4. Battlefield 3

DICE has always been ambitious about multiplayer. From the downloadable Battlefield 1943 to the enormous scale and occupation of battles in Bad Company 2, the developer has strived to push the Frostbite (now Frostbite 2) engine to its limits and test players’ mettle on more realistic simulations of warfare.

Tossing aside the arcade-style of its direct competitor, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Battlefield 3 opts to stay contemporary with load-outs and customization while continuing to pioneer large-scale, objective-based battles in the genre.

The open beta this fall, just prior to release, gave players a taste of Operation Metro, a vehicle-free Defend-and-Destroy map spanning from a wide open public park (sniper’s delight) to close-quarters crumbling subway tunnels.

Additions like the prone stance and blinding flashlights were overshadowed by the crippling bugs (since fixed), while the heart of the multiplayer remained intact. Distant, sudden flashes, ear-splitting explosions, and a focus on team work have turned this CoD contender into a real player in the military shooter space, and the post-beta cleanup is largely to thank for that.