The Road to Battlefield 4: Dialing Up The Team Play

Welcome to “The Road to Battlefield 4”, a new blog series where we’ll explore every aspect of Battlefield 4 in great detail together with the developers at DICE. First out: How the new elements of Battlefield 4 multiplayer will bring out the best team player in you.

Lead Multiplayer Designer Thomas “Tompen” Andersson is one of the true veterans here at DICE. He’s been with the company for two decades now and knows Battlefield inside and out. When he accepted command of the development of Battlefield 4’s multiplayer campaign, he immediately knew what he wanted to achieve:

I think Battlefield 3’s multiplayer is incredible, but I can’t wait to hear what our fans think about Battlefield 4. We’re having a blast playing it at work in its current Alpha stage, and I think we’re onto something big. We want to build upon what makes Battlefield 3 great, and one of the areas where Battlefield shines is team play. The way we’re going about it in Battlefield 4 is to highly encourage team play – but never force it. We want to promote team play by creating great gameplay mechanics such as Field Upgrades, Commander Mode, and a new range of gadgets specifically designed to expand co-operation in the field. We have drastically expanded on the tools and benefits of efficient team play, and as a result we feel Battlefield 4’s multiplayer experience is the deepest, most rewarding, and fun experience in the series.

Class reunion with a twist

The four playable kits from Battlefield 3 will be back in Battlefield 4: Engineer, Recon, Support, and Assault. While keeping these core kits intact, we are increasing the ability for players to more strongly specialize their combat role while also increasing flexibility and catering to different play styles. At the same time, we’re maintaining a distinct flavor in the different kits and building more meaningful interactions between them. We will go more in-depth on the specific classes in the next blog post.

No matter your play style, we have an extremely deep collection of features in Battlefield 4, and we want to make sure that you can experience that wide array of options available to you. Looking at Battlefield 3, I think only a fraction of our players have tried all available gadgets or vehicles in multiplayer. Of course you don’t have to use everything in the game, but I think we can do a better job in BF4 of letting players make more educated choices in their kit loadouts and combat roles.

I think some players in Battlefield 3 stuck with the default Assault loadout. That’s fine – there’s a reason why it’s the default – but I think they’re missing out on so much amazing variety. In Battlefield 4, we’re clearly displaying what gadgets can do for you, how different weapons compare, and how they affect your options on the Battlefield.

Great team play = great perks

We have this new concept called Field Upgrades. If you’re a long term fan that played Battlefield 2142, you will already have an idea what these are, but we have tweaked them for Battlefield 4. In short, Field Upgrades are chained boosts that can affect a number of gameplay mechanics for your player. Similar to the specializations in Battlefield 3, these can for example provide you with faster sprint speed, stronger personal armor, or expanded ammo capacity.

The idea behind Field Upgrades is to give individual rewards for squad based team play performance. You earn them through squad scoring such as squad healing, completing objectives with your squad members, squad resupplies, squad repairs, and other squad actions. Instead of one single specialization like in Battlefield 3, you can now pick from different upgrades paths, each containing four specializations. Keep the squad alive, and you will move through the accumulative upgrade path. But watch out! If your entire squad is eliminated, you will lose some of your progress.

Showing you how team play gives you the edge in the bigger battle is paramount for us, and it involves all elements of the game: audiovisual feedback, user interface, gameplay mechanics, and the way the entire persistence system is designed. When we tie all of these elements together with the tweaked team-based scoring, we have a game where I think everyone will find it satisfying and deeply engrossing to truly be part of a team.

Creating a positive feedback loop

BF4-Commander-Mode-Small
I’ve always been fascinated by creating interconnected systems and seeing how players use them. A great example in Battlefield 4 is the reward cycle incorporating every link in the chain of command. For example: The Commander issues an order (example: “Capture Base A!”), the Squad Leader passes it on to his squad mates, and the squad gets the work done. This executed order will reward everyone in the command chain and also open up ways for the Commander to further reward his team. This creates an eco-system that I believe will take team play in Battlefield 4 to new heights.

In the next episode of “The Road to Battlefield 4”, we’ll be taking a much closer look at exactly how Field Upgrades and the upgrade paths work, as well as revealing some of the all-new specializations we’re introducing in the game.

Levolution: The perfect storm

BF4_Levolution_Siege_of_Shanghai_small
Watching our fans play Battlefield 3 has taught us a lot about player behavior. As developers, we tend to play our games one way, while fans try a lot of interesting things that we never thought of. Take the antenna on Caspian Border, for example. After players had seen it fall once, we could see them using everything in their arsenal to try and bring it down themselves. It might sound like a simple example, but it was one of the factors that initially made us think about incorporating bigger player-triggered destruction in Battlefield 4 – and that in turn led us to the game-changing concept that is Levolution.

