One game that has made a strong impression over the last month is Battlefield 1. Everyone has been praising DICE and EA Games for not falling in with all of the other shooters and moving to a more futuristic setting, but instead going back to one of the most gruesome wars in the last century.
At E3 2016, we were able to sit down with Battlefield 1’s Lead World Designer, Daniel Berlin, to talk about what Battlefield 1 has to offer over its competitors.
Hardcore Gamer: Battlefield, long history, started in World War II, went to modern day, went to slightly futuristic and back to modern, and now we’re back at World War I. What brought you back?
Daniel Berlin: It was two things. First of all, it was two guys in the office and they were passionate about the setting. They did extensive research on locations, the weapons available, the tanks. Not only that but the battles that actually took place. They did all this research and they molded it to see if it can fit the Battlefield franchise pillars. They presented it and we said “Yes. It’s perfect. It’s better than perfect.” Then we had the community who wanted us to go back. It’s a part of listening to what people want, so when those two things came together, we were “Now this is it. This is what we’re doing.” It has transformed into a passion project for DICE, over the past couple of years we have been working on it.
Before we move on, obviously Call of Duty and Titanfall are taking a very futuristic look at things. Do you think there’s enough space in the world for a history-based shooter?
Oh yeah, definitely. My personal opinion is that this is the best time in the world to be a first-person shooter fan because you will have so much to choose from. Everyone’s doing a great job. We’re super excited about our product, so we just want to get it out there. For all the first-person shooter fans out there, we wish you pick it up. For the beta, help us stress test, help it make it stable, give feedback, make it the best game it can be. But again, it’s the best time in the world to be a first-person shooter fan.
I know you haven’t shown much of the campaign yet, but is it following one solider for the entire campaign, kind of like in Battlefield 4, or is this swapping between the different countries?
Yes, it is a war on the global scale, so we decided to focus on different fates now and how they react to the world changing around them. We will be hopping all over the world and looking at different landscapes and different characters. For example, you will also be playing as a female Bedouin warrior in the deserts of Arabia.
World War I was a war where it was very point-of-view focus. There wasn’t one evil person like Adolf Hitler in World War II, so will we be jumping between the different sides in the campaign?
We aren’t going into specifics for which armies you’re jumping into, but we are jumping to different characters over the course of the game.
Jumping into the multiplayer, it has been almost three years since Battlefield 4, a year since Battlefield Hardline and we just had Star Wars Battlefront. How have your experiences in all three of those games lead into Battlefield 1?
So, Battlefield 1 comes out of DICE Stockholm and Hardline was done by our friend at Visceral. It’s a very tight relationship to have, and after that we had Battlefront. The one thing I want to point out is that, the learnings we had over the course of these games, and point out what Battlefield 4 has been doing since launch – I mean all the updates we’ve been doing to the game and stabilizing it. All of these things, net code improvements that Battlefield 4 has got and Hardline has got and Battlefront has got, all of this stuff goes into Battlefield 1. We’re really making sure it’s stable when it hits, and the final nail in the coffin there is getting the open beta out to really stress test the servers and make sure it’s the best Battlefield game it can be the day it launches.
We’ve played a lot of Battlefield 1 today, and while most of it is under NDA, a lot of it kind of feels like Bad Company 2. I feel like there’s a little more weight into it compared to Battlefield 4 and obviously the destruction is turned back up to what it used to be. Would you say that’s a fair assessment?
I could say that’s a fair assessment. It has been a key thing for us going in to really push the physical presence, to make you feel like you’re in the world. That comes down to the destruction and Bad Company 2 has definitely been an inspiration, but we haven’t just stopped at copying what we did back then. Looking at the forums, that’s what people are talking about. “Bad Company 2 is so great.” We took a look at that, saw what we were doing, let’s incorporate that, but then let’s take it to the next level on top of that. We want you to be creative with the destruction. For example, you can walk into a house, throw some explosive ordinances on the staircase, go up on the second floor, blow that ordinance and then basically be alone on the upper floor and no one can get up. You can pick apart houses like that as you can see in the demo in the village.
But, we’re also pushing ground deformation to terrain destruction. For example, if you have a completely open field, you’re running past it and you’re getting shot, and it’s a very difficult place, a very dangerous place to traverse on foot maybe at the beginning of the match. But, ten minutes in, maybe an airship has come in and dropped bombs and blew it up; now it’s Swiss cheese. It’s basically giving you the ability to advance through the craters. Craters actually give complete cover now; you can crouch in a crater and be completely covered. Stick your head up and shoot, and run to the next crater. You use the ground deformation in a tactical way.
Can you talk about the different weapons? Everything seems to have three different sub-categories.
In this particular build, you’re seeing right now, you have variations on every weapon. You can have one with a bayonet fixed on it and you have one that’s slightly more accurate, less accurate, longer range; stuff like that. But an interesting thing about the weapons in this era is how other worldly they are. They’re so interesting to look at and shoot and feel. Some of the LMGs you slap the mag on top of it, and another one you slap it on the side. It’s because this was the first time people were building these weapons and I wanted to stress how different they feel to shoot and how different they play. It’s not just going between an SMG, switching to a shotgun, switching to a semi-automatic, fully automatic rifle; it’s just going in-between the different LMGs for example, within the weapon class they look and feel so different, and they play so different, as well.
Battlefield 1 will be available for Xbox One, PC and PS4 on October 21.