Despite failed attempts to the contrary, the Battlefield franchise is best known as a multiplayer-driven shooter series for PCs. If the hands-on time we got with the game at a recent EA event in San Francisco is any indication, that all might change with Battlefield: Bad Company, a single- and multiplayer-driven, console-only version of the game due out June 23 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. We spoke to Dice's Karl Magnus, the game's senior producer, about how the game will work, how Dice is listening to longtime Battlefield fans, and why the game doesn't feature a rather obvious rock classic.
Crispy Gamer: Given that most of our readers will have a passing familiarity with the Battlefield series, what is Bad Company and how is it different?
Karl Magnus: There are quite a lot of things we kept from the old Battlefield games, but there are also quite a few new, big ones. The biggest one is that, even though we have a multiplayer mode, we're focusing as much on a single-player campaign.
Crispy Gamer: What prompted you guys to do a story-driven single-player game after doing so many multiplayer games? Or have I just answered my own question?
Magnus: Well, we see it as being 50/50 single- and multiplayer kind of game. But the reason we wanted to do a single-player mode had a lot to do with this being a next-gen console-only game, and that audience wants a strong single-player game as well as a strong multiplayer one.
Crispy Gamer: Do you not think this kind of Battlefield would work for the PC crowd?
Magnus: No, it could've worked, we just wanted to focus on doing a great console game.
Crispy Gamer: The Battlefield series has covered World War II, the modern era, and the not-so-distant future. In what era is this one set?
Magnus: It's a modern setting. When we listen to our fans, we get the sense that the modern setting is what people like the best.
Crispy Gamer: The story in Bad Company isn't a serious war drama like Call Of Duty 4. How come?
Magnus: Battlefield, from the beginning, has been almost silly. When you throw a grenade at someone, they don't explode into blood and gore; they fly away, waving their arms, "Aaaaaaaa!" Battlefield 1942, for example, took a lot of inspiration from the movie "Kelly's Heroes." So when we wrote this story, we wanted it to have an irreverent tone and some black humor.
Crispy Gamer: Was "Kelly's Heroes" a big influence on this game's story as well?
Magnus:Yes, but we looked at a lot of movies, especially "Three Kings."
Crispy Gamer: What's interesting is that the single-player mode plays like a multiplayer one, just with the other characters being bots instead of other people. Why did you decide to go this route?
Magnus: That was actually something we decided to do early on. What's fun about the Battlefield experience? Well, it's the sandbox experience, do whatever you want. If you see a vehicle, jump into it. If you find a weapon, you can use it, but then we added mission objectives, a story and cut scenes, and it just felt very natural. Sure, we have times when we direct a player to a certain point so we can progress the story, but most of the time we give them the freedom to do what they want.
Crispy Gamer: The game does have a multiplayer mode. How will that work?
Magnus: We have a brand-new mode called "Gold Rush," which actually has a thematic connection to the single-player story. In it, one side has to defend some crates full of gold, while the other side tries to take them, and if they take all of them, it expands the map, and there are more gold crates.
Crispy Gamer: Given that so many online gamers like the modes you find in most games -- "Deathmatch," "Team Deathmatch," "Capture the Flag," etc. -- why are you only doing "Gold Rush"?
Magnus: It's something we've always done, we've always just done the one multiplayer mode, though we always polish and tweak the hell out of it. We'd rather do that than just copy a bunch of other modes and stick them all together. But we've been doing an open beta of Bad Company lately, and one of the key messages we've been getting from our fans is that people are slightly pissed we didn't include "Conquest" [the "Capture the Flag"-esque mode from Battlefield 2], which actually surprised us. They like "Gold Rush," but they want "Conquest," as well. So what we're saying now is that we will deliver "Conquest" as a free download at some point after Bad Company comes out. We just don't know when it will be out yet because we're just starting to work on it.
Crispy Gamer: How many people can "Gold Rush" handle at a time?
Magnus: It's focused around 24 players.
Crispy Gamer: How many maps will there be at launch?
Magnus: We have eight maps.
Crispy Gamer: Will "Conquest" use the same maps, or will you have "Conquest"-specific maps?
Magnus: As I said, we haven't started working on "Conquest" yet, so we're not really sure how we're going to do it. We don't know if the same maps will work. We're also tossing around the idea of adapting some of the single-player maps.
Crispy Gamer: Well, you could also use maps from the "Conquest" mode from Battlefield 2, since a lot of people who'll be playing Bad Company won't have played Battlefield 2.
Crispy Gamer: I mentioned Frontlines earlier, but one of the first games to swipe the Battlefield idea was Star Wars: Battlefront. Is there anything that they ever did in those games that you guys wish you'd thought of? Aside from shooting Ewoks, of course.
Magnus: Yeah, that's always fun. I can't say that I've ever looked at those games and wished we'd come up with some feature in their game, but I love Star Wars, I grew up on Star Wars, so playing a game that has the basic Battlefield gameplay that we do, but with all the Star Wars stuff -- that was really, really cool. Walking around in one of those massive AT-ATs was great fun.
You know, actually, that's something they do really well, letting you pilot some massive vehicles.
Crispy Gamer: Well, you could do that, too. You'd just have to make a game set in the future.
Magnus: Right. Though we had aircraft carriers in Battlefield 1942 -- that was really cool. Maybe we should bring them back.
Crispy Gamer: There's still one thing I don't understand. Why didn't you guys get the song "Bad Company" for your game?
Magnus: Yeah, I know. Some of us on the team hadn't ever heard the song or the band before we started working on the game, though when we did, we realized it would've been perfect for the game. It just turned out to be too hard for us to get.
Crispy Gamer: You know, I'm sure Kid Rock would've done a cover of it for you if you asked nicely.
Magnus: Yeah, we didn't look into that, but it's probably something we should do in the future.
Crispy Gamer: There's always the sequel.