I've been enjoying Battlefield 3 for a few weeks now and there's no denying the improvement in game play and visuals afforded by the Frostbite 2 engine. Visuals are vastly improved and game physics provide an experience that easily surpasses any previous Battlefield title.
Navigation between the various game modes is a simple process using the web based control panel and player statistics are always close at hand. Finding friends online for both co-op and online multiplayer modes is a simple matter of typing their name into a search box.
Being the half-wit blogger I am, however, it's impossible for me to leave out a few quirks I've found with the game. Rabid fans of the franchise would be advised to stop reading at this point.
For the majority of fans of the Battlefield series some of the issues I'll report may be of no consequence. Still, I'm positive that I'm not alone in my annoyances some of which have plagued the series since Battlefield 2.
Let's get started.
I have an observation, most players of Battlefield 3 stink at flying Helicopters. I can't blame the players, however. The Battlefield series has always been weak when it came to flying non-fixed wing aircraft. Battlefield: 1942 primarily had airplanes, there was a helicopter in the Secret Weapons expansion but few ever tried it. The Desert Combat mod for that game had an excellent choice of helicopters and with some practice it was possible to become proficient.
Something happened between The DC combat mod and Battlefield 2. Helicopter control was nowhere near the same as the BF:1942 mod. That was strange since the majority of the BF2 development team at Dice also worked on the Desert Combat mod.
With Battlefield 3 history is repeating itself.
The franchise has always had a dizzying amount of control options that generally take at least 20 minutes of your life before you attempt to fly or drive anything. In BF3 you can set up on foot, vehicle, airplane, helicopter and common controls. The issue is that the game sets certain default controls based on what it thinks you're using as a control device.
Getting rid of those defaults can be a challenge. For me it's the annoying tendency for the game to see my Wingman Attack joystick as a gamepad. Convincing it otherwise has involved having to manually clear every individual setting in every category. I'd have hoped that went away after BF2 but it hasn't. There's an option to reset controls to default but that just brings back the erroneous settings you started with.
As of this writing I still can't set the X axis in the helicopter section which makes it kind of hard to turn left or right. Up and down work great though. I guess that's why so many players tend to take helicopters to 50,000 feet and bail out.
Another issue I've run into in online multiplayer is an occasional problem with transitioning between maps. I've found myself waiting for my next deployment only to be greeted with a black screen and frozen interface forcing a restart of the game. The problem kept recurring until I rebooted the machine.
Intermittent control issues within co-op game modes have also occurred. Mouse control becomes overly sensitive causing frequent examination of the nicely detailed ground and sky at inopportune moments.
I've also noticed that it's still easy to get stuck on map elements that are otherwise unseen unless you run around constantly looking at your feet. This is common issue in FPS games but it seems to happen more often in BF3 than say Modern Warfare 3.
I'm hopeful that the more egregious issues eventually get corrected as it seems game updates are fairly frequent. Having experienced most of the franchise, however, I'm fairly confident that control setup issues will likely continue to plague the series. At this point it's almost part of the Battlefield DNA.
If you're one of those BF3 players who rarely drive or fly anything then most of these issues are probably minor to non-existent and all of this amounts to little more than whining. I'm of the opinion that if you're going to offer a game option it should work even if you never use it.
None of these issues will prevent me from playing the game, however, as it still stands out as the best of the series. Correcting minor issues can only make it more so.
Article first published as Battlefield 3: Notes From the Field on Technorati.