As the next generation of game consoles arrives, so too does a new generation of video game engines to make the most of them. Amongst these is the new Frostbite 3 engine from DICE, upon which Battlefield 4 and other EA titles will be built, and which will span many gaming platforms including iPad and iPhone.
To showcase the capabilities of Frostbite 3, EA has released a new tech demo featuring footage from Battlefield 4 and interviews with the developers of the engine, who detail the ways in which it “enables game designers to do way more than they’ve ever been able to do before.” For games where destruction and collateral damage are a major element, the ways in which they have enabled the player to have a tangible impact on the environments around them are particularly exciting.
Frostbite 3 isn’t the only new game engine about to enter the market, however. The tech demos that we’ve seen so far for the next iteration of Epic Games’ popular Unreal Engine 4 – including last summer’s “elemental” demo and the more recent trailer showcasing the capabilities of the engine on the PlayStation 4 – have got a lot of gamer’s mouths watering (and more than a few PC gamers saving up for the best next-gen graphics card to power it). How will Frostbite 3 fare in the competition with Unreal 4? According to one executive working on some of EA’s flagship games, it won’t be in competition at all.
Dennis Nilsson, the head of new EA studio Ghost Games and an executive producer of entries in the Need for Speed and Battlefield series, expressed pride in the new Frostbite engine, an improved variant of the Frostbite 2, when interviewed by Pocket-lint, but also made it clear that it is going to stay strictly in-house:
“It’s never going to be the Unreal Engine because we’re never going to let anyone use it… It’s EA’s engine and EA is going to start developing that. Whatever the strategies for Frostbite 3 are I can’t talk about. But I can tell you Frostbite 3, for us, is not only awesome in what it outputs on the screen, it’s also how the developers back in Gothenburg can work with it. The iteration times are faster, the Frostbite team has that much more time – not working on the toolsets as [much as] they are on the output.”
“We’ve done a shit load of work to get it to be a proper driving engine. I think if you look at the game and play the game you’ll see the results of that. Frostbite 3 is showing its muscle because we’ve tailored it into a driving engine now.”
As widely used as it is, the Unreal Engine is really the exception to the rule, as most major game developers tend to have their own in-house engine, such as Rockstar’s RAGE, id Sofware’s id Tech, Infinity Ward’s IW Engine and Ubisoft’s Anvil. In many ways, this state of affairs is vastly preferable; as great as Unreal is, it’s hard to imagine anyone wanting to see all games run on the same engine, especially since individual in-house engines help to give the different studios their own unique feel. All the same, if you like the look of Frostbite 3 then you might be understandably disappointed that it will be limited only to EA titles.
Tell us if you’re impressed by what you’ve seen of Frostbite 3 so far, or whether there’s another updated engine that you’re looking forward to more, in the comments.