Battleblog #1: Lars Gustavsson on DICE's new multiplayer philosophy in Battlefield 3
Welcome to the first in a series of Battleblog posts, taking you all the way to the launch of Battlefield 3 in Australia October 27th and in New Zealand October 28th! In this blog series, you’ll learn more about every aspect of our biggest shooter ever. First out is an overview of our multiplayer philosophy together with Lead Multiplayer Designer Lars Gustavsson.
When Lars Gustavsson received the mission to lead the design of the multiplayer portion of Battlefield 3, his thoughts went to the fans of the predecessor, 2005’s Battlefield 2. He also knew the time was ripe to open up the game to a wider audience.
Hi Lars! What was the initial design goal you and the team set for Battlefield 3 multiplayer?
-- We thought a lot about Battlefield 2 and how Battlefield 3 would relate to it. The mindset at DICE during the development of Battlefield 2 was pretty much: “Play the game our way, or play something else”. Now, we have made a conscious effort to reverse that mentality. The goal with Battlefield 3 is to offer a vast variety of gameplay experiences and to be inviting to everyone. We’re not telling you how to play the game. You choose.
How will that be apparent in Battlefield 3?
-- Part of it is in the variety of game modes and the types of environments you can play in -- from the wide open battlefields that people learned to love in Battlefield 2, to the urban gritty maps with their tighter gameplay focus. Combining these two elements and adding destruction and our social Battlelog hub in the same package is something I believe no one else is capable of – and that just makes it doubly entertaining for me to deliver on!
Where did the “play our way” mentality come from and how did the change come about?
-- I think it emanated from the pride in the unique game modes we created at DICE, like Conquest and Rush. We’re still super proud of them, but going into Battlefield 3 we had a frank discussion about our mindset. We discussed the strengths of Battlefield and ended up with a lot of interesting questions. Does teamplay have to be squad based, or can it be in a more general sense of playing together? Am I less of a gamer if I don’t want to play in squads? If I want Team Deathmatch? If I want infantry only gameplay? That discussion really was an eye-opener and has changed how we view ourselves and what we set out to do with Battlefield 3.
Battlefield 3 is going to be our best Battlefield yet. The Frostbite 2 game engine not only lets us build spectacular multiplayer maps – it also lets us populate those maps with wildly differing kinds of environments. The classic Battlefield multiplayer map would be an open type terrain, fit for tanks, helicopters, and other vehicles to take part in the action. Now, we will take the fight to dense urban environments as well, painting a stark contrast to the more open rural gameplay.
At E3 this year, we brought the Rush mode map Operation Métro for visitors to play hands-on. In many ways, this map illustrates our multiplayer design philosophy for Battlefield 3. Operation Métro starts out in a lush, rolling park outside of the Paris city center. As the attackers push forward and take out the two enemy installations, this is when a normal multiplayer mode in a normal game would end. In Battlefield 3, this is just the beginning of a much larger journey; a journey taking you through a number of distinct and varying environments, each tasking you to re-evaluate your combat tactics and loadouts on the go.
The subway is just one of several large and distinct environments in our Rush mode map Operation Métro.
The E3 Operation Métro briefing highlighting the distinct areas of the map. Click for larger picture.
From the opening park, you need to push underground through a dark, bombed-out metro tunnel section, and then up and out onto the downtown city streets for the final confrontation in front of the Paris stock exchange. This seamless transition in the map between contrasting areas is something that makes it feel like so much more than your typical walled-in multiplayer arena. For a sense of scale, each of the different areas in Operation Métro would be large enough to house a very good Team Deathmatch experience.
Speaking of which. We are bringing Team Deathmatch back to the multiplayer menu! It's been absent since Battlefield 1942, and to quote Lars Gustavsson, “It would almost be a criminal offense not to offer TDM to our fans, especially with the tactical destruction and realistic soldier movement that Frostbite 2 brings to the game”. Our efforts to let you play Battlefield 3 your way also means that you will have the option to play infantry only matches, for that up close and personal touch.
At DICE we have always been proud about our classic mainstay game modes Conquest and Rush. They embody much of what Battlefield stands for: vast scale and all-out vehicle warfare with an emphasis on teamplay. But focusing almost entirely on these modes have meant sacrificing the pick up and play instant action experience that a tight Team Deathmatch mode delivers.
Fans of the series can rest assured that both Conquest and Rush game modes are back, bolder and more beautiful than ever. Complementing these with Team Deathmatch means there are now even more ways to play Battlefield. From all-out vehicle warfare to tight infantry combat, it’s all about your current mood and your preferred play style. And this is far from everything we have waiting for you in the multiplayer component of Battlefield 3 -- we will return shortly to talk about more multiplayer modes and new features that change how you can play the game.
One final question for you, Lars: Battlefield 3 obviously has the broadest scope yet in the series. How are you balancing that with catering for the hardcore Battlefield 2 fans?
-- I take on the task humbly. I have the utmost respect for our Battlefield 2 fans, and I know that any feature I scrutinize in the game can be one of their darlings I’m messing with. :) Most of all, I’m excited we are finally returning to the core Battlefield series after a six year wait. I was Lead Designer on Battlefield 2 back then, and with Battlefield 3 I think we have the ability and the tools to create something truly amazing.
Stay tuned for BF3 Battleblog #2 next week.
For more information on Battlefield 3, visit the Official Site.
To learn about the Frostbite 2 game engine, visit the Frostbite 2 section on the Battlefield 3 site.