CCC: Let’s talk about vehicles for a second. Vehicles can take a lot of punishment in this game. It feels like they have gotten sturdier from the E3 demo and the beta. What made you choose to armor up vehicles so much?
BG: It really depends on the vehicle that you are looking at. Our coups and sedans are still very fragile. You can empty a clip into them, especially from a battle pickup like an LMG, and they are done, you know? Those things will go down in one rocket.
But it was important that players could use them as transport in order to get around the map quickly. So they needed to be at least tough enough that one shot isn’t going to kill you in the driver’s seat. There was a point when using magnum rounds in the sniper rifle would take out vehicles in two shots, just completely take them out.
ZM: Ah yeah, that’s what it is. It’s the magnum ammo change we did that makes them feel tougher.
BG: Yeah, that’s the biggest change I think from the beta. In the beta magnum ammo did something like 55 damage or something crazy. That’s two shots from 100% health. A lot of times if there are a lot of people emptying into that car, that car is just done in one sniper bullet. Again this info comes from beta feedback, comes from focus testers, comes from us playing the game ourselves.
ZM: Yeah, it’s pretty much what he said. The biggest change we made to vehicles recently was how they react to magnum ammo. That’s why they feel tougher. They don’t just… the magnum ammo… well, it kind of slipped through.
But that’s why we do a beta, right? It came out and we were like “Ooooooooh crap…” All of the sudden we are seeing this behavior that we really hadn’t seen in our internal playtests. So yeah, that’s why we do a beta!
CCC: The maps also look smaller in comparison to other Battlefield titles. Was that also a result of the cops and robbers theme? Did your focus on speed factor into this? Was there a particular type of gameplay that you were trying to create by shrinking the map size?
BG: A big thing for us was allowing the player to jump into the battlefield quick. We had a lot of players who had a lot of negative experiences where they jumped into the battlefield after spawning, had to run 40 seconds into the distance to see anyone, and then just get hit by a bullet and die and rinse and repeat. A way we tried to fix that was by moving all the spawn points in, making everything a little bit tighter.
Another thing is, for a game that is really focused on infantry, you want a lot of that. You aren’t going to see a lot of the tank or heavy artillery gameplay that you saw in other Battlefield games. So you want to get in to the actual fight quicker.
We do that in a couple ways. We make the vehicles quicker. We make the maps tighter. We make sure we have more well defined routes in our maps. We didn’t really think of the sizing of our maps. We didn’t think, “Oh, we should make this bigger because bigger is going to be better.” We just thought about what map size worked with the experience we were trying to give the player.
ZM: It’s about map density too. Downtown is a good example. If you were to wipe Downtown flat, you could stand on one capture point and be like “the other capture point is right there!” But it’s not a flat map. We have all these buildings you have to contend with. You have to get around all these skyscrapers. You have to go underneath all of these bridges as you make your way over there.
But we still wanted to get the player to the objectives faster. The biggest complaint we heard about past Battlefield games was, “I hate running forever!” So we changed a lot of things. We changed the way our cars respawn. We changed how quickly abandoned cars get taken off the map so new cars can come in and the people that spawn can get into a vehicle quicker. We quickened spawning in a lot of ways and we are just trying to get players back into the action.
CCC: The maps have a lot of verticality to them as well, compared to the wide open maps of Battlefield 4. You have a lot of ways to get to high vantage points and lurk in places people may not find you. Characters don’t have a lot of vertical moving ability outside of gadgets so I was wondering what made you make the maps so vertical?
BG: A lot of it is just the inspiration that we took from to make our game. I mean, you go to downtown LA to the financial district and you look at all the tall buildings and you think, “Man, wouldn’t it be really cool if we were on top of that, fighting it out cops and criminals style?” That speaks to our theme a lot, you know. It speaks to the fantasy that we are setting up with our game. We say, “Yeah, we want these urban environments with different places you can go and things to see.” And you’ll see in certain areas verticality is a big part of that.
Think of cops and robbers, with robbers breaking into a bank. They can come in from the roof of the bank. You can blow up the roof of our bank! That’s really important to us. That’s just part of the fantasy. People want to get on the roof of the bank because it’s cool. If you break the glass on the roof and jump in using a parachute, that’s super cool. It’s that fantasy inspired by film, in part.
It also changes the gameplay in a way. We have a faster game where you aren’t running forward all that much anymore. Instead it’s about route planning and verticality really plays into that.
ZM; The way we think of square footage and space in our map is a bit different. Normally when you look at a map you say we have this much flat space, but we kind of look at it like a cube. We look at it as a three-dimensional space. So we are thinking about whether to put things up high.
Once again, Downtown is a great example. There is a capture point at the top of a building, and then you can zipline from building to building. It helps reinforce the gadgets. If you go to downtown LA and you look up to the different buildings you go, “Man, I really want to zipline on those buildings, break in through a window, grab a heist bag.”
BG: Yeah we think about that for our game modes. It’s like you get on a building and you grab a heist bag and where do you go now? Oh now you have to get past all these armored trucks, just like in the movies.
You know at some point a lot of this stuff really builds itself because it’s just so cool to think about.
CCC: Since you guys have mentioned movies so much, could you just rattle off a short list of movies that served as inspiration for the game?
BG: Oh man we watched a ton.
ZM: You have Heat, the Bad Boys series, Die Hard, the Ocean’s 11 series even though it’s not super cops and criminals but just because of the heist stuff that they do, The Town, the designers are crazy about John Wick, the Lethal Weapon movies, those are money.
BG: So yeah, a lot of Eighties and Nineties stuff. There was a lot of just getting together, we have a room with a couch up there, getting together and rattling them off one movie after another after another.
ZM: You know a lot of times we won’t even watch the whole movie. We will just be like, “There’s this scene we need to put in the game!” You don’t know how many times I’ve watched that one scene from Heat where they are coming out of the bank. That one scene is a lot of the inspiration for Heist mode. Especially in the map design. When you come out of the bank and hit those streets, we wanted it to feel like the streets that were in that movie. We wanna get the same sort of vibe.
CCC: Alright, so one last question. What currently is your favorite part of the game and what would you ask players to look out for when the game launches?
ZM: For me it’s Hotwire mode. I love Hotwire mode. I think Hotwire mode is the jam. I can’t get enough of it. I love it. I also think its super welcoming to new Battlefield players. It’s not super confusing. You can jump right in there and start scoring points. You know exactly what’s going on, driving around. Hotwire mode! I love it.
BC: He’s a born wheelman.
For me it’s the gadget use. I think that’s what separates our game from a lot of other first person shooters. It's the interesting way you can play around with gadgets. We were just at PAX East demoing our Rescue mode, which is one of our five on five single elimination competitive modes, and in these fast modes it’s just so interesting to be able to use these gadgets in different ways that you wouldn’t think of. Getting to a rooftop and ziplining down. Grappling to another location. Even our stealth gadget is really useful in these situations. Now you can’t hear me open a door! Now you can’t hear my footsteps. Stuff like that really matters in our game so I think it’s just really cool seeing the interaction between all the gadgets.
CCC: Well, thank you very much for your time! I can’t wait to play more of the game when it comes out next week.
Angelo M. D'Argenio
Date: March 11, 2015
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*