Battlefield 3 Multiplayer Console Review

One of the most talked about rivalries in gaming right now is that of Call of Duty vs. Battlefield. Rightfully so, as DICE has made no bones about going after Call of Duty and its first-person shooter popularity crown. While the comparison seems like an obvious one, we’re not convinced that Call of Duty is the best measuring stick for Battlefield 3. Sure they’re both military shooters but, outside of their genre, these two games set out to achieve very different things, especially on the multiplayer side.

Perhaps a better comparison would be to that of Battlefield 2, a game that a lot of people still consider to be the high mark in multiplayer gaming. Or maybe we should use the most recent Battlefield project, the Bad Company series, a side franchise that has become quite popular amongst the console crowd. So how does Battlefield 3 stack up against its much-loved older brothers?

One of the single greatest things Battlefield 3 has over its most recent console predecessors (and most console multiplayer games) is a server browser. We know server browsers are nothing new to PC games but they’re somewhat rare on consoles. Not only does Battlefield 3 have one, but it’s far and away the best we’ve seen yet. There are tons of sorting options for every game type and mode, you can flag favorite servers for another date, see which servers your friends are playing on, and even see what rank all the players on a particular server are before jumping in. Again, this is old potatoes for PC gamers, but for console players, this is a welcome offering.

[drop]Speaking of game types and modes, there’s a new one that had a lot of players rolling their eyes when DICE announced it, and that’s 12 on 12 Team Deathmatch. Deathmatch isn’t new to the Battlefield series but in the Bad Company franchise, deathmatch was kept strictly to a squad format. Squad deathmatch is still an option but this time there’s also the 24 player variation. This mode plays dramatically faster than every other game type, mostly because of how small the maps are. It ended up being one of our favorite modes to play, because it gives you a CoD-esque sense of speed, while keeping the large-scale battles (minus the vehicles) and varied gameplay you expect from Battlefield.

Other available game modes include Battlefield staples, ‘Rush’, and ‘Conquest’, as well as hardcore variations of every game-type, and even a ‘infantry only’ option for the objective based games.

One of the things that make all those game-types so great is that you can play them on every map. Unlike Bad Company 2, Battlefield 3 has a different map variation for every mode in the game. The Rush variants are usually the biggest, and the deathmatch maps are generally only a small, strategically sequestered, fenced-in piece of the full map.

Speaking of the maps, they’re awesome. Every one of them. The game ships with 9 total, and not only are they absolutely massive in the objective games, but it feels like DICE went through each of them, time and time again, combing out exactly where to put choke points, intersections, and objectives. They all feel unique, and some of them even have a distinct draw to them, like the ability to BASE-jump from a helipad and parachute in to the next objective.

To go along with the fantastic map design, the weapons and vehicles are also masterfully crafted and balanced. It’s hard to believe that a game with over 40 primary weapons and 20 vehicles can achieve a very high level of balance, but Battlefield 3 pulls it off. Thanks to the new ‘scope gleam’ and the slightly ‘nerfed’ sniper rifles, snipers can no longer dominate the game 300 yards away from the objectives, as was the case in the Bad Company games.

Regarding the vehicles, all the tanks and land vehicles feel roughly the same as they did in Bad Company 2, but the choppers received a major handling overhaul. They’re still quite useful with the right pilot and gunners, but their impact is kept in check thanks to several changes DICE implemented.

And then there are the jets. To be honest, we were never able to have a significant impact with the jets, nor did any of the other people we played with. Don’t get us wrong, as an infantry soldier, seeing four planes duking it out in mid-air is an awesome sight to behold, but they rarely had an impact on what was happening on the ground.

Perhaps the greatest part about Battlefield 3’s multiplayer is how many things there are to do at any given time. This isn’t always the case when playing a deathmatch mode but in Rush and Conquest, we were never at a loss for secondary tasks. Depending on which of the four classes you choose to play as, you can hand out health, throw out ammo packs, revive teammates, place mines, drop mobile spawn points, spot enemies, and even use unmanned drones to complete a couple of tasks. Of course, that’s all just in an effort to help achieve your primary task of completing main objectives while eliminating the opposing team along the way.

The visuals in multiplayer do take a bit of a hit compared to what you see in the campaign. There’s a little more draw-in and pop-up that will occasionally catch your eye, but even at its worst, it’s a sharp looking game that rarely slows down, even during intense moments when a lot is happening in confined quarters.

It will come as surprise to no one, but the audio effects in Battlefield 3 are downright stunning. The guns sound crisp, the tanks and jets sound intimidating, and there is never a moment when the game’s audio design allows you to fall out of immersion. Also, the subtle music that starts to play when your team is about to win the game is a very nice touch.

Unfortunately, all the glowing praise we’ve offered above about Battlefield 3 doesn’t amount to much if you’re not actually able to get on to a server and play the game. And for a lot people (including us), that’s been a very real problem. Just about every network issue you could dream up occurred for us at one point or another. Connection failures, servers booting everyone out mid-game, random pockets of lag, several lengthy unscheduled maintenance sessions, and sometimes a complete inability to successfully join games with more than one person in a party.

[drop2]It’s a real shame the multiplayer launch has been this rocky because the game itself feels like a finished product, but on many occasions the frustration of not being able to play with friends (or at all) outweighed the fun we had once we were finally in.

Another thing we weren’t so fond of was the lack of loadout options for your soldier. You can only customize the U.S. soldier before going in to a game, which is confusing because there are guns that are temporarily exclusive to the Russian side of multiplayer. To set up your Russian soldier’s loadout, you have to do it in-game. Even though you’re given some time to do this before each match starts, it was still a bit odd.

We also weren’t impressed with the stats that are available to view in the game. You can’t see any specific weapon or vehicle stats without using EA’s ‘Battlelog’ on PC or select mobile devices. The Battlelog (when it’s working) is nice enough, but we really felt like we should’ve been able to see a more detailed breakdown of our stats within the game itself.

Although the co-op mode in Battlefield 3 was also sporadically affected by the server issues, there were a few times when we were able to play while waiting for servers to come back up. There are 6 missions total, all of them placing you in a random scenario without any story-related reason to complete the objective. And that’s precisely why co-op was never really anything more than a time killer while waiting to play competitive modes. Without any type of context, it’s just not that much fun to randomly kill waves of opponents while nothing is pushing you to move further. For some, the unlockable multiplayer weapons will be enough to warrant at least some time in this mode, but for us, it was nothing more than a quick distraction before trying once again to get on a multiplayer server.


  • Many different ways to play each game.
  • Amazing sound design.
  • Maps are brilliantly constructed.
  • Good balance between weapons and vehicles.
  • Loads of stuff to unlock.


  • Terrible connectivity issues.
  • Co-op feels tacked on.
  • Lack of loadout and stat options.

Once we made it on to a server and in to a properly running game, we found Battlefield 3 to be one of the most intense and enjoyable multiplayer experiences we’ve ever had. Unfortunately, technical issues absolutely devastated the launch of this game and have likely left a very deep scar on the Battlefield community. Any fan of the franchise or modern shooters in general should definitely give Battlefield 3’s multiplayer a shot, but at least for the moment, be prepared to fight through some mean bush to reach the good stuff.

Score: 8/10

You can get our review of Battlefield 3’s single player experience by clicking here.

Reviewed from the Xbox 360 version of the game with the optional texture pack installed.



  1. Feel that the criticism of no stats in game is rather harsh – especially when you consider just how extensive Battlelog is, and is a more suitable and preferable solution than in-game stats.

    Equally, as far as online launches go, there have been far fewer issues here than most shooters even two to three weeks after release. So I’d strongly disagree with “technical issues absolutely devastated the launch of this game”, otherwise good review.

