Battlefield 3's Biggest Map Is Guaranteed, A Great Multiplayer Tutorial Is Not

On an evening in San Francisco when the people behind Battlefield 3 showed off the June expansion to their big war shooter, I asked them about the future beyond that future and about a missing element from their past.

After June's Close Quarters indoor-infantry-combat-centric pack comes the fall's armoured Kill expansion. The latter is all about vehicle combat on the biggest maps ever created in the series.

How big?

"I actually don't know the kilometer size of it, but it's going to be big," DICE studio manager Karl Magnus told me as we chatted on the second floor of a nightclub where Close Quarters was shown off. "It's not a goal, per se, to make the biggest maps. We were doing some prototyping of these maps now and [wondered] how much vehicle force could we put in there? When you do that, we started to grow the map. And, at some point, we just realised that this is the biggest map that we have ever done, which of course makes it a cool thing you can talk about. But the focus is to create the best vehicle experience we've ever done on maps."

Armord Kill may be great for some of you out there, but there have got to be a few players of Battlefield who, like me, just can't hack it in multiplayer. We don't find the single-player campaign to be a sufficient training ground for multiplayer, and we get mauled or become lost when we try a random game against random people.

Do the DICE folks ever consider incorporating a good multiplayer tutorial, I asked?

"I'm afraid it's one of those things that, in the end, when push comes to shove, gets cut," Magnus said. "I agree 100 per cent: We need to teach our players better. It's just one of those things... [We think]: 'Well, our players know how to play it.' Not all of them, especially now when we're getting more and more players in. So it's definitely something that's on our radar that we want to fix."

A couple of Magnus' other Battlefield ambitions: He wants to make sure that DICE's Battlefield 3 expansions, including Close Quarters and armoured Kill, feel like "something you could almost put in a box that people could review." He wants to build on the popularity of Battlefield 3's stat-tracking, player-matching Battlelog service, which he feels is doing very well on PC and about which "we want to do more in the future on console." He says that's a key thing for DICE to work on, to build on the "extremely high" usage of the service by Battlefield 3 players (he's not revealing usage stats.)

Top image: Battlefield 3's Thunder Run vehicle-centric mission from the game's singleplayer campaign.


    Who needs at Tutorial, trial by fire is the best learning experience

    Do you want to know what I hate about large maps on BF3...? Well I'm going to tell you anyway...
    People take off in the vehicles, tanks, helicopters, whatever, and I'm usually left to walk for 5 minutes to get into combat. The worst is when it's a transport vehicle that can fit 6, and only a pilot or driver is in it. Then when i die, I have to wait another 5 minutes for a vehicle.. or walk all over again. In summary: I'm lazy.

      Join. A. Squad.

        So much this. Your team has no chance if people don't join squads.

          Not to mention it's a whole lot easier to survive, conquer and generally have fun. The nights we fill out a squad or 2 are always the ones where my stats peak.

          Ok, it asks me that everytime I go in to multiplayer on the XBOX . What's a squad? what difference does it make? I've joined squads or not, but can't tell the difference in gameplay. I realise that for many people the answer is obvious, but I have not played any of the previous BattleField games. I'm assuming if you are familiar with the franchise, it makes sense how to do this. I actually went online and downloaded the "instruction booklet". That was good for a laugh, about 5 pages long and not helpful at all. I do love playing BF3, I just find it interesting that the game seems so locked in to being inaccessible to people who haven't palyed previous games in the franchise. I would have thought that a way to increase profits and ensure the longevity of a franchise is to encourage new gamers. BF3 as it stands does not encourage anyone unfamiliar with the franchise to pick it up. Although, if i've already paid for it I guess it's immaterial to the publisher whether I contunie playing.

            The simple benefits are more options to spawn, players to run with/help you out, and combined specializations. Having people to spawn in on means you'll be back into the action a lot faster.

            Sadly, the people stealing vehicles are just frustrating. There's not much you can do about single minded players like that.

