PC gamers have been up in arms about the glaring omission of squad management features from the Battlefield 3 PC beta, and for good reason. While the consoles versions of the beta allow you to change squads or join your friends on the fly, the PC version assigns you to a random squad, leaving you stuck there for the duration of the match. Thankfully, that's going to change.
According to a forum post from DICE employee Bazajaytee, the absence of squad management in the PC version will be remedied for the game's retail release. When asked whether players would be able to "swap squads mid-game, make new squads, or join empty squads," the developer responded, "In short answer form, yes you can browse and join squads through the squad screen and make private squads."
Eager Battlefield 3 fans have already taken that to mean that the in-game squad menu from the console versions will be finding its way into the PC release, but that conclusion seems a bit premature. DICE community manager Daniel Matros had previously tweeted that squads would be handled exclusively by Battlelog, the browser-based menu Battlefield 3 uses to find and join games. That approach means that any and all sqaud decisions would need to be handled before the game was launched, rather than during the action.
Furthermore, this new statment seems carefully worded to appease fans without ever actually contradicting Matros' prior comments. Note, for example, the way Bazajaytee tellingly avoids using the phrase "in-game" and fails to mention the ability to change squads. Optimism is great, but it sounds an awful lot like the "sqaud screen" to which he's referring is part of Battlelog, rather than the in-game menu he was explicitly asked about.
If that's indeed the case, it wouldn't be quite what fans have been hoping for. You'd still be restricted to joining and forming squads before the game starts, you'd still be stuck with your decision, and the PC release would still be lacking a core functionality that's present on consoles.
While there's certainly a chance that DICE has decided to implement an in-game squad menu on the PC, we can't confirm that outright without a full statement from the developer. Until it comes, we'll have to take solace in the marginal improvements that we know are on the way.
Battlefield 3 begins its worldwide launch on the Xbox 360, PC, and PlayStation 3 this October 25.