If you played the multiplayer beta for Battlefield 1, you know that BF1 isn’t a realistic World War I experience—it is Hollywood WWI. But you also doubtless noticed the extensive amount of research and attention to detail which has gone into making the game.
As it turns out, striking a balance between realism and fun has been one of the great challenges of crafting Battlefield 1—and one of the development team’s greatest victories.
Senior producer Aleks Grondal talks about this with reference to the level of destructibility on the battlefield. Thanks to the powerful Frostbite engine, players can shoot holes through buildings and even bring down walls and entire structures. Players had been requesting more of this over the years, but DICE had to find a balance:
“We want to keep it a little bit over the top, a little bit easier than it is in real life,” stated Grondal. “Destruction helps create individual stories. It facilitates the kind of action that players enjoy so much, that makes them upload videos, tell people ‘Oh I blew a hole in the roof and there was a tank below me, but I blew it up with dynamite.’”
A the same time, Grondal points out that if the landscape is too destructible, it becomes too difficult to play, which takes the fun out of the game. So the team strived to allow as much devastation as possible without offsetting playability.
Another issue that DICE tackled was trench warfare—which realistically speaking was no fun at all. At the same time, the image of soldiers in a trench is so iconic of WWI that it was impossible to leave it out. Grondal reports that trench warfare is in the game, but “we put a little Battlefield twist on it so it doesn’t play out exactly as it did.”
That theme of improving balance also plays out with Battlefield’s class system, which is more narrowly defined than it was in past titles, and with vehicles, which are going to be a lot more realistic. A tank will no longer be something you can run and gun at without consequences. It will be a deadly metal monster you will want to dive out of the way of—and which you will feel proud to actually take down.
Ultimately, DICE’s aim with Battlefield 1 isn’t to tell the story of World War I—that would be impossible. It is to give players experiences through which they can tell their own personal stories. This is shaping up to be the most immersive game of the year—and we only have a few weeks left to wait. Be sure to pre-order Battlefield 1 before October 21st so you can play it on the day it comes out!