We got a chance to sit down with Erik Ortman, UX/UI Designer from DICE to talk about Battlefield 1 in Los Angeles. Battlefield: Rome anybody?
Battlefield players are used to more fast paced play, but much of World War 1 was in trenches; it was a lot of sitting around, with bolt-action rifles. How did DICE get around that challenge?
Erik: I think one of the things we wanted to do when choosing this era was challenge some of the preconceptions that existed. Because yes, trenches were a big part of the conflict but there was so much more to it, we feel.
There were some of the biggest dog fights we've seen in the world, there were massive fights in the Arabian desert, in the mountains, and in the alps of Italy. So it really was a world war, and it took place all over the globe. So yeah it's interesting to bring that to light in order to challenge those preconceptions, 'cause there's more to it than that.
Was there much resistance you guys brought up the idea of World War One?
Erik: It was a challenge in the beginning for sure. It's a game we've been wanting to do for a long, long time. There's a couple of really dedicated history nuts in the office that gave this pitch, and really I wanted to do this. And I think the team were skeptical in the beginning, because I know myself going into this project i knew nothing about World War One.
As nearly all games are modern-types nowadays.
Erik: Exactly, and that's something we knew also coming out of BF4 and previous projects. As a team we were a bit fatigued with doing that - we wanted to try something new. And then again, it's something we've been wanting to try for a while, then these guys gave the pitch for World War One, and I was skeptical, personally, because I had the same preconceptions about slow trench warfare. But once we dove into it, and they showed us how this era hits into the Battlefield format.
It was an era when so much was shaped. You would roll into this war on a horse, and then 4 years later people came out in tanks, and during that very short period of time the world was completely changed. Empires fell, borders changed, the way the world looks today can be drawn back to there. And people don't know all these things. Once we started looking at that and saw the diversity this era had to offer, it's really refreshing as a team; building a game of this setting because it has allowed us to discover so much in terms of what gameplay we can create.
The campaigns themselves, in Battlefield's history have often been one of the parts not as well received. What made you guys want to keep trying with single player, as opposed to just focusing on multiplayer?
Erik: I think one of the things, again looking at the era, is that there are so many stories we wanted to tell. It allows us to tell many of these untold stories. We looked really closely at how players play Battlefield games. We've been doing these games for some time now and we wanted to bring more of what makes Battlefield great into the single-player side.
With Battlefield players, it's a lot about creating your own story; you're going with a plan, you're gonna capture that flag and suddenly a plane crashes in front of you and tank comes up and it's just madness - everything goes to crap and you don't have a plan anymore so you have to improvise to make it work. We wanted to bring more of that into the single-player, and provide to the core Battlefield experience.
Building the different war stories (the five of them), has allowed to tell these different stories from different perspectives, but also from different gameplay perspectives. So we tell five very different unique personal stories within their own narrative, if you will. They're also unique gameplay-wise. When we showed you the war story today, you're part of a tank crew, which is more of a vehicle-based war story where you get to take part and see how this crew interacts among each other, and with the tank. Then we have pilot-based war stories. So we get to create varied gameplay styles within these characters and within these settings, and bring the Battlefield format to single-player mode.
Now this one might be a bit hard to answer. Obviously we started with World War Two ages ago when Battlefield first came out, then we went modern, now we've gone one hundred years back to World War One. So do you think it would be possible to have a Battlefield game in a period before there were guns? If we go back even further.
Erik: It would be an interesting challenge, I'll tell you that! I think the Battlefield formula fits within a large variety of settings. Battlefield has always been about the all-out war and the ever-changing Battlefield, so it would be interesting to see. I can't see how that would work from the top of my head. But it was the same going into World War One from the beginning of the project, we didn't know if it was going to work either.
Battlefield 1 is set to release on October 21 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.