Posts Tagged ‘Patrick Bach’

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Electronic Arts-owned developer DICE used GDC 2013 to offer a glimpse into what next generation gaming will mean for gamers this fall. The Swedish developer showed off a live demo of Battlefield 4, which has been announced for PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. It’s likely this sequel will also be coming to PlayStation 4 and the new Xbox, but EA has yet to confirm other platforms.

Inside a packed AMC Metreon movie theater, hundreds of journalists, some analysts and Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch watched as DICE played through an intense action sequence from the beginning of Battlefield 4’s single player campaign. Watching this nearly 20 minute sequence on a giant movie theater screen was appropriate. In fact, if people happened to wander into the packed theater, they’d likely not have realized they weren’t watching a Hollywood blockbuster film. The line’s being blurred between games and movies in new ways.

Like Quantic Dream’s upcoming Beyond: Two Souls, Naughty Dog’s upcoming The Last of Us and Treyarch’s Call of Duty: Black Ops II; Battlefield 4 employed full performance capture to put the actors (face, voice and action together) into these virtual roles. Patrick Soderlund, executive vice president of the EA Games Label, told me the studio is taking the technology that James Cameron utilized for Avatar and pushing it even further for this new game. Coupled with the brand new Frostbite 3 game engine, the characters portrayed in the demo came across as real.

“We’re not holding anything back with this game,” said Soderlund. “Next gen is not about polygons and shaders, it’s about the emotional connection players will have with these characters. Battlefield 4 is about gripping experiences that are human and dramatic and believable. In this demo, you feel the stress of the moment, you feel like you’re in imminent danger, you feel for these characters.”

The demo’s frenetic pace actually begins with the player plunging to his death, trapped inside a fast-sinking SUV with his squad mates. Then the game goes back in time and lets the player live through the action sequences that resulted in this harrowing dilemma. Things literally go from bad to worse for the squad as they contend with hundreds of enemy soldiers, armed vehicles and formidable attack choppers. The gameplay varies from huge open battlefield expanses to tighter combat inside a building on the brink of collapse to a driving sequence in an SUV under attack from a chopper.

Sitting in the theater without a controller, I was as entertained as if I’d been watching Olympus Has Fallen. In fact, being forced to watch, rather than play, this game showcased just how close gaming has come to Hollywood. Watching as the player is forced to amputate the leg of a comrade after a building collapse is intense. And you can feel the claustrophobia inside that locked SUV as the windshield slowly cracks from the pressure of the freezing ocean. Soderlund told me that the team has focused on improving the single-player campaign for this sequel. Creating a cinematic experience was one of its goals.

“Our design approach through both single and multiplayer has been about connecting the player to the characters around them,” said Patrick Bach, executive producer on the game at DICE. “It’s not about the geopolitical drama, it’s about the actions of the player and the drama of that personal experience. It’s the dramatic motivations that propel the story. Like in the movies we want a believable story with real characters, real weapons and real vehicles.”

In this demo, the whole mission was to prove something you already knew, which adds another level of emotion to the experience. Lives are lost for nothing, essentially. It looks like Battlefield 4 will be a shooter that’s about far more than just shooting. This first look at the game is very promising. DICE has raised the bar, and it looks like it’s going to be an interesting battle this fall with Activision’s next Call of Duty game.