Battlefield: Bad Company 1 and 2 were "adventure flicks", according to lead designer David Goldfarb.
Battlefield 3, however, goes "much closer to contemporary reality and current events".
"We're depicting a war and everything that suggests," wrote Goldfarb on the Battlefield blog.
"We have tried to get closer to the slang of the modern warrior. We are mixing tension-building passages with the chaos of suddenly erupting firefights. We've sought to keep the game feeling as plausible as possible, because the moment the audience stops believing it could happen, then you're just like every other shooter."
Goldfarb said DICE "loved" making Battlefield: Bad Company 1 and 2. They were "great fun" and "light hearted". "In essence, they were adventure flicks," reckons Goldfarb, "Indiana Jones with an assault rifle."
"But with Battlefield 3, we knew we had to really divorce ourselves from those characters and those themes. We had to go somewhere else and do something different and push a different set of buttons.
"We're telling a war story now," he added, "and that means it needs to feel credible, it needs to feel contemporary, and it needs to connect with things and emotions that we have never really tried or had the means to properly connect to before."
Ensuring the tone was right in Battlefield 3 was Goldfarb's proudest accomplishment.
"Tone is vibe," he wrote. "It's style. It's a feeling. It's why The Dark Knight is awesome and the '60s Batman is not; the difference between Saving Private Ryan and Hogan's Heroes. It's one of those things which, if you do it right, affects everything.
"More than anything else in Battlefield 3's single-player story, this is where we set out to do something different."
In Battlefield 3, the story is told through the recollections of US Marine Henry "Black" Blackburn. You'll also see through the eyes of armed forces from around the world.
"We put [players] in challenging situations. We ask them questions. In Battlefield 3, we ask: What would you really do for your country?
"We've tried to put our people in contexts where they make emotionally valid choices."
Goldfarb believes that that has made Battlefield 3 a "stronger, more emotional and more immersive" experience as as result.