    • Battlelog ain’t much good if you don’t have a pc or laptop. I still don’t get why you can’t access it in-game like you could with nfshp autolog, and why you have to add friends on the browser, why is it not just linked to psn friends list?

      • How many people have their console connected to the Internet, but don’t have access to a PC or Laptop? I’m going to but the number in a double figures.

        As for PSN friends, that simply wouldn’t work as Battlelog runs off of Origin. It’s better this way as it spans multi-platform, something that in-game stats would not do.

      • My pc is broke atm, so can’t use battlelog. I know quite a few people with a PS3 but limited PC access as well, the numbers higher than you think.

      • Double figures? Sorry mate but that’s a little ignorant. There are LOADS of people with a console and no pc. But besides that, even if you have both they may be in different rooms. It’s clearly just inconvenient either way and a poor decision. Also, they clearly have the ability to link psn with origin, don’t tell me they can’t because they can. The only reason they’ve made this decision is to get more people signed up to origin.

      • You wouldn’t even need a PC, would you?
        Would a phone or PS3 browser not do?

      • But you can’t use the ps3 browser while playing a game.

      • A smart phone app is in the works.

      • @TC yes there of loads of people that have a console and no pc and internet access but I’d guess very very few will have broadband and a console connected to the internet and still have no pc/laptop

      • @yogdog – how did you post your comment then? You can access Battlelog using the same method.

    • “more suitable and preferable solution than in-game stats” for you, maybe. There are still an awful lot of players who won’t be internet savvy (or connected at all), and subsequently won’t get anything out of the connected stat-tracking.

      It’s an interesting question though: Do we review the game as-is or do we review all connected options? For the latter, we’d have to research and review the facebook tie-ins, pre-order options and any other incidental, cross platform, cross media offerings when they put extra worth or content into a game, surely? I mean, where do we draw the line with our assumptions of what players have access to?
      Surely the best, most fair option is to review what’s on the disc?

      • I was under the impression CoD Elite (free) comes with a PS3 app as well as the extensive website, facebook & other options, so given the lack of in game stats in comparison to other titles like Killzone & the plethora of shooters I would say it’s limited.

        Ive haven’t been able to get in a game yet, which is severely worse than the intermittent lag that other titles suffer from pre-patch.

        Much was made of the day 1 patch being the complete experience when if this is the result it seems to have been little more than a tactic to manipulate review copies in an effort to keep the launch weekend Metascore high, people on my Twitter feed who have been in games say it suffers from all the usual multiplayer issues in addition to me being unable to get ‘in’, so yes… technical issues above & beyond normal.

        To me it seems this game needed a February release and more development time, its obvious it has been rushed purely to beat CoD on the shelves & in the process it has muddied the franchise’s good name. The extra time could have tweaked the campaign too, sorted out the ‘saving freezes’ loading times and stuff like squad AI who shunt you out of cover if it’s scripted that they’re supposed to be there.

        Can’t comment on the content of this review yet as I’ve not got in, but the experience so far has been poor, at best.

      • I only picked it up this afternoon, so it’s not all weekend I haven’t been able to get in, just a few hours, but, still….

      • Hehe, “technical issues above and beyond normal”.

        Good one. :)

      • I was discussing this with Kris – yes, we talk about you :-p – and we’re in agreement that it should be anything accessible to any first time purchaser of the game.

        So pre-order DLC is a no, as not everyone would have it; Facebook integration would be a yes, but unless it has a big impact on the game its incidental and not worth mentioning; services like Battlelog certainly.

        As for those savvy enough, those who would want to find their stats and be interested in them would be able to set it up easily. It’s plastered all over the MP section of the game.

    • I think the online has worked pretty well i’ve been playing since Friday and today is the only time i’ve really had any big problems but they messed around with the servers today so that could be the reason

      • I play on PS3 by the way

      • Same here – Only had one ‘true’ disconnect & that was when my hud disappeared & the game wouldn’t let me respawn, so i had to quit out & reboot.