            The Idea with the squad is:
            1. Being able to spawn on each other which is of great benefit especially if you die and your team mate is near an objective therefore allowing you to quickly spawn on him and help cap it.
            2. it allows for specialisation benefit from the squad leader depending on what he selected.
            3. If you get a good squad everyone works together, sticks together and plays their rolls of medic, engi and support. ( I generally find snipers fairly useless except for covering when capping in conquest, soft lam is pointless for a good pilot) these guys should be reviving/throwing med packs down, repairing/destroying vehicles and dropping ammo packs constantly. If you are going this a squad can tip the balance of the game.

            Also, additional XP gets awarded for Squad based actions (e.g. revive/resupply/heal a squad member, repair vehicle with squad member inside... etc), and for attacking/defending objectives marked by the Squad Leader.

        clarification: Im always in a squad (somtimes B, C or D squad). Usually with mates of mine. But in many cases there aren't any available pile of vehicles.. especially if each one has only 1 person in it. And we are often so crap that we are all dead - nobody to respawn on!
        i know, spawn beacons right?

      Yeah same here, or when someone takes a tank or helicopter just to take them to where they want to go, then they just leave it behind for the enemy to use against you.

      I agree, hate walking halfway across the map only to be shredded by some helicopter's chain guns. I picked up BF3 about a month ago. I do enjoy the multiplayer, but the whole progression thing seems to be back to front. I am by no means a very experienced FPS player, most of my timer playing has been with the Halo franchise. It's weird to play a game with absolutely no help in using the game elements. Vehicles are a big part of this. It's a waste of time me jumping into any flying vehicle as I can barely get it off the ground before someone kills me. It seems strange that the more experienced players, those with situational awareness of a map and knowledge of how best to use vehicles/weapons, get access to the best vehicles/weapons. How is a new player with a standard loadout supposed to compete with someone who has every possible weapon and attachment and can snipe you from across the map before you even know they exist? The jets are a good example. So far as I can tell, I get nothing more than a cannon, not even flares. Lock-on happens almost as soon as I get off the ground from someone with flares, guided missiles, active armor etc etc. I know it may sound screwy, but wouldn't it be better to give you all the weapons at the start and then reduce the choices as you level up? This way, the more experienced/knowledgable players will still get heaps of kills but it won't be so one-sided. Alternatively, maybe make the reward for levelling up access to free DLC or other content. I know it sounds like I'm whingeing, but it is really hard to come into a game like BF3 even only a short time after release.

        I don't use much besides guns and flares in a jet anyway. Flares are the first unlock. Rockets are good - later on. If you hear someone locking on to you, it doesn't mean they're firing. Wait til you hear the lock (solid tone), and start climbing or get ready to turn. Once you actually hear the warning that a missile is chasing you, loop back towards where you think it's coming from. Chances are you'll dodge the missile.

          you can also jam on the brakes (so to speak) and depending on how close they're flying, you'll often dodge the missile and see them fly past you.

          Your comment really sums it up for the COD community and child behaviour, "mummy I want it now", ffs use your damn common sense this is a "military simulator", not as simulated as Armed Assault 2 or (ArmA 2),but more fun and more realistically animated. Plus you need to experience this game with either 5.1 or 7.2 surround sound to really get the feel of the battle. I use a headset 7.1 surround and trust me when you have to be on your toes with people that use use tactics for example if your shitting yourself and you have placed claymores around a stair well to hold a position and you can hear the enemy creep up.... get ready to kill him before he kills you. And you can tell if they do creep up they are veterans of the series or people that are new to the series that just automatically get the "gist" of the game mechanics. All I can say to you is use your goddamn head!! And yes you are whinging. :) peace.

            Hmm, seems I hit a bit of a sore point. Thanks for pointing out child behaviour to a man in his mid-40s. I'm not asking for it to be easy, just for there to be a bit more explanation for those unfamiliar with the game play mechanics. I'm quite happy to spend the time dying online as I learn a new map, I do get a sense of chievement from that. I just find it odd that the better one becomes at the game, the more pwerful become the weapons/vehicles. Just a different perspective from someone who hasn't previously played military sims. Also, I was talking about Battlefield 3, I haven't played any of the COD franchise either.

        Without meaning to sound too inflammatory, Having people 'lose' weapons as they level up would be completely pointless. There'd be nothing to achieve and thus nobody would play. As far as I can tell, everyone (players ranging from team Immunity to my friends to randoms on public servers) seems to deign the default weapons amongst the very best. Sometime without attachments (but bugger me if I can back *that* up.).

        I do agree somewhat though, I've just hit the 90hr mark (crazy right.) myself and literally only just unlocked some of the baser jet upgrades, pretty much wholly due to your point. Can't do anything in a jet without some bugger of a level 99 coming along and destroying you right off the bat. (Incidentally, there's a very handy youtube on jet flying tips.)

          Only 90? I'm at 240 at the moment.

          : /

            There there. I've nearly caught you with 204. :/

        Wouldn't it be cool if noobs started with the best gun and then each time they level up (get promoted)their guns gets less and less powerful and you gain XP for kills and lose XP (and therefore levels = demotion) for deaths... just a random thought, but something along those lines might be interesting.

        The vehicle perks are the ones which have the biggest gap between new and experienced drivers/pilots. Things like reactive armor, laser painter, ECM jammer are all very useful.

        On weapons though - many of the better weapons in the classes you can use at the start. The M16A3 for example is arguably the 'best' assault rifle. Since it's available only on one side though, the M416 is a great replacement when you're playing as RU. The M4A1, starting engi, is a brilliant carbine. The M27 IAR is a really versatile LMG. Of course - accessory unlocks do aid your ability to kill, but arguably you need to learn how the gun handles anyway.

        More than anything though, it's simply time spent and experience with the game. You find the rhythms that work for you, and that's the difficult part when you're new and people have that experience advantage. But time, squadding up with mates, and finding some places for tips helps a lot for that.

        Mate best weapon in the jets is the chain gun USE IT! You have to react really quick in jets and when you are being chrased reverse thrust and throttle the afterburners and turn often you will be able to loop in behind them due to your reduced speed/turning circle.

    I've heard this before I think...Didn't they say before launch that BF3 would contain the biggest maps they'd ever made? Maybe they are but you can only fly over most of them. A little misleading I think. Should we trust them this time?

      Yeah, and if you get to the really high levels, your in-game character is naked with a huge target painted on their back, brandishing a turnip as their only weapon. Kill anyone and you get the special 'Turnipator' achievement which unlocks the flares (pants) :-)

        oops, was supposed to be in reply to Allan.

          Haha! It was just a random (stupid) thought, I just want to see them try something different for a change. I really don't see the need for a thousand different guns that each need to be nerfed or buffed every month...

    Yes they already said that BF3 would have the largest battlefield maps ever.

    I think it's technically true but it's done in a misleading way. Some maps as far as draw distance and total visible area are concerned are bigger than anything. However the play area is not bigger. Which is one of the problems with BF3, they make big environments and then clump all the buildings and points really close together in the middle.

    My worry with Armored Kill is that it's being designed as a big environment for basically everyone to drive around in tanks. Like the SP mission. Not actually just giant maps which are good for all classes.

    What's missing from BF3 is a good solid infantry aspect. Too often points in larger levels are just roads with a flag and a handful of buildings for decoration. They aren't really designed with good infantry battles for them in consideration. They should have built up maps better with destructible buildings like BC2. Think Atacama. Vehicles work for those points, but they work excellently for infantry only.

    Another issue is that maps with lots of vehicles, generally everyone goes engineer for rockets, unless they are sniping, hiding away somewhere. They need to better work on equipping all the classes against them. If there was voip and team work options this'd be less of an issue.

      Dude, you need to play more Team Deathmatch, and stick to maps like Metro. There is some great infantry maps. And you'll find with the new DLC focusing on close combat, it'll become a whole lot better.

    large or small maps is personal preference to the gamer..don't like the open big terrain then close quarters is answer to that!!

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