While rival series Call of Duty has been preoccupied with mapping the future of warfare in its recent outings, EA’s Battlefield franchise is going retrospective with its next instalment – right back to the The First World War, in fact.
Announced at this year’s E3, Battlefield 1 is all about horseback combat, trench warfare, experimental tanks and flimsy biplanes. Elements that will be new to pretty much any first-person shooter fan.
Taking this into account, design director Lars Gustavsson admits that he and his team at DICE were slightly nervous about how the game would be received prior to its big unveiling earlier this year.
“It wasn’t until early May when we revealed Battlefield 1 that we were allowed to talk about it,” he says. “We were extremely nervous about whether or not people would like the concept. Thankfully the internet exploded and from that point on the game has been surrounded by an enormous positive energy, and that’s something that makes me super happy.”
If Gustavsson needed any confirmation that the gaming public was ready to embrace the past, then he got one when the Battlefield 1 beta launched at the end of August. “It was bigger than we expected,” he modestly admits. “I think we broke all records for an online beta, with over 13 million users.” The beta didn’t just illustrate that the game’s theme had universal appeal – it also provided valuable feedback which has subsequently shaped development.
“We had some great feedback from the community,” says Gustavsson. “One of the most talked-about changes involved a mode called Conquest, which is the classic Battlefield mode where you fight over territory symbolised by flags. Having more flags than the other team adds to your score, but in the old days the elimination of enemies also gained you score. With Battlefield 1 we actually removed this scoring system but it became clear quite quickly that the community preferred things the old way, where you could heal and revive team-mates, thereby saving score for your team. That’s one of the changes to come out of the beta.”