doesn't play like most online shooters; that is, other shooters that aren't Battlefield
games. However, it plays it relatively safe in terms of the franchise.
If you haven't played a Battlefield game, here's where EA's flagship shooter franchise distinguishes itself from the pack. It features some twitch shooting, but make no mistake: this shooter is primarily concerned with squad tactics and on the fly strategizing. The multiplayer maps are several times as big as most of what you see in your average Call of Duty game, so placement is equally as important as twitch skills. Team tactics are an absolute must, so make sure you squad up with a group of friends you trust. After all, you can respawn behind any active squadmate of your choosing when you die.
Customizable classes may be everywhere when it comes to the shooter genre, but Battlefield 3 (and all other Battlefield games for that matter) places a lot of emphasis on its class system. And for good reason; classes determine more than just your weapon selection and chosen perks. In this game, classes govern abilities. The Assault class doubles as a medic capable of distributing health packs and reviving fallen teammates. The Engineer can work towards the destruction of enemy vehicles as well as the preservation of friendly ones. The Support class favors machine guns and distributable ammo boxes. Gamers who run Recon tend to snipe and deploy spawn beacons. Getting kills and avoiding death is only part of the grand plan; if you play your class efficiently to the benefit of the entire team, you will be rewarded far more than the lone wolves who are only in it for personal glory.
Speaking of rewards, Battlefield 3 is chock full of them. The online multiplayer features a number of lengthy unlock trees that shower you with new gadgets, upgrades, and weapons as you earn experience with each class kit. The more you use a particular weapon, the more add-ons you will unlock; this goes a long way in encouraging players to explore the game's undeniably massive arsenal. And let's not forget that classic drive to keep leveling up, which drives your multiplayer profile forward.
Many abilities may only be class-exclusive, but all soldiers are qualified drivers and pilots. Trucks, jeeps, APCs, tanks, attack helicopters, fighter jets, you name it. If you can imagine a certain vehicle (within reason) being used for warfare, the chances are high that you'll find some variant of it in Battlefield 3. Vehicles level up as you earn experience using them, and each of them has their own upgrade tree. But be careful: a highly-skilled Engineer (like yours truly) is more than capable of bringing down any of these implements of destruction in a very small amount of time. If you find yourself faced with a team of Engineers, abandon all hope. You can't win... unless you have your own team of Engineers ready to repair your vehicle and defend themselves at the same time.
If you reserved or made an early purchase of Battlefield 3, you probably found yourself in possession of the Limited Edition. Granted, most retailers still carry this version and sell it to walk-ins, so if you haven't done so, be sure to act fast. Battlefield 3: Limited Edition includes free access to the soon-to-be-released Back to Karkand Expansion Pack. Details are admittedly scarce on this upcoming addition, but we can tell you now that it will include four classic maps, three extra vehicles, and a slew of new weapons to play around with.
In the end, Battlefield 3 doesn't feel like a complete package. All of its components are of markedly different quality. However, the most important of those components is so consistently rewarding, engaging, and exciting that its missteps are easily forgiven. When it comes to online warfare, Battlefield 3 is peerless.