Today's Hard|Forum Post
Today's Hard|Forum Post

Battlefield 3 Multiplayer Performance and IQ Review

Battlefield 3's Multiplayer has far surpassed what many gamers had been expecting. The graphics do a great job of tying the excellent gameplay together and creating a lifelike experience. In this article we'll be breaking down multiplayer gameplay performance and image quality and finding what settings are needed to give you the competitive edge.


Gameplay Summary

Throughout all of our testing it was apparent that the NVIDIA GPU based video cards were providing better performance and more enjoyable gameplay than the AMD GPU based video cards. There were no instances that we found where any AMD card provided better gameplay performance than it's NVIDIA counterpart. We also experienced an issue which we believe to be driver related with all AMD video cards. We experienced an extremely noticeable lag any time there was a large amount of debris flying around, explosions from missiles, grenades or vehicles, or buildings in the environment being destroyed. This was not present on any of the NV based GPUs.

The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 SLI and AMD Radeon HD 6970 CFX were both able to play Battlefield 3 Multiplayer at 2560x1600 with FXAA High, 16X AF, and all Ultra in-game graphics options with HBAO selected. They performed 12-16 average FPS above our 60 average FPS goal with maxed settings and were both enjoyable. In the Apples-to-Apples tests the AMD Radeon HD 6970 CFX had a 1 FPS advantage but the lag during explosions was much more evident than during highest playable settings testing, thus providing a worse gameplay experience.

The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 and AMD Radeon HD 6970 both performed within .2 FPS of each other at 1920x1200 with 16X AF, FXAA High and all Ultra in-game settings including HBAO. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580's performance was favorable without the lag that all AMD cards experienced.

Both the AMD Radeon HD 6950 and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 570 mimicked the GTX 580 and HD 6970 with one difference. They both required Ambient Occlusion to be turned down from HBAO to SSAO. After applying this change the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 570 performed 1.8 average FPS faster than the AMD Radeon HD 6950 at 60.7 FPS.

The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 Ti had more power than the AMD Radeon HD 6870. Both video cards were playable at 1680x1050 and 16X AF, FXAA High, all Ultra in-game settings. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 Ti was able to handle SSAO while the AMD Radeon HD 6870 required Ambient Occlusion turned completely off. During Apples-to-Apples testing the AMD Radeon HD 6870 fell to 38.5 average FPS with high amounts of lag.

Grady's Thoughts

The changes to Antialiasing are welcomed fully. We can still turn on both to 2X and 4X Deferred AA (traditional MSAA). We can also use NVIDIA's new AA technology, FXAA or Antialiasing Post setting, which on "high" provides identical picture quality compared to 4X MSAA with hardly any impact on performance.

Personally this is the most fun I've had in a game that requires higher level skills and allows players to broaden their personal play style in a way never before created. The game is formatted to give anyone that loves guns the ability to customize and build these in whatever way best helps them frag more opponents.

Compared to MW3, which I have on both PC and Xbox, I have not even played a total of 2 hours on both versions of the game combined. MW3 just does not stack up or compete with Battlefield 3 which goes above and beyond the call of duty.

The Frostbite II engine in BF3 is just downright sexy on the PC in every way we have looked at it. It takes full advantage of the DirectX 11 API which is exactly what we as gamers and enthusiasts have been waiting for. The improved environment destruction is an elegant touch which gives you limited places to hide before enemy artillery takes out your strong hold. The refined physics are also a huge plus, as it feels the way you would expect it to if you were running through a dark back ally with air strikes flying in around you assaulting the ground. The future of PC gaming is here!

The Bottom Line

Battlefield 3 is the most realistic first person shooter ever created. BF3 has raised the bar FAR BEYOND any of its competition, and it will likely stay on top for a good while. BF3 has single-handedly raised the expectation for the entire future of FPS games. You can never get enough of the multiplayer experience in Battlefield 3 and will keep coming back for more.

With such a great game comes the need for good hardware. The NVIDIA based video cards took the top frag count in all of our tests. The best "budget" value card is the GeForce GTX 570 for $289.99 after MIR or a Radeon HD 6950 for $219.99 after MIR, which both provided great gameplay at 1080p. If you want even more performance you're going to have to open your wallet a bit more. Radeon HD 6970 cards are still coming down in price and can be had for $319.99 after MIR, while the more pricey GeForce GTX 580 can be had for $439.99. The GeForce GTX 560 Ti and Radeon HD 6870 are on the verge of becoming outdated and struggled with the game even at 1680x1050 making these a less appealing investment.