Q: Do you think this will be the title to jump above Call of Duty?
Matros: I think, for us, it's the biggest and most challenging. If it jumps over Call of Duty, I don't know; it's up to everyone who buys the game I guess. That's up to marketing to push. Creatively and technically, I would say, yes, it's definitely a better game. There is no other game out there like Battlefield.
If you're looking for gameplay and tech and whole world army US strong box type of game, then I would say yes, this is the number one game. But then again, other games do other things much better than we do, so we still have a lot to learn from everyone in the industry. The whole industry is like that, when it comes to that. It's all a learning process.
Q: So you could add, say, Japanese elements?
Matros: Yeah, I mean that's not too far away. We had a game from Grasshopper Studios coming out two to three years ago that was, to me, some kind of Japanese humor mixed with a modern, westernized type of game. So that was pretty cool to see.
Q: Shadows of the Damned?
Matros: That's it. Genres blend and fuse together, so, we'll see!
Q: How much of a benefit will the next generation of game consoles be?
Matros: The next generation of game consoles will be a powerhouse. When PS3 came out, we were only scratching the surface. There is so much more to learn and so much more to do. We will use our full potential. All of that is in the next generation.
What we have done was impossible in Battlefield 3 – our vision of what we wanted to do was the Battlefield engine. Now, it's even more of a next generation, just to bring it out.
Q: I guess I meant more like, do you think Battlefield 4 has been compromised for current generation? Is your real vision the next generation?
Matros: Well, our vision is always going forward. I wouldn't say we did compromise. We still have all of this stuff in the base game for any platform really – it's just streaming information from every player, back to the server again. It requires a lot of resources that unfortunately the 360 and PS3 don't have.
Q: The phenomena of getting a hold of a vehicle and crashing them straight into the ground is well-known in Battlefield. What have you implemented in the new one to help with that?
Matros: Well, you're supposed to be guided into multiplayer mode from singleplayer mode, so you can see how it feels to direct a squad, customise weapons and load-outs, re-con, put helicopters with flares or smoke or whatever they need.
We also have a testing range, where you're one player on the server and you test out everything: different weapons, different load outs, target practice.
That goes for everything: boats, tanks, jets, infantry. Community feedback said we needed that for Battlefield 3 and we never had time to finish it then in a way that we felt it was good enough. We still want the sandbox experience while you're doing it, because that's what you're leading up to, so you can't have a slim, limited probing ground.
You need something that correlates to the real Battlefield world.
Q: Are there enemies?
Matros: No, you just fly around yourself. So, if you love making videos on YouTube, if you want to try out weapons and learn how to fly helicopters, then this is for you. At the end of the day, multiplayer is the big challenge.
Q: What can people expect to change from the game experience? What do you think is going to be the big thing?
Matros: The big things are the tanks, the jets, all these kind of weird moments that randomly happen. Flying a helicopter and a jet may fly right into you. There are all these random moments that can happen; we call them Battlefield Moments. All out warfare. Looking at where Battlefield was in Battlefield 3, it wasn't snappy, controls weren't responsive. It was obviously patched in later. If you play Battlefield 3 now, you can see we learned our lesson from the launch to get where we are now. So, that's a huge difference. It's snappier, it feels better, it's more responsive.
You can customise your weapons more than you could before. You can create your own unique identity, as well. You can put your emblem on your gun and your vehicle, so, I think our players need to feel like this is 'mine'. This is not generic, this is my stuff.
Q: What about new players who have never had the Battlefield experience before? Should they just jump right in to the training mode?
Matros: Oh yeah, they should definitely go into the training grounds, test it a little bit, and then hop into a real server. Beginners will have an easier time this time, because we have a different server setting. We have official servers, a custom server, rank server; all in all, that basically means that if you're a newbie, you should have an official server, because you don't have weird settings.
You don't have a thousand tickets, ten different weapons, or complex situations. We tried to push it down so that people who want that kind of a hardcore experience can find it, whereas new people won't quick branch into a three thousand ticket server that's one hour long. [One developer] mentioned that a 200 ticket server played for eight to 10 minutes, got a good experience, and played with random other people. I think that's a better experience than with BF3 or BF2.
Q: Do you have a system that will help balance out experienced players?
Matros: Oh yeah, we've had that for a while. It's a lot better this time around. The servers are [set up] so that you see what you get. If you want to take away all the jets, you can do that, but it's not the original experience so you're kind of taking away from the people who want the Battlefield experience.
Q: Microsoft will be updating Live and have implemented reputation management. Is this something you guys support? Is this something you're happy to see in place?
Matros: Yeah! I mean, for first-party. We're not going to do it, because first-party already does it wonderfully. Whatever you do on the first-party platform, on PSN and Xbox live, reflects on your player card and your player card is what you take into the game; your soldier. So it's all connected.
If I play against you and you play very well, I would see that this guy is pretty cool. PC, on the other hand, they haven't implemented anything like that. We are heavily relying on the servers. We are doing something post-launch for that. We want the players to have a good experience. Maybe it's a thumbs up on the server. Maybe three stars and this is the perfect server, a lot of people recommend it. That kind of stuff.
Q: Do you expect the servers to build a community around them?
Matros: Well yeah, there are already community server stuff. Those are usually online. Something directly in the UI would be great to have. Our core team is looking into something to do about that, but, we're not sure exactly what yet.
Q: I wanted to ask about sales, particularly on the different platforms.
Matros: Yeah. The UK is traditionally a 360 country, Germany is traditionally a PC country, US is traditionally a 360 country. So, you have a majority of the sales going there. Also going strong are the PC sales in the US. Overall, what we see on our graphs, to see how many are playing at once, we see PC and Xbox on top. Then you have not a long gap with the PS3; not very far away at all. We have an evenly spread skew across all platforms, which is very hard to find.
And then in the industry, you have this funny thing in the studios when another studio releases a huge game that's only available on 360, you see a drop. That's the nature of things. People get excited and want to play that game, but, it's not a constant thing. It always comes back up again to even more of a comfortable level than it was before. I think it's a studio-wide thing that everyone experiences. People are going to be effected by the BF4 launch. When Halo released, for example, our graphs went down. It's just the nature of things.
Q: What are you the most proud of with Battlefield 4?
Matros: I'm most proud that we have improved the team play experience. Obviously, the graphics are much better, the ending is better, we have different things that we didn't have time to implement in Battlefield 3. But the most remedied detail from Battlefield 3 is the team play system, field upgrades, commander mode. It's really good. It kind of ties the team thing together.
So, the commander gives an order for the squad and with the capture point, you get an offensive asset. I think it's nice to get the team play experience. I think it's something we lacked in Battlefield 3. We had team play, we had squads, we had re-supplies and that kind of stuff, but, subliminally, it wasn't a lot. Coming into Battlefield 4, we have added to that layer as well.