it was a "game defining" feature. Unlike the commander position however DICE responded swiftly. "After the massive feedback from everyone in the community, we are putting in the Commo rose as well, on PC," said DICE General Manger Karl Magnus Troedsson (32).
While many were happy to finally have their voices heard a large section of the community felt a little less happy. This feeling was exacerbated when Troedsson said the commo-rose would be a "PC specific feature, but it’s the PC community that has asked for it." (33) Let's ignore for the moment that many, many console players campaigned for the commo-rose to be added as well and instead let's focus on what DICE has said.
Patrick Bach said "Our aim is to give the [PC and console] player the exact same experience and not try to dumb down the console version." (34) This same mindset was still in place months after release according to Kertz, "I think it's important we have as close to the same game at the same time on all platforms" (35). When he said that he was answering a tweet about adding patch test servers to PC but I think it still applies since Kertz had previously mentioned that commo-rose moving to consoles was being discussed (36).
So DICE wants (and has always wanted) as close to the same experience as possible on all platforms. Which means the question is, is commo-rose on consoles possible? There have been several console games to offer similar interfaces (37) such as DC Universe Online, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and Mass Effect so it seems it is possible. One issue that was brought up was finding a free button that could be used for the commo-rose.
Many solutions were proposed for this problem. From the simple and obvious solution of having commo-rose replace the social button (38) to more creative solutions such as a hybrid commo-rose / social button (39), a shift for the face buttons (40), or even having an option of choosing between commo-rose and social button from the setting menu (41).
However the campaign for a console commo-rose disappeared after release and the appearance of the PC commo-rose. In a bizarre move, DICE removed many of the most used commands found on the Battlefield 2 commo-rose (42) such as requesting a medic or more ammo (43). DICE did eventually upgrade the commo-rose to be more like the one found in Battlefield 2 but it still lacks a text feed.
One Step Forward...
The commo-rose is only one in a long, long list of things DICE has somehow managed to make inferior in comparison to previous Battlefield titles. From the really, really nitpicky (44) to the very basics of the game like HUD, stats, deployment and more (45) it's easy to find areas that have taken a step backwards.
The mini-map may have gotten enough flak (46) for DICE to actually upgrade it and add few different options, but in my opinion it's the game's audio that is the biggest let down.
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 had award winning audio. Not an award, but from critics and public polls (47) and even respected organizations such as BAFTA (48). This is a far cry from Battlefield 3's sound design which has many problems such as getting stuck in a loop, some sounds refusing to play, or all sounds will quit working completely (49). Bad Company 2 also had a localization option for the voice overs (50) but Battlefield 3 just has everyone speaking one language instead of their native tongue (51).
Even disregarding previous games, you can see devolution in the different iterations of Battlefield 3 itself. For example the voice overs and sound effects were much clearer and distinctive in the alpha build (52). Audio was not the only thing to take a hit through the different versions. A hot topic has been the changes in the visuals of the game from alpha (53) to beta (54) and finally to release (55).
By now you may have noticed that most of the sources found here are actually posts from the EA UK forums and many of these posts have been critical of Battlefield 3 and/or DICE. This was by design. Before the release of Battlefield 3, EA UK was the official forum for every previous Battlefield game. There were a large number of active members on the site dating back to Battlefield 1942 and even the spiritual predecessor Codename Eagle. People that had been with DICE before they were DICE. People that saw Battlefield evolve to the pinnacle of Battlefield 2 and Battlefield 2142. People that cried foul when Bad Company released as console only. People that had been told the reason why their favorite BF2/2142 features were missing from Bad Company 2 was because the Bad Company series was a spin-off (56).
But along came Battlefield 3 and right from the start it is announced as a true sequel to Battlefield 2. These people are the ones that followed every step of development, read every announcement, interview, and article, watched every teaser, trailer, and stream. This time they would not get commander because of lowering the threshold and spreading out the commanders duties to squad leaders, as was the case with artillery strikes (57) until they were quietly scrapped without a word. These are the people that had to beg for a commo-rose, which turned out to be a gimped, rushed, day-one patch that still to this day does not have a working text feed. These are the people that somehow are supposed to play a 64-player "team focused game" without a command structure, without a working commo-rose, and without simple in-game VOIP (58).
EA UK was once a mostly happy place. Those that were there remember the shift in the balance of positivity versus negativity. It started off mostly positive with a few doomsayers and cynics which were mostly ignored. (9, 59, 60) Almost with each new piece of information though, the dynamic would shift more and more. Previously positive people began to have doubts, the cynics grew more convinced. The era from BETA to release was probably the most balanced and the most entrenched. The cynics thought anyone that was still positive was a fool and the positive people thought the cynics should wait and see. Wait and see was a theme that popped up far too often. Wait for Beta. Wait for release. Wait for the patch. Wait for the DLC when we get our next patch (61). For most people at EA UK it didn't take too long after release for the tide to turn almost completely in favor of the cynics. (62, 63, 64) They had been duped.
