In their new blog series "The Road to Battlefield 4” DICE developers discuss the features
that players will be able to experience in the multiplayer portion (arguably the most important portion) of their upcoming Battlefield 4
. Lead Multiplayer Designer Thomas “Tompen” Andersson starts off the proceedings with a rousing call to arms:
I think Battlefield 3’s multiplayer is incredible, but I can’t wait to hear what our fans think about Battlefield 4. We’re having a blast playing it at work in its current Alpha stage, and I think we’re onto something big. We want to build upon what makes Battlefield 3 great, and one of the areas where Battlefield shines is team play. The way we’re going about it in Battlefield 4 is to highly encourage team play – but never force it. We want to promote team play by creating great gameplay mechanics such as Field Upgrades, Commander Mode, and a new range of gadgets specifically designed to expand co-operation in the field. We have drastically expanded on the tools and benefits of efficient team play, and as a result we feel Battlefield 4’s multiplayer experience is the deepest, most rewarding, and fun experience in the series.
So what's Andersson talking about then? Let's dissect it!
It is confirmed that Battlefield 4
will include the same four kits from the previous game: The Engineer, Recon, Support, and Assault kits. However, he has vaguely pointed out that these classes will allow further customisation to cater to differing play styles. The exact number and definition of these customisations is only hinted at, and we will just need to wait for their next blog post for them to actually detail them.
Anyway, Andersson also talks about "Field Upgrades", a concept brought over from Battlefield 2142
; players can have their soldier upgraded with special perks (such as faster running, or more health) for playing the game in a way that promotes squad behaviour. For example, if you can diligently keep your squad fully healed then this will eventually be rewarded with a boosted ability. However, if your entire squad dies then you can actually lose progress towards these perks. Get it? Play to win, but remember to play as a team!
You might remember that Battlefield 4
allows a player to act as a Commander, someone with an all seeing eye over the action. This person can give orders to the squad down in the action based on the intelligence they have – the entire team, including the Commander, will be rewarded if the plan is strategically and successfully carried out.
Showing you how team play gives you the edge in the bigger battle is paramount for us, and it involves all elements of the game: audiovisual feedback, user interface, gameplay mechanics, and the way the entire persistence system is designed. When we tie all of these elements together with the tweaked team-based scoring, we have a game where I think everyone will find it satisfying and deeply engrossing to truly be part of a team.
Andersson eagerly introduces the concept of "Levolution", a kind of level evolution, as one of the most ambitious implementations of dynamic environments in a game; by destroying the environment in a certain way you can drastically alter environments to change the lighting and visibility effects in the area (suppose you want to force the enemy to fight in the dark or a massive dust cloud). The environment is also subject to adverse weather conditions. Even simple things, like a soldier accidentally triggering a car alarm, mixes up the strategy. Of course, you can also set up blockades to limit enemy movements.
Andersson probably gives the greatest example:
For example, depending on your team strengths, collapsing the skyscraper on our E3 map “Siege of Shanghai” can be either a positive or a negative. When you've knocked out its four main pillars, the skyscraper will fall in a massive cloud of dust and debris, killing all players unfortunate to be trapped inside. The base that used to be capture point C at the very top of the skyscraper will now be found at ground level, amidst the jarring blocks of concrete and rubble. This new infantry battleground will be clouded by dust, making navigation hard and often seeing players switch to infrared night vision scopes or FLIR. What used to be sniper heaven and the ideal paradrop base has suddenly turned into a low-visibility close quarters combat arena. This is great if you’re all about infantry combat, but if you have a team of great pilots, you will probably want the skyscraper to stay intact.
These new features all promise to make Battlefield
4 a revolutionary piece of war-gaming heaven. It releases for Xbox 360 on October 29th in North America, and November 1st for other regions. The Xbox One version has no release date as yet.