Battlefield 3 has already been the subject of two roundups. The general roundup touched on both the single player campaign and the multiplayer modes, but mainly focused on the improvements to the Frostbite 2.0 engine. The second roundup, which I will return to later, focused on the multiplayer modes in much more detail. However, the co-op mode has barely been touched upon, and this mode now gets its turn in the spotlight.
Co-op play in Battlefield 3 is a cross between the single-player campaign and the “open-ended action” of the multiplayer modes, and the mode supports two players. We did briefly mention this in the first roundup, but the game will only support one player locally. There will not be split-screen co-op, and the co-op modes will have to be played with a friend online. In an exclusive interview with GamingLives, DICE’s Karl Magnus Troedsson revealed that there will be six co-op maps included with the game. These maps range from tight urban warfare to missions that are more vehicle-based. Depending on the success of the co-op missions, DICE may consider releasing more missions as DLC post-launch.
The co-op missions take place in the same world as the main campaign, but follow a different and unique series of events, as explained by Troedsson:
Naturally, you will recognize some of the elements, but they are built specifically for the co-op with all the scripting, events and everything.The missions are designed to be shorter than those in the single player campaign, so that players can play a few rounds in one evening. Players take on the role of soldiers who are not affiliated with any one particular branch of the Armed Forces. DICE’s intention for this is that it allows for more varied gameplay across the different missions than that afforded by tying players to specific units.
The difficulty barrier for these missions is set quite high, although there will be different difficulty levels. Lead Co-op Designer David Spinnier states that the team want these missions to pose a challenge to players. Not only do players have to overcome the difficulty, but the missions are designed so that players can try each one several times over. As a result, each mission contains randomised elements to give players a fresh experience for each playthrough. A perfect example of this can be seen in the co-op demonstration of the Exfiltration mission.
In this mission, players need to find a defecting informant called El Zakir. Once found, he needs escorting to safety. Players start outside the building in which El Zakir resides, and players need to infiltrate the building and remove the opposition to enable them to reach him, preferably without raising the alarm. Depending on where players trip the alarm, or even if they trip it at all, the mission will play out differently. If players manage to get to the hostage without tripping the alarm, they will be rewarded with “a little bonus”, but this is as detailed as DICE wanted to be. Players may also get attacked by random enemies who kick open doors.
El Zakir then needs to be escorted to the waiting humvees. Unlike the informant, the players don’t get to take a ride, and have to clear the path for the convoy so that they can reach the outskirts of the city. We covered the demo footage and a handful of screenshots previously, but here is the co-op demo again:
This is where the demo ended, but Exfiltration doesn’t end there - more details are to be revealed later. One mechanic that eagle-eyed viewers will have seen at the four minute mark is the new co-op “Man down!” mechanic. Players can now be revived by their partner. While the player is downed, he can crawl to a spot with more cover and use a pistol to defend himself. However, if both players are downed, the mission is failed.
Once the co-op mission has been cleared, you and your friend’s total combined score will be displayed via Battlelog, the free social feature that connects all Battlefield 3 players. As well as this, players will also see their individual scores. The best score from your friend will be displayed for each mission too, so that you can compete amongst your friends for the highest scores. Players can also compare completion times, but DICE would rather that players didn’t focus on this, as Troedsson explains:
You will be able to compare both your time and your score, but we actually want to incentivise people to use score, because we don’t want to turn this into a speed run mode. We’d rather have people helping each other out, spotting enemies, getting extra points for doing that kind of teamwork, reviving each other, and basically just clearing area by area and moving up.The co-op modes also enable players to gain achievements and awards that can benefit their multiplayer career. There are weapons that can be unlocked in the co-op mode that can be used in the multiplayer modes. However, these unlocks are based on your combined scores accumulated through the co-op campaign. I will return to the multiplayer unlocks a bit later.
Since our last multiplayer roundup, DICE has released a fact sheet for the mode. The game will launch with nine multiplayer maps, although the only two to have been confirmed are Caspian Border and Operation Metro. Footage of each can be seen here and here respectively. The game modes will include Conquest, Rush, Team Deathmatch, Squad Deathmatch and Squad Rush, all of which will be familiar to fans of the Battlefield franchise.