Levolution is an overarching design concept incorporating a lot of features both big and small, that all affect gameplay in some way. You’ve probably already seen what it can do to skyscrapers but it also includes features like changing weather conditions that affects visibility, car alarms and metal detectors alerting players of enemy presence, or the ability to completely shroud a building in darkness and take out the enemies within using your IRNV scopes. Much more than just massive feats of destruction or pretty graphics, the exciting thing about Levolution is how it affects gameplay. From bringing down a skyscraper to securing a zone from enemy vehicles by raising bollards to block entry, Levolution will let you dynamically shape every game. And like so many other elements in Battlefield 4, Levolution also ties into the team play aspect of the game.

“Levolution will let you dynamically shape every game”

For example, depending on your team strengths, collapsing the skyscraper on our E3 map “Siege of Shanghai” can be either a positive or a negative. When you’ve knocked out its four main pillars, the skyscraper will fall in a massive cloud of dust and debris, killing all players unfortunate to be trapped inside. The base that used to be capture point C at the very top of the skyscraper will now be found at ground level, amidst the jarring blocks of concrete and rubble. This new infantry battleground will be clouded by dust, making navigation hard and often seeing players switch to infrared night vision scopes or FLIR. What used to be sniper heaven and the ideal paradrop base has suddenly turned into a low-visibility close quarters combat arena. This is great if you’re all about infantry combat, but if you have a team of great pilots, you will probably want the skyscraper to stay intact.

We’ll go more in-depth on the design process that led up to Levolution, as well as showcasing more examples of what this powerful concept can do in a future post. If there is one thing I wanted to focus on for multiplayer in Battlefield 4, it’s the idea of an open-ended design — We are creating a dynamic and complex “sandbox” where YOU decide what you want to do with it. That’s an emergent type of gameplay that we pride ourselves upon here at DICE.

With the release of Battlefield 4 fast approaching, we are anxious to start exploring the game together with you. Stay tuned here on the Battlefield Blog for more updates soon, and let us know what you think in the poll below.
-Thomas Andersson

Stay tuned to “The Road to Battlefield 4”, where we’ll continue the journey towards launch by diving deeper and deeper into every nuance of the biggest Battlefield game ever developed at DICE. Next week: Field Upgrades, “The Bro Bar!”, Suppression Revisited, The Mobile Battlefield, and Kit Loadouts.

Until then, let us know what you think about this blog post, and what questions you want us to answer in the upcoming posts. Thanks for reading!

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  • EvilOwed 09.24.13 at 22:36

    Xida, you are absolutely and utterly correct in everything you have said. It’s WAAAY too easy to stack in BF games, specifically with this unlimited, rapid squad spawning system. It puts people who are stuck with morons/newbs in their team at a GIGANTIC, stupid disadvantage. Too bad EA only listens to BF fanboys that spam their official forums. The two of us will never be heard.

  • mangui24 08.19.13 at 21:35

    You need to fix the fact that when I enter a server my squadmates and I sometimes get separated even when the server doesn’t have many players…

  • Xida 08.16.13 at 10:38

    Squad spawning needs to be fixed.
    Why?
    Because it unbalances the game.

