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Battlefield 3 preview: Getting our PC multiplayer on with some classy changes


Imagine you're invited over to friend's place to watch Willy Wonka i.e. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. You know Willy Wonka, you really enjoy it and you're totally ready to sing along to "Pure Imagination" (in your head) with Gene Wilder for the umpteenth time. But, when you show up, it's the Johnny Depp version. It's still great, but you don't really know it as well. That was my Battlefield 3 E3 preview experience.

Gorgeous. Battlefield 3 on PC with the Frostbite 2 engine is a stunner (as you can see here). How will it look on consoles? Good question, since DICE still isn't showing the Xbox 360 or PS3 versions. After playing Battlefield: Bad Company 2 on consoles for nearly a year straight, I was ready to compare and contrast BF3 to the latest installments in the series, but that will have to wait for another time.

Gallery: Battlefield 3 (E3 2011) | 2 Photos

What I did get to do was run through a game of Rush and check out some of the class changes. What I played was the "Operation Metro" multiplayer map in Rush mode, which requires the attacking team to blow up a set of objectives to move on to next area. The full map is split into four areas. The environments offered a variety of situations in each section, as Operation Metro starts in an urban park with plenty of space to maneuver, with the next two areas the cramped confines of the subway system. The final section has the attackers scrambling to set off charges on two boxes in front of Paris Stock Exchange. The action gets intense as the attackers try to push and heal, inching ever forward, while the defenders shoot from the comfort of the building across the street.

The classes for Battlefield 3 have been switched around a little bit, changes that will be welcomed by many Battlefield: Bad Company 2 veterans. The Assault class is now the healer and can deploy health packs and paddle shock fallen comrades back into the fight. The Engineer maintains his role as the "vehicle healer." The Support class now deploys ammo and can mount its heavy machine gun, which allows the player to "suppress" the enemy from long range, causing them to "lose awareness of the battlefield." Finally, the Recon (SNIPER!) can't just blind fire with intense accuracy anymore. Developer DICE has reduced quick scoping and the sniper needs to hold his breath for a super accurate shot -- yes, this makes everyone else who doesn't regularly play a sniper very happy.

The classes were also locked in the preview, so I couldn't check out any of the loadout options.

Overall, the gameplay felt like Battlefield, a particularly good thing in case you were worried about the series going down the Call of Duty route of focusing on the lone wolf player -- especially since Battlefield 3 is adding team deathmatch. Of course, it's hard to judge any Battlefield experience without playing the game with a squad you know, a core tenet of an enjoyable Battlefield multiplayer experience.

Also mentioned, but not shown, was the customizable dog tags. You'll still earn dog tags for melee kills, but now your victim's dog tags will include customized imagery and stats.

It's good to see Battlefield 3 shaping up and looking so hot on PC, but it's time we started getting an idea of the console experience.

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