We mentioned in the first roundup that the Commander function present in Battlefield 2 would not be returning, as the majority of players didn’t use it. Players will play in four player squads, but each squad will now have a squad leader. This leader can issue instructions such as pointing at a flag that needs to be captured, or ordering your squad mates to advance to a specific point on the map. Players will still be able to spawn on any member of their squad.
The list of weapons includes nine assault rifles, six carbines, seven machine guns, six sniper rifles, two battle rifles, six submachine guns, five shotguns, six rocket and grenade launchers, and eight pistols. There will be 33 different weapon attachments, although some of these will be restricted to specific weapons or classes. There will be 16 different pieces of soldier equipment, such as defibrillators and ammunition boxes, and 14 different specializations, such as marksman training.
As for the vehicles, there will be two each of fast transport vehicles, armoured transport vehicles, infantry fighting vehicles, mobile anti-air, scout helicopters, transport helicopters, attack helicopters, fighter jets and attack jets. There will also be the RHIB and AAV-7A1 making up the entire naval transport and amphibious assault categories respectively. For a full list of weapons, attachments, equipment, specializations and vehicles, have a look at the fact sheet here.
In comparison to Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Battlefield 3 will have over ten times the amount of unlocks spread over weapons, weapon attachments and gadgets, as well as a huge unlock tree for the vehicles too. For example, using the M249 will gift players with more unlocks specifically for that gun. Playing with a certain kit will earn more upgrades for that kit, and the same philosophy extends to the vehicles too. All XP gained goes towards players’ overall rank. Progressing up the ranks also unlocks new weapons, specializations and camouflages that can be used by all classes.
There are a large number of ranks for players to progress through, though for players who hit the maximum rank, DICE has introduced the concept of Service Stars to keep people playing. Service Stars are added to players’ weapon skills badges, vehicles, kits and overall rank. Every time that your kill card is displayed, the other players can see how experienced you are with your current equipment. The highest honour in Battlefield 3 would be to get the rank of Colonel, with 100 Service Stars attached to your rank, and to have 100 Service Stars attached to every weapon, kit and vehicle. As DICE reckons that gaining a single Service Star would be “a major achievement”, this task will take years and will not be for the faint-hearted.
There will be close to 100 different ribbons and medals for players to unlock. The ribbons will be rewarded for exemplary skill in a round, such as capturing a certain number of bases in a round. Team players who perform actions like repairing vehicles or reviving fallen team mates will also be rewarded. As is quite often the case, players are likely to get more than one ribbon in a single round.
From top left to top right: Assault Rifle Ribbon (7 assault rifle kills in a round), Nemesis Ribbon (2 nemesis kills), MVP Ribbon (be the best player in a round). Bottom left to bottom right: Ace Squad Ribbon (be part of the best squad in a round), Medical Efficiency Ribbon (5 revives in a round), Air Warfare Ribbon (6 air kills in a round).
Medals are awarded for overall service to the cause and are usually awarded for specific milestones. One example of a milestone is playing a certain amount of hours as a US soldier.
From left to right: Maintenance Medal (obtain the Maintenance Ribbon 50 times), Marksman Medal (obtain the Marksman Ribbon 50 times), and the U.S. Army Service Medal (spend 100 hours in the U.S. Marine Corps).
Finally, dogtags have been a regular Battlefield feature since Battlefield 2142. DICE has also now elaborated a little more on dogtags, and the amount of customisation that players can expect. Previously we knew that players could customise their dog tags to reflect “who you are [and] great things you’ve done” before the game started, but now we know that the designs will be based on the in-game stats that get tracked automatically. There will be options for more than 350 personalized dogtags. Senior Multiplayer Designer Alan Kertz explains:
Dog tags in Battlefield 3 go beyond just having your name on them. We have hundreds of dog tags that can be your personal calling card. Every time you kill an enemy, they see your tags. It’s your calling card – it’s your place to brag, and dynamic tags can show off how great you are with a knife, a jet, or even show off your personal play style.
Battlefield 3 is due to be released on October 25th in North America, October 27th in Australia, and October 28th in Europe. Check out the North American pre-order bonuses here. For the pre-order bonuses for the rest of the world, you need to visit this page.