    The game becomes a SPAWNATHON

    Spawning should not be used as a tactic unless there is reasonable logic. It’s ok to spawn in base, vehicles, radio beacons or flags.
    Spawning on any squad mate is totally beyond remotely realistic and destroys the flow of the game (squad leader only spawn makes a little more sense). There needs to be a reasonable expectation of a front.
    If friendly players are constantly moving up from the rear from their base spawn it helps to reinforce the rear and the player’s up front can focus on the enemy in front instead of watching the back all the time.
    Players should not be able to spawn anywhere where their squad mates are. Enemies appear out of thin air all over the battlefield which does not enhance the game it simply makes it chaotic and rather stupid.
    For example in conquest, if your team holds every flag you can have up to 5 flag spawn locations plus 3 one for each squad mate plus your base. So a total of 9 spawn points. This is ridiculous!
    It is imperative to have a front! I cannot stress that enough. In the very least there needs to be a negative to squad spawning (aside from being killed straight away – that just increases the frustration).
    Here are some ideas on how to fix the problem:
    (1) squad spawning only works when 2 or more squad mates (or team mates) are within 10-15 metres of each other. This encourages the squad to stick together and provides the squad with some centralization.
    (2) squad leader spawn only set to default whereby the squad leader is the player with the most points (usually not a sniper). Or points scored from long range headshots do not count toward the squad leader selection.
    (3) players use a radio button to call for reinforcements which lasts 10 seconds. Squad mates can then spawn on the player however the radio signal temporally gives away the players position to the enemy.
    (4) when joining a game there are two options: put me in a squad or not. There needs to be a third option: “put me in a squad and elect me squad leader”. This ensures player’s who want to be squad leader can take the role willingly instead of random assignment. If two or more players elect to be squad leader then randomly assign it to one of them. ie someone who does not want to be squad leader is not assigned to the role.
    (5) immediately after death, allow players to spawn almost instantly in their team’s base spawn location without having to watch the killcam, so long as they don’t change their load out (also referred to as ‘quick spawn’.)
    (6) My personal favourite – players can always spawn on their squad leader, but only on their squad mates when a squad mate is near another team/squad mate or inside a vehicle. This would encourage players to stick together and stop the lone flanker from spawning his 3 squad mates behind enemy lines.

    Nothing is more frustrating than being spawn camped, and squad spawning makes the whole thing worse.
    When players spawn into the game there should be an expectation of a front. Don’t get me wrong – its ok for players to outflank etc but NOT to then multiply behind enemy lines. Thus is very very wrong.
    For conquest squad spawning is not required and battlefield worked fine before its creation. In rush , the maps need redesign so the objectives are further from the defenders but the bomb count down timer is increased.
    I want to finish by saying battlefield was great until squad spawning. Please fix ASAP.
    BTW: please do not take this post to mean I hate battlefield 3. Rather it is positive criticism.
    And please do not reply with the usual “go play COD” etc. if I liked COD I would play it or buy premium close quarters (which I will not do).

  • wWaAVve 08.15.13 at 20:51

    I LOVE everything DICE is doing so far, but I think adding just ONE FINAL KILLCAM at the end of a match would be great! I realize that “other game” uses this but so what, it would be great to have just one at the end of a match. Imagine the variety with 64 players. It’s a way to really show the scope of a battle. It feels like the way each match ends now seems a little too sudden, almost out of nowhere, almost anti-climatic. It’s just little ole me with an opinion but if you took a pole you might be surprised! Think of how cool that would be just at the end of each match, like a 10-15 second clip, even if it’s just in spec mode view!
    Regardless, I can’t wait for B4!

  • NoobAnnihilator 08.13.13 at 15:49

    Will there be maps that ends up having storms mid game, reducing visibility because of strong winds and rain.

  • NoobAnnihilator 08.13.13 at 15:46

    Is there going to be a battle recorder for PC? Also will there be levelution maps like A dam that you can destroy that floods most of the map, making water vehicles essential? That would be amazing.

  • NoobAnnihilator 08.13.13 at 15:40

    Will everyone STOP complaining about the DICE team? DICE have done an amazing job creating the best first person shooter known to man! BF3 is an amazing game and yes it has some bugs/glitches, but what game doesn’t? BF4 looks outstanding! absolutely incredible! First time I saw that building fall my jaw literally DROPPED. I cannot wait for the game to come out and there’s just over two more months left so why is everyone crying? DICE, please keep up the great work and forget about the players who are looking for someone to be angry at… There’s still a massive (True) battlefield community out there that love what you’re all doing.

    • vjscope 08.14.13 at 07:43

      The truth is that DICE is trying to hide their lies behind good looking game. You can’t judge a book by its cover. They encourage teamplay but there was no way in BF3 to do that with players that were’nt your irl friends (yes I’m talking about VoIP). Now all I’ve heard about this is that only squads can speak trough VoIP. I hope that’s just a tip of the iceberg about this feature. They say it’s diverse with it’s features but all I see is players with m16 and medic classes. Or if team is losing they all camp with snipers. Buying BF3 was a mistake and I’m not making same mistake again with BF4. I’m glad I get to test beta “for free” and then make my decision. I’ve played since BF2 was published.

    • AmericanDash 10.22.13 at 15:58

      NoobAnnihilator, are you a DICE shill? All the posts I’ve seen you make are… interesting.

  • burgermister4 08.13.13 at 08:10

    It is so hilarious how all of you think that BF should be a hardcore and realistic experience. Wake up casuals! This isn’t a simulator, so stop treating it like one. Let people have fun the way they want to, and stop being hard-asses about it.

