Battlefield 3 is mind blowing. We know because DICE showed us themselves. Earlier this week TGL were in London for an exclusive first peek at Battlefield 3 in action and the early results are quite simply astonishing. We could well be about to say hello to the new king of the contemporary shooter.
We caught up the Battlefield 3’s Producer Patrick Bach to talk about all things BF3.
TheGamingLiberty: What can we expect to see from Battlefield 3 today?
Patrick Bach: We’re showing what we showed at GDC [the Games Developer’s Conference in February]. There are some technical improvements but generally it’s the same.
It’s a snippet from the single-player campaign, which is divided into three different. It’s on PC, because we want to prove that we are focusing a lot on the PC this time around, making sure that we develop on the PC and then we scale it to fit on consoles.
TGL: And would this be the same section that we’ve seen in all the promotional videos so far…..
TGL: The community response to everything you guys have released has been huge from the go. People are really embracing the trailers and screens – what’s your reaction to that?
PB: Of course I’m really happy about that, because we want people to like what we are doing, but we want people to focus on what we think is the best Battlefield game. We haven’t really adapted anything to their demands; when we built Battlefield: Bad Company, a spin-off series, it was our mission to build that type of game. Now we’re going back to the core of the Battlefield series by building the next in the series.
To us, the focus has been clear all the time – we’re not listening too much to the audience because we are the audience. We love to play Battlefield in the office, we play it almost every day, either the old ones or Battlefield 3, so we know what we want and if we like it, the audience out there will like it as well.
PB: Uh… I’m not saying that actually [laughs]. I’m just saying that we’re showing it right now. We have a lot of confidence in our multiplayer and we have a lot of stuff in store that we haven’t released any information on yet. The reason for that is that we think we need to prove to everyone that we’re getting better at building a single-player.
In my opinion, we’re market leaders in this type of multiplayer, so we don’t feel that we need to prove it right now. We want to make sure that when we show it, it’s something epic.
TGL: People who have never played a Battlefield game before are incredibly impressed by what they’ve seen of B3 so far. What would you say to someone that hasn’t ever played a Battlefield game and is really looking forward to this – what can they expect?
PB: To us, our goal is always to create the ultimate first-person shooter, where it’s not only about twitch skill but taking your personality into account – how would you solve the problem? How would you counter the enemy? And giving you all the tools and possibilities to someone, rather than saying, “if you’re not quick enough, you’ll die.” There are a lot of games that only do that. We have that as well, there’s a lot of twitch skill involved, but we also have the element of strategy, team play, the vehicles, as well as gadgets and weapons.
You want to give players the way out. No matter what the situation, there’s always a way to counter it. That’s how we’re designing – we’re looking not at the shooter but the shootee, or whatever you call it [laughs]. If you’re getting shoot at, how is that fun?
Fun comes from, “I’m getting shot at – how should I counter this?” If you find the way out, then we know we have something that works. Not, “I don’t know who shot me; I don’t know how to counter it. This is not fun.”
Even if you respawn you should think, “Oh, I will change to this kit, I will put these specialisations on to counter you.” It’s really hard to explain Battlefield to something that hasn’t played it but I would say it’s the best strategic, team play-based shooter on the market.
TGL: Battlefield has always been a very layered experience more so than any other shooter in the market space. What is it about Battlefield 3 that is really going to make it stand out from the other contemporaty shooters? If you go onto forums and blogs people are talking up Battlefield 3 and the competition, but what is really going to make it the definitive contemporary shooter that we’ve seen to date?
PB: There’s also a very layered answer to that, because when you see it [the game], the goal is to make sure it looks stunning. Everything from the lighting to animation to effects to destruction – everything needs to look amazing, that’s the hook.
After that you have the sound layer, which brings the world to you and adds a lot of the drama to the piece. When it comes to the shooting experience and longevity of the game, people need to experience it. They need to be able to try it because we are building something spectacular.
We’re not trying to copy someone else and some people are really scared of Battlefield because they think it’s a strategic shooter, but it’s not. It’s never been.
TGL: It’s more accessible than you think…
PB: Yeah. Our goal is to make it very accessible. It’s a very sandbox, open-world component married with a very dramatic and narratively strong single-player campaign. That in combination will create something that is very attractive to a lot of people and on top of that you have the co-op, which we haven’t really talked about and I won’t. In general, it’s a blockbuster package but with depth and that’s our goal.
We don’t want the sugar rush game that’s, “Oh it’s fun because I get it.” Fun can be deeper than that.
TGL: It’s not just drop-in, drop-out.
PB: Yeah and if you put hours into something, it should give you something. It should evolve while you’re playing, into something else. A fun example from the Battlefield: Bad Company 2 game was that we added smoke grenades into the game from day one. It was there day one – no-one used it. Six months later, everyone used smoke grenades [laughs].
People started to get that smoke grenades are a great cover in some of the open areas, where you need to get to a point where it’s completely open and I get sniped. [They would say] “The game is completely unbalanced.” And then it’s like, “Hey wait a minute, what if we used smoke grenades?”
You find out by the rest of the community and you can start to counter that by learning other things. Everything evolves around the gameplay that’s already there because we’ve been thinking a lot about this and not everyone picks it up day one, and that’s fine. Depending on who you are, the game should work for you and you shouldn’t have to adapt to the game.
We see it like a sport. It’s like football; everyone knows what it’s about – it’s about getting that round thing into that square thing, but how you do it, you can do in a million ways. And you can do it on a professional level or in your back yard. The rules are the same but you can do it differently depending on who you are and the game is the same. It depends on who you’re against. We need to keep the rule set but give you slightly different tools.
Also, having maps varied with what vehicles are there, open fields or tight urban settings, there’s so many things that we can play with when it comes to the core game mechanics.
TGL: Are you at a place where you can announce a retail launch date?
PB: No we’re not, sorry. But we are playtesting the game like crazy.
TGL: I think on a ground level, people get used to a norm, Modern Warfare and whatever, and after a while they kind of get sick of it and they rally behind a newcomer and a new product. I think Battlefield 3 could become that title, a new norm to get excited about……….
PB: I hope that, because we are a bit fed up. We feel a bit sad that no-one is really trying to set a new tone. That’s what we’re trying to do and everyone is still building games based on five-year-old consoles – that’s quite sad. Of course theres good reasons for it; because it’s super expensive otherwise, but we’re trying to focus on what is scalable.
Most of the system, since we’re building it [Battlefield 3] for the high-end PCs – which no-one is really trying to do nowadays – we’re finding out that there is so much more that you can do for the consoles.
People thought that they hit the roof but just adding the new rendering technology and animation technology and trying to get that to fit we see, “Hey, wait a minute, it actually works – oh my god”. It’s super exciting to see that on a console because you feel like you put something extra into your console because it looks so much better
TGL: That’s very interesting actually…
PB: It’s about pushing the boundaries and if you focus on the previous game or the competition, you won’t push the boundaries.
The only way to push the boundaries is to go somewhere else and we want to go there. We want to build the best possible Battlefield game ever, rather than, “Let’s build a copy of the competition and make it slightly better.” If you do that, you will definitely fail.