Taken from an interview with Multiplayer producer Aleksander Grondal he explains how the PS4 version of Battlefield 4 could use the DualShock 4’s new PlayStation 4 touch pad to allow players to throw grenades, but no decisions have been made yet!
OPM: Having a passionate community is great for the game, but do you feel it makes it difficult for someone to get involved for the first time without feeling completely out of their depth? Getting killed endlessly obviously isn’t fun for anybody.
AG: Battlefield has a little bit of a learning curve, so what we’ve tried to do this time is to ease people into the game. We did some stupid things in Battlefield 3 – the first weapon you got in the game was completely uncustomised and without accessories, which is the worst type of weapon you can play with. So [it’s vital to] give new players some weapons that work, some destructibility tools, some interesting things from the beginning. As for the vehicles, some people find them a bit difficult so now there’s a place where you can try out the vehicles by yourself. We call it the Test Range.
OPM: Have you ever considered a bots-only training mode, or a specific multiplayer tutorial?
AG: Absolutely. That’s something we have thought about many times, but never quite got right. The thing about Battlefield is that you’re not running in these isolated corridors but in very open environments – and trying to capture that in a very linear sense becomes very difficult. Shouldn’t we try to tell you how to play the game while you’re playing it, instead of making you play through an hour-long tutorial? That’s the direction we took this time.
“I wouldn’t say we are going for the realistic approach, but for the believable. It’s always fun before realism – always. It should be fun first”
OPM: The series is resolutely set in a realistic world. Do you think that limits what you guys can do creatively, or do you enjoy going for that gritty, semi-authentic approach?
AG: I wouldn’t say we are going for the realistic approach, but for the believable. It’s always fun before realism – always. It should be fun first. We have so many ideas we want to do that we could continue for quite some time. Now the question is, do people still think it’s interesting to play in these sorts of environments? So, I hope Battlefield 4 will remain interesting to people in that sort of scenario.
OPM: The love people have for the multiplayer portion of Battlefield doesn’t seem to be waning. That said, some feel that gritty, realistic, first-person shooters are beginning to look fatigued. Do you guys see it the same way?
AG: Sure, I completely understand where you are coming from. I feel it myself at times. That’s where we need to mix things up in terms of the single-player campaign. We need to make it feel different. Fortunately, in a modern day setting there are so many things that we can be inspired by. Traditionally, many games have focused on a particular place or era – the Middle East, for instance. So one thing we tried to do to remove that fatigue ahead of Battlefield 4 was place the game in China. You get some new environments to play in, some new factors. It’s important to make it feel fresh, [because] I completely agree with you – many people are feeling [the genre] has become a bit ‘rinse, repeat’.
OPM: One term you’ve attached to BF4 is ‘emotional connection’. It’s something that a lot of games in this genre have tried to do, not all that successfully. How are you guys approaching this challenge?
AG: In single-player we want you to have a connection to the characters themselves. That’s what we’ve tried to emphasise. The story revolves around the characters, rather than the world or the events. If you talk about emotions in multiplayer, it’s more about creating situations where you have fun, where you want to come back to something. It’s about giving you those positive experiences that you want to have when playing a multiplayer game and keeping it varied. If you feel the same thing over and over again, that positive feeling starts to go away. That’s why variety is a big deal for us.
OPM: Digital distribution on next-gen seems a natural fit with Battlefield, for instance offering a single-player campaign or multiplayer component as separate entities. Is this model a consideration for the series down the line?
AG: Absolutely, we are open to changing how players want to get the copies – and how they want to experience them. For Battlefield, we want to sell them as the same thing; I don’t think we are completely done with the bricks and mortar just yet. But as we move into the digital world I think we will have more interesting opportunities like this, and we will absolutely be involved. Actually, Bad Company 2 was one of the first full digital games you could download on the PlayStation store, and I think we will continue [delving] into this domain. I know EA is investing heavily in going digital.