Gameplanet: Is there such a thing as too many first-person shooter games?
Patrick Bach: Yes and no. There’s always competition in a genre that is popular, so all competition is good competition so there can never be too many. But then again, if you’re a consumer, it could be a case of “what should I focus on?” People spend a lot of time playing these games, so if you invest in the wrong game, you might waste your time.
Gameplanet: Where have other first-person shooters gone wrong and how does Battlefield 3 address these problems?
Bach: I wouldn’t say games go completely wrong, but in general I think first-person shooters need to have a good first-person shooting experience! I think that’s where some games fail, they miss the opportunity to create a great shooting experience. That’s the core of the first-person shooter. It doesn’t matter if it has a great narrative or pretty graphics or great sound if it’s not fun to aim and shoot. That’s key.
Gameplanet: PC is the lead platform. Do you see PC as resurgent? Is this console generation beginning to limp?
Bach: I wouldn’t say this console generation is limping. We’re pushing the envelope quite far with the PC right now, but the interesting thing is, by doing that, we’re learning a lot about the consoles. We can create better looking, better playing games on consoles as well! So yes, PC is pushing the boundaries but the consoles are following.
Gameplanet: EA has been actively courting controversy in the media with its first-person shooters recently, for example Bulletstorm and Medal of Honor. Can we expect the same for Battlefield 3?
Bach: I’m not the one to answer that! We’re not trying to build controversy into the game, so you can’t blame me for any controversies! [laughs] Controversy is something that someone picks up on. If you try to force controversy into a game I think you’re focusing on the wrong things!
Gameplanet: How linear or scripted is the singleplayer experience?
Bach: I won’t go into details on exactly what is what, our goal is to create a dramatic and interesting narrative experience. Whether that’s done by open sandbox gameplay or super-scripted, hard-controlled set pieces, then – I think there are benefits in both, no right or wrong. I think a good mix of both would be my choice for singleplayer.
Gameplanet: But as the executive producer is it not in part your choice?
Bach: I think Battlefield 3 will contain both, yes!
Gameplanet: What advances can we expect in multiplayer over the latest Battlefield game, Bad Company 2?
Bach: In general, the easy answer to that is that this is not a Bad Company game, so a lot of the design choices we made for the Bad Company series we’re not doing now. Also we learnt a lot from the Bad Company series, destructibility is something we had in Bad Company that we didn’t have in Battlefield 2 for instance, for many reasons! I think we had a fence that could break, actually, but that was it! [laughs] But in general, Battlefield 2 had a lot of things that Bad Company didn’t have: simple things like prone, or jets weren’t a part of the Bad Company series and those are things that of course will be back in Battlefield 3!
Gameplanet: Will the multiplayer game include a pseudo-levelling system?
Bach: I won’t go into details on the persistence and how you level up, but looking back at previous Battlefield games, it’s no secret that we like persistence and we like unlocking new and cool stuff!
Gameplanet: How long has Frostbite 2.0 been in development?
Bach: More than three years now! When you look at what the game looks like today, you can see that there has been a lot of technological advances in many areas that have enabled us to make this. Frostbite 1, which was built to create the first Bad Company game was actually a big leap forward for the DICE studio in creating first-party multiplatform engine. But also utilising all of the new and cool features of the consoles. Thus also the PC. We did find a lot of flaws when it came to really taking a big step forward, so that’s why it was rewritten. Both for development purposes but also for producing better looking, better sounding and better playing games.
Gameplanet: Can level of character animation be translated to the multiplayer?
Bach: Yes and no, since you’re in multiplayer, everyone is responsible for their own actions, so we won’t layer things on top of that to make you feel cool in someone else’s eye! What you do should reflect what you do! So we’re really trying to make you and your actions look cool, rather than padding it with some canned animations for instance. So what we’re trying to do is have people look like people, characters look like characters. Instead of having them look like representation of a character it should look like a real person.
Gameplanet: That sound design is incredibly strong. Can you elaborate as to how that was achieved?
Bach: Sound for the Battlefield series has always been very important. We just won a BAFTA award for Battlefield: Bad Company 2 which is quite amazing, winning it for a first-person shooter is quite cool! I think we know what it takes to create a well-sounding Battlefield and I think we know also what is needed to take it that one step further. So Battlefield 3 will feed on the ideas of Battlefield 2, rather than the Bad Company series. A lot of the authenticity that you see in the core Battlefield series will also come across in Battlefield 3. So yes, we’re definitely pushing the envelope there as well!
Gameplanet: Where are you in the development cycle?
Bach: We’re pre-Alpha, so we haven’t really gotten all the features into the game yet. We don’t have a game that can be played all the way through, but we do have stuff up and running to the quality that you’ve seen so far. So we know what we’re building and we know the quality we can get.
Gameplanet: Where does the weight in this game lie, with the singleplayer or the multiplayer?
Bach: That’s really hard to answer because we have a huge team building the game right now and we’re putting a lot of effort into singleplayer but we’re putting more effort into the multiplayer than we did in Battlefield 2, for instance. So I would argue that the focus lies in the eye of the consumer. We want you to get your money’s worth just by playing one part of the game and if you like all of it, then, hurrah! [laughs] We want to create a high-value product for the consumer and we do have a great toolbox when it comes to weapons and vehicles and stuff like that.
Gameplanet: Speaking of toolboxes, will there be any capacity for modding?
Bach: We don’t have any information on that right now, at all. On that topic, modding is a declining trend actually. It’s sad to say. We’ve seen some cool mods but since games are getting more complicated to build, it’s also getting more complicated to mod them, so it’s a declining trend as we see it. Sad but true.