Let me just start by saying that Battlefield 3, the PC version, was one of my favourite games of 2011. The single-player campaign was a little meh, but I’ve come to expect that from the single-player portion of pretty much all modern military themed shooters since Call of Duty 4.
The multiplayer component, however, is a true spectacle to behold.
The Frostbite 2 engine is unparalleled in terms of rendering prowess, the sprawling maps provide some of the most epic battleground backdrops I’ve ever encountered, the gameplay is balanced and solid, and the ranking system and endless unlocks provide the much-needed longevity that has kept many playing for hundreds of hours.
With that all said, it’s pretty easy to see why it was one of my favourite games of 2011. Indeed, I’d argue it’s one of the best games ever. And that makes it one of the worst-made best games ever, because for all its greatness, it’s also one of the buggiest, most volatile pieces of AAA entertainment software I have ever played with.
The problems I have experienced range from random corrupted game files which required me to either run the repair process or completely reinstall the game from scratch, to the more common “disconnected from EA Online” error message, which happens with disgraceful irregularity. My favourite, however, is a bug which began raising its ugly head after the last patch. In roughly 1 out of 4 games I join, I am greeted by a sub-10 frames per second frame rate, and the only way to fix it is to restart the game entirely.
But you don’t have to take my word for it. There seem to be hundreds of other bugs affecting countless users, and the most impressive part is the sheer variety and volume of the seemingly unique problems there are out there. I’ve heard from players whose games regularly crash their entire PCs or cause the ever faithful Windows BSOD error. There are also multiple examples of different audio issues, not to mention the game’s annoying aversion to being minimized – although again, this is a problem that many complain about, whilst many others have never experienced.
Having spent around 100 hours playing Battlefield 3, I’ve given a lot of thought – mostly while waiting for the game to reboot following a crash – to its inherent bugginess. I noticed that it seems to be a problem common with PC exclusives, or in this case, a game which was not simply ported from console, but optimised to take full advantage of the PC’s horsepower. This is particularly true of PC games which push limits technically. The Witcher 2 and Empire: Total War spring to mind as games which suffered a similar fate in the first few months following their launch, but were ultimately patched to a reasonably stable state.
Is it something inherent with focused PC game development? Does it have something to do with developers pushing the limits of PC hardware that cause such an overwhelming variety of bugs and problems in certain games? If it is, then I for one am willing to let it slide, at least as long as we can count on support from the developers and patches that will eventually sort things out.
As for Battlefield 3, it may well be one of the worst-made best games ever, but things are looking up. DICE announced just the other day that a massive patch will soon be released, and I am faithfully hoping that it will take us one step closer to a bug-free gameplay experience.