If you were to do a comparison between Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and Battlefield 3, you would probably be shocked to discover that most of the additions or subtractions made the game much more like the Call of Duty series than Battlefield 2, the supposed predecessor (65). So yes, EA UK became a very dark place very quickly. DICE stopped coming by, except to peddle their newest DLC. Any newcomers were likely scared off.
It is hard to give a proper picture of how deeply wounded the EA UK community felt at the hands of DICE. The months leading up to, and even after, release were filled with literally hundreds of extremely well thought out and constructive posts containing ideas for maps (66, 67, 68), features (69, 70, 71), comprehensive lists (72, 73), polls (74), and organized questions for Q&A sessions (75, 76). Many instances of the community manager, Daniel zh1nt0 Matros, asking for feedback (77) or looking for feedback he had seen previously (78) only to never, ever hear anything back from him. "Soon." "Maybe in the future." "It's being discussed." "We'll look into it." These non-committal responses were the best the community ever got.
Feedback is a very strange subject in relation to DICE's thoughts and actions in regards to it. They will ask for feedback but then come up with a reason why it is invalid. They might tell you that you are wrong like they did with PS3 input lag, "[...] I think it’s important for people to understand that it’s not that we aren’t caring, it’s just that we can’t always tell people that they’re wrong, because people have the right to feel whatever they feel, but that doesn’t make it right for everyone." (26) They may also tell you that the feedback they give themselves in the studio is more important that community feedback like they did in an IAmA on Reddit, "During my time on BF3 and post launch I have actually never really heard anyone complain about it in the studio." (79) They may even dismiss it entirely because their 'telemetry' differs from the community feedback, "It's like, no, this isn't a problem. You claim it's a problem. It's not a problem. The numbers tell me this is not a problem." (80)
These non-committal statements, one-way communication (the community to DICE and nothing from DICE), and essentially saying community feedback is useless is a recipe for a dangerous situation. This situation has led to a few boiling points. The instance that got the most attention was the blackout organized by the community website Battlefieldo. The blackout did not call for any major game changes or anything like that, no, instead it asked for open communication and bug fixes. (81) When EA/DICE quickly responded with a not-yet-final change log for the upcoming patch the blackout was called off. However this merely served as a temporary solution. Two short months after the canceled blackout, and only three days after a new patch, the community was again compelled to rally for bug fixes and more open communication from DICE. This time it was a YouTube video from popular YouTube directors and community leaders asking viewers to tweet the video to Daniel Matros, Alan Kertz, Ian Tornay, and Gustav Halling (82). Less than a week after the most recent patch a post appeard on Reddit calling for another blackout once again over bug fixes and communication (83).
Interestingly, the community wasn't the only party that resorted to a blackout. After many posts on the official EA UK forums showing a leaked fact sheet for the soon to be announced Premium service appeared, the forum was locked down without warning and without an explanation (84, 85, 86). This was an unprecedented move and a very ineffectual one at that. By the time the forum was closed you could find the fact sheet at any number of third party sites such as Battlefieldo (87), Reddit (88), and EGM.com (89). This may have been in anticipation of the backlash some of Premium's features would cause.
The primary example would be server queue priority which basically means that if a server is full and people are waiting in a virtual line to enter, people that have purchased Premium are ushered to the front regardless of how long a non-Premium player had been waiting. (90, 91, 92, 93, 94) Other unpopular features were the ability to reset stats, creating a rich versus 'peasant' class system, and effectively charging for Back to Karkand twice since that DLC was included with Premium but many people had already bought it before Premium was even announced. Let's not forget when asked if we would get a "paid premium service for Battlefield 3 comparable to Call of Duty Elite" (95) the answer was we would get the same features but it would be "perfectly free...we won't charge you for it." (96) In yet another poor customer relations move, the main Battlelog page was absolutely covered in "Premium" (97) so much so that blockers were created (98) but in-game you could not escape the Premium ads because anytime a Premium player killed you, it would be pointed out to you (99).
August Bonus Content Drop
Then there's the story of the August Bonus Content Drop. On the Premium calendar the first expansion Back to Karkand was listed as "Bonus Content" for the month of June (100). When the next scheduled bonus content arrived in August and turned out to be nothing more than a few pictures and a short trailer, many Premium members felt a little shortchanged (101, 102). Eventually, despite it being on the Premium calendar for months, Back to Karkand being listed under Bonus Content was explained away as a "glitch" (103).
