As huge as Battlefield 2 was - in scale, in scope - it was a limiting game in terms of its rule-set. You either played in a squad-based manner or your team would be ripped apart. For most fans of the series, this was a positive thing. From the recent Battleblog on Battlefield's official site, it appears that DICE are attempting relax that style of play, to encourage more players to make the shift across to Battlefield 3.
"We thought a lot about Battlefield 2 and how Battlefield 3 would relate to it," said Lead Multiplayer Designer Lars Gustavsson. "The mindset at DICE during the development of Battlefield 2 was pretty much: “Play the game our way, or play something else”. Now, we have made a conscious effort to reverse that mentality. The goal with Battlefield 3 is to offer a vast variety of gameplay experiences and to be inviting to everyone. We’re not telling you how to play the game. You choose."
Apparently this mindset came from the sheer amount of effort and balancing put into Battlefield 2.
"I think it emanated from the pride in the unique game modes we created at DICE, like Conquest and Rush," he claimed. "We’re still super proud of them, but going into Battlefield 3 we had a frank discussion about our mindset. We discussed the strengths of Battlefield and ended up with a lot of interesting questions. Does teamplay have to be squad based, or can it be in a more general sense of playing together? Am I less of a gamer if I don’t want to play in squads? If I want Team Deathmatch? If I want infantry only gameplay? That discussion really was an eye-opener and has changed how we view ourselves and what we set out to do with Battlefield 3."
Interesting words. Battlefield 2 has a huge amount of credibility, and the strong community the game developed over the years was arguably a direct result of the level of communication required to play effectively - attempting to reduce that in some way to help new players hop onboard is smart, but there is the risk of alienating your core users.
Hopefully DICE will find a way to strike the perfect balance.