I’ll be posting an epic Battlefield 3 review tomorrow, and giving away a few copies of the game, but before that I wanted to put up a little Q&A I got to have with DICE, the game’s developer. I tried to focus on issues that a are a little more relevant to the TechCrunch reader instead of just the FPS player.
These questions were posed before the release of the game and before I wrote the review, so unfortunately they can’t address the issues I’ll detail tomorrow, but anyhow, without further ado:
What made you want to up the social component with Battlelog and other updates? Do people really want to share their k/d ratio on Facebook?
Battlelog is all about starting the right game with the right friends at the right time. You don’t have to share everything with all your Facebook friends, but Battlelog makes sure that it’s easier than ever to follow your friends’ progress and join a game where you’ll end up with the right people to maximize the fun factor.
I remember in the old days, where I would boot up Battlefield 2142 and join a server, only to find that none of my friends were actually playing at the moment. Now, I hang around in Battlelog, check my stats, plan my next unlocks, and suddenly I see one of my friends go online and enter a server. Then I just click to join on the same server. It’s social gaming at its best.
The single player game is clearly very scripted, which some like more than others. But the multiplayer is much more sandbox, with open areas, lots of options for advancing, and so on. How do you manage to bridge this gap and still create a cohesive game?
The goal for our different game modes (multiplayer, co-op and single player) is not to give the player the same experience but to give the player a variety of different Battlefield experiences. But with this in mind I think the single player and multiplayer portions of Battlefield 3 are more similar than you would think. The gunplay experience and core gameplay features such as vehicular combat are all present in the single player campaign, even if we tie a strong story to it. We find that a lot of people actually play the single player campaign to acquaint themselves with the controls and the concepts, so they can enter the multiplayer portion and be prepared for the kind of actions they need to perform to survive in Conquest or Team Deathmatch or whatever game mode they want to play.
I always remember Peter Molyneux talking about new behaviors happening in Black and White, but with physics it can be just as unpredictable. Have there been any interesting “unintended consequences” you’ve seen as a result of the sophistication of the engine?
Haha, they happen all the time! It’s part of why we coined the phrase “Battlefield moments”. It’s those moments when weird and wonderful stuff happens online that you couldn’t ever script even if you wanted to. Some of the unintended stuff stays in the game and become classics of their own, like the ability to “wing walk” in Battlefield 1942 (basically standing on the wing of a plane taking off ). We saw similar behaviors in the Battlefield 3 Open Beta, where players would wing walk the MAV recon vehicle, with some interesting results. The point is that with the dynamic rock/paper/scissors gameplay in Battlefield, sometimes you’re just amazed by what happens, and I think that is part of what makes our multiplayer so popular.
But yes, the two differ in that in singleplayer, we make sure that players experience exciting moments by scripting some of them, while in multiplayer they emerge based on the dynamic sandbox style gameplay.
We’re seeing a lot of FPS games, including your biggest competitor based in the present or close to it. How do you differentiate things that are going to be in both games, like a common pistol or rifle?
I think we are doing the right thing by focusing on how we firmly believe that a Battlefield game should look, behave, and feel. We are not really comparing weapons models and going “How can we differentiate?” Rather, we are concerned with how we can make our game feel as physical and immersive as possible.
When it comes to weapons in Battlefield 3, we are putting an increased effort into making every class of weapon, and every weapon within that class, unique. This comes down to a lot of factors, like mobility, rate of fire, muzzle energy, and so on. But on top of that, we have this very deep customization system, where a player can tailor almost any main weapon in the game to fit any role from close quarter combat to medium/long range combat.
Every main weapon has three accessory slots where you can attach any of the huge amounts of upgrades you have unlocked. This can be foregrips, different kinds of optics, heavy barrels, underslung grenade launchers, and so on. By giving this amount of customizability to players, we think that anyone, regarding of play style, will be able to have their personal favorite weapon available for any job.
DICE has said that BF3 is first and foremost a PC game. Of course the consoles must have their version and it won’t be as good – but what obstacles are modern developers running into the most with the 360 and PS3, if you can say so without burning any bridges?
What we have said is that Battlefield 3 is very much the true successor to Battlefield 2, which I think might be misinterpreted as us saying Battlefield 3 is first and foremost a PC game. We do want PC players to know and feel safe in the knowledge that we are 100 percent supporting PC, while at the same time developing fantastic versions of the game for consoles.
