If you are in the open beta for Battlefield 3, you are going to be using the Battlelog system, for those of you who haven’t used it yet, it is in effect, a social hub for the game. I’m going to be talking about how it is used on the PC as I haven’t played around with it from a console players perspective.
Battlelog, as it is being used at the moment, removes the need for in-game menus where you select what game mode you want to play and takes your stat tracking systems away from the proper. This is all stripped back to the website interface, in what is really a very slick system.
When you log in to the Battlelog you have a wide range of options available to you, primarily you are going to be able to choose whether you want to play a quick match in multiplayer, take part in a co-operative mission or play the single-player campaign mode. For now, during the beta period you are limited to the multiplayer links. From here, you can select a Quick Mactch which will find you a server based on your prescribed filters without you having to worry about a thing. If that doesn’t take your fancy, you can look at the server browser where you can customise the filters yourself and chose a server from the list that is then generated.
The best part is that this all takes place outside of the game, once you find a server to join, only then does the game load up and connect you to the server right away. Of course, if you weren’t able to see what your friends were doing it would be fairly limited, fortunately there is a Com Centre which shows you what friends of yours are online and what server they are playing on. So, if you only want to play at a certain time with a group of friends, you can easily log on to Battlelog and see who is ready for a game. You don’t need the game running, and more importantly you don’t even need Origin running at this point. It is a fast and easy way to see who is playing.
I have seen people complaining that Battlelog is too much like Facebook, but what is wrong with that on the basic level? You can easily see how your friends are doing in the game and what they have unlocked and joining a friend in game, or inviting them to join yourself is a doddle. In a world where multiplayer games are becoming ever more popular, surely it is a good thing that we have this tool to better interact with our friends.
Platoons are a great feature for clans and brings the interaction up another notch. You can simply create a platoon for your clan which provides you with a simple hub for all of your in-game actions. There promises to be platoon leaderboards, so my trusty -=256=- clan will be able to keep an eye on the 7DR chaps to ensure we keep ahead of them in the rankings.
It is still early days for the service, and we will have a better grasp of all of ins and outs when Battlefield 3 is released later this month, but for now I am pleased with what is available. Will this become a growing trend for online games, I’m not convinced that the user base is entirely sold on the idea yet, but it has great potential to drastically increase the levels of community interaction in our games today. At the end of the day, that is a good thing.