Designing the new Wake Island 5-flag layout for Xbox 360 and PS3

Since the release of Battlefield 3: Back to Karkand, a very popular subject has been the be or not to be of a 5 flag Wake Island for consoles. Here’s Gameplay Designer Gustav Halling with the inside story on how the new 5-flag layout came into existence.

Hi all. My name is Gustav Halling, 26 years old, also known by my nickname “cmd” or “cmd85” on Battlelog.

I have worked at DICE since 2006 as Gameplay Designer and have been involved in designing Battlefield: Bad Company, Battlefield 1943, Medal of Honor, and Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Vietnam. My latest project is Battlefield 3, and most of my time is put into the expansion packs such as Back to Karkand, Close Quarters, and now most recently turning Lead Designer for Battlefield 3: Armored Kill that launches this autumn (which I’m very excited about!)

In this “Inside DICE” post, I’ll explain the reasoning behind adding the new 5-flag layout to Wake Island on consoles. I hope you like the new layout and that you find this post interesting.

Why didn’t we have 5 flags from the start?
So why didn’t we have a 5-flag layout for Wake Island Conquest on consoles to begin with? There is no simple straight answer, but it was a mix of design decisions and technical challenges. When we decided to make a remake of the classic Wake Island map, we wanted it to be the same scale as it was back in Battlefield 2, not the 30% smaller variant that I designed for Battlefield 1943. The reason Battlefield 1943 shipped with 5 flags was because the game was a standalone game where all air and land vehicles and distances could be tweaked specifically for those distances.

This time, we wanted to keep the epic scale that Wake Island is on all platforms, and we play tested the map a lot with 24 players and found that the gameplay was suffering by the big spread of players that occurred over 5 flags. It easily turned into us just going around capturing the bases in a circular pattern, without really seeing any enemies – that was not very fun.

That was when I designed the new variant instead, where the US started on the two capes instead of on the carrier — and at the same time focusing the gameplay down to 3 flags. The gameplay based on this flag layout turned out much better with a lot more action and awesome tank battles.

An excellent byproduct of our latest patches is that we found a way to fit even more content into console memory – primarily vehicles — which made it possible to look into the original 5-flag layout again. So we did!

Designing the new 5-flag Wake Island
After the release of Back to Karkand, we received a lot of feedback from you, our community, that you wanted to have a 5-flag variant on Wake Island. The feedback was very much focused on that it wasn’t a true Wake Island without 5 flags and also that it worked in Battlefield 1943 on consoles already. It wasn’t a big surprise for me but I also felt that many players didn’t see the whole picture on why this happened and why it provided a more intense battlefield so I did a big post on reddit about my design decisions behind Wake Island 3 flag and got a good response from that.

I was actually already looking at the possibilities how a 5-flag Wake Island on consoles would work, both from a gameplay perspective and the technical challenges it would present. I knew that we had a big patch coming out at the end of March/beginning of April. This would give  us the time needed to add the new design layout, playtest it on consoles, and make sure it was to quality and get it into the patch before heading into the certification process with first party.

So I set the project up and started to look at it from a technical angle to make sure it was possible to do in the first place. Next step was to playtest the new layout with 24 players and adjust the experience to make sure each base had a valuable asset that the team wanted to own.

After play testing, the in-house feedback at DICE was clearly that the best layout was the same as the one we use on PC. I went with that as a basis, but made some tweaks to both the PC and console layout. Perhaps the most important change being that we moved the mobile anti-air to the Beach capture point instead of having it at Airfield – this makes Beach a more strategic base to own.

Two layouts – two experiences
I personally like both variants of Wake Island on console, and having the two to choose from, you can make sure you get the experience you want for each session:

3-flag Wake Island provides the more action orientated experience for when you want to get into the action fast! It’s less about travelling and more about fighting, with a good mix of infantry and vehicles.

5-flag Wake Island is the more strategic choice and the more vehicle focused experience! It will give you more choices on how to tackle the battlefield – making a head on assault on airfield or slowly working towards it from the bases surrounding it, one flag at a time.

