Battlefield: Bad Company 2 PC Q&A
With Executive Producer Karl-Magnus Troedsson
PC gamers have had a tough time with their multiplayer shooters recently. The much-hyped Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 wound up as a disappointment for those who just wanted to play online. EA and DICE are hoping to comfort them by selling them a different game, one with real dedicated servers and a commitment to online play that Infinity Ward clearly didn't have in them. But is Bad Company 2 really going to do everything that Modern Warfare 2 couldn't? We got the chance to ask DICE's Executive Producer Karl-Magnus Troedsson some questions about the PC version.
AtomicGamer: PC gamers were disappointed, to say the least, at the lack of features available in Modern Warfare 2. The lack of a console, dedicated servers, mod support, the ability to kick cheaters off servers, and finally, the 18 player limit are all holding the game back. Can you pledge support for all of these features (and a higher player limit) as a part of Bad Company 2?
Karl-Magnus Troedsson: Some things we can't let them do. We won't give up the server code for instance, because that means there will be more hacks, more cheaters, and all that kind of stuff. So it's important for us to find a balance between how much we give away and how much we actually keep control over. One thing I can pledge, even though it's a very serious word, I can say this: I'm the executive producer for the franchise, so that's what I'm trying to focus on; how do we work together with the fans out there, the hardcore people who keep playing and coming back to our games and playing them over and over again. What I can pledge, is that we are going to continue supporting our games after they've been released. We're going to patch them, we're going to fix them, and we're going to fix bugs that they find and report to us. Because, we are going to ship games and there might be a problem here and there, there might be some balancing, we will fix that. That I can pledge. I can't pledge everything is going to be perfect.
AG: Many PC gamers see the Battlefield series as one that abandoned the PC years ago and is now primarily a console-oriented franchise. What can you say to gamers who are still skeptical towards your dedication to the PC platform and its admittedly finicky userbase?
KMT: Well I can say this much; if they're feeling skeptical about it, I can understand that. I would almost challenge people that—try out the beta of Bad Company 2 on PC, and tell us what you think about it because it's a very similar game; it's the same maps, we spent a lot of time with the controls, the inputs, the UI, and all this kind of good stuff that is very, very important. Not just the eye-candy, that the resolution is higher, and we have more memory, all that kind of stuff, or that you can have 3D goggles or whatever it is. Just the inputs, and how it feels when you actually shoot somebody. I would challenge people to play it and then come back and say if they think they've given up on PC play because I don't think so.
AG: Other than the obvious things like detail settings and resolution switching, can you list off the most important features going into the PC version of Bad Company 2 that won't be seen on consoles?
KMT: Yeah...there's a lot of technical mumbo-jumbo, but I would say that the biggest difference is that there's more players so you can play 32 players on the maps. That actually changes the maps quite a bit. They become more tactical and more hectic, and you play them in a different way. Technical stuff, more resolution, we spent most of the time as I mentioned before, with the actual controls, how does it feel to aim, etc. UI is a big thing even though it sounds a bit boring, our UI is a big thing for us, to get that right. Of course you have things like the server browser, the friends list, all that kind of thing that's specific to the PC, that's where we spent our time.
AG: We've seen Team Fortress 2 add wacky, new updates (like the hats and the Soldier vs Demoman war) that can't really be sold as DLC or expansion packs since they depend on 100% of players to really work, and these additions have been continually revitalizing the playerbase. Do you have any plans like this for Bad Company 2?
KMT: I can say this much, and this is part of what I mentioned before when I mentioned support for our games, is that we are going to release a lot of stuff to the people out there, some you have to pay for, some might be free. It's very important to us that we don't want to segment the community. We've tried this before, we had problems with BF2—some people have Special Forces, some people don't, and they couldn't play together. As soon as the server rotated...there were a lot of problems involved in that. So the general idea is that things like maps, etc, everyone should have the maps so if the server rotates, you can continue on. But maybe there's something else that you don't have, if you haven't bought the DLC pack or whatever. So to answer your question, yes, there will be more things coming out afterwards. It will be slightly different on PC than on console but yes, there's more stuff coming.
AG: Some gamers may not even be aware that the free shooter Battlefield Heroes is already on PC and that Battlefield 1943 for PC is on its way. Do you have any plans for cross promotion or shared reward structures between the three games?
KMT: Well Battlefield Heroes has been out now for quite a time and we're very happy with how it's going right now. It's quite different what we're doing here with Bad Company 2 on PC. It's third person, it's very comic and that kind of stuff. 1943 will be coming out slightly, like a month or something like that after Bad Company 2. We haven't confirmed the actual date just yet but somewhere around there. Currently we're putting all our effort into Bad Company 2 PC. We are looking into cross-promotion, what we can do but they are separate titles. We'll see what we can do afterwards. Maybe there can be some reward programs but it's a bit harder on PC. We'll see what we can do.
AG: EA has had a bit of a rocky relationship with Steam so far, first shying away from them, then putting a ton of games on the service, then pulling back just a bit and relying more on their own online store. Will Bad Company 2 be available on Steam, and will it integrate in anyway, possibly with achievements or Valve Anti-Cheat?
KMT: Regarding Steam and the service that they provide, I must say that something that's very impressive. As an E-tailer, Valve is making all the right choices and Battlefield Bad Company 2 will be available on Steam. That's a thing that I'm personally very involved in and really want to see happen. Of course, you will be able to buy the game on the EA store or any retailer as well as usual, but as we start moving more and more toward digital distribution, these are the channels that we want to use. Battlefield has always been at the forefront of digital sales actually, so it's something we're going to continue doing, to try to if not revolutionize, then evolutionize what we can do and how much we can sell through the online and then share that together with what we sell with the retailers. So yes, definitely. We are working together with—both DICE and EA are working more and more together with Valve and Steam and I think we'll come to some good conclusions in the future.
AG: OK here's an obvious one – a gimme. What would in your view, make somebody want to play Battlefield Bad Company 2 instead of Modern Warfare 2?
KMT: It's an interesting question. The thing is, there are modern day shooters, they exist in a very close, same space, same genre, but they're still different. I dare to say that if you want to play Bad Company 2 the reason you should do that is because I think definitely the multiplayer is better.
AG: Why's that?
KMT: It's definitely because of the sandbox environments, the vehicles that we have; land, air and sea, and the destructible environments. The environments are not static. All this caters to an experience that people really would like. They just need to try it.
AG: Do you think Bad Company's humor separates you at all from Modern Warfare 2?
KMT: From a storytelling point of view, yes. The single player that we revealed here today, there's still going to be the same kind of banter between the characters because the same squad is back that you've seen in Bad Company 1, but the backstory and the scenario that they find themselves in is much more serious this time. The Super Powers, Russia and the U.S. are clashing, Russia is almost at the verge of invading the U.S., and this means that there's much more on the line. This creates a much more serious tone in the actual game. So yes, the humor is something that people will probably like, but there's also a bit of a dramatic scenario in the background that people will also like.
Thanks to Karl-Magnus Troedsson for answering our questions about Battlefield: Bad Company 2. You'll see the game in stores for PC, 360, and PS3 on March 2nd.