We are calling Frostbite 2 a next generation engine for current generation platforms. What we mean by that is that we are pushing what’s possible to do on today’s consoles, so we are definitely pushing the abilities of both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. There hasn’t been anything I would consider “obstacles” during development of Battlefield 3 for consoles. Of course, a brand new $ 2,000 PC has higher specs, but that doesn’t mean getting Battlefield 3 onto consoles has been especially difficult.
Regarding DLC, many gamers feel that developers are shipping half a game and then charging you again for the other half (maps, weapons, etc) – you guys ran into this with the pre-order thing. Can anyone just ship a game any more? And if not, what’s stopping them from doing the Valve thing and pushing out updates for free?
This is interesting. I guess you are referring to the upcoming expansion pack Battlefield 3: Back to Karkand? When we came up with the idea to give an entire expansion pack away at no extra charge to everyone who pre-orders the game, I was thrilled. It’s probably our most generous pre-order offer ever. I think gamers misinterpreted it as us shipping half a game since we announced the first expansion pack before the main game was out. It was bound to have that effect. Rest assured, Back to Karkand is developed by a separate team here at DICE. This will not be available at launch on disc. But all you need to do to get this post-launch, full digital expansion pack is to pre-order the game.
Having said that, I think that games nowadays – especially online games – are much more than hard-coded discs. For Battlefield 3, with the addition of everything that Battlelog brings, it’s more of an ongoing service for years to come.
Keep an eye out for our review tomorrow. It’s really long.
Battlefield 3 is here and in a major way. The latest shooter in the long-running franchise hit the interweb and retailers last week and EA just announced that they moved 5 million units within the first week. For anyone that cares, that makes Battlefield 3 the fastest selling title in EA’s 29 year history. And for good reason. EA and DICE conducted a flawless marketing campaign for Battlefield 3.
The marketing first targeted those that really care — dedicated gamers — as the game was first revealed this year (read: the game came out in the same year it was announced) in GameInformer magazine. Then the videos hit. EA systematically released gameplay footage of the stunning first level Fault Line. These videos, originally just a couple quick minutes, pieced together the entire first level for the view and perfectly showcased not only the game, but the brand new Frostbite 2 game engine.
By the time E3 hit in June, gamers and the press were very familiar with Battlefield 3 where it stole the show partly thanks to playable demos. The marketing ramped up over the summer in preparation for the much-anticipated open beta. Invites first went out to players who bought Medal of Honor: Tier 1 edition and those that pre-ordered Battlefield 3: Limited Edition. But soon, EA opened up two maps for anyone that wanted to try Battlefield 3. And try they did.
More than 8 million players participated in the beta during its 12 days. That resulted in 47 billion shots fired and 1.5 billion kills. But despite the extensive testing, EA’s new servers couldn’t hand the opening rush and faltered the first few days. Still, Battlefield 3 is a hit but will its popularity diminish after Modern Warfare 3 launches in the coming days?
You’ve watched the videos, played the beta, and read the storyline. Battlefield 3 gets real next week and this final trailer shows the insane single player mode. Oh, and enjoy the remake original Battlefield theme music. It gave me chills.
Battlefield 3 launches late next month and DICE/EA have so far strategically released bits of video of what looks to be awesome gameplay. The Frostbite 2 engine looks astounding. Here’s the latest video showing bits of intense firefights and a brutal knife kill. Oh man, my GTX 570 and I can’t wait. It’s crazy to look at the Battlefield 1942 render on the left and then watch the video. The future is here.
Battlefield 3 just got a bit more real. Jets! Robots! 64-player multiplayer! I can’t wait. John Biggs on the other hand is an old man. As seen in the TechCrunch staff chatroom,
John B. i stick by what i said at e3 if we put as much effort into curing anal cancer as we do into Battlefield 3 we’d be a better species
Battlefield 3 is perhaps one of the most anticipated games of 2011. It arrives in October and will likely see hundreds of thousands of sales on day one. As a AAA title, it behooves BF3 to debut on the 360, PS3, and Windows at the same time. But the last several years have seen troubling compromises in PC versions, obviously being made because of console restraints. Just recently I panned Dungeon Siege 3, a major production if I’ve ever seen one, for this exact problem. But it looks like the shoe is on the other foot with BF3: maps are going to be more “compact” and player counts reduced to from 64 on the PC version to 24 on console.