        The only other small annoyance is that our squad got split up upon entering a match last night, but it was easily rectified & just meant that friends were shooting me in the face for a while! XD

        Other than that it’s been faultless & IMO brilliant. Potentially the best multiplayer FPS i have ever played.

  2. I have to say, I’ve had pretty much zero connection issues online, except a few hiccups with co-op.

    Agree that the co-op feels tacked on though. Feels like a poor man’s Modern Warfare 2 Spec Ops (The only good feature of that game IMO).

    As for the stat tracking, I don’t really know any other game that offers as much information as Battlefield 3. Also, you are very clearly pushed towards using Battlelog, which is a great feature. TSA’s platoon on Battlelog is constantly updating and the stat tracking is great.

    I have to say, it’s by far the best multiplayer FPS I’ve ever played. Even better than COD 4, which is saying something considering how much I loved that game.

    Nice review :)

    • Conversely, I have heard of some horrible problems with servers and connection on 360, but the PS3 version has be fine, really.

      • that’s what I’d heard too but when I mentioned that elsewhere I was quite forcefully told that the PS3 version had been shaky around launch too. Both will be fine in a week or two when 75% of players stop trying to access at once, I guess.

      • Totally agree. Had zero issues in MP on PS3 version. And I’ve been playing at peak times so not sure why other people are having these problems. Maybe just people who own a sucky 360!

  3. You know, I’ve never once experienced a connection issue with it. Still, would’ve been good to have seen your review if that wasn’t an issue. Shame because its potentially one of the best games I’ve played but the loadout issue + a couple of others as I’ve highlighted in the forums do lower the score. Some more time perfecting it and it so easily could’ve been a straight 10/10 game. I’m still hopeful they’ll patch all issues then we’ll be left with something awesome.

  4. Yes! Two points really resonated with me. Namely the ability to only customise the us soldier in ‘my soldier’ and the lack of weapon and vehicle stats unless you go online to the battle log. Also why do you have to add people on battle log (online) rather than them just being on your battle feed if they have the game? What was wrong with how the need for speed games did it?

    • It’s because BF3 uses Origin, which NfS game would not have (also Autolog is completely different).

      • Ah I see, my mistake. I though that because it had the ‘log’ suffix, and was an EA game, that it was more of an EA push like in NFS. Still I think the auto join for all those who are your console friends and have the game would be lovely. I do get your point above about the multi platform though.

        The game is amazing so I’m definitely a huge fan. I personally would go for a 10 in review terms as it refines Bad Company 2 in oh so many ways.

  5. so overall its about 7.5/10 ? i feel thats a tad harsh. Im not a fan of shooters because im terrible at it but BF3’s MP is the best experience i have ever had online ! this is the only game where you can run for 5 minutes and then get killed and want to go back for more. i have had no connectivity problems nothing at all its all worked wonderfully i may just be lucky (not like me though) IMO its a 9 at least (and thats without the addition of Co-op ). Also loving battlelog i dont know where all the hate is coming from :P

  6. Have had no real issues connecting to games and it has been a very enjoyable lag free experience when I have been playing, a fantastic one I would say.

    I understand the frustration with the Battlelog though personally for me I like it, have it on as I am playing.

    • I’m the same Jambo, zero connection issues, no lag, no DCs. I also like having the Battlelog and how quickly it updates. They’ve seen websites under the BF2 days on the PC like and how well they did stats. But in general the in-game stats screens have enough info for most of the players surely?

  7. Ehm.. I think this is quite harsh especially when you consider that the Xbox 360 version had lots of issues but the other had significantly less.

    • Understandable response but we have to review based on our experiences, not the experiences of others. I’ve yet to sit down and play when some type of network issue hasn’t reared its ugly head, and I’ve played every single night since launch in the States.

      • TSA should in future do an Xbox review and a PS3 review.

