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Battlefield 3 release date, beta announced at E3

EA and DICE fire a massive salvo at the gaming confab with the reveal of Battlefield 3's release date, a beta, videos of various modes, and a new Battlelog service.

Can Battlefield 3 overtake Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 as the top next-gen first-person shooter? EA/DICE

DICE took the stage during EA's E3 2011 press conference in Los Angeles today to reveal lots of new goodies for gamers to gush about regarding Battlefield 3.

After three years of development, the release date for the latest game in the hit franchise has been confirmed for October 25 for PC, Xbox 360, and PS3. For those of you who can't wait much longer, there will be a multiplatform open beta in September.

The Swedish gaming studio also announced Battlelog, a social-oriented addition to the game that enables players to manage their friends list; create squads and platoons; or check out in-depth real-time statistics. Battlelog will be free, which is a slight jab at the similarly featured Call of Duty Elite paid service.

During the E3 update, the Swedish gaming studio first showed off a video boasting the effects and capabilities of the integrated Frostbite 2.0 game engine (above), which is used to render the explosive encounters players often run across in battle. Environments shown off during the in-game footage demo were lush, full of detail, and nearly cinematic. Definitely an improvement over any existing Battlefield. Draw distance (how far you can see into the horizon) in the desert seemed to go on for miles. The Frostbite footage ended with a scene of a 10-story building falling on a player in first-person view, which is probably how I'll die first when I play.

The presentation then transitioned to a tantalizing online multiplayer video (above), which revealed more of a new map--Metro--based in the center of Paris.

Afterward, an extensive live demo of single player mode was shown, where the player is situated in a tank rolling across the Tehran Desert. After a long trek, combat breaks out and massive amounts of smoke and dust kick up as a result of tank rounds flying everywhere. With visibility decreased, the driver switches to a never-before-seen green-hued thermal view and continues to lob rounds. Then the jaw-dropping moment happens. Switching spots from the gunner, the player takes the helm of a UAV built into the tank, which controls a spyplane that can target and launch missiles wherever one wishes.

Gamers can preorder Battlefield 3 for $59, which is bundled with the Back to Karkand expansion that includes maps, weapons, vehicles, and unique rewards from Battlefield 2.