With the Spring game update being live on all platforms, PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 players alike can finally enjoy a 5 flag variant of Wake Island. We hope you enjoy it. Let me know what you think in the poll below!

Gustav Halling

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  • redrummatt 07.09.12 at 23:22

    wake island needs a safe place for RU to deploy, like on the ship by the Airbase, so the map can’t be locked down by US. it would also be nice if RU had a scout helicopter to fight the venom

  • Thegamingnerd21 07.07.12 at 22:29

    Why hasn’t happened yet is it gonna be in the armoured kill patch because im so exited for this

  • hungry_cow546 06.26.12 at 11:45

    why can’t wake island be like in bf1943 with two aircraft carriers on either side of the island

  • hungry_cow546 06.26.12 at 11:44

    bout gangsta war96 post about 24 player. i dont get why its 24 player as well its not like consoles can’t handle 64 player maps

  • Barraza97 06.18.12 at 04:51

    hey guys, im trying to get DICE to put either the M95 Sniper Rifle off of Battlefield Bad Company 2 or the barett Sniper Rifle into the new Battlefield 3 “Aftermath” or “End Game” DLC’s, i mean wouldnt you guys want to shoot a in the new Bandar Desert Map from the upcoming “Armored Kill” DLC? i know i definitely would. Also you guys still have a chance to make suggestions of any gun you guys want into the upcoming Battlefield 3 DLC’s since DICE and EA are still thinking of what they should put into the upcoming “Aftermath” and “End Game” DLC’s, and also if that little rumor that Dinosaurs are gonna be in the new “Aftermath” DLC, wouldnt you want to shoot a Dinosaur in the face with a Barett lol. Please help me make this possible by copying and pasting this message on every Battlefield 3 Blog. Also if you have any weapon suggestions that you think should be put into the upcoming DLC’s message me at or by Playstation 3 Network, my PS3 name is Barraza97. PLEASE GUYS THIS MESSAGE CAN HELP PUT ANY GUN YOU WANT INTO THE UPCOMING DLC’S :D!!!

  • Gangsta_War96 06.09.12 at 12:14

    Ok, more flags, nice, BUT WHY ONLY 24 PLAYERS?! i don’t get it, can someone explain me the reason. And will it be the same with Armored Kill?

    • erickt123 06.12.12 at 23:27

      There is still no answer to that but it could because of console players skill balancing or the data they could or could not hold ( My opinion ). Still, no answer.

  • DeadHead961 06.06.12 at 19:33

    I think they need to take a look more into making Caspian Border a 5 flag map. Just add one more flag over by the tower. I don’t think by now it would be too much to ask with all these updates they are doing.

  • Eirik_jo 06.01.12 at 19:27

    Can you please add the outside areas on operation metro (on sqdm ) and make it a 4 flag

  • Erickj157 05.24.12 at 21:40

    I love that map on battlefield 1943 and i’m very happy that the creators of battlefield 3 have put wake island of battlefield 1943,that a very good map but I have a question: In wake island of battlefield 3 there are Jets? or the airplanes of battlefield 1943?

  • YinYang27 05.23.12 at 02:42

    want a AA on Firestorm for PS3, and I know you may not be able to do 64 on console so give us options with like 24, 34, 44, 54, or 64, to see if our console can handle it. Also I would like jets on Norshal Canals PLEASE!!!!!!!!

    • Naruto0452 06.02.12 at 03:28

      I agree with you it will be more awesome to have morw people and more vehicles and aircraft on oter maps they should really try and do something

  • alen1280 05.22.12 at 18:27

    do you can also do 64 man servers on console, and the little bird on karg island, the tunguska on operation firestorm, this would make console awesome

    • FS johnmichael 05.28.12 at 19:06

      they would do 64 players on console if they could, it would perfect the game and could easlily run 64 player games. the people at microsoft and sony wont allow 64 player matches, dont ask me why in all honesty they are just being dicks and restricting our gameplay.


  • Barolo2465 05.13.12 at 00:34

    Is it possible for jets to play a role in Noshahr Canals in conquest on a console?

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