Interview With :Steve Papoutsis, Executive producer, Battlefield Hardline - Games Weekly

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Interview With :Steve Papoutsis, Executive producer, Battlefield Hardline


Battlefield has always been seen as a multiplayer game, are you trying to ensure people pay attention to the single-player campaign this time around?

Well, ultimately, the game is a multiplayer game. We’re putting a tremendous amount of work and effort behind the multiplayer portion of this game and hopefully people are going to be interested and excited to play the game because of the multiplayer, because of the ability to have those ‘only in Battlefield moments’. But certainly, we are bringing a level of innovation to the franchise with our single player campaign and we do have a number of people working on that hard to make that really fun. But, I think as an overall package, the way I would want people to evaluate and think
about the game is: this is a Battlefield game.

Was the delay to the game mainly to make sure you get the multiplayer right?

When we debuted the game at E3, with the goals we had with taking the approach of announcing with the beta, there were a couple of things. One was, as a gamer myself, I just always though it’d be really cool to, rather than hear about a game at E3, to get to play it, so we did the beta. The other part of that was, to your question, about getting our legs under us, so to speak, in terms of delivering something stable and also delivering a Battlefield multiplayer game from the ground up. So we wanted to put that out there, test it with the players and as it was a beta, not a demo, actually learn a lot of stuff from them in terms of what they thought about the theme, through to what they think about individual weapons or gadgets, the balance of game modes we wanted to get that information.

We got the feedback, we came back and we were like, ‘Wow, there’s a ton of stuff here to do, how are we going to act on this with the release date in the near future?’. We talked about it and Andrew Wilson, our CEO, was behind the idea of ‘Let’s listen to our players and give the development team an opportunity to incorporate the feedback that makes sense’. We’re not taking everything everybody says and putting it into the game. We have to go through, look for commonalities, really decipher what some of these comments mean and then have our designers think about ways that we can improve what we have based on that feedback.

As well as having modes based around your theme, have you tried to keep the two sides feeling quite distinct in terms of their abilities? That was a good thing that came out of our beta. We'd made the assumption that people would want to have more symmetry between the sides, so have them basically be the same.

To keep it fair ?

Yeah, to keep it fair, but also, let’s say you really enjoyed a particular weapon, say the AK47. You love that weapon, but if you only had it on one side, we thought people would be upset because they couldn't progress when they’re on the other side in a match, because we alternate. But coming out of E3 we heard feedback that, no, people actually enjoyed the asymmetry. We've leaned into that and we’ve incorporated that feedback so we do have some asymmetry there between the weapons. Some of them are shared but there are specific ones that are not.

It seems like your trying to do something a bit different with Hardline’s campaign in terms of the pacing and structure of the levels?

Absolutely. One thing that was important to us was not just to say it’s a cops and robbers game and then let you run through and play it like any old FPS. We wanted to make it different and unique. So, things like the ‘freeze’ mechanic, being able to do non lethal takedowns, the taser and things like that really feed into the cops and robbers fantasy, but also allow players to experience the game in a non lethal or stealth way, a non-traditional first person shooter way.

So we deliberately wanted to develop mechanics that allowed people to do that if they chose to. But, it is a first person shooter, so we needed to make sure the gun experience was rock solid and fun, when you pull the trigger of your gun and you have good hit reacts on the bad guys, and all those things. We’ve put a lot of attention across the campaign in making sure it’s a great through the gun experience for the shooter fan, but also for somebody that what’s to experience something little bit different, we’ve provided those avenues for them as well.

Did you take inspiration from anywhere else, as well as being a Battlefield game, because the levels felt a little bit more open and reminded me of other games where you’re able to choose your approach?

If you look at games in recent years, players enjoy feeling smart. Players enjoy engaging with the game beyond just pulling the trigger. That’s really evident in multiplayer, because when you go into multiplayer there are so many different strategies and approach and techniques that you can use. One of our desires was, looking at other games that have come out recently, the games that people really seem to be coming back to and enjoying are ones where they can have a different experience. So when you go to work or go to school or whatever the next day you’re talking about it and your saying ‘I had this mission or this quest and I approached it this way’. I think it’s most interesting when people go, ‘Really? I did it this way’ and then you think, ‘I’m going to try it their way’. I think those are the games people are really remembering and enjoying, so we wanted to make sure we had the opportunity to deliver something like that in a first person shooter, which is pretty different.

Do you see Battlefield Hardline as being something that can become its own thing, almost its own franchise?

I think we as a development team would love to see that happen. Right now this is really the proving ground. Let’s get this game out and see what the players say. If they enjoy it and they want more of it, hopefully the company will be like, ‘Let’s go do more of it’. We’ll just have to see.

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