While new shooter franchises including Bungie’s Destiny and Respawn Entertainment’s Titanfall drew much of the genre attention at E3 and Gamescom, it is staple modern shooter sequels Battlefield 4 and Call of Duty: Ghosts that will serve to transition players into the next generation of game consoles this fall.
For DICE, Battlefield 4 is more than just the next installment in the long-running franchise as it represents the first game in the series that will offer the same experience across the PC and consoles thanks to Microsoft and Sony releasing the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, respectively.
DICE executive producer Patrick Bach explains to VideoGamer that to bring Battlefield 4 to next-gen consoles at 60fps and with the same features as the PC version, there had to be some “compromises.”
“doing as much as [it] can, but we need to compromise in some places… from a CPU/GPU perspective, no, [PS4 & Xbox One cannot match PC]. PC will always be… You can just add more to a PC. There’s always more. The game supports to a big extent better hardware, but not completely, so it won’t be night and day.”
There was of course, a significant downgrade on the last generation between the PC and PS3/Xbox 360 versions of Battlefield 3 which saw a limitation on player counts on the console versions, along with view distances, which prevented players from being able to take advantage of the expansive maps DICE created.
With Battlefield 4, the same issue will persist on the PS3 and Xbox 360 but the next-gen console versions will be better able to compete with the PC, both supporting 64-player counts along with all of the features from the PC version. Bach does however, wish the next-gen consoles (along with PCs) were more powerful but does understand the need for balance when it comes to costs to consumers.
“I think the cool thing that we are extremely excited about is that you will, for the first time, get a full Battlefield experience on a console. It’s the same core, it’s the same game, it’s the same feature set, there’s nothing left out, so to speak. But there’s also the 64 players, 60FPS experience that you haven’t really seen on a console previously which will move it up a big notch and eliminate some of the gap between PC and console.
“Then it’s more of a question on graphical fidelity, graphical detail and stuff like that. But then on the other hand, [PS4 & Xbox One] have some cool features that [benefit] it being a console game. You know, how Battlelog is integrated into the game in a much better way, you have the second screen features, you have the whole friends network which is super nifty on the consoles, and stuff like that.”
The PS4 demo at Gamescom of BF4 did take some criticism for being a little less pretty than the initial game’s unveil at GDC earlier in the year but for the most part, the differences won’t be too noticeable. As for the long-term future of the franchise and its epic battle with Activision’s Call of Duty series, could BF ever become annualized like the competition? Bach doesn’t believe so.
“I think the core Battlefield idea that we’re working on at DICE is… We can’t build a game at DICE every year.”
For loyal fans, this is good news – no one wants a rushed version of the next Battlefield but it does raise an interesting question of how EA will compete for the key holiday season next fall without another Battlefield and with Medal of Honor now out of their rotation. Keep in mind, Star Wars: Battlefront (also in development at DICE) isn’t coming until summer 2015 at the earliest and Respawn’s Titanfall is releasing next spring. Could EA and DICE use BF4 as a platform to launch expansions and new content instead?
“Maybe it [could]. You’re touching upon something that we’ve actually started noticing as well. Battlefield is almost turning into a first-person shooter/vehicular combat platform where people want more things but put into the same core mechanic.
“So I don’t know. Maybe it’s a really smart thing to do; maybe it’s the completely wrong thing to do. We can see that some games are actually doing it already, like MMOs. You have some free-to-play games [that] continue on the same platform. So I think it’s more about the audience and getting all the ducks in a row, so to speak.”
Instead of running through the (monetization) motions of simply adding new maps, and a few new vehicles and weapons every few months as part of Battlefield 4 Premium, why not add legitimately new and different content? Something like this:
We know, we know. But seriously. Picture E3 2014 during the EA conference a gameplay trailer with soldiers speeding on a bike, guns blazing as the camera pans to the right and T-Rex is chasing them through the buildings. Sounds like a win.
Battlefield 4 releases October 29, 2013 for the PS3, Xbox 360, and PC. PS4 and Xbox One release dates have not been announced.
Find Rob on the Battlefield at @rob_keyes.