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Battlefield: Play4Free announced

Free-to-play realistic PC Battlefield FPS.

EA's announced a realistic first-person free-to-play PC Battlefield game set in the modern theatre of war and designed to appear to hardcore shooter fans.

It's called Battlefield: Play4Free, and looks like a cross between Battlefield 2 and Battlefield: Bad Company 2 – indeed it employs the fourth generation of the PC engine that was used to create BF2, Battlefield 2142 and Battlefield Heroes.

Unlike the cartooney Battlefield Heroes, released last year, Play4Free is a gritty military FPS. It's created by the team behind Heroes at EA's free-to-play division at DICE, Easy Studios.

There's vehicular warfare, sandbox gameplay and 32-player battles. It combines popular maps from Battlefield 2 with familiar classes and weapons from Battlefield: Bad Company 2. It's got 16 vehicles, including the F-35 jet fighter and the Russian T-90 tank.

It also simulates the career progression of a professional soldier. Players can learn skills, buy new equipment and weapons to craft a unique soldier.

Visually, weapon models from Bad Company 2 are used. Post-processing effects like film grain, colour grading and depth of field are also included.

With Play4Free, Easy's aimed to create a fast-paced modern shooter for fans of the likes of Bad Company 2, Medal of Honor and Call of Duty.

"We're filling those other moments in the day," Easy boss Ben Cousins told Eurogamer.

"Maybe you want to play a single-player game on console. Maybe it's you and four buddies playing in a squad on console. This is more about you jumping in with 32 players, maybe playing against strangers, a bit more of an RPG experience, more of an MMO way of approaching things.

"On the surface, it looks like, why would I ever play a console title again? But there are differences and different moments there, I think."

Like Heroes, however, Play4Free will employ a micro-transaction-based business model.

"Five per cent of the audience buy stuff. 95 per cent of people never spend any money at all," Cousins explained.

"Five per cent want to customise their character, they want to look cool, they want a slightly cooler weapon, they feel they can get advantage over other players by buying stuff. Those guys fund the experience for everyone else. It's a classic free-to-play business model, which we're really comfortable with and we've got really good at now."

There will be links between Heroes, Play4Free and Battlefield 3 in the future, "to reward you for keeping in the ecosystem and jumping from game to game."

If you hit level 15 in Heroes, for example, you could unlock an exclusive item in Play4Free. If you hit a certain level in Play4Free, you could get access to special content in BF3.

Closed beta sign-ups start today, with the closed beta opening on 30th November. The game goes live into open beta early next year.