If there’s one thing that Battlefield 3 definitely seems to have over Modern Warfare 3, it’s that when it comes to visuals, BF3 is sure to impress on a whole new level. While so far all the visuals we’ve seen have come from the PC version of the game, it’s still shaping up to be the definitive benchmark for what can be accomplished by video games today.
As a part of their EA Pwned series, EA has released an episode dedicated to Battlefield 3 and some of the features that make its Frostbite 2 Engine so incredible. They also discussed the Back to Karkland DLC and the currently UK only pre-order bonus called the Physical Warfare Pack.
The video can be seen at the bottom of the post for those interested in seeing some brief clips of Battlefield 3 in action.
Improvements In Frostbite 2.0
Frostbite 2 has already shown that it is capable of some incredible and dynamic visuals as proven by both tech demos and in-game footage from Battlefield 3, but what really makes it stand out as one of the game engines capable of producing the best visuals is the way it all comes together in the final product.
One of the first things gamers notice when they see Battlefield 3 in action is just how realistic the animations look. While looking at different animation engines, Lead Animator Tobias Dahl was handed an animation video from EA developers working on the FIFA games. The video was about responsiveness and it showcased very real animations that had all the weight and intensity required to make movement look believable.
After discovering that the tool being used was called ANT, Dahl made sure that the animation system made its way into Frostbite 2. The new animation system makes it possible to have a whole new layer of physicality and interaction with the environment that wasn’t previously possible.
With believability so important in Battlefield 3, the most easily recognized improvement is how lighting has affected the aesthetic and feel of the game. The engine supports an unlimited number of light sources which allows the developers the ability to really create locations that aren’t just believable, but look downright real.
The sound design has also seen a big improvement over previous games by making a shift from a more cinematic soundscape to a more documentary style soundscape. The focus this time has been to focus on how the world responds to the sounds generated instead of the sounds themselves.
Interestingly, the sound system is in control of the camera system, which allows it to be responsible for certain effects like the screen shaking when an explosion goes off nearby. By tying these two together, DICE is able to improve player feedback with regards to what’s happening on screen and what information to send to the player like screen shake effects and rumble intensity.
Destructible environments have become a staple of the series since Battlefield Bad Company and Frostbite 2.0 has improved on that as well. There are 3 types of destructible environments that gamers will encounter during their time in Battlefield 3: micro-destruction, big scale destruction, and set-piece destruction.
Micro-destruction comes in the form of destructible cover and walls, which can be blown away to get access to a hiding enemy or to blow a new path through a level. Big scale destruction comes in the form of destructible facades and objects which crumble over large areas. Finally, set-piece destruction is something gamers are already familiar with: scripted events used to showcase larger destruction like the building collapse in the 12 minute Battlefield 3 trailer.
Last but not least, there was a huge focus spent on scale in Battlefield 3. Frostbite 2.0 had to be capable of rendering large, believable environments as well as smaller close quarters areas, and this versatility in the system was a big focus. Environments range from cityscapes to landscapes as well as interiors for close quarters combat.
Going Back to Karkland
DICE’s Back to Karkland map pack has been a big focus for the developer as it brings back 4 of its most popular Battlefield maps in Battlefield 3: Strike at Karkland, Wake Island, Gulf of Oman and Sharqi Peninsula will all be getting the Battlefield 3 treatment. The re-imagining of these maps poses a unique challenge because they weren’t designed with destructible environments in mind.
The team however, has maintained a focus on making it look as close to the original as possible, albeit with the gorgeous Frostbite 2 touch added into the mix. An important focus of the group is maintaining the core gameplay of these maps, and that seems to go right down to the layout available in the levels. An impressive comparison between Battlefield 2 and Battlefield 3 shows just how far ahead Frostbite 2.0 is over its predecessor.
Some of the vehicles from Battlefield 2 will be making a return in Back to Karkland as treat for gamers who played the original versions of the maps. Different game modes will be available in Battlefield 3’s multiplayer with Russian Cartel returning as a confirmed mode.
The Guns of Battlefield 3
Alan Kertz, Lead Weapon Designer for Battlefield 3, believes that authenticity is the most important part of deciding what guns should make their way into the final release of Battlefield 3. First, the team began by looking at the guns that the US Marines use in their operations to form a base list of weapons to be included. From there they took at look at other armies and tried to pick the most unique guns which also supplemented a requirement that the current list of guns hadn’t fulfilled yet.
To keep the guns feeling as authentic as possible, it’s not enough for them to look nice and sound perfect, they need to respond like the real guns do by kicking back realistically on screen. In order to get the feel of every gun perfect, the team went out for maneuvers with the Swedish army and the team has had access to military advisors who explained what combat situations the different weapons were useful for.
UK gamers shouldn’t forget that they will have access to the Physical Warfare Pack which will grant them access to 2 new guns and 2 additions which exemplify physical combat. With these weapons having seemingly amazing ability, some where concerned that Battlefield 3 wouldn’t be able to deliver a balanced multiplayer experience, but DICE recently voiced its opinion on the matter saying that it is trying to make Battlefield 3 as balanced as humanly possible.
Has Battlefield 3 impressed you with its more realistic visuals and gameplay, or would you prefer to be in an adrenaline packed frantic survival for your life a’la Modern Warfare 3?
Battlefield 3 is due for release sometime in Fall 2011 for the PC, PS3, and Xbox 360.