At the October’s IgroMir 2011 Russian Game Expo the booth of Battlefield 3 was always crowded. This is a very important entry to the FPS genre in 2011, and it will be released on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in the following days. It has been around six years, since the previous game of the series came out.
The online gameplay of the new title is so exciting that we awarded it with our special «Best Multiplayer» award after visiting the show floor. Captivating and realistic battles along with all the new features made it a serious contender in this particular nomination. EA Digital Illusions CE has been known for its high-quality war games for years.
In this exclusive Interview featuring Battlefield 3 we caught up with the Creative Director at DICE to bring you more information about the game’s development and its priorities. Certainly, we couldn’t miss the opportunity to speak about the new graphics engine – Frostbite 2.0. During our conversation with Lars Gustavsson we also discovered the Multiplayer in the new episode is going to provide the best experience in the series so far.
- Greetings! Please, introduce yourself.
- Hello! My name is Lars Gustavsson, and I’m the Multiplayer Lead Designer for Battlefield 3 also working as the Creative Director at DICE in Stockholm, Sweden.
- How do you find Russia?
- It is my first time in Russia. I have been communicating with Russia ever since Battlefield 1942 (2002). Finally, almost after 10 years I am here. It is really good. I am actually amazed at how everything is going. We have had a really good time. The weather is fine, and people are caring about us very well. Some time ago we visited Red Square, so we are really enjoying our staying.
- What do you think about IgroMir 2011 Russian Expo?
- I have barely been down on the first floor. I am mainly staying in this hotel room to show Battlefield 3 to the Russian press.
- Trapped like your colleagues from other rooms…
- Yeah! [Smiles]. I get the chance to visit the Expo in the mornings and in the evenings. From what I hear from the guys: IgroMir has become bigger and better. I am excited to see more of what it is like, when I can.
- What is special about Russian game journalists from your personal experience?
- Very open, very friendly, very polite and interested.
- How have you been working with your community?
- That is a cool thing for DICE being a really big company. We have our Community Managers both locally and internationally. There is a whole department called Operations, which is only focused on the game that is about to be launched and its life after the launch. Today it is still looking after the games like Battlefield 2 (2005), what is really unique, because it’s been 6 years since this title was released. Our Community Managers are making reports for me about what is happening in the world. Surely, I also closely monitor all the important events and contacts myself.
- How long has Battlefield 3 been in the development?
- Well, we started building the engine for the game around 3-3,5 years ago, so it has been quite some time. It takes time to make a good game right, especially if it is good both in Single-player and Multiplayer.
- What were your sources of inspiration?
- There were plenty of them. For the Single-player component of Battlefield 3 definitely some movies were influential, including The Hurt Locker (2009) and Generation Kill (2008) TV series, as well as many books and other media in general. When it comes to the multiplayer experience, I would say that a lot of it was in turn inspired by our Single-player story. Also we have been trying to stay true to many of the core values that we have got since the old Battlefield 2.
- Is it possible to say anything about the Single-player story of Battlefield 3 or its beginning now?
- I can’t really go into details about the story yet. I can only say that the events will be happening in the very near future.
- Middle East is a popular topic nowadays. What interests game developers in it?
- Some people are asking me, how I have been making Battlefield games for 12 years! [Smiles]. Yes, I do, and I love it! When it comes to making a Single-player for a game about the modern era wars, I would like to underline that we have got a very mature story. It is captivating and enticing you to play forward Battlefield 3 to find out more.
It is not about just running and shooting enemies. There is much more behind it. I think that we are always trying to do things better, and as long as we feel that we are taking the genre the next step forward then it means that we are doing this right.
- What is the game world of Battlefield 3 like?
- For Multiplayer you will be going to Paris, Iran and other iconic areas. Each one of them will be very memorable for you. For example, with Operation Metro map inside the heart of Paris you will go down to the subway. It will be a journey, you will surely remember. That is a key point for us in Battlefield 3. When people later start talking about what level to pick playing, someone will say: «Let’s take that one with the subway!».
