The Road to Battlefield 4: Levolutionizing the Battle

In the third post in the “Road to Battlefield 4” blog series, we tackle Levolution, a natural extension of Battlefield and the freedom to play how you want to play. We’re taking unique multiplayer experiences, map evolution, and destruction to a new level.

If you followed our E3 live stream, you saw us bring down the Siege of Shanghai skyscraper a dozen times in multiplayer. But Levolution is much bigger and broader than simply destroying something. It’s a wide-ranging concept, a collection of ideas and experiences that make Battlefield truly great. In this blog post, learn how Levolution changes the water from calm to raging storm, how visibility goes from clear skies to dark overcast, and how every move on the Battlefield creates ripple effects that make every match unique.

Here to give you the latest details on Levolution in Battlefield 4 is Lead Multiplayer Designer Thomas Andersson. He’ll take you from its initial conception to how it unfolds in-game, and everything in between.

Creating Levolution

Ending up with the game-changing concept that is Levolution was a long and iterative design process for us. Going into Battlefield 4 two years or so ago, we first explored a concept that we internally dubbed “Timeline”. The thought back then was that a background timer would alter the multiplayer levels and take it into different stages automatically. Basically, map-changing events would trigger automatically no matter what the players did in the match.

But we soon realized that players much prefer manual control to as great an extent as possible – so we steered down the path of maximizing player interaction with our dynamic content instead. The clearest feedback came from all of the players who tried to blow up the tower in Caspian Border that we talked about in the first blog post.

The name was then changed to Levolution. This is a good opportunity for me to assume full responsibility for the name. Although people think it’s a marketing buzz word, it was created as an internal communication tool during development to – in a very simple way – explain the vision of changing the level as you played. It’s served us well.

Unique Experiences Matter

Bringing Levolution to multiplayer has been key for us. Personally, I think it’s fantastic how our fans have spent more than one billion hours in Battlefield 3. We’re hoping to top that with Battlefield 4 multiplayer. We especially hope that you’ll find something to enjoy every time you play, whether it’s a small change or a large change you make to a map.

If you’ve been playing Battlefield, you know we pride ourselves on the dynamic “Only in Battlefield” moments that happen in multiplayer games. With Levolution, we wanted to give players maps that are highly thematic and have impressive “wow” moments in and of themselves. People play these maps countless times over the years, and we want you to be able to enjoy them for a long time. If you’ve seen our multiplayer trailer or followed our E3 and gamescom livestreams, you’ve had a taste of what you can do with our dynamic content.

There’s much more to discover.

Changing the Game

The big events like the skyscraper in Siege of Shanghai are something we refer to as a set-piece. Characteristically, Levolution set-pieces bring those awe-inspiring single-player events into multiplayer.

The design philosophy for the Levolution set-pieces is to not just be happy with the spectacle of it, but make it matter in terms of gameplay as well. There should be pros and cons with a skyscraper coming down so that you have to carefully weigh the consequences of your actions and how it will affect your team. We’ve also tried to make sure the drawbacks to such an event don’t always affect the same type of player (i.e. always affecting pilots, or infantry, etc.).

The triggers for these big events can almost be treated like sub-objectives that some players will want to protect from attacks while others will want to divert some resources to make sure that it happens. Because we love destruction, that’s a very common trigger for the set-pieces – but, for example, you will also be fighting over starting and stopping a countdown to a warhead.

BF4_GC_Screen_02_WM_1920

First I’d like to take a look at the Paracel Storm map shown at gamescom. Here we have the weather shift from clear skies and smooth sailing to something quite different. As the weather escalates into a raging storm, lightning strikes a wind turbine, weakening it and giving players the option of taking it down in order to free the immobilized destroyer.

If you manage set the destroyer adrift, it will crash onto the island, changing the layout of the map. With a giant ship rammed up on the beach, line of sight is completely broken and you’ll never know what’s coming from the other side – unless your team takes control of the deck. From up there, the team has a dominating position over the area. As an added bonus, they also control the anti-air weapons on the ship and thus control the air space nearby.

The changing weather in this map gives an entirely different feel to the match as it shifts, but it also introduces new gameplay possibilities on the open seas. As the storm rolls in, the map becomes darker and the violent weather creates big waves that are much more difficult to navigate. Suddenly you can have RHIB dogfights at sea where the outcome completely depends on your skill at surfing the waves and negotiating them for cover and speed.

Battlefield 4 - Paracel Storm 4 WM.jpg

Another map (which we won’t name just yet) allows you to change an entire urban level from land-based to water-based. At the start teams will have access to various land vehicles that fit an urban environment. But if someone successfully destroys a levee and lets the water pour out, the streets will flood and boats will spawn as reinforcements in place of the land vehicles.

The flooded streets also shake things up for infantry. The raised water level offers some interesting options for positioning on the map, opening up some areas you couldn’t get to before and simultaneously closing off other paths. While the boats control the streets, infantry will have to take to the rooftops for protection. You can also dive underwater, as well as use one-handed gadgets and one-handed weapons while in the water.

