Frostbite 2 was built from the ground up for use in Battlefield 3. The engine does not have native support for DirectX 9.0 (and thus will not run on Windows XP).
The new game engine was built from scratch, designed with flexibility in mind, allowing the developer to create assets more freely and not limiting the scope and diversity of said assets, including map variety/scale among other things.
Note: DICE no longer stylizes Frostbite versions with point releases as of Frostbite 2.
The engine also expands on past Battlefield aspects with its five main pillars:
- Animation - "A new level of FPS realism"
- Destruction - "Annihilate buildings, demolish cover". Expanding the destructibility mechanic first implemented in the Bad Company games.
- Audio - "Award winning immersion and atmosphere"
- Scale - "Huge detailed landscape. Dense urban areas"
- Rendering - "Cinematic image quality, lighting and effects"
The game will be using EA' s ANT animation technology (from its sports games) for its character animations. DICE is creating two separate set of animations: one for the AI and the other for live players in multi-player. The developers aim to reduce the 'gliding' effect seen in online shooters where the players feel disconnected while taking sudden turns and changing direction. The new animation system turns the head and gun before turning the soldier's body, bringing the movements closer to reality.
Frostbite 2 delivers three types of destruction:
- Micro destruction - Destructible objects around the player, like cover and micro wall destruction.
- Scale destruction - Entire buildings can crumble and fall over.
- Set-piece destruction - Big scripted destruction events, the highlight of which is earthquakes, from small tremors to tremendous seismic activity that will destroy entire buildings.
DICE is updating their approach to sound design, traditionally one of most praised features in the Battlefield franchise. As described by the team: instead of aiming for a more cinematic audio (seen in Bad Company 2), they have decided to approach the sound like it was part of a documentary. The resulting soundscape is "much cleaner", making it easier for players to pinpoint any specific event using subtle audio cues. DICE recorded weapon, chopper and tank sounds close up to help players gauge their relative distance and make a decision whether these objects are moving towards or away from them on the battlefield. In addition, the sound system is in control of the camera. For example, when an explosion goes off, there's a camera shake, and that is triggered by the sound since the world responds to the sound rather than having no connection between the visual effects and the sound effects.
Using Frostbite 2, DICE is able to create both big landscapes and small interior areas, and is able to have both in one level.
The new engine serves both artists and designers, something DICE has never been able to have before. Changes to the game can be added immediately. The engine supports unlimited light sources, allowing the placement of hundreds of light sources in a single room and increasing the level of realism
The new engine features the following lighting updates: