We get the lowdown on design choices behind the BF3 expansion
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We got the chance to sit down with DICE’s Patrick Bach – the Executive Producer on Battlefield 3 – to chat about all things battlefield including the game’s ambitious new expansion packs, the crowded shooter genre and more.
Strategy Informer:This strikes me as a larger undertaking than your previous DLC efforts. What was the inspiration behind doing a longer series of content across the course of the year rather than one or two packs as the Bad Company titles got?
Patrick Bach: I think we’ve learned over the years that we can actually – there’s room to build even more. Y’know, we’ve done this before but never to this extent, like you say. I think it’s just – we’ve learned over the years that people don’t just stop playing. They’ll keep playing for at least a year, or maybe even a year and a half. We want to continue to give out new content as people are playing.
Strategy Informer:With these maps you’ve got smaller, vehicular, and then a final surprise, which you teased today. Is there a reason behind not doing lots more medium-sized maps? Is that because Back to Karkand already covered that?
Patrick Bach: Yeah, more or less, that’s the reason. We wanted to explore more of the indoor, tight infantry maps because we’ve seen in the original Battlefield 3 game with the maps that are tight and more infantry focused – they are quite popular. There are a lot of people playing them.
We wanted to see how far we could go if we built even tighter maps with more destruction, more verticality and more focus on the more action, high-paced gameplay.
Again, the trick to this is not to change anything – the weapons are the same, the running speeds are the same, everything is what it is in the original Battlefield 3 game. The interesting thing is that it still feels completely different, so what we are doing is within the original Battlefield 3 game creating a completely new experience.
That’s exactly what we want to do here, and that’s exactly what we want to do with the expansion packs as well.
Strategy Informer:You mention the weapons being the same – I remember with the Battlefield 2 expansions you adding new weapons alongside the new maps and scenarios?
Patrick Bach: Yes, we did do that – we are doing that here as well, actually. We’re adding ten new guns that can be used in the vanilla game as well – so you can bring them back.
That’s a big addition – even if you don’t really like these maps, you would like the guns – so that’s another reason to get this expansion pack.
Strategy Informer:I assume they are a part of the expansion pack and not available to players without it?
Patrick Bach: Yes, it’s a part of the same package.
Strategy Informer:You’ve got a new game mode, new guns, new maps, all that stuff – was there anything that was on the drawing board for DLC that you’re going to have to wait for a new engine iteration or game to do?
Patrick Bach: No, not really. It was more of a design challenge, to be honest. Can we go this far, can we make a game that is y’know – based on the same code as this big wide open game – the question of if that game will hold up for something this intense and tight.
Apparently, it can, so I’m very, very happy about that.
Strategy Informer:So, changing pace to a more generic area from the DLC – is the suggestion that the shooter genre is becoming a bit too over-populated a worry?
Patrick Bach: For us, no. For us, it’s not a problem. I love shooters, I know a lot of people that love shooters – I think it’s a very natural thing that more people can get into this type of game and gameplay. It’s a very classical way of playing games. Look at children – even if they’re very young, they play war, they play soldiers – as a concept it’s a game that people seem to like.
We are making it bigger and wider and also more accessible, so I’m not worried about the inflation of the market to be honest. That’s because we’re within that genre, of course.
Strategy Informer:Battlefield 3 was a very big moment for you as it launched – do you guys feel like you’ve carved your own niche and identity that you can own with it?
Patrick Bach: Yes, absolutely – Battlefield has always had its own kind of ‘genre within a genre’ – it’s not only a shooter game, it’s not only about vehicles, it’s not only about team play – it’s actually about all of these things together.
Then we’re adding destruction on top of that, then we’re adding new team play layers, we’re adding a lot of stuff that actually expands that experience, so... I think we have a very unique spot within the genre.
We’ve been hearing talk like ‘Oh, Battlefield is turning into those other games’ – but I can hear that when people are actually playing it, they never bring that up – they can feel that it is a completely different game.
Strategy Informer:Thanks for your time! I won’t be the guy to ask you about Mirrors Edge 2.
Patrick Bach: [laughs] Well, thank you for that. I’ve been asked about it several times today already!