In an interview at Gamescom 2016, DICE design director Lars Gustavsson reflects on how and why World War I was the perfect setting for the studio’s next game.
Despite the positive response for Battlefield 1‘s announcement, a question lingers around the upcoming online multiplayer shooter from EA’s DICE studio. It’s a question DICE has answered before and will continue to answer going forward, each answer intriguing and new in different ways. That question continues to be, “Why World War I?” Why would DICE go back to World War I rather than go into the future like other modern shooters, or even to World War II which is well wrought in the industry?
During Gamescom 2016, GameSpot caught up with DICE’s design director Lars Gustavsson who was more than willing to discuss the Battlefield 1 topic. It’s tough to argue that DICE isn’t even more excited for the World War I setting than even fans are. The quotations shouldn’t be too surprising. World War I just happens to offer the rich, storied, and startlingly unexplored setting that DICE thrives on.
“It’s an era we’ve been wanting to explore for a while. We’ve all learned about World War II, Vietnam, and the Cold War. But World War I often goes unnoticed, despite how huge it was. It’s an older time, but in this case, it feels new.”
DICE has been able to dig up all manner of interesting content to fill Battlefield 1 with, which Gustavsson believes players will find unique and exciting.
“Every time we open the research books, we find a new weapon or technique we didn’t know was used during World War I. The misconception is that it was all trenches and slow-paced combat–but this was a war of ‘firsts.’ These empires were experimenting every chance they had.”
Of course, no one really expects Battlefield 1 to create authentic World War I battles. Everyone realizes that the expectations for fun, interesting gameplay don’t necessarily match reality. But DICE, perhaps more than any studio, knows the value in creating accuracy in the setting wherever it can. For instance, Star Wars Battlefront‘s unbelievable reproduction of environments, weapons, and characters from the Star Wars movies was staggering.
DICE’s dedication to authenticity isn’t just limited to recreating weapons or scenes of battle, however. Battlefield 1 will feature a full-length single-player campaign and the setting of World War I offers a ripe selection of untold stories for DICE to tell. Gustavsson elaborates:
“Our research isn’t confined to weapons and vehicles. We’ve sat down to watch movies, talk with experts, page through books as we tried to figure out which story to tell from this time period. The empires involved in World War I were massive, and in a way, each of them was greedy, trying to gain something more as the war continued. There were a lot of different motives we want to explore. It was a complicated time.”
Gustavsson’s answers pertaining to why Battlefield 1 is set in World War I and why DICE decided to go back into history rather than forward into the future, are ultimately unnecessary. As interesting as the details to his responses are, and as vivid as the enthusiasm coming out of DICE regarding the game is, the only meaningful answer will end up being the quality of the game itself. Hopefully when players finally get their hands on the title, there won’t be any question left to ponder.
Battlefield 1 is planned for release on October 21 for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. An open beta is planned to begin in August 31.