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Interviews

Battlefield 2142

Senior producer Marcus Nilsson straps us into mechanical trousers and takes us for a stomp around the latest Battlefield...

What's the holy grail for the Battlefield series?

Marcus Nilsson: We're not on a quest to have Battlefield dominate the world or anything like that. We just want to make great games that people enjoy playing. If you ask me what we'd like to revolutionise, it would be gameplay and that's pretty much what I think we've been doing in the Battlefield series already. Battlefield was the first game that could integrate infantry and vehicles into a really good online experience - and given that there are going to be more Battlefield products, we're going to look hard at how we can make better games.

So how will you make Battlefield 2142 better?

Marcus Nilsson: Well, I would say that character persistence and community are key factors. It's not just about getting the game "out there" anymore - it's about how we organise ourselves around the game. We need a quality launch, a quality service, good communication - to make sure that the feedback is listened to, dealt with and communicated. Of course it's very easy to talk about it, but the hard part is to prove it, to prove that we are 100% behind Battlefield in terms of post-release support.

Are you saying you've been a bit crap then?

Marcus Nilsson: No, it's not that we are necessarily very bad, we're not, but there is a very vocal minority on the forums who say 'EA is crap' and 'DICE are lazy', but they're all probably playing the game every day already anyway. We have minor problems, sometimes we have big problems, but minor problems are not what people should write about. Maybe they should write about why they're playing Battlefield every day. But that's human nature, I guess - you have a vocal minority and a silent majority.

1942 favoured vehicles whilst BF2 was very infantry-friendly. What about 2142?

Marcus Nilsson: We need to keep the importance of the vehicles in there because that is what makes the series unique. Infantry in BF2 proved to be a very good experience. There were infantry-only maps and we're capitalising on that again. We're making it even more immersive. When a Battle Walker walks by the ground trembles - it's stuff like that that drives the enjoyment of playing as an infantry character. But we're focusing as much on the vehicles. A Battle Walker will own infantry unless you're very smart, in a squad and working together to take it out. In 2142 we're merging 1942 and BF2, but were also having levels that are designed to be for infantry, as well as ones designed around for heavy vehicle use. We have different aims for different levels - the mix is much more varied.

How about the single-player AI?

Marcus Nilsson: That's been quite a lot of work actually, as we now have these vehicles with legs and we've had to get the AI to understand that, it's like having a huge soldier walking around. But the single-player experience is going to be quite similar to BF2 in terms of maps and bots. The only obvious addition is a co-op mode. Single-player will be a lot of fun, and good way of training, and will be more rewarding than in previous games, but it's not a full-blown story mode.

As it uses the same 3D engine, is it fair to assume 2142 be the kid brother to BF2, as Vietnam was to 1942?

Marcus Nilsson: No, that's not fair. First of all this whole same-engine thing is just not true. Battlefield 2142 has an evolved engine. There was code from Codename Eagle in BF2 and there is code from BF2 in 2142. Y'know that's the way it always is. Engines evolve, you don't just throw everything away and start from scratch. We've replaced the rendering, but from BF2 we have the same network engine... Actually, for the gamers that like to play online, this probably the best engine out there. There are highly improved visuals, but it's also much more stable. The code is naturally better because it's been worked on for so long. The server browser is 600% faster, UI navigation is easier, connecting will be a one-screen process....

With regard to Vietnam, if you want to consider it a sort of Battlefield 1.5, that's fine, but 2142 is going to be much more than a v2.5 because so much innovation has gone into it. For one we have a brand new game mode that is more objective-based. Then we have the persistence around the player, which will change how you equip yourself and which changes the momentum of the battle.

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