This kind of Levolution shows just how important your play-style is. For example, if your team dominates in infantry combat, you’ll want to defend the levee. However, if you’re an expert with the attack boat and deadly in the water, you’re going to give everything you have to take that levee down. To relate to what I said before, the levee turns into a sub-objective for your squad or team based on how you want the game to play out.

It’s the Little Things

However, Levolution isn’t just about bringing down towering skyscrapers, flooding the streets, or crashing a ship into an island. We think the little things matter too, even if they aren’t as flashy.

For example, on the small side of the Levolution scale we have the bollards that could be seen on our E3 live stream from the show floor. These bollards can be used to deny vehicles entry into an area. On our daily play tests here at DICE, we’ve seen players act as gate keepers to let their own vehicles through but hindering enemy progress by raising the bollards again when opponent vehicles approach. In this case, it creates a dynamic zone of infantry combat where the combat means something concrete in gameplay terms – the victorious side will have power over which vehicles can enter the highly sought area of the map where armored support can mean the difference between holding the base and quickly losing it.

Battlefield 4 also features little moments like metal detectors going off when a player passes through them, giving the opposing team a heads-up that danger is coming their way. Or moments like turning off the power for a building, plunging it into darkness. With skillful communication, a prepared player can use the darkness to their advantage, flipping on night vision goggles and taking out an unprepared opponent.

These are just a few examples of the many ways Levolution can play out on a small scale. As an individual and as a team, you have the ability to change how a match is played at any given moment.

We can’t wait until everyone can experience Levolution for themselves. Let us know what you think or what questions you have in the comments.

-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 episode: Commander Mode is back, and we’ll take a look at both its history and its future.

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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  • finc.kramer 10.24.13 at 19:53

    I like the concept behind Levolution. However if the Beta is any indication, it is just a temporary map feature. The team that controlled the TV Tower ‘C’ cap point had a huge tactical advantage. Consequently the building was taken down after the first few minutes after the game started. I assume flooding the city will be the same. It will be visually cool to watch happen. Instead of trying to parachute out of the tower, you probably will have to try and scramble to higher ground or floors.

    I think the real benefit will be how much the players will be able to change the in game map. To what extent will the player being to destroy walls etc., to flank, infiltrate, kill enemies hiding on the other side of objects etc. These smaller things are where I see biggest advantages.

    TAGS!!!!

  • Zythe333 09.20.13 at 16:05

    What if the weather was different for every match? so It could be rainy, stormy, sunny, orvercast, ect on any map for some nice variety?

  • xXMuffmasterXx 08.29.13 at 15:29

    Does anyone know what happens to an vehicle that is standing rigth in top of the bollards when they are lifting? Is the vehicle destoryed or does it get moved away?

  • 5iveOatmeal 08.29.13 at 04:06

    Bridge Demolition is a must, was very sad when it wasn’t in battle field 3

  • Lumos 08.28.13 at 15:36

    Since there is a slight probability that someone important will actually read this, may we please have REAL nighttime battles? Those in BF3 are way too bright. Some mods for BF2 were great, having really dark maps which would make for a load of tension between the teams.

    • Matovick 08.28.13 at 22:13

      Agreed, BF2: SF had wery nice nightime maps.
      in BF3 i couldnt find use for the IRNV scope cause it was too bright.

      • djsizz42 10.08.13 at 17:41

        Yes BF2 Special Forces was awesome. I wish they have some night matches and some of the tools from battlefield 2 special forces. Like the hook that allows you to climb up a building and the zip line tool.

  • tmladd 08.28.13 at 06:04

    I really, really want there to be a lot of powering down lights, shooting them out, type of things where you need a source of light (flashlight, nv), also things like forest fires, or …. here let me sum it up. DICE PLEASE ADD NATURAL OCCURENCES, such as forest fires, big storms, even quicksand. It had me in awe when the earthquake happened in Battlefield 3, because I was like, who would have thought of it? These things would blow me away if you added them!

    • tmladd 08.28.13 at 06:07

      Also, I would really like dynamic time. It would be cool to be playing at sundown and at the end of the match have it be sunrise. The server owner could set the starting time, or it could be set to something like their current time or the time the map was made for!

  • o T R U 3 z 08.25.13 at 05:47

    I see CoD Ghosts is definitely seeing the gamers drool over this idea, and so they made their own mini Levolution. (Ghosts multiplayer reveal) CoD will never amount to Battlefield anytime soon. They’ve stolen the audience. It’s just those kids that can’t live without relying on a trigger-finger or quick-scoping that stay with CoD. Bf4 is the most realistic experience you can get.

