Battlefield of the Future: What We Want in Battlefield 3

battlefield 3

When I'm not busy yelling at GIs to go home or burning my North Vietnamese opponents to virtual death in Bad Company 2's recreation of Vietnam, my thoughts wander towards the future of the Battlefield series. Previous Battlefield titles delivered WWII, Vietnam, modern day and even futuristic experiences. So where does that leave Battlefield 3? 

At this point, we know very little about Battlefield 3, but we do know that we'll be seeing it sometime mid-2011 if John Riccitello's words carry any weight–and they do. So what can we expect? We can expect to see a large-scale multiplayer FPS on all three major platforms (PC, Xbox 360 and PS3) delivered through the next-gen Frostbite 2.0 engine, with superior visuals on the PC version.

We can also expect there to be two, or perhaps three sides in conflict–Americans and Russians, or what have you. It's doubtful that there will even be a single player component as those have only been present in the Bad Company series, but we can't rule it out. Like most fans, I'm not too interested in a single player campaign. It would be a waste of time for DICE to spend their time developing content few have any interest in experiencing. Battlefield's heart has always been in its cooperative online modes and that is where they should pour most of their effort into. 

Battlefield 3 boxart

Knowing that Battlefield 3 is a planned as a full fledged Battlefield title and not a scaled down version, it would be remiss to not expect the game to support upwards of 32 players on large-scale maps. I'm hoping that they go as high as 128 players, if only to compete with MAG on the PS3, CCP's Dust 514 expansion to EVE Online and the forthcoming spiritual remake of PlanetSide. 

On this large scale battlefield, we should expect to see a return of Battlefield 2's aircraft, artillery units and a variety of support vehicles (APCs, Chinooks). We've been deprived of a full-scale war experience and Bad Company 2 only delivers this in smaller bites, with a limit on helicopters and tanks in the field. Battlefield 3 needs to be big, and bigger than it has ever been before. No war has ever been fought with only 24 combatants in the field. 

A ranking system complete with unlockable equipment would be par on course for the series, though I do not expect Battlefield 3 to support the numerous (and arguably pointless) achievement rewards that has come to define the (also arguably) watered down Call of Duty series. Skill has always epitomized Battlefield and set it apart from its competitors, so I expect to see the series renew its commitment to player skill instead of making an attempt to appeal to casual players at the cost of alienating its core audience. 

That said, just giving us more of what made Battlefield 2 great isn't enough. Battlefield 3 needs to be a leap forwards in terms of not just gameplay, but also social aspects. For too long has the series confined itself to an aging Gamespy-based matchmaking system. While there's nothing wrong with a server list, the game needs to have some sort of persistence outside of the ranking and unlocks system. Imagine if you will, a global map where various armies vie for dominance over territory. To the victors go the spoils of war–or in the case of a skill-based FPS, medals. DICE should take inspiration from Blizzard's Battle.net 2.0 system and implement external player profiles. There's no point in having ranks if you can't show them off. 

Beyond that, what's there to say? Give us a game that doesn't require the use of Punkbuster–the cause of way too many problems, and adopt Valve's Anti Cheat system. Keep up the tradition of releasing good, full-priced expansion packs like Battlefield: Vietnam (as opposed to Call of Duty's overpriced map packs) and add loyalty rewards for customers of the series. 

Given DICE's good reputation and their dedication to the fans, there's little doubt in my mind that Battlefield 3 will be a good game regardless of its scope, but it would be nice to see them elevate the series to a higher echelon of play.

 

Checkout the confirmed news related to Battlefield 3 on the next page….


What we know: Confirmed news related to Battlefield 3:

  • Frostbite 2 will not support Windows XP which makes it obvious that Battlefield 3 won't support Windows XP. DICE rendering architect Johan Andersson confirmed this via twitter saying, "Frostbite 2 is primarily developed for DX11. XP & DX9 is _not_ supported, 64-bit OS is recommended".

  • According to David Goldfarb, Lead designer and writer at DICE, the game will not be a PC exclusive but DICE is putting in an extra effort for the PC version.

  • Conferences will be held at GDC 11 showing off the new Frostbite Engine 2 –

    SPU-based Deferred Shading in BATTLEFIELD 3 for Playstation 3

    This session presents a detailed programmer oriented overview of our SPU based shading system implemented in DICE's Frostbite 2 engine and how it enables more visually rich environments in BATTLEFIELD 3 and better performance over traditional GPU-only based renderers. We explain in detail how our SPU Tile-based deferred shading system is implemented, and how it supports rich material variety, High Dynamic Range Lighting, and large amounts of light sources of different types through an extensive set of culling, occlusion and optimization techniques.

    Culling the Battlefield: Data Oriented Design in Practice

    This talk will highlight the evolution of the object culling system used in the Frostbite engine over the years and why we decide to rewrite a system for BATTLEFIELD 3 that had worked well for 4 shipping titles. The new culling system is developed using a data oriented design that favors simple data layouts which enables very efficient computation using pipelined vector instructions. Concrete examples of how code is developed with this approach and the implications and benefits compared to traditional tree-based systems will be given.

    Advanced translucent and subsurface scatter lighting for the frostbite 2 engine

    In real-time computer graphics, the interaction of light and matter is often reduced to local reflection described by Bidirectional Reflectance Distribution Functions (BRDFs). While this mathematical model is valid for describing surface reflectance of opaque objects, many objects in nature are partly translucent: light travels within the surface. To simulate translucent properties of objects in real-time, such as subsurface scattering (in human skin and other surfaces), developers rely on complex and expensive techniques. Conversely, this talk presents a fast and scalable approximation of translucency for a convincing subsurface scattering look which can be implemented on current and next generation video gaming systems.