EA’s hoping to storm to the top of the modern military FPS heap with Battlefield 3, ending Call of Duty‘s recent reign as the number one shooter franchise. The man leading the charge at the DICE development studio making the game is executive producer Patrick Bach. Bach’s been at DICE for nine years and spoke with me about what DICE hopes to achieve with BF3, the tech powering it and how it won’t be like other shooter games set in the present-day.
So, you guys are unveiling Battlefield 3 for the first time this week. Talk about why this entry is being seen as the next chapter of the mothership as opposed to a Bad Company game or a kind of tertiary branch of the Battlefield franchises. What do you feel has changed in the first-person shooter field since BF2?
First of all the biggest focus of ours is mindset going back to the roots rather than iterate on the games that we have. So going back and looking at what the BF community did and liked with Battlefield 2, I think is a very important thing. You can see the prone position as a symbol for added complexity to the game. It’s not run-and-gun. But, with complexity, I don’t think it’s harder to play, it’s just that there’s more depth in the core Battlefield games than there was in Bad Company. But Bad Company was supposed to be a console-only game from the start. Bad Company 1 was only for the consoles. That was our kind of spinoff console franchise while the core was still on PC. So, looking back at the original community and then marry that with the community with the Bad Company series, we can see that there’s a lot of potential to serve both communities in BF3.
Right. Something that brings in bridges the gap.
Yeah. We take the best of both worlds, of course, but having the springboard being Battlefield 2. And your second question was how the first-person shooter has changed lately. We haven’t really seen it move forward that much. It’s been kind of more of the same. They forget about the nuts and bolts. Great graphics or technical excellence might be the reason why they bought it, but in the end it’s the experience you have every time you play the game. A lot of people have their own war stories where they did this cool thing, and then someone did this, and then they countered with that. And then my squad came in and helped me. Then we won. Everyone has their personal war story to tell with the Battlefield games.
But that kind of experience is always emergent, right?
It’s always player-based and random in a way that you as developers can’t script yet. But it seems like you’re trying to deliver that same energy into single-player mode, at least from what you’ve shown.
Can you talk about how that emergent multiplayer chaos can feed into a script with single-player experience?
That was actually the original intent when we built the first Bad Company. Because that was the first single-player focused Battlefield game. “How can we transform these stories of the battlefield into a coherent experience where everyone can more or less try it out and see?” Then, when you go online you can actually start playing with it and enjoy it. In general, our motto is more or less to have single-player being, first of all, an experience where you can try everything out before you go online.
There’s actually a lot of people that are scared of going online because they think they will just get owned which they do. But today at least have a chance to try the game on safer grounds and try out all the guns in a more controlled environment.