- Are you happy with the results of the upcoming game’s Beta launch?
- We have got enormous response from the Community. They say to us, which things they think are great, what else they would like to see adding «Please, let us play Caspian Border map more!». [Smiles]. We expected such a reaction, and the Beta launch was going just as we wanted.
Overall, we do remind people that this was only Beta, an old code we provided to test the back-end, the gameplay and the balance. This helps us to make a really good launch of Battlefield 3. Some people comment about bugs here and there, but still it was an old code, and those bugs had already been fixed a long way back during the development.
- We are getting the Jets and the Prone command return, which were absent in the Battlefield: Bad Company (2008-2010) episodes. So what is their importance for Battlefield 3?
- For us it was always a clear distinction between Battlefield 1942 (2002-2003) and Battlefield 2 (2005-2006). Battlefield: Bad Company franchise had its unique style and some different touches. We removed Prone command in the first Battlefield: Bad Company (2008) game, and many people enjoyed playing without it.
For me, when we starting to work on the sequel, I definitely wanted to get Prone back, since we loved it in Battlefield 2. So the Prone is back, the Jets are back, and what would Battlefield 3 be without Jets?!
We have also taken the Commander’s structure from Battlefield 2 and worked it over into how you communicate with your squad, and how you use the specific abilities of your squad members. You should be sufficient on the battlefield now as a squad instead of relying on someone else.
- How has the Combat mechanics evolved?
- Comparing to Battlefield 2 we have changed many things in Battlefield 3. Instead of 7 classes in the previous title we went down to 4, and before there were fewer weapon choices. Now you will get a huge choice of various weapons with several points to attach unlocks. If your soldier is in the Assault class, there is now not only traditional Assault class gear, but also the Medical gear.
This means that in the new game you are able to customize yourself in being an Assault soldier with a focus on grenades and so on, or you can choose to become a Medic with Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and Health Packs. The Medic is a straight descendant from the times of Battlefield 2 with some improved mechanics.
There is also the Support class in Battlefield 3 armed with a Light Machine Gun. Once you unlock the Bipod you can mount it nearly on any surface. Suppression system is also an important factor. In Battlefield 2 I was firing with my light machine gun, and people were just popping out and shooting me in the face spraying their bullets.
With the Suppression system you do not have to hit people, you need just to shoot nearby, and it will influence their combat efficiency even to the point, where my squad members can move up and take this person out with me getting reward for this action as well. Everything is tied together. We added a lot of Score Events to promote good team play.
- What about available weapon types in Battlefield 3?
- It is, basically, everything you can think of, when it comes to weapons! A lot of it is up to your preferences. You will be unlocking many weapons in Battlefield 3. Once you master the whole Class, you will be able to use all the weapons in this class for both Russian and USA sides. Then it is all realistic and up to a player. The more you invest in a weapon, the more you invest in a class, the more you invest in a vehicle – the more unlocks and rewards you will get in that area. I really like this part.
- What in-game vehicle do you like the most?
- I would definitely say that our vehicle gameplay is the best vehicle gameplay ever. I can tell you, how happy I am to have the Jets back! [Smiles]. When I playtest, I am often seen flying around. To be able to customize vehicles the way you want is a great feature. You will never be sure of what your opponents have unlocked and equipped at the moment. It becomes a constant battle. If you are underground, you do not know with what they will come after you next. We also worked a lot with the balance for the underground and air gameplay.
- How has the enemy AI been improved in Battlefield 3?
- Of course, that is something we have been working with a lot. For us it is important to keep the immersion. We do not want to include a rabbit hole, where enemies would be coming from. Our Single-player team has done a great job and not only with the story of Battlefield 3, but also with creating the immersive gameplay.
- Multiplayer is a very exciting component for the series. What options does it offer in the new game?