    • Lancepstriker 08.13.13 at 21:57

      Not a casual here bud. We just have standards, and I believe DICE does as well. We have faith, but they asked, so we answer.

  • GJoBON 08.13.13 at 06:29

    “The way we’re going about it in Battlefield 4 is to highly encourage team play – but never force it.”

    that’s a horrible decision. tone down the CODness and lone-wolfing, please. and restore dependency on teamwork which lends to a much more intense/intimate/social experience. the social-ness of this game shouldn’t be unlocking/ranking and comparing stats with others. it should be PLAYING closely and tactically with squadmates. remove the unlock/ranking system so that everything is available to everybody from the beginning. that way, players can focus on WINNING THE MATCH instead of fueling their ADHD-addled compulsiveness at seeing blue text notifications (HEADSHOT 10; AVENGER 10; SAVIOR 20; etc.) and ribbons/medals pop up in the middle of the game. BF1942 did it right. come on, DICE. stop trying to emulate COD – let COD players play COD, and let BF players play BF. please do not keep melding the two together, as you did with BF3.

    • burgermister4 08.13.13 at 08:08

      I love the idea of having teamplay. Really, I do. The problem is that DICE for some reason haven’t figured out how to properly implement a voice chat system. None of my friends play Battlefield, and it would help to make some new ones that do. The problem is, I don’t feel like joining one of those retarded clans to do so. If you want your hardcore team realism experience, you’re looking at the wrong game, bucco/ Play ArmA for a change and let the fans of arcade shooters have their fun with or without forced squadplay

      • Lancepstriker 08.13.13 at 22:03

        You’re referring to pc. They had it in consoles. I’m sure it will be included in this version of pc. They would be stupid not to.

  • Lieutenant00 08.13.13 at 04:04

    I never leave a squad mate behind! If he needs a quick escape, Ill swoop in with my heli, pick him up and fly ourselves out… I am a teammate. I hate it when people goof off and do stupid stuff, that forces me to go solo. As long as people stop simply screwing around and agrevating me, then I can really help push our team to victory!

  • Zookh 08.12.13 at 20:52

    Dice: Have you considered removing kills and deaths from the scoreboard (maybe track it privately on player screen, but not on the public scoreboard), and instead only publicly display the point total as a way to encourage team play rather than focus on kills?

    • nexux_exia 08.13.13 at 03:45

      I would second that with the exception of certain game modes like TDM (where points=kills+assist) and similar.

      A second part to this that might improve teamwork would be to make weapon unlocks (sights, attachments, etc) be dependent on points gained while that weapon is equipped rather than kills. Right now if someone wants to unlock all the upgrades for all weapons, they need to focus on killing rather than getting objectives done (so you see a lot of attacking campers doing nothing on rush). You can’t “force” people to play as a team unless there’s no reason not to.

      • Lieutenant00 08.13.13 at 04:00

        I say I will third… But what about adding in certain items that people could use and could help benefit squads/teams… Say a security Cam room for some buildings, this will tempt players into working as a team to work the most efficient and the most secure way… This will extremely encourage people to take up certain tasks. One squad man watches the cameras… and then can press a button to have an intercom go… “Enemies at ‘blank’ room”. And/or simply be able to spot out people from through the cameras. I have many more ideas and questions for DICE at amcbigdog@me.com.. and thank you for reading. :)

  • HolyFenix 08.12.13 at 19:16

    Someone already somewhat mentioned this but I would love to see Day/Night Cycle included in BF4. Sure we won’t be able to see a full day in one match, but maybe starting in the late afternoon through dusk and into night, or starting before dawn into the early morning. It would bring some great dynamic to the game, that hasn’t really be done before.

  • LordMazzar 08.12.13 at 13:45

    Don’t know where u got that from… I don’t recall any Close Quarters maps being mentioned, only that part when the building came down…

  • paulc_nz 08.12.13 at 13:25

    You mentioned you are adding weather effects and night cycles to the game, but decided not to add night cycles. Try and find a way to add night cycle to the game that would be awesome!

  • nexux_exia 08.12.13 at 07:03

    The main thing keeping teamwork from ruling is that there’s no way to communicate with your team during combat! I know there’s things like teamspeak and ventrillo, but having built in voice communication with your squad (minimum) is necessary for players that don’t have set squads. Squad text chat during combat is entirely useless, and without built in voice people will always be at a disadvantage against squads with teamspeak/ventrillo

    • Lancepstriker 08.13.13 at 04:25

      You are referring to the pc version maybe…Consoles have built in voice.

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