Battlefield 3 hits shelves the very same week as this issue of Xbox World, but tight scheduling has seen the usual review schedule thrown out as DICE work to the last minute to get the game on shelves. Having played the multiplayer and a bunch of campaign and co-op levels over the last few months, it's clear DICE are doing the right thing: Battlefield 3 needs every extra minute it can get.
DICE's demonstrations at August's Gamescom and September's Tokyo Game Show were bug-riddled and crash-prone. The late beta was a poor showcase for the game, with more errors than you'd expect, some dubious balance issues, and no time in which to implement fixes for launch. Battlefield's multiplayer is the best in the business when it works, but it wasn't working well in that two-week test.
Still, if it isn't working the way DICE intended, it won't be long before it's fixed thanks to the regular patch work other developers seem to often forget. A run of early fixes seems likely.
Originally intended for a late November release, moving the game one month forward beats Activision's MW3 to shelves and gives the game a big head start. It also put unprecedented pressure on DICE's Stockholm team who were already making a game on a whole new engine across three platforms with two campaigns and the biggest multiplayer mode in the business. It's no small feat, and as DICE's Patrick Liu explains, it needed a whole new approach to game-making for the long-time multiplayer experts.
Ever since the first Bad Company we've been improving single-player. Multiplayer is in our DNA; it comes naturally...
"We've been learning lots," says Liu, "ever since the first Bad Company and then Mirror's Edge and then Bad Company 2. Every time we've been improving our single-player experience. The process of how we make multiplayer games is in our DNA, more or less. It almost comes automatically - how we go about testing the game modes, how we go about balancing the weapons. That's all things we know how to do. But we haven't previously had the process there for knowing how to test a singleplayer campaign, or how to test the AI. Now we know that, and I think that's going to show in Battlefield 3."