Battlefield 3 is nearing its October 25th release date and information about each platform’s release is starting to pour in. One notable piece of information concerns the optional hard drive install for the Xbox 360 version of Battlefield 3. We reported earlier that the FPS would come on two DVDs for the Xbox 360, and a BF3 producer had been quoted in stating that the DVDs could be installed to the system to enable "optional high resolution textures." At the time, I had assumed that the optional install would merely boost the (already) HD (high definition) image; however, according to Shack News the game will be only standard definition without the hard drive installation.
The PC will always have HD resolutions available, assuming your rig can handle it.
Executive producer Partick Bach explains that Battlefield 3 is based around a streaming texture engine where the terrain, textures, and content are all streamed in, and is a new way of doing things on the console (though not the gaming industry as a whole). Unfortunately, it looks like the concern many gamers had in regards to the Xbox 360’s DVD drive not being able to stream high quality textures fast enough have been realized. Both the PC and the Playstation 3 on the other hand, are able to stream the necessary HD textures from the hard drive (PC) and Blu-Ray disc (PS3).
Mr. Bach further explains that because there are so many Xbox 360s with either no hard drives or (nearly useless) 4 GB drives, the company had to develop the Xbox version such that even a system with no hard drive could at least play the game, even at the expense of image quality. "You could call it a ‘standard-def’ version for the 360 if you don’t have a hard-drive." What is still unclear is what exactly he means by standard definition. Whether that means the game will be limited to a 480p resolution without the optional hard drive installation or high definition (720p+) resolutions with relatively lower resolution textures is not certain (though likely the later rather than the former, if I had to guess).
What this means for Xbox 360 gamers, in the end, is that the game will be quite a bit more expensive than previously thought if they want the full experience after factoring in the cost of an (outrageously priced) Microsoft hard drive. Are you planning on buying the Xbox version?