Battlefield Portal represents a bold move for the series, and one that could only come from Battlefield fans.
It is no exaggeration to say that Training effects studios (formerly DICE LA), had a lasting effect on the Battlefield series. The once small support studio transformed Battlefield 4. It solved many of its issues, built a strong feedback mechanism with the community in the process, and supported the game far beyond what everyone had expected.
Ripple Effect has contributed to other Battlefield games since, but the team has amassed a lot of goodwill with Battlefield players and fans over the years, in large part thanks to this work on Battlefield 4. The idea that this team creates a large part of Battlefield 2042 was always exciting, and now that Battlefield portal was revealed, I wanted to explore how we got there.
Battlefield Portal is a suite of modding tools that allows players to design their own experiences, using content from BF2042 itself, as well as a selection of maps, modes, weapons, vehicles and gadgets from BF1942, BC2 and BF3. Portal also comes with discovery tools that include a standard browser and feature listings curated regularly by DICE and Ripple Effect.
At a preview event this week, I spoke to Ripple Effect Senior Design Director Justin Wiebe to try and figure out what led to the creation of Portal, where the studio wants it. how and how to handle so much content in one game.
“When we watched it, the first thing we wanted to do was write a love letter to the fans. Every time a Battlefield comes out, you hear different people say, ‘Oh, I hope this is like Battlefield 3, or I hope it’s like Bad Company 2. ”And our answer was going to be“ Yes, yes! ”Let’s do it all, let’s give [BF]1942, Bad Company 2, Battlefield 3, ”Justin Wiebe told VG247 of the creation of Portal.
But how did Ripple Effect come to these three? According to Wiebe, a combination of “a few emotions, a few hunches and a lot of data.”
“It was a pretty exhausting process. It’s like going to Disneyland – you’re planning a family trip and you have ten kids, but you can only bring three, you know. It’s like, oh my God, how do you make that choice? Wiebe revealed.
“We knew [BF]1942 was a big blow, right off the bat, because that’s where it all started, so we knew that was going to be part of it. But afterwards, it became much more difficult. So we went all the way and said, “Well, we don’t want to pick something that has just been released recently that people are probably still playing actively. Let’s dig a little deeper into the library of the past to see some games that people wish they could play or remember for a little longer.
“And so when we started to narrow down that field, there were probably only four or five real contenders. And then we sort of crossed over not only [how] we felt about [them], and what we heard from the community, but also looking at data from the most popular experiences that fans played, and which ultimately formed a sort of decision-making process for many of them.
But pulling through the history of Battlefield presented a different challenge. The three games chosen come from different eras of Battlefield – BF1942 was even built on a completely different engine – and each one has a special playing feel. While you can, with enough tweaks, recreate some aspects of how these games felt to play – like turning off the trending in Bad Company 2’s playlists – some things will inevitably default in the mechanics. from Battlefield 2042.
“The team did a tremendous job of trying to recreate the feel, as close as they can get. I mean, are we going to get a perfect side-by-side comparison with all of these things? The point is to try and say yes! But as we move forward there will be nuances that will be difficult to replicate, ”he explained, adding that players will have control over some finer details that will further help replicate those experiences.
“So what we’ve done is try to give players the option to choose historical or modernized settings for things like weapons, or if you want the weapon to behave and do the [vanilla] too bad in hindsight and everything they had in those other games you can do that. Or, if you want them to be a bit more competitive, where you want players to use these [classic] weapons, but maybe you want them [be used] against [BF]2042 weapons, well, you can tune them to more modern, in which case they’re balanced to be competitive – mostly competitive.
Rebuilding the content of those games in the most modern Frostbite engine wasn’t enough, and Ripple Effect didn’t want all of this work to show up only in the two maps recreated from each game. So the studio started experimenting. introducing some of these classic weapons and vehicles into the maps of Battlefield 2042, and kept pushing from there, creating different ways for players to manipulate the sandbox.
This is also what led to the creation of the Logic Editor, which allows players with the know-how to script custom rules and modify different variables in a way that is not possible with the standard options. However, Battlefield Portal does not currently have a spatial editor, which would allow players to edit existing maps and control things like spawn logic. There is also no way for players to create maps from scratch. Ripple Effect knows these tools would give builders even more power, and Wiebe hinted that they could eventually make their way into Portal, but not at launch.
What adds an interesting wrinkle to all of this is the addition of AI soldiers, who might end up playing a bigger role in Portal than you might think.
“You will be able to define things like the difficulty of [the AI], and there are some things you can tell them: you have the right to do this, you don’t have the right to do that. But because we don’t have a spatial editor, you won’t be able to say, generate AI here and perform this ability. So trying to replicate something as complicated as a Destiny sandbox is probably not on the table right now, ”revealed Wiebe, when asked about the possibility of creating a Destiny PvE clone in Portal.
“We tried to put a lot of effort into getting them to play like a player would. So it would be very difficult for people to tell the difference between an AI and a real human player because they will run around, they will drive vehicles, they will get up, they will let themselves down [each other] in objective places and things like that – it’s a very smart system. And then you can tweak and adjust some of the things that they are and aren’t allowed to do, including how hard they are to play.
When you create and launch your experience, it will exist on a dedicated server and reside there as long as there is at least one player in the session. No server rental fees will be required, regardless of the size of your creation. You will have control over the cross play functionality and get basic admin rights to make it private, ban / ban players, send server wide messages, etc.
“Everything is going to be launched through the cloud server system,” confirmed Wiebe. “It’s very similar to how you would host a custom game on Battlefield 5.”
“When you create an experiment, all of the data is kept on a server, which is accessed by both the web builder and the [BF]game 2042. So no matter where you log in, any experience you have created will be listed and stored there. When you choose to deploy the experience, that’s when we’ll run it on our dedicated hardware depending on the region. “
My biggest concern following this event wasn’t the quality of Battlefield Portal, the number of options the builder has for players, or really anything specific to the experience. It seemed to me that the various components of Battlefield 2042 could compete somewhat. The two revealed so far appear to be fleshed out enough that they can fend for themselves. Then you add to that regardless of the danger zone, and you’ve got a pretty meaty package that seems to be leading players in different directions.
Wiebe and his team, however, choose to see it differently.
“The way I like to think of it is this: players are almost going to go through the game at various times for their benefit,” said Wiebe. “Each player is different, but my expectation would be [that] most of the players would come in, they will play [BF]2042 to start with, check out all the new maps, the dynamic weapon trading system and stuff like that. And then after they kind of got used to it, I could see them start to make the transition.
“Maybe if they’re more interested in the high-stakes gameplay, some players will switch to Hazard Zone,” he continued. “We are emotional creatures, sometimes people just want to take a break from experiences of high stress and tension. And that’s where Portal can kind of pick them up and come in and say, “Well, we don’t take ourselves too seriously, this is the place where you can go to have some more fun, to have something a little more unexpected. ‘”
A key element in handling this content will also be live, limited-time events, which Ripple Effect hopes will bring players in a more organic way to the different facets of Battlefield 2042 without any of them having. to fight for their attention.
“I think if we plan it right, we can kind of push players to different parts of the game at different times, rather than just trying to compete for players’ attention all the time,” he said. he adds.
Wiebe wouldn’t confirm what other Ripple Effect content has in the pipeline for Portal, or whether that will come in the form of more cards from all three games, or new games altogether. He also didn’t say whether Portal will be the sole responsibility of Ripple Effect after launch.
Beyond the support for Battlefield 2042 and the portal launch after launch, Ripple Effect is also working on something new. My attempt to try and get any clue as to what might unfortunately be unsuccessful.
Battlefield 2042 arrives October 22.