Battlefield 3: Great Game with Terrible Usability
4 min read

Battlefield 3: Great Game with Terrible Usability

Battlefield is a great game. I played one of the previous games and in my opinion it is one of the best team-oriented games. What makes Battlefield a great game? Here's only a few reasons why.

Team-Oriented Game
Although the game is yet another shooter, what sets it apart is the focus on teams. Unlike Call of Duty games wherein one good player can mean the difference between a win or a loss, battlefield is different. Your objective (except in Team Deathmatch) requires that members of each time work together even in the slightest sense. In game types like destroying a particular location, you work with people to distract the enemy, go to the objective or support people near the objective. If you don't play a particular role or if there are too many people in some roles, most likely, you will lose. Going all Rambo isn't the best of strategies. Although I don't talk in-game I try and be a part in the team whether supporting people or being the one that goes for the objective.

Vehicles Add Strategy
Vehicles isn't just a new way to kill a bunch of your enemies. Actually, it is but in a variety of different ways! In a helicopter you could take 4 team members and rush an objective. You can fly a different helicopter and unleash hell. You could ride a tank while your teammate blows up buildings to eliminate snipers. Vehicles although powerful could also easily be countered with RPGS, landmines, etc.

Huge Maps
Battlefield games take advantage of the above points by having huge maps.  I enjoy sniping people from a mountain or hill estimating the distance, bullet drop and lag. Having large maps also adds new strategies. It doesn't have a lot of "choke points".

Just recently, Battlefield developers DICE released the BETA or pre-final game for people to test out. I had a chance to be part of it and here is what I think.

Much Improved Engine
One thing that I liked call of duty better was in the engine. The shooting mechanics felt sharper and overall better. With the Battlefield 3 (BF3) beta, I felt it had the improvements. I could finally be more confident rushing and shooting with more precision.

Horrible, Horrible Horrible Usability
The core gameplay is fantastic but the everything before that is horrendous. I can't emphasize it more.How bad is it? First, you need to install EA's Origin (Digital Media Store). Second, Install a plug-in in your browser. A browser you say? Yes you find servers and matches through your browser. THEN, you load the game. It does not end there. It's your first time playing? Most probably you want to fiddle with the settings. You have to join a game to edit the settings and you have to be alive in-game to do it. So in a sense, after all that trouble, you're first just standing there adjusting your settings or controls. I have also heard that to join a particular squad you have to do it in the browser. If you decide to switch squads, you have to exit the game then go back to the browser.

Let's repeat. To get to the game:

  • Load EA's Origin, choose BF3
  • Load BF3 Battlelog in your browser
  • Find a match then launch the game
    That's not usable. It's a punishment to the user. Let's imagine a different example for a moment. What if the same happened to Microsoft Word. First, launch office to choose an office application. Second, you got to the browser to choose a file or create a new one. Finally, after selecting one, Word finally launched. Crazy.

If this is the setup then EA's Origin should be eliminated from the procedure. What's it's purpose now? Just to collect your data? It becomes a software to launch a launcher of a game.

**Priority Should be User Convenience** Without an official word from the developers on why this is their approach, one can only guess. I've read that  this approach would allow the Battlelog to be updated separately from the game. It would lessen patches to the actual game. Yes that's a very valid reason but a very terrible design choice.

The focus of a program or software is to be able to do the task it was designed for and be usable. As I have learned much on the book "Simple and Usable", developers should hide complexity from the user. Lessen the steps to achieve a task. Make a user be in control. Don't punish the user.

The game is still in beta but this is a design decision that can not be changed because they built it to be this way. Fortunately, the game is still awesome. I have yet to see the full game so there could still be even more fun to be had to the game. Will I buy the game? I don't know yet. It's sad to see a great game that is troubled not by bugs but by design decisions. I hope they implement something to at least reduce all the hassle.

**Update: **If you try going to the battlelog site then launching the game from they're well it'll just reverse things. Browser>Origin>Game