      • No offence to you Tonyyeb, but sometimes it’s hard enough getting code for one console, let alone two. Then there’s the time involved going through two versions which potentially could be identical.

      • To be fair I actually think that’s a pretty interesting idea, but as Dan said it simply isn’t feasible. It’d have to be the same reviewer, which commits them to twice the amount of play time etc… which would negatively effect the rest of our coverage.

        As Dan also stated there’s the issue with getting two copies of the game on different platforms. We could buy them, but if we had to buy a second copy for every multiplat we’d go bankrupt.

      • Add that to the fact that TSA does their reviews in a generally un-biased way, and there’s not much need for two reviews. However, if it’s warranted, perhaps a disclaimer could be put that other platforms might have a different experience :P

  8. the connection issues do sound a little harsh, all I’ve experienced is a handful of d/c’s. also in my opinion its easily the best multiplayer I’ve ever played and one of if not the best game i can remember.

    also about the jets, yes there absolutely awful with out any unlocks and are practically impossible to score points in until you get the air to air missiles ( i only managed it by flying over the map and pressing select randomly to mark enemy’s which is surprisingly effective and definitely helps the team) but once you’ve got those you can score 1000+ points a game and will very quickly get all the other unlocks and will easily take down every vehicles on the map with the air to ground missiles and a long range radar. jets really help the team when used with the top unlocks

    • I found the problem to start with was having no flares, and I kind of feel sorry for the low ranks that don’t have them. They’re easy pickings.

      Though I don’t think air-air missiles are that great. I use my mini gun to take down planes so they don’t know if I’ve kept up with their evasive manoeuvres (unless they have radar), and mostly use my missiles on helicopters.

  9. oh and the ‘cons’ aren’t really fair imo. like i said above I’ve only experienced a couple of connection problems and is in no way “terrible” I’d even go as fair as saying its one of the better games for online issues. and the loss of in game stats for battlelog is a sacrifice worth making as battlelog is by far the most comprehensive stat tracking and really is miles better then any in game based service could be. and you’re last con ‘the co-op’ i agree with you on, it does feel tacked on and isn’t quite up to the standard of the rest of the game. but is it really a con? i mean I’d rather have some decent co-op (and it is decent) then not having any at all.

    • As I stated in a comment above, we have to review our specific experience with the game. We can’t gloss over a big issue for us just because others aren’t experiencing it.

      Battlelog is nice but it’s not part of the game and therefor we can’t factor its usefulness in to our review.

      And yes, mediocre co-op is better than no co-op at all, but we have to review every aspect of the game. For any people that were looking forward to the co-op mode, they deserve to know what it’s really like. We can’t give it a free pass just because other aspects of the game are quite good.

      As always, we appreciate the feedback :-)

      • Battlelog is very much part of the game. It’s a free service that adds a huge component to your MP experience and should certainly be factored into a review.

        It’s accessible to all players – for free as part of the package, and the proportion of people who would have an Internet connection but no form or smartphone, PC or laptop would be tiny.

      • My opinion (and this obviously does not represent TSA as a whole) is that it’s not part of the game.

        Peter is right, we have to draw the line somewhere and, for me, the ‘if it’s not on the disc it doesn’t get reviewed’ is probably the most logical place to draw said line. It’s not really about who can access the web to see it, it’s about the fact that you have to completely exit the game and use a separate device to see it.

      • Then by that definition, Catwoman should not have been included in the Batman review…

        And when it’s a MP component, access to the web is guaranteed for use.

      • As I said above, that’s merely my opinion and does not represent TSA as a whole.

        And again, access isn’t where I draw my stance on this. It’s the fact that Battlelog is in no way accessible from the game itself. Even after you register on their website, you have to use an entirely different platform to get the full benefit of Battlelog.

        Yes, there is a feed you can see in-game, but the stats in question are only accessible via the Battlelog itself.

      • It sounds like your complaining about missing the car you used to have, when the Ferrari is sat on the drive.