The next boo-boo that slipped through the cracks came with the arrival of the third DLC for Battlefield 3, Armored Kill. As reported by a few third party sites Armored Kill was going to allow players to "Bring back five new vehicle unlocks to the base game" (104, 105). However, when Armored Kill arrived and these unlocks were nowhere to be found, people started asking for an explanation. The answer was simple. DICE responded by saying that there were no such unlocks and that they were not sure why that information was up on some sites (106). This would have made sense if the third party sites hadn’t simply taken screenshots of the official Battlefield site and attached those images to their articles. Of course, by now though, the official site has been quietly changed so that the unlocks are no longer listed (107). DICE's confusion would be more understandable if those unlocks were not also advertised on Battlelog (108).
Previously I mentioned that the EA UK forums were shut down after the Premium leak. It turned out that the lockdown was only temporary. Once they were brought back online, DICE stopped by for a visit. Daniel zh1nt0 Matros came by looking for feedback (77). What's more he even asked highly respected community member Phyrefli for help compiling it all (109). Phyrefli, for those who do not know, is a YouTube director who is most famous for his weekly digests which mostly deal with detailing Battlefield 3's many shortcomings. He has made excellent videos about the missing team play elements from Battlefield 2 and Battlefield 2142 (110), realistic and modest solutions to a few of the game’s biggest problems (111), and even a tongue-in-cheek video about Battlefield veterans and why they play Battlefield (112). Matros had even retweeted one of his videos that dealt with the big problems and offering solutions.
Less than 24 hours after asking Phyrefli for help, the EA UK forums were permanently shutdown.
So whatever happened to the feedback Phyrefli collected from EA UK at zh1nt0's request? Phyrefli created an eleven minute long video on YouTube (113), and included a link to a zip file (114) which contained a 7-page letter and a simple, color-coded spreadsheet. Even though Daniel Matros passed this along to the developers at DICE, no response from DICE has ever been given.
As covered before, the people at DICE have become quite adept at explaining away community feedback. It's wrong, studio feedback matters more, people lie in polls (115, 116), or 'telemetry' says otherwise. But what is telemetry? Telemetry is DICE's term for statistics they gather about how the game is played. Statistics they refuse to release to the public. Statistics they refuse to explain how they interpret.
Statistics can be useless if misinterpreted and that's just what they did with Operation Metro. When asked why Operation Metro is the most popular map despite all the hate and complaints DICE had been hearing about it, Patrick Bach responded "It's a great map. It's an awesome map." (80) Community manager Daniel Matros had a differing opinion on that very subject, "I´d say telemetry and analysis shows the behavior of certain aspects but it doesn´t show WHY. Metro is the most played map, yes. Why? It´s easy to rack up points." (117)
This flawed way of analyzing stats was the reason given for the Close Quarters DLC being released ahead of the Armored Kill DLC, "We went after which levels are the most played. So it’s the players decision" (115). The Close Quarters DLC received a notable amount of backlash due to the maps not being battlefields and instead being single buildings. It was an obvious and desperate attempt to go after Activision's Call of Duty market and many rejected the idea there was a demand for it. First, Operation Metro was determined to be the most popular map by counting rounds completed by player (118). This is flawed due to rounds of Operation Metro being shorter than rounds on larger maps. Second, the next three most popular maps according to DICE are Caspian Border, Operation Firestorm, and Kharg Island all of which are large maps.
The community at EA UK took a different approach to gathering data. In the last half of March 2012 DICE introduced some new server types for the console versions of Battlefield 3 (119). Using the new names one member of the EA UK community decided to gather some statistics but instead of doing it by rounds per minute, it was done by taking data from a single point in time (120). After a quick search it was easy to see that despite small and medium maps each having more servers available than large maps, there were more full large map servers than small and medium combined and far fewer empty large map servers as well. Looking at data about only full and empty servers completely ignores the middle ground however. This oversight was corrected in yet another community driven stats collection (121). Admittedly the data collected was from a very limited sample but it is important to note that the four maps DICE gave as the most popular were in the top five of this list as well, with Norshar Canals edging out Operation Firestorm. As a group though, the three largest maps had more players than the three smallest maps with Operation Metro having nearly double the number of players than the other two small maps. Once we consider that Operation Metro is played mostly, or at least in part, for the easy and quick points it because pretty obvious that Battlefield players prefer larger maps.
