Battlefield 5 didn’t have the easiest of beginnings. In recent months, fans have turned against him over the inclusion of women and “unrealistic” cosmetic customizations in the game, while a recent financial report from Cowen pointed out that the game falls short of expectations. in terms of pre-orders, which is a real shame. Our experience at Gamescom with Conquest mode on the Rotterdam map, in fact, was fantastic (although the climbing mechanics need some refinement).
The open beta started on September 4th and we were really curious if DICE felt prepared for launch. We recently caught up with Battlefield executive producer Aleks Grøndal and asked him some questions about the new Battle Royale mode, Grand Operations and live services. The answers we received, however, did not fully convince us.
The new map of Rotterdam, revealed in the Gamescom trailer.
SamaGame: We’d like to start by asking what are the main differences between this Battlefield and Battlefield 1. What are the biggest changes you have made?
Grøndal:There are a couple of really cool ones. First of all, the setting is a big change for us. We wanted to go back to World War II, a setting that we have already seen in the franchise and that we have thoroughly explored in the past so it is also part of our story. The philosophy behind this new Battlefield was like: “OK, let’s go back to WWII but let’s show something that has never been seen”. World War II has been extensively explored and deepened in popular culture but we want to show a different side of it, so we have chosen what we call “the fall of Europe”. It is not a term that makes much sense in itself but by it we mean the early years of the war, the battles that took place in France, Norway and some other place.
SamaGame: So we will have the return of the War Stories. Will you include more than last time?
Grøndal: We can’t say exactly how many there will be yet but, broadly speaking, we will be on the same kind of experience as we had on Battlefield 1. On the number, however, we can’t say yet. We can say, however, that there will be one, which we have already talked about previously, which is called Nordlys and takes place in Norway. It is the story of a young resistance fighter who fights against the occupation and discovers some information that she must understand how to use: it’s a kind of Nordic-style noir, really interesting.
SamaGame: In the campaigns set during the Second World War we have always seen the perspective of the Allies. Have you ever thought about proposing some War Stories in which you play an Axis fighter or would it be too difficult due to the moral implications?
Grøndal: As I said before, I can only talk about Nordlys at present, so I can’t really comment on what’s on the other side. You will soon have surprises, though. We are preparing a lot of interesting and unexpected stuff.
Battlefield 5’s ‘Nordlys’ War Story focuses on a Norwegian resistance fighter.
SamaGame: Let’s talk about pre-orders. Cowen, an investment banking group, recently said the figures are lower than they anticipated. From your perspective, are the numbers really that low? Do you consider this a problem?
Grøndal: I can’t really comment on whether they are below expectations or not. What I do know is that we will continue to move forward – we have a lot of interesting content coming up in the near future and we firmly believe in the product we are developing. This is all I can say.
SamaGame: Another of the hottest topics is the fact that Battle Royale mode is coming to Battlefield. Apparently, DICE is not involved in the development of this mode. Which studio is doing this?
Grøndal: We can’t talk about Battle Royale today.
SamaGame: Will we have news soon?
Grøndal: Yes, soon.
What I can tell you is that we want to do something unique to Battlefield that contains everything that people expect to find in a product related to this brand: vehicles, destruction, team play. We want to build on these basics and create something truly special. We want it to be something that fully reflects us.
SamaGame: Do you already know which elements will make Battlefield’s Battle Royale different from all the others?
Grøndal: It is the same game but in a different context. This should give you an idea of the direction we are moving in.
SamaGame: So will it be a mode with typical Battle Royale elements like the high number of players and the shrinking zone but with the Battlefield gameplay?
Grøndal: That’s the best I can tell you, I can’t say anything else.
SamaGame: There has been a lot of debate in the Battlefield community about “realism”. What do you think it comes from? Do you believe that Battlefield can overcome it?
Grøndal: I can’t say where it comes from, I can only tell you why we made certain decisions. This is the game where we wanted you to be able to create your own group of soldiers. We wanted to give you the ability to customize every element, from their aesthetic appearance to the style of play because, right now, you should be free to choose how you want to play without restrictions. I really think it’s the right thing to do and that’s what many community members have been clamoring for, so we will stick to our position. Unfortunately, I cannot answer the second part of the question.
SamaGame: Now let’s talk about monetization. EA has announced that there will be no Season Pass and the only micro-transactions present will be for cosmetic items. Can you confirm that the only items on sale will be aesthetic?
Grøndal: Yes, we have eliminated the Premium. Our community asked to always play together, without limitations, and we made them happy.
