Although I was excited about Battlefield 3, trying to get it up and running was tortuous. I don’t know if EA or DICE (or both) were responsible, but I do know that it sucked. For reference, my core specs are 3GB RAM, ATI HD 4890 @ 935 MHz core/1100 MHz memory (OC), Intel E8400 Core 2 Duo @ 3.2 GHz (OC), Win7 64-bit. Not totally up-to-date, but still fairly respectable.
Now the problems. I couldn’t get Battlelog to even run with the plugin crashing every single time I tried to do anything. This occurred in Chrome, Firefox, and IE (all latest versions). The campaign wouldn’t launch almost every time I tried playing it, and when it did, the game either crashed, hung on a black screen (which required a hard reset, ugh), hung on a black screen with infinitely stuttering audio (which also required a hard reset), or played at abysmal frame rates with stuttering audio (I’m talking literally 1 frame every 10 seconds).
Multiplayer? Surely you jest. Pretty much the same problems or it got stuck on Connecting. One time I got to Loading Level and once I actually got into a match, only to encounter stuttering audio and 1 frame/10 seconds again. Basically, the whole game was unplayable. I tried many solutions, but nothing worked.
At that point in time, my comp had been running the same original installation of Windows 7 for about 2+ years. I had hoped it would last longer before a reformat/reinstall was required, but sadly performance had been degrading for months already. I mention this because while a cleaning was needed, all my other games (and I have a lot) had been performing pretty much as well as ever.
After fighting with BF3 some more, I just said the heck with it and wiped out everything after backing up my data. Post Win7 reinstall, the game installed fine and then it started acting up again, saying it was waiting for me to finish the install. After solving that problem and enduring more hanging when trying to launch multiplayer games and the campaign, I finally got it working (at the end an additional MSVC++ update was required but wasn’t showing up immediately in Windows Update for some reason). Since then, it’s run pretty much OK; the game runs smoothly, even on my older 4890. This is undoubtedly helped by the fact that I’m stuck on a 1280×1024 monitor (which I hate), not to mention that the system hasn’t been totally clogged up again. I have noticed one annoying problem where when one round finishes and the next should start (ie, the post-game report timer reaches 0), it just sits at a black screen and does nothing. At least I can Alt+Tab out of it, kill it, and start the game again without resorting to a hard reset like before.
So I don’t know the actual root cause for the stuttering, crashes, and terrible framerate, but at least it seems OK now. What I do know is that getting this game installed and running has been, without a doubt, the absolute worst game software-related experience I have ever had. This has left a decidedly bad taste in my mouth, but I still don’t really know who’s to blame. Origin is not my cup of tea, nor is the browser based hub. Sure, it works, but it just seems kind of clunky. And why does it bother saying Loading Level and then Playing, when you still have to wait for it to actually finish loading the level when BF comes up? Odd.
Anyway, now that I can finally play it, I’ve found BF3 to be very fun (many hours have already been lost), although i can tell unlocking everything will take quite a while. I haven’t gotten to all the gadgets and goodies yet, but there’s definitely a lot of cool stuff in there. See you on the battlefield.