- Regarding Multiplayer, the game ships with 5 game modes: Conquest, Rush, Squad Deathmatch as one of my favorites, Squad Rush and Team Deathmatch. We have not had the latter since Battlefield 1942, and it is great to get it back! It is one of the most popular game modes out there. There are so many people, who are afraid of playing on a server with vehicles, so they can go in and play the really best Team Deathmatch.
For example, they could choose the Operation Metro map in the city section with all the destruction and all the glory of the Battlefield series. After that you can play Battlefield 3 in Rush or Conquest modes. Hardcore and infantry-only options will be at present. All of our five modes are available for all of our nine maps. It is quite a lot.
- Was creating Frostbite 2 a challenge for the Battlefield 3 development?
- First of all, it has been an evolution since the previous Frostbite version used in Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (2010) and its Vietnam (2010) expansion. That technology was getting dated, and the consoles are getting older. We really needed to push the boundaries further both on consoles and on PC.
Secondly, in Battlefield 3 we tried to raise all the key areas we felt we had needed to stay ahead of the competitors. We have got our Destruction model no one else has, and the large-scale combat is unfolding in our huge game world. Now you can explore big open territories alongside dense cities. That is something we could not do before.
A lot of good things are coming with this new engine, and it is our vital tool. Like a brush for the painters. It is important to make it look good. When it comes to actual facts about how many polygons it can work with, I used to know all these numbers, but these days there are so many zeros in them, since they are measured in millions nowadays, and because of that I won’t even go further into technical details.
For us it is an amazing engine. We have always been creating our own graphics engines. We have been making that for 12 years! We stay close to our core values, when developing engines, which help us to build games no one else could do. With the new animation system in Battlefield 3 and the improved rendering we have advanced even further.
- Are you happy with the EA Black Box team using your technology for their Need for Speed: The Run game?
- Earlier, we have taken the animation system created within EA Sports, and now the developers of Need for Speed: The Run are using our engine. That is a great feedback! You know, we have been working closely with EA Sports and EA Black Box, while enhancing our Frostbite 2 engine. It is best for everyone, and it is one of the beauties of working inside Electronic Arts.
- What do you think about Battlefield 3 soundtrack?
- It is like an old Battlefield theme feeling coming back, but in a much more modern technical way. You might have heard some portions of it already. I am amazed at the work of our sound studio with Battlefield 3. When we were making Battlefield 1942, we had just one Sound Designer, who received part-time help from our two programmers. They were situated in Gothenburg, but later all moved to Stockholm, Sweden.
Now we are running a whole Audio Department with various sound studios inside its structure. They are really the best in the industry right now. I am really looking forward, till the people can play the game. Sound means so much for any video game. Many times developers forget about it, but for us audio creates around 50% of the immersive experience, while you play.
Especially, when you are in Multiplayer, you can’t have a million of pop-up messages on screen. If you hear footsteps in Battlefield 3, you need to react and turn around unless someone knives you. We have made different sounds for whether it is a sniper bullet flying by or something else. All of these audio effects are realistic and presented just as you could hear them in real life.
- What is the most special for you about the game?
- Nearly everything is new. First of all, there is a new engine and rendering. That’s the Frostbite 2 engine pushing the limit of consoles that are now 5 years old, and it is also challenging for the hardcore PC gamers. We have already got a lot of very nice words about how our game looks like both on PC and consoles. I think we are really ahead of the competition.
When we finished making Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (2010) clearly our animation was sticking out the most graphically. We felt that we needed to do something about this. We looked at the industry and the games with the best animation system that would fit a title offering both single-player and multiplayer. We happened to find it for Battlefield 3 within EA Sports.
There are five important or critical areas, when it comes to our new game: rendering, animation, audio, destruction and scale. Battlefield 2: Bad Company at the release time was ahead of its competition, and the upcoming title will be even better.
- What are the release dates for Battlefield 3?
