CLICK: DICE has been working on other titles, like Bad Company and Mirror’s Edge, why did you feel it was time to make Battlefield 3?
PB: It’s actually been a very long process – we started to think about BF 3 when were finishing BF 2. We didn’t do much back then, we started the Bad Company 1 project but thought we could do much better. So how do we make sure that Battlefield 3 will be on par with the expectations of people? When you saw Battlefield 2 the first time people saw it as the next generation of shooters, and we wanted the same for the third game. If you look at Bad Company 2 compared to Bad Company 1 that’s actually a big step forward, not only in terms of gameplay but also persistence and more or less every part of the game is enhanced. But the problem was that we knew we would hit the roof pretty soon and because we’re stupid and we’re DICE we thought that wasn’t good enough so that’s why we started to build the Frostbite 2 engine. We thought that we did a lot of things right with Frostbite but that we could do it much better. We try to look five years in the future all the time and you speculate on what people expect. Like with the destruction in Bad Company 1, that was actually based on what we thought people would see as standard issue in five years. Well destruction is still not a part of first person shooters, weird! But it’s good for us because we’re now on the third iteration of destruction – which is great! We feel like this is the way to play shooters. And if you look at the Frostbite 2 engine, this awesome demonstration today, it’s quite impressive. But it’s actually based on sober choices and very good feedback. So the only reason why Battlefield 3 hasn’t been earlier is because we didn’t have the technology, we couldn’t build that game. That’s the big challenge – we had all these crazy ideas and we wanted it to be a big step forward but we didn’t have the tools to do it.
CLICK: What are your aims for Battlefield 3?
PB: I think first of all getting back to the core DNA. Bad Company wasn’t really supposed to be a core Battlefield game from the start. It turned out to be more of that especially in the sequel because of the audience that we didn’t think we had, like PC, started to get very aggressive on that – asking why Bad Company wasn’t on PC. And also the maturing of the console audience. I think that is probably the most important thing for us because 5 years ago you had a very casual console audience and a very hardcore PC audience. Today you have a hardcore audience on both platforms but the cool thing is that that hardcore are as hardcore on consoles as they are on PC. Which means that we can build in our beloved hardcore features into Battlefield 3. And of course keep all the things we’ve learned from Bad Company as well.
CLICK: Most games are focussing much more on multiplayer, you’re almost going in the opposite direction. Why?
PB: We feel very confident that we will build best in class multiplayer. We’re not worried! Looking at the core of what Battlefield stands for and what we’ve done with the Bad Company series I think we’ve proven that we have very deep and also very accessible multiplayer. I think that our biggest hurdle right now is actually to get the awareness of that. Because I haven’t heard about people that started to play Bad Company that went away from it – I’ve heard the other way around. So that’s our biggest challenge I think – awareness. Other than that we know how to scale from easy entry to super-hardcore features. People have been logging more than 200 hours in Bad Company 2, which is a bit [clears throat] special! Where do you find that time?! And this is on consoles, which is even more wierd. So people are apparently willing to spend a long time in our game so we need to cater for them and make sure we have the persistence to fit the quality of gameplay that they need. We’re not totally happy with multiplayer, there are still a lot of improvements to be made, which we can’t talk about today! But I think that where we see the biggest room for improvement is in single player and the blank sheet of paper that we have there for the Battlefield series is important too.
CLICK: Did you learn a lot about single player from the Bad Company series?
PB: Absolutely, we’ve learned a lot over the last couple of years. And I think that the world has moved on and we have too so we want to incorporate all the knowledge into the DNA of Battlefield.
CLICK: The gameplay seems much more scripted than before – do you think that’s necessary to tell a proper story?
PB: I think that it’s a hard sell today because I had 15 mins to show you something. And I can only refer back to what multiplayer in Battlefield has always been about – it’s about variation, it’s about different weapons, different vehicles, and different angles on new problems. We always talk about rock, paper, scissors gameplay where there’s always a way to counter something else and that’s something we want to achieve in single player as well. So I wouldn’t go into detail on how scripted or how open it’s going to be, but you know how we think in multiplayer so...
CLICK: How about the slow motion moments – can you talk about them at all? They’re not player controlled. Are they there to heighten certain moments?
PB: Yea, it’s to highlight the sensations that people often describe in situations like this. When you get into very dramatic moments, people get very high on adrenalin and you start to see stuff that you might not otherwise. So it’s more of a dramatic tool for us to enlighten different moments in the game.
CLICK: You talked about it being very physical and visceral – what other methods are you using to get that across?
PB: One of the things that we’re trying to do is never to leave the first person perspective and also make sure that the whole animation system and contact with the world is very physical. Also body awareness - if I look down I see my feet; I can pick up things in the world. My body is actually a part of the world; it’s not a camera on a stick! We’re trying to make you as the player more integrated into the world – both from a visual standpoint but also from an audio standpoint and also then gameplay; you have to do more physical things – you had the quick time movement when you had to drag the guy, the little fight sequence, stuff like that. And all of those things are helping you to integrate into the world so it becomes more of a visceral experience.
CLICK: There are so many multiplayer shooters now – how do you make something fresh?
PB: I think there are many ways of creating a fresh multiplayer experience. I think the problem is what are you trying to achieve? We know exactly what the game we’re trying to make should be. Battlefield is supposed to be Battlefield – we couldn’t just turn it into a third person RPG or something. It needs to contain a lot of components that we’ve been focussing on for many, many years. So you need to feel like you can trust what Battlefield stands for. Then of course we need to add stuff to make it fresh. I’m very happy that no one has really beaten us on our turf. We’re still quite unique on the market; no one is really trying to do what we do. They’ve tried; maybe it’s arrogant of me to say that they’re failing! But it feels a bit like: you need to try harder, you have the template, you could just copy it! So I’m very happy that we have a formula that is successful and I’m also very proud to be working at a company that’s been building the same game you could argue for this many years. We wouldn’t let anyone else build it for us – I don’t think they could build a Battlefield game because within these walls there are so many people that worked on Battlefield 1942 that are still here and want to build the best Battlefield game ever.
CLICK: You’re returning to Battlefield now, any chance of returning to another series like, maybe, Mirror’s Edge?!
PB: Well since I’m the executive producer for the Battlefield franchise I can’t really answer those questions! And even if I could answer it I wouldn’t!
CLICK: Finally what is the release date?
PB: We’re saying fall, or autumn 2011. You know what to put in your stocking!