The Battlefield 3 media and community event in Sydney last night had the most in-depth hands-on with DICE's latest opus, and even had the Frostbite 2 logo carved out of ice!
The game is looking stunning. The on-foot engine has been firmed up to compete with the best of them, it sports an edge-of-your-seat, surprising and dark single player campaign, and of course the most extensive range of vehicles and unprecedented sense of scale in modern combat games today.
MCV took the time to speak to DICE's creative director and lead designer of Battlefield 3, Lars Gustavsson:
Given the rise of the indie sector and smartphone gaming, are there strategic changes going on within companies like DICE who make the biggest games of the year?
I think we at DICE have always tried different things. Nowadays, the free system (which kind of originated at DICE) now has Battlefield Heroes (the free-to-play game), Battlefield 1943 as downloadable content, and I'd like to see more of this in the future. We need to be trying different business models and different paths to the market. It takes quite some effort to deliver a big title like this.
So these methods represent different avenues for audience interaction, marketing and corollaries to the triple-A titles rather than competing markets per se?
Yeah. There are really no rights or wrongs yet. It's all about what you want to try out as a developer.
Battlefield has traditionally been at its weakest with the on-foot movement and combat mechanics, but what I've just played puts it easily on par with the best first-person shooters out there. How has the increased focus towards on-foot mechanics shaped the overall design direction?
We're fortunate to have so many previous games to go back and look at. Previously, we've based the run-and-gun experience on the multiplayer testing, since there's no better way to find out the weaknesses of your first-person shooter gameplay than to have a bank of live people who sometimes do really stupid things. That's where it all originates from.
This time around, we've made a number of deliberate changes to literally everything to make it all fit the experience we wanted to deliver – a more gritty and real-life experience.
John Riccitiello said Battlefield 3 was 'designed to take on Call of Duty'. Does that feed all the way back to the development process?
We've been making Battlefield for 12 years now and we wouldn't have been able to do it and continuously grow if we didn't focus on our thing. So I'd use the comparison of runners. If you're running a race and you look at your competitors, you fall. If you focus on your lane, you have a chance of beating them. That's what we do at the studio. Regardless of how things are in the real world, down in the dungeon we worry about the game.
Call of Duty: Black Ops is still coming out with DLC a year after release as Modern Warfare 3 is almost out. What has DICE done to ensure that level of ongoing support for Battlefield players? What kinds of plans do DICE have to push post-launch content?
We've completely restructured our studio around it. Nowadays, we have operations team who looks at the title when it starts getting closer to launch (or long before) with potential downloadable content and so on, to really have a plan. Otherwise you're quite likely to start slipping. If you're focusing just before release on what you're going to ship post-launch, then I think you have problems.
So, yes there is a massive plan in place.
To register for the MCV Pacific News Digest, head to the registration page: http://www.mcvpacific.com/user/index/register/journey/register