        The fact that this level of flexibility and depth of the stats is available, then why is it an issue. The fact that you need to use a PC/Laptop/Smartphone isn’t really a defining factor as it’s a very minor trade-off for a far greater system.

      • And it’s not like there there no stats within the game either. If you want a ‘quick glance’ then look in-game, but for more in-depth stuff use Battlelog.

      • Also, don’t forget, the Battlefeed on the main menu of the game is directly linked to Battlelog and gives you a host of info up to and including what attachments, medals, ribbons and guns your friends are using.

      • Closing argument: You and I are in agreement on the usefulness of Battlelog, I just thought that some of those stats should be available in game. If they’re willing to give me a sizable XP bonus for getting 100 kills with one gun, then I feel like I should be able to see how many more kills I need while trying to achieve it, especially since the XP bonus may be the only reason I’m using that weapon.

        I love the Battlelog, I like the feed you can see in game, but 95% of the usefulness that comes with Battlelog has to be activated and viewed on a entirely separate platform. For me, that’s where I draw the line on what is part of the game and what is not.

      • “If they’re willing to give me a sizable XP bonus for getting 100 kills with one gun, then I feel like I should be able to see how many more kills I need while trying to achieve it.”

        This. While it is nice they have this in depth analysis somewhere, it is a pain that it isn’t in the game itself. When playing my PS3, I don’t want to have to sit with a laptop next to me, or go to another room to use my PC. Even for those of us that can assess battlelog, it is an inconvenience. I’m in agreement with Matt and Tony here.

      • *access, even.

      • What other games tell me how many more kills I have to do to get a certain achievement? Uncharted certainly does not when you have to perform X kills with weapon Y. You can’t display all stats ingame. I haven’t seen it yet but I suppose it’s a useful summary. Other games probably don’t give you as many stats as BF3 does and they don’t have dedicated stat sites. Again., this really seems like you are trying your hardest to find faults in this game. I haven’t played it yet and I’m not a fan of competitive MP so I see myself pretty neutral in the shooter discussion but this is just how I feel your opinion comes across..

      • this only really applies to your gun point but theirs actually a bar under each gun telling you how close you are to that service star. yes a number would of been simple but as you get a unlock for every 10 kills you get it’s not hard to work out.

      • And I think my comment comes across a little harsh, which is not my intention. What I tried to say was that you seem nit-picky with BF3. Lime because this is such a huge and hyped release that you have to look extra hard to find small things that bother you. I hope this sounds friendlier. Sorry Matt!

      • Firstly, just because you say “Closing argument” doesn’t bring this discussion to a close.

        Secondly, I’m in agreement that it would’ve been nice, but then where do you draw the line? Gun kills? Vehicle kills? What about accuracy? And time played with each?

      • Relax, I meant *my* closing argument. You and I obviously aren’t going to change each others mind on this so, for me, the debate is over.

        I’m going to stop talking now.

      • I’m not discussing it to try to change your mind though Matt.

        I’m more curious as to what level of integration within the game you would deem acceptable?

  10. I’m having horrible problems with connecting to games so far, putting me off the mp a little.
    Loving it when it works though.

    • what platform are you on dude?
      I’ve heard conflicting things about how robust PS3 connections are. 360 connections seem to be universally criticised but perhaps improving slightly.
      I guess we’re all used to fragile servers in the first week or two after launch but it’s still a shame for anyone who’s sitting in front of their TV getting more and more annoyed at it!

      • Definitely a shame CB, but I’m kind of used to it when buying games day one. BC2 was the same, things will improve after a week or two :)
        Oh, and PS3.

    • multiplayer is good.. is there comming hardcore mode? i hope so as im tired of laying bullets in guys only for them to turn an headshot me….

      • Hardcore mode is already on there. Go to server browser and you can filter for hardcore only servers

    • wtf…… awsome thanks bud… mite try it out tonight.

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