As a PC gamer myself, I believe I have a valid right to be smug here. The shoddy console ports we’ve seen have been so blatant that for years we’ve wondered why they bother at all. And here we have (as they promised) a game actually made for the PC and then scaled down for the consoles.
The consoles are years old and, although developers are managing to squeeze every last drop of performance out of them, it’s not an exaggeration to say they’re totally out of date with current graphics technology. Graphics doesn’t just mean things are shinier – it means making the graphical component of the game easier to implement, the art easier to apply, the levels easier to sculpt. More time can be spent designing the game and less coming up with a way to fit environmental reflection calculations into spare cycles.
And now is the crunch time. If we’re to believe industry sources, new consoles from Microsoft and Sony will likely come in 2013, perhaps with a 2012 announcement, but still some ways out. And until then the discrepancy in power between the consoles and PCs will only grow. If developers are planning a PC release, it makes much more sense at this point to design for the PC and then scale down, rather than vice versa. Because if they try to scale up, the results are so laughable that it should come as no surprise when port sales are low.
With the increase in downloadable and streaming game services, the PC is pulling ahead of the console once more, and it’s going to take time before they can catch up. The golden age of Half-Life and Everquest is over, but PC gaming get a second spring — if developers know what’s good for them.
Last time I posted this deal, BC2 was on Impulse, and my colleagues were earnestly recommending it to me. Now, I’m earnestly recommending it to you. There’s lots of good stuff being sold at the Steam Summer Camp Sale, but this one’s at Amazon and totally worth every penny.
Solid single-player, awesome multiplayer, just a fantastic game. Add to cart.
I was lucky enough to be able to play a partial round of Battlefield 3 yesterday, but unfortunately DICE and EA were very insistent that no cameras would be allowed inside. That rule seems to have been laxified today, as there’s a pair of videos up showing off the very experience I got. Curious? Watch on.
I’d like to register here that I was by far the highest scoring in my group of players, with more than a 2:1 KDR. That said, it was pretty clear that the opposing team was letting us win, and if they were trying even a little bit, I’d probably be 0 and 20.
My impressions? It’s hard to say based on just a few minutes without customizing my guy or learning the map (plus it’s “pre-alpha” code), but it felt good and the map we were on had a nice “real” feel to it, not like a manufactured multiplayer map or anything. I was too busy trying to survive to test the destruction and guns in a clinical manner, but it felt right.
Biggest problem? Knifing somebody now takes forever. DICE is proud of their melee animations, but seriously, I’m liable to get sniped while trying to take a fool down that way.
PC gamers—those who aren’t destroying the universe, at least—have at least one genuine PC game to look forward to this year, and that’s Battlefield 3. All of us here are pretty excited about, and we’re generally tough graders. Anyhow, Dice revealed the game at GDC this week, and they’ve rushed to the defense of PC gamers, saying that the “death of PC gaming” is “bullshit.” Can’t get much more clear than that.
When I saw Battlefield 3 about two weeks ago (EA was in New York for some event), the producer on hand stressed that the game was absolutely built from the ground up for the PC. The game’s engine, Frostbite 3, will take advantage of the raw power flowing through recent Nvidia and AMD GPUs.
It’s not going to be a shoddy port, filled with the low-res textures commonly found in the transition from console to PC. (Have you seen Dragon Age 2 on a PC? Oh, dear…) It’s not going to be like Bullestorm where you can’t so much as edit the .ini files without having to pray to the sun god.
Being able to use a mouse and keyboard or set the FOV should not be considered a “feature” in 2011.
Dice told Techland that the game intends to “[fix] the experience” found in shooters today, that games will be copying it in the future.
Dice also said that controversy “is not a mature way to sell a game. You still want to be proud at the end of the day.”
Remind you of anything?
This will be the year of Battlefield. The next proper game in the series, Battlefield 3, was revealed at GDC only a few hours ago (I had actually seen the game in action about two weeks ago, and needless to say I’m fully confident it will be the multi-player shooter of the year. Sorry, every other game.), and we’ve also learned some more about the upcoming Battlefield Play4Free, primarily this: the open beta begins on April 4.
If you’ve played Battlefield: Bad Company 1 or 2 you’ll get access a few days earlier, on March 31.
Apparently if you follow the game on Facebook and Twitter you also get early access: April 2.
Let’s not forget that those of you who bought Medal of Honor’s limited edition will get Battlefield 3 beta access, whenever that comes around.
That’s about it.