Battlefield V Interview — Creative Director Talks War Stories, Battle Royale, and Post-Launch Plans
During EA Play we spoke to Lars Gustavsson about Battlefield V and what both returning players and new ones can expect this time around.
Once again, EA and DICE are gearing up to launch their latest installment in Battlefield series as Battlefield V is slated to launch later this October.
Last month during EA Play, we spoke with Battlefield V’s Creative Director Lars Gustavsson to see what changes both returning fans and new ones can expect in this year’s edition of the game. We also touched on the advent of Battle Royale coming after launch and the return of the single-player mode War Stories, which was introduced in Battlefield 1.
Logan: I want to start by chatting with you about the new fortifications because this seems to be the biggest addition you’ve made to the Battlefield series probably since you started introducing destructibility. Would you agree that this is the big change that players are going to come away thinking about with Battlefield V?
Lars Gustavsson: I hope it’s definitely one of them. For me personally, it adds dynamics to the battlefield. I’ve been wanting this for some time but you don’t always have the possibility of doing it. Battlefield 1942 was static when we did it. I love that game to bits but you knew where the AA guns were and the best way of getting yourself killed was to go into machine guns on Omaha Beach and in two seconds everyone knew where you were and you were dead.
Now with fortifications and placing machine guns and fortifying them with it, I think, to your point, we’ve gone from a very static Battlefield to now very dynamic. Destroy or shape and reshape the battlefield. In combination with, of course, empowering players to pick what vehicles they want to bring to the battlefield. For looks, we want them to kind of look like those rolling homes in historical images and pictures where they took all those things with them. So yeah, customization is a big part of it.
L: Are you guys worried that players are going to be able to cheese this system because they can move everything around now? Is that something that you’re interested in seeing how it plays out once the game releases?
LG: With the tow-ables, it isn’t that every one is stationary. There will be a mix of stationary weapons and there will be stationary weapons that can be towed. It’s about striking a balance so that someone isn’t griefing the system and driving them all out of combat area and ruining the experience for friends. We’re always trying to strike a balance for the best possible experience.
L: Let’s chat a bit about single-player if we can. Are the vignettes in Battlefield V going to focus exclusively on the Allies side or will we anything from the Axis perspective? I know that was one thing that some fans thought might be interesting to try after Battlefield 1.
LG: We got a lot of feedback on Battlefield 1 around War Stories. It feels like we kind of found our way home in terms of how to portray the war in War Stories in Battlefield. It allows each and every one of them to be unique instead of having a protagonist who is a jack-of-all-trades. It’s too early to talk about what you will get to play in the different ones this time but it’s coming down the road.
L: There’s been a weird trend this year where other shooters in the industry are now abandoning single-player while you guys, who have more historically been a multiplayer game, have now gone the other way and have focused on single-player. What’s that been like for you and everyone at DICE to put that emphasis on single-player?
LG: We were struck by the love we got for the War Stories in Battlefield 1. We felt that it was our opportunity to put the war into perspective. With Battlefield 1 and World War I everyone was hesitant to start with and go to that era since the preconception was “it’s only trenches, who wants to make a game about that?”
I think we showed to ourselves and the world that this was a war of epic magnitude. It was all over the world, and I think the War Stories allowed us to set the whole war in perspective. With that, we take that mindset for Battlefield V, since we didn’t want to go back and redo all the World War II games that we all played already. We wanted to find new stuff that excited us.
In terms of the other developers, of course, we’re gamers, we play other games, we follow trends in the industry, but this is something that is super strong for us and that we’re really passionate about. You don’t win any races by looking at the other lanes. That’s the best way of stumbling and getting unfocused.
L: Battlefield 1’s War Stories felt kind of like a tutorial for the multiplayer. You had your missions with you tank guy, your pilot, your infantry soldier — it seemed like it was just a way to introduce you to all of the different elements that make up multiplayer. Is it going to be the same in Battlefield V’s War Stories or are you going to break away from that mold this time?
LG: It’s definitely inspired by, so to say, different class fantasies for the different War Stories. That’s as much as I can say.
L: Because it’s 2018, I have to ask you about Battle Royale. Will you guys be hitting 100 characters in your matches? Is that the plan?
LG: That’s for me to know. [laughs] No, it’s too early to talk about size or number of players, how big it will be and so on. It’s still in the making. We’re heavily focused on Battlefield V and everything that leads up to launch right now.
L: Maybe to broaden things out a bit, how do you see Battle Royale really working with what Battlefield is? I think it personally has a chance to be really unique but how do you see that marriage between Battle Royale and Battlefield working?
LG: Exactly what you said, that it can be unique is probably what triggered our interest to start with. We were kind of inspired by what we played and lots of talks in the corridors about, “Hmm we really should… We really should. We have so much in our Battlefield sandbox that would be such a good fit for this.” That’s where the conversations started, and it led up to the announcement yesterday.
It is super exciting and for us, Battlefield can do so much. Because we do Royale doesn’t mean that the traditional experience or where we constantly push forward disappears. Grand Operations will be there. The whole post-launch experience where players can play together and not divided by the [season] pass. We want to take players on that journey through the war.
L: Well that kind of naturally leads into what I was going to ask you next about the post-launch cycle of this game. Is it more of a relief this time around knowing that you’ll have your entire playerbase together for the entire life of the game?
LG: Very much so. To be fair, we have so many talented people who have built some of our best maps ever post-launch. Usually, we build a game with a mindset and everything, and then when we do post-launch we learn from that and allow ourselves to “go deep” on this or that. It’s been kind of sad to see that we’ve splintered our community through the years and sometimes those experiences haven’t gotten all the love they deserve. So that’s why the team is super-happy to do this.
L: There’s been a fair amount of blowback by people since you revealed Battlefield V that the customization options in the game don’t make it feel like World War II. Obviously, this is a video game that just happens to be set in that era but what would you say about customization options? Are you more focused on just making the game fun and goofy or are you trying to keep it as real as possible?
LG: I think the general direction when we started this was that we had an art direction for this game and we did a ton of research. “Believable” is I guess the word that we used. If it is something that existed during the era that a soldier could have adapted, then it would be acceptable. In general, I mean, playing war is the fantasy that we’ve always been doing. I think a lot of people’s questions got answered in terms of the trailer we showed yesterday or all the gameplay material we’ve had coming out. On the floor, since people don’t have time to customize, we provided 64 uniquely customized soldiers to show off what we can do and much, much more. I haven’t had time to sit at my hotel and follow up on reactions yet but it seems to be positive.
L: So for both returning fans or potential new ones, what’s the one thing about Battlefield V that you’d want to stress to players?
LG: It’s a wider and richer experience than we’ve ever done. I would say it’s more and it’s better. With that I mean we have the War Stories that we love with great opportunities and untold stories, we have the co-op experience which is here for the first time since Battlefield 3 with up to three friends online in a paratrooper fantasy behind enemy lines, and multiplayer with all the goodies we talked about. Then everything we’ve been talking about here with all of these micro-improvements getting reflected in these experiences. Whatever you play, you’re playing a new Battlefield.
Battlefield V is due out later this Fall on October 19 for Xbox One, PS4, and PC. Those that purchase the Deluxe Edition can get access to it three days early on October 16.
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