- Battlefield 3 will ship in Russia in the very end of October on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
- Now it is time for our short survey. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
- I would not be surprised, if I am still at DICE.
- It would really be great then! What picture do you have on your desktop?
- I have a picture of one of my sons there, but I would like to get the one of my other son, and it will happen soon.
- What would you like to see changed in the First-Person Shooters genre (FPS) in future?
- There is so much more that can be done, so now I am just focused on our upcoming project and all its cool features. After that in peace and quiet I would think about new things that could be done.
- What are your favorite video games of all time?
- The first thing coming to my mind is the first game in the Need for Speed (1994-2011) series released back in 1994. I love it! I still bring it out to play from time to time even though the graphics is slightly dated. [Smiles].
- Best game of 2011 for you.
- Souvenirs to bring back gome.
- I was walking along the Red Square, but I am not sure I would have time to buy any. Probably, I should not say if I do not do it, but still I would like to bring Russian hats for my children to wear during winter.
- Three things you associate with Russia.
- Red Square, vodka and borsch.
- Thank you, Lars!
- Thanks for your interest!
Greetings from Lars Gustavsson (DICE)
A First-Person Shooter (FPS) that is designed to attack your senses, delivering a visceral combat experience like no other FPS before it. Sequel to Battlefield 2 (2005) utilizes the updated Frostbite 2 game engine, which allows for advanced destruction, sound, and graphics as well as a focus on dense in-game urban settings. Additional game features include: classic Battlefield mission-based gameplay, an impressive array of vehicles including jets and tanks, large-scale maps, an updated soldier class, 2-24 player support online.
In Battlefield 3 players take command of a team of elite US Marines as they experience heart-pounding misson-based gameplay ranging across diverse locations from around the globe including Paris, Tehran and New York. Along with ground combat, vehicular combat plays a major role with vehicles available including tanks as well as air support, featuring infrared and satellite imaging.
Frostbite 2 is the game’s foundation delivering superior visual quality, a grand sense of scale, massive destruction, dynamic audio and incredibly lifelike character animations. As bullets whiz by, walls crumble, and explosions throw you to the ground – the battlefield feels more alive and interactive than ever before.
Key Game Features:
- Multiplayer Mayhem. Experience gripping multiplayer action with 2-24 player battles supported online;
- Fight to Scale. Simply put, in this game you will be able to engage across some of the largest maps ever created, while close quarter combat is available too;
- Best-in-Class Audio. Building on acclaimed High Dynamic Range (HDR) audio from previous Battlefield games, this FPS builds on the best-in-class legacy with a brutally realistic soundscape.
- Massive Destruction. Destruction is enhanced on both a macro and micro level. Chips fly off blocks of concrete used for cover, while whole facades and buildings collapse in screeching clouds of dust and debris;
- Amazing Animation. The DICE team set out to takes animation to the next level with ANT technology (previously used in FIFA games) that now allows the creation of more believable behavior than ever before in an FPS;
- Unparalleled Vehicle Warfare. The best online vehicle warfare experience gets even better with a fitting sonic boom as fighter jets headline along with an impressive lineup of land, air and sea vehicles, all at your command;
- Urban Combat. Take the fight to iconic and unexpected places in the USA, Middle East, and Europe including claustrophobic streets, metropolitan downtowns, and open, vehicle-friendly landscapes as you fight your way through the war of tomorrow;
- The Frostbite 2 Game Engine. The game introduces Frostbite 2, the incredible technology that takes animation, destruction, lighting, scale and audio to new heights. Built upon this powerful game engine, it immerses players physically and emotionally to the world around them like never before;
- Feel the Battle. Feel the impact of bullets and explosions, drag your fallen comrades into safety, and mount your weapon on almost any part of the terrain. Battlefield 3 features cutting edge animation, spectacular visuals and real as hell battle gameplay attack your senses and make you feel the visceral warriors experience like no other FPS.
- GameScope: «Best Multiplayer at IgroMir 2011».