Shooter fans were thrilled at the first details and teaser for Battlefield 3 last week, but unfortunately we've got some news bound to upset a few, courtesy of the latest issue of Game Informer as interpreted by NeoGAF.
Contrary to previous speculation, the total amount of classes is set at four -- presumably we'll see the Recon, Medic, Assault, and Engineer classes returning as in Bad Company 2. Most longtime fans prefer the wider variety of classes Battlefield 2 offered, for example (Special Forces, Support, and Anti-Tank being the ones missing), so this will likely come as a blow for some. It's quite likely developer DICE are enhancing and tweaking the classes, however, so the final result may not be as harsh as feared.
Next is definitely a hard pill to swallow for the PC community: no mod tools at release, and maybe none afterward. DICE says it's due to the nature of the Frostbite 2.0 engine -- evidently it's rather complex and the tools would have to be dumbed down. Under these circumstances, for them it might be effort better spent elsewhere. This does mean the base game should be all the better for the engine, but many PC players would likely rather a lesser experience in that regard if it meant a bustling mod community. Battlerecorder is being looked into, however.
Update: we've gotten hold of the article ourselves now, and it seems things are not as dim as they appeared. Here's the full quote regarding mod tools:
"We will not deliver mod tools in the way that we delivered them for Battlefield 2," executive producer Patrick Bach says. "Creating mod tools today - dumbing them down - takes a lot of energy and what we are discussing more every day is, 'Where do we put our focus?' Right now our focus is to create the best possible multiplayer, single-player and co-op game - the core game of Battlefield 3. We're still discussing how we handle modifications of any kind."
On the topic of classes, Bach says four is the "sweet spot", and reminds of the extensive amount of customization per class available in Bad Company 2.
On the positive side: Frostbite 2.0 is said to be a rewrite of all significant systems, particularly rendering; destruction is said to be "believable" but basically everything will be destructible; as always, they've captured their own audio from authentic sources for maximum realism, and also, there will be some kind of appearance customization system.
The previously mentioned new animation system borrowed from EA Sports is named ANT, and according to DICE senior gameplay designer Alan Kertz, it provides a "huge leap in animation quality", something which is a focus for them. Note there will be different animation sets for AI and multiplayer characters.
These are all the big details -- for more, head to our Battlefield 3 wiki as always.