Battlefield 3 Isn't Competing With Modern Warfare 3, But It Still Wants To Win

The way I see it, Battlefield 3 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 aren't really competitors. They're just two modern shooters that happen to be coming out two weeks apart from each other.

When I suggest this to Kevin O'Leary, brand manager for Battlefield 3, he's quick to agree. But he's also quick to point out why he thinks Electronic Arts' flavour of modern warfare might fare well against Activision's.

But before I entertained somewhat subtle argument by O'Leary for why Battlefield 3 might be better than Modern Warfare 3, I watch him play Battlefield 3 on a PlayStation 3.

The console version is less impressive than the computer version, but not in a way I find functionally meaningful. The gameplay I watch unfold before me takes place in the campaign. What differences I see between it and Modern Warfare 3 are so subtle that they'd likely be lost on all but die-hard fans of either series.

In the scene, O'Leary guides a soldier through a building and into a courtyard where his team of soldiers are assaulted by enemies in nearby buildings. At first blush this is another modern-day shooter. But then I notice that O'Leary's return fire is chipping away at the low wall behind which an enemy is hiding. The visual and audio fidelity of the game is also impressively different than Modern Warfare — more realistic.

There's not a lot here, though, to show what separates a Modern Warfare 3 from a Battlefield 3. But this isn't where games like this live. Multiplayer, online gameplay is the bread and butter of most modern shooters. And it's online where the games feel so very different.

There's something about the way the two games present in multiplayer that make them feel like entirely different games. A fan of Battlefield 3's online play may not like Modern Warfare 3 and vice versa. There's also a different skill set, a subtle difference, but one that can make quite a difference in a gamer's successes in one game versus the other.

I mention this to O'Leary. I don't think that these two games are really competitors — not for the people who play them.

O'Leary agrees. So does the executive producer of the game, Patrick Bach, who's said in the past that Battlefield 3 is not trying to be Modern Warfare 3.

"Our game focuses on this battlefield experience. Even if it's not a big map it feels like a big map," O'Leary says when I ask him to explain why shooter fans like myself may view the games as very different. "We give you so many tools; you can choose your vehicles, your weapons, your class."

These choices directly impact they way you play online as well. If you choose a class armed with an rocket-propelled grenade because you want to take out tanks, and then find there are none to take out, you're going to change your class.

The inclusion of destructibility and vehicles also has a major impact on the feel of the game.

The end result is a shooter that at its core feels like a much more objective-driven, holistic approach to warfare, rather that a deep dive into the ground soldier's war.

That doesn't make one game better or worse. It just makes them different.

And at first O'Leary sort of seems on board with that notion, saying that this is a "fantastic year" for gamers because there are so many great games coming out.

"People can go for this sort of first-person shooter or that first-person shooter or say ‘Do I want both?'" he says. "We expect that a lot of people will go for both."

Then O'Leary mentions a phrase I've not heard before: Ultra-hit buyers. That's Modern Warfare 3's big advantage in this competition between non-competitors.

When O'Leary uses the phrase I interrupt him, asking him to explain what he means.

Ultra-hit buyers, he says, are the people who buy a game because it's hugely popular or because their friends bought it, not necessarily because it is the best option.

It's those opinion makers that Electronic Arts is hoping to win over with Battlefield 3. Shift their interests from Modern Warfare 3, goes the plan, and EA could win the war.

"We want to win over the hardcore guys who may be on the fence," he said. "We want to do that with Frostbite 2."

Frostbite 2 is the engine that runs Battlefield 3, the engine that allows for destructible environments, impressive graphics and — unfortunately — a lower frame rate on the console than Modern Warfare.

On a computer, both Modern Warfare and Battlefield play at 60 frames per a second (or more), but Battlefield drops to 30 on a console.

But the frames per second are ancillary to the experience. Battlefield 3 is about "how do you deliver the best all-out war experience," O'Leary said . "It's 30 frames per a second on console, but we have destruction, vehicles, a new animation system."

"It's not about a number. It's about the full experience."


    at the moment bf3 is looking better for me and i hope that it is the dominant multiplayer game for me going forward. but unfortunately i know most of my friends will be playing mw3.

    personally i think that the Call of Duty series is like a gateway drug that leads to the Battlefield series.

      Total opposite for me... It's all about the online experience and I find that in the majority of BF maps you spend far too much time merely looking for people coz the maps are so big. But I'm not a hater and I still love both franchises.

    O'Leary makes some good points there, especially that last line, “It’s not about a number. It’s about the full experience.” Unfortunately, it sounds like he's being defensive and trying to play down the debate of which is the better game, but given the competition he's up against it's understandable.

    I'm a Battlefield person, started losing interest in COD after COD4, but there's no doubt they're both going to be amazing games and any gamer who chooses to play one and hate on the other is missing out.

      If MW3 turns out anything like Black ops or MW2 both online and off, I'm happy to miss out.


    So EA say they're not competing, but then go into a full in depth comparison between their game and Activisions... Yup.

    I'm personally looking forward to both games, though I secretly hope that BF3 does better than MW3, as I can't get enough of large mapped, objective driven FPS.

    Battlefield 3 is already the winner in my book, as was BC2. I'll be avoiding MW3 like the plague.

    I think Battlefield 3 looks really interesting and I plan to pick it up, but the only thing that will get me playing the multiplayer is either if it's substantially overhauled from what I've experienced in Bad Company 2, or if Modern Warfare 3 is worse than Modern Warfare 2.

    I personally will be getting both although the COD formula is getting a little stale IMO
    And jets in battlefield 3?! Hellz yeah!!

    I will be buying BF3 for the multiplayer action and renting MW3 to find out if Soap and Price are OK.

    IF COD did the single player and Dice did the Multiplayer it would be so cool.

    If it's not on steam, I wont buy it. -_-

    I find it disheartening that we haven't seen any footage of these 'big maps' in BF3 yet.

    The only real MP footage we've seen of BF3 is the Operation Metro map which looks like a close quarters Infantry based map, much like the CoD series.

    So, they're not trying to compete? They're peppering the media with maps that show a very similar environment albeit with 'destructible' objects. I especially like the bit where an entire balcony falls and crushes 2-3 guys. Triple Kill w00t.

    I know the expansion has all the oldschool maps and Jets but what about the 'new big maps' and some epic tank and jet warfare? I really want to see some of it, even though I'll be playing hc mode from day one, I still need to SEE IT FIRST :)

    I don't play CoD because I'm shit at it, there's no other reason, actually!

    I for one am glad MW3 is coming out in the same time period.

    Means less 12 year old noobs on BF3

    Battlefield 3 and (Halo Anniversary :D) are going to blow mw3 out of the water there isn't even a chance of comparison between them Cod just is the same old crap with Noob tubes knifing baggy glitchy online Graphics worst then my ps2 no new features 9 year old kids who love no scoping. Battlefield 3 and Halo anniversary all the way !!!!

    Who even plays that shittty old child's game known as Cod that game is just terrible Halo is and always will be the King Of FPS).

    To be honest I think both make shit campaigns but cod has better multiplayer- so far. I do think bf3 will be more fun and cannot wait for it. I will probably pick up mw3 on ps3 and battlefield on pc, that way I have the best of both worlds

    I Have played Bf3 bata the true bf2 fans for the pc not the ps3 or xbox360 tags a longs but who knows wut bf2 is all abought you will not be disappointed trust me.

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