Battlefield 3 Battlelog: the changing face of PC gaming

The first time I launched Battlefield 3 on Windows, a browser window appeared with the Battlefield website. I wondered to myself “did I click the wrong button?”. It turns out I didn’t.

For those living under a rock, Battlefield is no web game, in fact it’s one of the most anticipated AAA game titles of this year. What initially seemed like a bad idea to most PC gaming enthusiasts including myself is now growing on me. In fact, this may actually be a sign of PC gaming evolving for the better.

For most current PC games, playing them involves finding and launching it from the Start menu full of other applications, sit through unnecessarily long and repetitive logos and introduction videos, wait for menus to load before waiting again for the actual game to load. Compound that with fancy but poor faux-user interfaces, everything besides the game can be rather tedious.

In contrast for Battlefield 3, it takes just seconds to sign in to the “Battlelog” portal which undeniably resembles Facebook complete with “Hooahs!” instead of “Likes”. However with one click of a “Join game” button, it launches the game application straight into the match with loading times in seconds, rarely seen in any game of its genre before.

While Battlefield 3 isn’t the first PC game to tie some aspects of the game to a browser – Quake Live made its debut as a browser game, it’s much more refined with drag-and-drop party management, integrated voice chat and more.

Granted the current beta of the game and website is undeniably buggy, by having the actual game and its out-of-game management tasks clearly separated not only by design but by code, it also allows the game developers to fix one without relying on the other like they have already.

As a forum post on the popular gaming forum “NeoGAF” best puts it, “Battlefield 3’s Battlelog and server browser is risky, bold, but absolutely brilliant”, I can’t help but agree. Although I would add not only is it pushing the boundaries of the genre, but evolving the PC gaming experience much more social and engaging experience than its console equivalents.

What’s amusing is that console gamers too will have to log on to this portal to check their achievements and stats, but not have the ability to hop straight into a game.

Finally, if you’re wondering the game is as good as it’s hyped up to be, it’s pretty awesome. Although I must state the “Operation Metro” map in the beta is a poor representation of the game. From the few hours I had the chance to play the 64-players Caspian Border, the game will be worth every penny.

27 insightful thoughts

  1. This is what’s wrong with BF3. People shouldn’t have to be taken to the browser to do anything. EVERYTHING should be kept in-game. Because of this, I won’t even be thinking about picking BF3 up. MW3 it is!

    1. But if you think about it, everything you need to do besides the actual game part with the guns and running, the browser is perfect for it – looking at player stats, finding a server, matchmaking with friends.

      1. Because it’s a website – it’s fast, familiar, I can open multiple tabs, I can share a link via the URL, I can copy and paste content, I can zoom in/out, etc..

      2. “X is better than Y because it is X” is nonsensical reasoning. A website isn’t necessarily fast: depending on your browser it can even be slow. An in-game UI can be fast -regardless- who runs it. Familiarity.. you still have to get to grips with their website’s layout and UI choices, same as you would in an ingame client. Opening multiple tabs… for launching games and checking achievements, really?

        The thing is, doing this sort of thing as a website definitely has its advantages, but it also has some drawbacks. There’s a reason native apps thrive on smartphones for instance when there are perfectly good websites available offering the same services. No matter how much zooming and url sharing you could do, sometimes a simple, tailored, native UI just works best.

  2. If Operation Metro is a poor representation of the rest of the game, then my head will explode when the final product is released. Now back to the BETA. #addicted

  3. PC gaming has always needed a bit more ‘pizzaz’ to become truly impressive and this is a perfect example of the ‘pizzaz’ being added.

  4. I totally disagree. The horrible requirement to first install Origin, then install the game in Origin, try to start the game but instead get sent to the browser, install a browser plugin, close the browser ’cause the plugin install didn’t work, then click on play Battlefield 3, get sent back to the browser, try find a good server, click play, wait for Battlefield 3 to load, have it load windowed instead of fullscreen, then have it go back to windowed mode between every match, not be able to exit or change options between matches (!?), and not have it integrated with Steam where every single one of my other recent games and gaming friends already are is total, epic, fail.

    Why didn’t they just go with Steam? Most PC gamers already have Steam running in the background all the time. All our friends are on Steam. Achievements, stats, all the social stuff you could ever want, it’s already there, already integrated. You can even pull up your Steam friends while in game, chat, join their server, quickly pull up a web browser, check achievements, etc. So much better than leaving the game to switch out to a browser window. It’s actually better in nearly every way…

  5. What about the fact that when i click joi from the browser it doesnt do anything at all just stops never even get into the program

      1. thanks ill give it a shot just seems like ive turned off the laptop all the way and still nothing First RO2 now BF3 PC shooters dont like me anymore seems like

  6. Long, this seems like such a good idea that a lot of people will love once they try it. I like how it loads quickly, and is similar to Facebook. Do you think having the game within this kind of setup will attract more users than if it was just launched from the startup menu?

  7. I haven’t played this game yet. It seems it is exciting game. I will my friend about this information that you have shared. <a href=”http://projectmanagementacademy.net/seattle/pmp-training.php”>PMP Seattle</a>

  8. I will ask my brother to buy this game. It is because I’ve seen previews of this via videos online and it seems interesting to play.

  9. I completely disagree with the article. Battlelog is an EPIC FAIL as a server browser and game launcher. It’s OK as a social network and would be fine if it was optional as Autolog is for the latest “Need For Speed” games. But forcing users to install the Origin client + the web plugin (which also took me multiple tries and browser restarts to get working properly) + use Battlelog as a server browser and game launcher (+ all the other crap that goes with it) is just horrendously user-hostile design. I also hate the framentation of friends and community that comes with Origin and would much prefer to play using Steam; this just screams “greedy control-freak publisher” to me.

    I was really looking forward to the game and I did enjoy “Caspian Border” tremendously (Op Metro was just a camper fest), but the Battlelog “experience” completely ruined the game for me. Unless EA/Dice drops this crap, I’m not going to get the game. Luckily, there are options…

  10. Stupid. The game looks awesome and I can’t even play it because I the STUPID browser launching system unnecessarily complicates things. Seriously!?! Why can’t I just install the game, launching it the old way, and hop on a server!?! What was wrong with that! Did Dice and EA feel the need to jack everything up with a utterly moronic layers of BS I have to go to just to play the game! Whoever said “oh wow battlelog sounds great” and ok’d this ridiculous system should be fired. And I say that with all sincerity.

  11. DRM kills every new game and BF3 is loaded. playing thru a browser? WTF? 60fps MAX? its like shitty steam all over again with a bunch of shit talking kiddie achievement whores.
    WHAT A CONSOLE PORTED PIECE OF SHIT! LUCKY I GOT MY $ BACK.

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