There's something to be said about a game that encourages teamwork while still providing both enough of a challenge and reward for going in with a group, versus running solo. It's something that a lot of modern FPS titles have all but given up on. Sure we get those documentary style videos highlighting the importance of teamwork to take objectives, eliminate players and call in air strikes, but the fact remains that most mainstream games simply aren't built to handle teamwork. It would be too alienating to have players constantly work together in every single title, when most are just interested in jumping online and racking up as many kills as they could possibly imagine. Hence my appreciation for the Battlefield series, which has always put two gameplay elements first and foremost: Teamwork, and blowing stuff up.
This isn't to say that I don't like going online and mindlessly mowing down hordes of faceless enemy soldiers like in Call of Duty, but the fact of the matter is that that sort of gameplay just gets tiring after a while. There are very few instances where any Battlefield game has become stale with me though, simply because there's too much to do and it never quite plays the same way twice. Enemies holding themselves up in a nearby building could be working well enough to defend against my C4 assaults, but may succumb to my partner who is laying down rocket after rocket into their concrete fortress in an attempt to topple it. Battlefield has always been a series where victories are often times determined by how well a team is able to come together, and how well individual units are able to determine exactly where their true usefulness lies.
Enter Battlefield 3, a game where I've set expectations so high that I can't possibly even imagine all of them being met. Prior titles have let me take hold of a tank, blast apart a building, hop out and heal a wounded team member before capturing an objective, all the while marking targets in the distance for snipers to pick off. Now replay that entire scenario, only featuring the elements that are to be introduced in Battlefield 3. My tank will fire into a building, and the damage won't simply blow away a wall but in addition will shake the foundation of the building itself as splash damage ripples across the already strained concrete. I'll hop out of the tank not only just to heal a wounded teammate, but drag him into safety beforehand to ensure we both don't get picked off. Holding an objective before was a matter of covering all entrances, but now I can take advantage of the game's constantly changing battleground by mounting a weapon on nearby fallen rubble. Also, there will be jets.
It's nice to know that the graphics in the game will be improved as well, but honestly it's not like a Battlefield title has even been terrible to look at before. Being one of the only titles to feature destructible environments, team-oriented gameplay, and vehicular combat makes the series stand out among a wave of modern day shooters that really only aspire to be 'the next CoD'. Though it may be true that Battlefield can be an absolutely vicious game to play without a good preset squad (strangers don't always understand how the game works), I'm more readily able to accept losing because my team simply couldn't work together rather than because one person was able to more effectively camp than I was.
Perhaps this is biased of me, and if it means I'm a terrible gamer than so be it, but I'm more psyched for Battlefield 3 than I've ever been for any other FPS title that's ever really come prior. No one else out there seems to have the nerve to try and imitate DICE's work, and that's kept the series one of the freshest experiences out there on console or PC. There's no doubt in my mind that Battlefield 3 will not only continue the tradition, but raise the bar even higher. It makes me sad that I'll be stuck sitting around in Bad Company 2 until beta this October, but as long as even half the options slated to hit Battlefield 3 make it into the full game, the wait will be worth it.