DICE and Battlefield!


This year’s E3 wasn’t the best but didn’t disappoint either. I think we saw what we mostly wanted to see and of course a ton of stuff that was needless but hey ultimately every studio out there is competing! One game that has really got me kicked and left me craving for more is Battlefield 1.

I mean I know there are a ton of shooters out there for good and bad and this is not the genre that needs to reinvent its wheel but that intangible feel factor was always missing in shooters to me. COD when it was born out of the talented folks from Infinity ward after they quit EA had that magic. When we saw that game for the first time, it was almost like a birth of a new genre within –‘ WW shooters’ and then came the wave of games that followed its footpaths. COD1 for its time was the best in its class – it nailed almost everything right from weapons to missions, characters to storytelling. But of course they were limited with the horsepower they had back then and only could do so much and honestly technology only supported them to that extent. Of course DICE was making Battlefield games in parallel with IW but the BF1942 couldn’t rake up as much as COD1 did. They were simply not as good as the guys at IW but had plenty of potential. To me COD had its stand till Modern Warfare 1 which was a great pivoting point that gave that much needed break from WW shooters and put players in a modern setting that not only looked refreshing but played amazing. Some of its single player missions, narrative design is still the best of its class. And of course it all ended there in my opinion after which the games purely became a reskin affair throwing in new characters, setting and such. Pass on the engine/source code to many of the Activision studios and have them churn out COD games every year like FIFA/NFL games from EA or like Assasins creed from UBI.  Irrespective of that they find their audience – good for them they have built that from the early phases of the franchises. But you reach a point where people throw up, where enough is enough and the brand loyalty is killed in a instant. You see your valuable fan base moving onto a new game that they think is now better. They don’t take shovel ware any more no matter how much eye candy is thrown in there. I think this is exactly what happened to the recent COD IW reveal. Considering the fact that it is straight from the IW studio I would have asked for a reboot of COD and expected a better game over all but I think they lost that. I am sure the game is still going sell millions of copies with the teen audience and probably the hardcore COD loyalists. Never the less I am unsure if ACTIV didn’t read the pulse of their audience right this time- as it turn out they clearly didn’t want another COD reskin ?

This is where I truly believe DICE has hit the bulls-eye! They came up with a game that again gave that much needed break from Modern warfare. I know DICE was making modern Battlefield games too thus far and no disrespect there. Those games were indeed good but stuck to the same format and of course given the Business pressure publishers would want to stick to a proven formula and not risk the IP. But we see changing trends in the games business. The funny thing about trends in games is that what was old school suddenly becomes the hot trend – the current gen gamers have this innate craving of going back in time and playing history. When they want it you got to give it to them and give it to them by surprise. I heard the original battlefield 1 pitch was rejected outright by EA when DICE presented it, claiming WW1 won’t sell as it was just a trench warfare. But kudos to the two guys from DICE who kept pitching and pushing this harder across the table. I heard they went to the extent of making it as a playable proto and that blew the waters!

The game from all the videos I have seen looks and plays flawlessly for a pre-alpha build. What amazed me was the level of fidelity and immersion the Multiplayer game was able to produce which felt very natural. When the battle is on with all those players, we can feel the intensity and know we are in the WW1 battle zones. Everything from gun mechanics, sounds, explosions, tanks, destruction, and air combat looked and felt right. It’s that satisfying experience that sets these games apart from the generic ones. Every little element is given attention. Lets admit we all have seen games with dynamic weather, fog, rains and such- but they are generally done for visual impact and mostly lacks functional effect. With BF 1 I was amazed to see how they change the game play. What starts as a sunny map suddenly experiences fog and rain affecting the visibility and thus the strategy of play. You can’t any more go Rambo mode- you need to adapt your play to the prevailing conditions and that subtle change brings a great deal of impact and variety to the same map and increases the replayability.

DICE has been doing destruction based gameplay for a while now but never have they felt so satisfying like seen in BF1 now. A building in a pristine condition is brought down by a British MarkV tank (Oh the MarkV tank – boy does it look good!)  And you are no more able to take cover there and yet again seek cover amidst the fallen debris. Nothing new in today’s games standards, but it is done right and that is what matters! I also particularly loved the character movement which felt very natural and didn’t visually break in third person something that is very commonly seen in FPS. It had a lot of weight and fluidity. Vehicle and Air based combat weren’t covered to full extend as Infantry but with what we saw I think we are fully satisfied. For now I cant wait to get my hands on the game – cant wait to fly one of those old school fighter planes!

Oh one thing I too thought like many is that they should change that lady’s voice in the game – it sounded too modern. I would want a commander screaming at me to feel the intensity of the battle and not a soothing voice! Alright DICE you heard me!

And then I saw this alleged leaked screenshot from the game showing a vehicle customization screen. Customize a war horse – hell yes!