The Vocal Minority
It has been said that only a vocal minority is displeased with Battlefield 3, after all 15 million copies had been sold by the end of June (122) and only a few thousand people active on Twitter, YouTube, and forums complaining about the game. But is it right to assume that every Battlefield 3 owner not active on the internet is 100% happy with their purchase? Of course it isn't. There are probably some people that simply returned the game or received it as a gift from someone that didn't know them very well or just moved on to something else after the game didn't live up their expectations. What is accurate to say is the vocal minority are the ones that care.
The casual gaming audience isn't the type to follow every scrap of information released from a game's announcement to release and beyond. Minor balance tweaks and feature lists don't show up on their radar beyond the most basic things. On the other hand, the type of player that scrutinizes trailers to calculate map sizes and creates YouTube videos playing your game are the ones that need to be sold an idea. They are discerning and not easily pleased. They've most likely played previous games in the franchise and have certain expectations that need to be met. The type of player that can be won over by the box art on the front of the case is not the same player that will or will not buy your game based on the inclusion of mod tools or e-sports features.
Most importantly, these hardcore players are a big influence to the casual crowd. Word of mouth is a powerful thing and when you win over the hardcore gaming community, they in turn win over their casual gamer friends.
One good way to sell your game is to be unique. The hardcore crowd has played many games before so a game needs to have its own identity in order to not feel like just more of the same. Battlefield seems to have lost its identity. Yes, there are still vehicles but that is not what solely made Battlefield unique. Battlefield was about many things but the maps were one of the corner stones. Maps in Battlefield have traditionally been large and open with multiple opportunities for flanking the sides or even coming around behind the enemy (123, 124). In contrast, Battlefield 3 has several maps wherein players are funneled into tunnels (125, 126) and alleyways (127) with little or no room for tactical maneuvering.
As mentioned previously, another of Battlefield's defining features was the commander role introduced in Battlefield 2. The commander, along with squad leaders, allowed for an organized team and added a real since of hierarchy. Battles were team against team instead of a bunch of individuals running around in all directions with no cohesive plan or strategy. The commander role may not have been perfect but instead of improving it, DICE scrapped the position altogether.
The commo-rose as discussed before was brilliant tool which allowed for two-way communication with squad members and teammates, broke through language barriers, was faster than typing, and did not require additional hardware. This innovative communication device which combined audio, visual, and text based cues first seen in Battlefield 2 was also scrapped by DICE.
Even something as simple as the in game scoreboard was altered. In Battlefield 2, the scoreboard had a column showing points earned doing teamwork actions such as capturing a flag (128). This teamwork column is absent in Battlefield 3 as is the ability to see what class the other members of your team are playing as (129).
The loss of Battlefield's defining features of sandbox gameplay on large maps, Commander, Commo-rose, and basic team play elements are almost as baffling as the new additions. Features like appearing on the enemy's minimap when firing a weapon without a suppressor and skull icons appearing where teammates have died were nowhere to be found in the Alpha and Beta phases of the game but were suddenly and quietly included the final release. These features are mostly associated with Battlefield 3's biggest competition, Activision's Call of Duty series, and Battlefield 3 borrowed heavily from those games.
Just about every aspect of Battlefield 3 has been influenced by Call of Duty in some way. In the cases of audio spotting and death skulls, it is subtle. A focus on dozens of mostly meaningless ranks to progress through and an absurd number of unlockable attachments for each gun is more blatant. Domination may have first appeared in Unreal Tournament, just as Gun Game originally appeared as a modification for Counter-Strike, but their inclusion in Battlefield 3 is mostly likely due to them appearing in the Call of Duty games. The Close Quarters maps being in very tight arenas much the same way as the maps found in Call of Duty instead of the open landscapes of previous Battlefields is also disingenuous. Not to mention a very popular Call of Duty kill streak reward, the AC-130, being included in the Armored Kill DLC and being the only unpilotable vehicle in the game which essentially made it virtually identical to the version in Call of Duty.
This is in stark contrast to saying "You don't kill COD by trying to be COD. You kill COD by making a better shooter." (130) If only DICE would have listened to themselves. Honestly, in an age of ever increasing Call of Duty fatigue it's hard to understand why a developer would mimic that stagnating series instead of emphasizing the ways in which its franchise is different. It would stand to reason that it would make much more sense to allow the growing crowd of disenfranchised Call of Duty players to discover your game and fall in love with what makes it unique. After all, if you're tired of eating McDonald's every day, you wouldn't go to Burger King instead. You'd find something other than fast food hamburgers to satisfy you.
