The Frag Limit

Battlefield 3 – Browser Based Content
May 10, 2012, 5:14 pm
Filed under: Side Strafe | Tags: , , , ,

Dice is doing something new.  Or, at least, they are doing something partially new with the way first-person shooters handle game content.  In Dice’s latest release (Battlefield 3), the company has made the decision to offload a wide array of content that has traditionally been incorporated into each standalone game installation.  They are accomplishing this by exporting this content into a browser-based, web format.  The content that has been offloaded in bf3 includes such things as player statistics, friend communication, friend status, item information, sponsor promotion and even the server browser!  This unique approach to handling this type of content is semi-groundbreaking – it has been done before (Steam, 3rd party modifications, etc.), but never has it been done to this extent.  One question invariably arises from this bold action on Dice’s part, and that is this: Does this system of offloading content actually work or somehow make the game experience any better than the traditional way of doing things?

My opinion is yes.  This system (known as Battlelog) does work and it does make the FPS game experience a little bit better (as opposed to not having it at all).  Battlelog is fast, easy and intuitive.  And it is an excellent method for accessing all of the important information and user content that is not directly related to playing the game and being inside the game world itself.  Battlelog allows players to quickly log into Origin (the publisher’s online platform which hosts Battlelog) and then to find a game, review personal statistics, research weapons and communicate with friends, etc, all “on the fly”.  Additionally, there is even a social media aspect to Battlelog as players can view a stream of their friends activity and how they are progressing in throughout the game.  This social element has all the standard things that most social sites have and players can comment on their friends progress, create and maintain a group (clan), message one another and even “like” each other’s activities.

Other advantages of offloading content to Battlelog also means no more relying on varying, and often incompatible, types of 3rd party programs to keep track of statistics, clan communications, player progress and the like.  In the “old days”, players had to download various applications to handle all of the things that are now neatly taken care of by Battlelog.  This centralizing of game content into a form which is consumable and accessible to all players improves ease of use and content effectiveness, while combating problems such as software incompatibilities and technical conflicts.  Additionally, the browser-based structure of Battlelog works well in translating content into different consumable methodologies (given the nature of the internet) and allows players to review Battlelog on their phone, tablet, or other emerging portable device.

Overall, I really like Battlelog and, to be honest, I can’t really think of any major problems with its design, its theory and its execution.  Of course, there may be some minor gripes – such as user experience inconsistencies and the getting use to a “new way of doing things”.  But these complaints are relatively minor.  And I am sure that in the future, as this type of format grows and evolves, issues of juggling between a browser screen and a windowed instance of the game will be resolved – or, at least, will be seen as normal, acceptable and commonplace.  Battlefield 3 may not hit the mark in a number of ways (especially in relation to not providing a worthwhile platform for competition), but in the case of Battlelog, the game succeeds admirably.  And, it is this kind of smart thinking and creative action that we hope to see more of in helping to continue the long, great legacy that is FPS gaming.

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