SamaGame: So you did it to avoid separating the community?
Grøndal: Exactly. We realized that many were saying: ‘oh, I really want to play with my friend but he doesn’t have the necessary DLCs, so we can’t play together’. For this reason we have eliminated the premium, to allow everyone to play together. I think it will help a lot.
As for how we will monetize the game, individual customizations are a part of our plans but I can’t say anything else at the moment.
SamaGame: What reactions have you recorded in the Closed Alphas? What changes have you made to the game since then? What are you working on before the official launch?
Grøndal: We ran two Closed Alphas . In the first we wanted to get an idea of the balance of the basic mechanics because for us it is really important that everything is in perfect balance even if we know that it will be something to evaluate in the long run.
The rhythm of the first alpha was more appreciated while the balance of some weapons, in the second, met more favor with the public. Some sniper rifles resembled what was seen in Battlefield 4. Yes, the game has something of Battlefield 4 in itself. We believe we have found a good middle ground.
We’ve had good feedback on the game overall, but we’re still working on a couple of things. Some players have complained that too many things happen on the screen and that enemies are not always well recognizable. We want to avoid putting the HUD in charge of this task because otherwise you risk having an icon hunt rather than a war. We prefer that you focus on the game world and what you want to do. Some of the changes have already been included in the open beta while others are still in full swing.
SamaGame: Some players say that testing the game gives the feeling that it is too similar to Battlefield 1. Do you think it has enough novelty to make it different from the previous chapter?
Grøndal: I think that’s the feedback you get for all games, to be honest. I will not say it is completely wrong because there is some truth behind those claims. It is a Battlefield series game and therefore should always feel like you are playing Battlefield. Some elements are similar to the predecessors but we are working to include a bunch of completely new things. I’m glad everyone is getting a chance to try the game and realize how different it actually is from Battlefield 1.
I have been working on the Battlefield series for 12 years and have this kind of conversation almost every year. The interesting thing is that people want to change things in the game but not too much. So it is as if they walk a fine line between “too much” and “too little”. We have to find the right balance between familiar elements and absolute novelties.
The Grand Operations mode will run over several days in-game.
SamaGame: Could you explain a little bit more about how the Grand Operations mode will work?
Grøndal: Grand Operation is the natural evolution of the operations seen in Battlefield 1. The idea is to take players on a journey inspired by some real events that took place during the Second World War. Structurally, it’s broken down into in-game days, so you’ll be playing in different modes as you progress.
In the first phase, you will parachute yourself onto the battlefield. You will arrive aboard a plane and your goal is to destroy the artillery on the ground to prepare the attack of your allies. That’s the first goal, the first day.
The second day will take place immediately after. We managed to penetrate the enemy territory, now we have to move and break through the barriers, capturing the zones and delimiting a defense area.
The third day takes place during the second night. We will be transported to another location where we will have other objectives to accomplish as we continue to advance into the heart of enemy territory. Based on the outcome of the assault you may also be forced to face what we call? The Final Stand ??, a moment in which every bullet and every life could make the difference between victory and defeat. It is a desperate struggle until the end, when the fate of the entire operation is decided. Unlike Battlefield 1 you won’t have a moment to catch your breath, everything will always be in constant motion, constantly changing, even if the defenders are doing a great job. There is an exciting story to tell and we don’t want to give the feeling that players can’t make progress.
SamaGame: What do you think the future holds for Battlefield? Have you thought about it?
Grøndal:Yes, absolutely, we have specific plans. With Battlefield 5, we will be launching the Tides of War program, a seasonal narrative that we will continually update with new content and new missions that players will be able to tackle over time – this is our first step in rethinking the basics of games as services. In the past we had the premium that forced us, in a certain sense, to operate in a certain way. With this type of policy, however, we will be able to do things more flexibly, bring always new and interesting content, experiment and get instant feedback from the community. So yes, absolutely. I believe this is a fresh start for Battlefield post-launch content, starting with Battlefield 5. We are super excited to see what the future holds and how the community will take it.
SamaGame: What kind of experimental ideas do you have in mind?
Grøndal: I think some of the things that are coming have already been … suggested in a way. I don’t want to go into details but we have many plans for the future
SamaGame: So we can say that the post-launch service will serve to keep the attention of the players? Instead of thinking about monetizing with the season pass, will you now focus on keeping players interested so that they can eventually think about spending on cosmetics?
Grøndal: Yes, that’s the idea.
At the same time it is also what the players asked of us. It is a positive change for everyone.
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