Battlefield 1943 Interview
with DICE Producer Gordon Van Dyke
It was recently announced that EA's and DICE's download-only FPS Battlefield 1943 will have 360 and PS3 owners marching back to the front line this June (PC players needn't lace their combat boots up until September) for a wallet-friendly fifteen dollars. With its WWII-based 24-player battles unfolding in just under two months, we thought it the perfect time to talk to the title's producer Gordon Van Dyke to find out if this latest entry, in a series that defined multiplayer combat for many a mouse-and-keyboard commando, was worth climbing out of our foxholes for.
AtomicGamer: For the new recruits out there, especially those being introduced to the Battlefield experience for the first time through their 360s and PS3s, can you tell us what 1943 is all about?
Gordon Van Dyke: At its core it's a Battlefield game, an accessible game that we're delivering in an arcade fashion. We wanted to emphasize the accessibility, so you'll access it through a download, jump in, and everything just comes to you... it quickly gets you in the action. They'll be a ranking system, awards, all the stuff you'd get with a Battlefield game, like you got in Bad Company and 2142, all delivered in an arcade fashion.
AG: Many current-gen gamers' only experience with a Battlefield game is Bad Company. What can those folks expect from 1943?
GVD: It'll be a really easy transition into this game, and I think they'll find this game's pacing is a lot quicker. In making 1943, we did take feedback from fans of Bad Company, and tried to take what they did and didn't like into account. Console guys are gonna get an improved squad system—something PC players already take for granted—so you be able to create a squad and invite buddies into your squad...we really wanted to improve the experience of playing with your friends. For the first time, we've introduced the private match system using the Frostbyte engine, so people are going to be able create their own private matches and play with their buddies...that experience is really enhanced.
AG: Now, how about the more seasoned Battlefield fans — with fewer maps than its predecessor and the elimination of the anti-armor class, many of them see this as a much more casual game. Is there any added depth to the combat that maybe makes up for these omissions?
GVD: Yes, you're definitely going to experience a much faster pace than what you got in 1942. And, I wouldn't call it “casual”, but more accessible than 1942 you really had to know your first-person shooters and invest a lot of time to learn everything. We haven't removed the learning curve, but we've refined it and made it less intimidating.
AG: Were there any specific complaints fans of 1942 voiced that you made a point to address in 1943?
GVD: Well, with this game we're not trying to make a true successor to 1942, so we wanted to leave that open. The main goal with 1943 was to make a Battlefield game that really highlighted the essence of Battlefield, which are these great Battlefield moments — these crazy scenarios you can create... the sheer volume of things that can happen and what you can do in the game: You can fly an airplane, you can parachute out of the airplane, you can shoot someone while you're parachuting. Or you can drive a tank, jump out right before someone destroys it, and go get the guy who destroyed it by hitting him over the head with a wrench. The amount of things you can do is endless.
AG: With Battlefield: Heroes also on the way, do you think both games can co-exist on the PC? And, are there any plans for any sort of added value for PC gamers playing both games?
GVD: I really can't answer the second part right now as it really hasn't come up... that might be a good idea, though. But as far as them co-existing, I'd say “absolutely.” Both games really deliver their own unique experience; Heroes is free-to-play, it's a third-person perspective, and it really focuses on your character and their abilities — building a unique look and being more individual. 1943 is going to be a true first-person shooter, and it's more reflective of the core Battlefield experience from 1942, and we're really focusing on the Battlefield moments in a first-person perspective. If you played 1942, this one will feel nostalgic, but also a fresh game. Especially, now you can finally drive your Sherman tank through fences and trees.
AG: Many 1942 players would agree that the small arms combat — from aiming to the hit feedback — could use improvement. Does the new engine running 1943 allow for more visceral, solid feeling combat?
GVD: Yes, absolutely. That's always a focus regardless of whether or not we were using a new engine. Those are things you always try and improve on...they're so important to any FPS. You want consistency, you want things to behave the way the player intends for them to behave, so there's absolutely been improvements made in those areas. I know people are going to see those, and it will tangible.
AG: Why are you guys going the download route?
GVD: We really wanted to make it accessible, plus WWII has been done so much we really wanted to deliver a really focused version that wouldn't overwhelm consumers, but give them the Battlefield experience, delivering it to the console players in a new way. And to do it in a way that's exciting because they're getting such a full experience, and one that's the quality that they'd normally pay a retail price for.
AG: Any plans to continue using this download model to support 1943 with additional maps and modes?
GVD: Absolutely. We're keeping our options open. At DICE we're really trying to listen the community and what they crave. Even if we don't directly respond, we do read as much as possible and absorb as much as we can, so we can be aware of what our fanbase is looking for.
Thanks to DICE's Gordon Van Dyke for the chance to grill him about Battlefield 1943. Look for it this June on 360 and PS3, and expect to see it on PC with extra features this September.