But from the start, DICE had an emphasis on lowering the threshold. Commander may have been more complicated than the average player would have liked but the solution to that problem already existed. You were not forced to play as Commander, you applied for the position and could resign at any time. If you didn't want the complexity, don't be a Commander. Another way to help ease players in would have been a required tutorial before being allowed to play online. MAG had a tutorial for online play (131) but it was not required so the idea was not unprecedented. A Battlefield tutorial could have explained the strengths, weaknesses, and roles of each class and allowed players to become skilled at flying helicopters and jets instead of team killing six teammates the first time you pilot a transport helicopter.
Another point about lowering the threshold is features like Commander, commo-rose, and all the rest were new to everyone at one time. When Battlefield 2 came out, no one had ever tried those things, but people loved them so much now you have legions of fans fighting for their inclusion. Give players a chance to love your features. Take a risk. Well, not even a risk. The risk was Battlefield 2 and people loved it then and in Battlefield 2142. Cutting franchise defining features doesn't make sense.
The Bottom Line
The facts remain that Battlefield 3 is a broken, buggy game that was sold, and continues to be sold, to a neglected community based on lies, broken promises, and misleading information so much so that it is almost certainly criminal.
Opinion: New Guard versus Old Guard (added 29th of October 2012)
If you are new to the Battlefield franchise (Bad Company 1 through Battlefield 3) you are part of the new audience. Players that have enjoyed Codename Eagle up to 2142 are part of the old fan base.
First let me say this to the new guard, if you are enjoying Battlefield 3… great. I’m glad that you are and I wouldn’t try to convince you that the game is not fun or that you shouldn’t be playing it. That being said, the new guard has absolutely no right to tell the old guard, “if you don’t like it, leave” or “quit complaining.”
Hear me out. I’ll tell you why I think so. The old fans are the reason the franchise has lasted to make the sequels you now enjoy. The old fans know the legacy the franchise has built. They know what makes the series unique and have certain expectations based on previous entries.
More than that though is the following point that I posit to you in a hypothetical. You enjoy Battlefield 3 for its insane amount of unlocks, the destruction, the vehicles. Let’s suppose Battlefield 4 removes all of those things. Whatever you liked about Battlefield 3 is removed from Battlefield 4 and a bunch of people new to the series end up loving it. It’s great, fun, better than anything else out there. Battlefield 4: Barbie’s IRS Lecture Seminar has nothing resembling your beloved Battlefield 3 but the fans won’t allow you to criticize because they love it. If you don’t like it, leave.
A name means something. A brand means something. You can’t stick a Coca Cola label on an RC Cola and call it Coke and reasonably expect Coke fans not to object simply because Royal Crown fans love it.
The point I’m trying to make is just because you like something doesn’t invalidate other people not liking it. This bleeds over into other issues as well.
I witnessed PC users chastising other PC users for lobbying for in game VOIP simply because they “always play with friends and use TeamSpeak.” I saw people that only bought Premium for the reduced price on DLC telling people they were wrong to complain about “false advertising” regarding missing weapons and vehicle unlocks or Bonus Content Drops not being of Back to Karkand level. I also saw people that think the blue tinted art direction is fine telling people that disliked it they were wrong to ask for an option.
It’s an incredibly selfish thing to tell someone that because they don’t always have three friends online every time they boot up the game that they are out of luck on communication. It’s incredibly self-centered to assume that since you bought something just because it was the cheaper option that other people may not have had other reasons for buying it. And I struggle to understand someone that disparages someone for asking for a solution wherein everybody wins.
Why shouldn’t the guy whom bought his first gaming PC for Battlefield 3 be allowed to talk to his squad the same as the group of friends that started PC gaming together years ago? What’s wrong with demanding you get what was advertised when you put your money down? Who could argue that one group getting their way is better than both groups getting what they want?
Stop being so entitled. That phrase has been used against the complainers but I think it should be leveled at the defenders and apologists. Your opinion isn’t all that matters.
I’m not saying every complainer should get their way but they definitely should not be told to leave. People have a right to criticize. Improvements come from criticism. And who doesn’t like for things to get better?
All of EA UK BF3
And especially MordorHQ
Call me dumb or whatever, but I can say I had fun in the last year related to battlefield
Not so much playing bf3. That cause many table flips and after 200ish hours I uninstalled it.
No the fun I had with bf3 came from EAUK forums. The countless times people responded with soon™ => missed that one in the book, Telemetry, prone confirmed, Have some bloody faith will you? ...
Reading about these things and seeing again from where they came, made me smile :p
Maybe the best thing that happened from bf3 is the fact we are writing here. Without bf3, no mordor
Now, I go back to my lurk + battlefield guy (love that thread) position.
After all, if you're tired of eating McDonald's every day, you wouldn't go to Burger King instead. You'd find something other than fast food hamburgers to satisfy you.hhahahaahahaahahahahahaahahahahahah wery nice,