  • wWaAVve 08.25.13 at 01:00

    I would UP THE STORM on Paracel more in terms of rain and here’s why…
    Other than having even more Storm Immersion I think HEAVY RAIN can create more depth and more STRATEGY within the game. And it would only rain heavy for a limited time.
    HEAVY rain POURING so you can’t see anything which causes people to run indoors or seek shelter BECAUSE they can barely see if they’re out in it!
    That forces them to take cover where Gameplay SHIFTS for a little to HUNTING!
    Hunting enemies that are ALSO taking cover indoors or DESTROYING the cover that they are under so they are now in the rain and can’t see, forcing them out into the open to seek shelter.
    Also the rain SOUND should be STRONG where it dampens the other in game sounds making it even harder to detect enemies, creating a scary feeling of suspense, or chaos (psychologically).
    On OBLITERATION that’s when the bomb carrier actually might try running through the heavy rain, However now it’s easier for all the enemy to see you running across the rain if they are in cover.
    I’m talking HEAVY POURING rain!!!
    It creates almost a fog like atmosphere where you can’t see in front of you far and you’re out in it feeling the SUSPENSE and close quarter combat for a limited time. Maybe that’s when you use the flashlight/flair, or NOT since you become a target.
    I think it would be GREAT to have that in the game just like a thick sandstorm would create sort of the same gameplay.
    Also, maybe electrical wires or equipment would be dangerous near these puddles created by the heavy rain and enemies might now purposely create that scenario!
    Remember it’s just for a limited time but enough time to alter the gameplay and make the storm more threatening
    I think it would be AWESOME what do you guys think?

    • wWaAVve 08.25.13 at 03:55

      And the way I would start the rain sequence would be 4 quick lightning flashes with one large thunder crack and then a slow roaring in the background of the heavy rain coming in upon the Battlefield.

      • wWaAVve 08.27.13 at 02:31

        Oh, and I forgot to mention It’s hard to recall a SINGLE day I haven’t watched at least one Battlefield 4 Video if not a few Dozen, studying them against all of my FPS experiences, tweaking them in my mind like a fine cut in animation or film class…

    • o T R U 3 z 08.25.13 at 05:17

      I would avoid that idea… Very heavily effected gameplay, it’d mess everyone up, causing much despised DICE hatemail. Also, I’m talking EXCESSIVE use of CAPS is not NECESSARY. I think it would be GREAT to have that not in the game. I think it’d be very ANNOYING. What do you guys think?

      • o T R U 3 z 08.25.13 at 05:20

        Lightning randomly striking vehicles and players? Sure. I’d love to see a 25-0 person suddenly be struck by lightning. Screens being blurry from rain? No thanks. Remember, 3D spotting… and the bomb always shouting KILL ME! KILL ME! on the enemy player running with it. Not so much with the electricity electrocuting soldiers, that, I would not try. Also remember there ARE aircraft on this map. AND RHIB and CV19 attack boats. Would alter the ocean a bit over the scale.

  • bmdizzy 08.24.13 at 23:08

    The Levolution stuff seems great but I would still like to see the return of more destructible environments. I was a much bigger fan of the bfbc2 style of destruction compared to bf3. i would much rather bring it down myself (bc2) than trigger some engineered set piece. It seems like this is the direction bf4 is taking which will dictate the way the maps are played to an extent instead of just reacting to your opponents strategy or making them react to yours.

  • meneer hartje 08.24.13 at 23:05

    I love the idea of blacking out a building, but how does 3D spotting work in this situation? It would certainly defeat the purpose if you could still spot like you could through smoke in BF3.

    • tmladd 08.28.13 at 06:09

      Maybe they could make it so that it the icon is only as visible as the screen. So in really bright light, it is too bright to see, normal is normal, and dark it is very hard to see.

  • vectorline 08.23.13 at 19:16

    The large scale levolution really does make BF4 unique and feels like a very real game evolution for the series. I really like the idea of the smaller scale things as well, such as limiting tank movement with control of the bollards on Changhai. Can’t wait to see more.

  • Wardog_PR 08.23.13 at 18:45

    why you guys don’t add the m95 to the game since the m82a3 is gonna be a pick up gun and i know lots of people are gonna camp to get it including myself, i know people complain about the one shot one kill but there the nonsense glare of the scope and u have to hold the breath to shot unless u have bipod battlefield bad company 1 and 2 has it and battlefield 2 has it i don’t know why u guys removed it even cod has it also add gillie suit ;add more guns since just 2 or 3 new guns where added to the classes .

    games gonna be awesome to but add more stuff to it

    • F-15_Eagle97 08.24.13 at 06:32

      I do believe they said they are going to stick to modern for the most part and not go futuristic. Don’t compare COD to Battlefield. Battlefield is so much more superior there is no comparison. Also COD does not have bipods you can use. Maybe in WAW but no other game. However camping will be an issue. I propose that there be multiple locations around the map for it to be in changing every time it gets picked up.

    • tmladd 08.28.13 at 06:10

      I am betting you DLC will have a lot more guns.

  • ProPrince1915 08.23.13 at 12:31

    I was thinking of dice adding information next to the guns,tanks,cars and air crafts just so people have an idea of how they work where they were made etc

  • Xida 08.23.13 at 11:02

    Please fix squad spawning

    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).

    • o T R U 3 z 08.25.13 at 05:11

      For one, that’s a long comment. lol Secondly, I’d say the squad leader gets a smoke grenade, specially colored blue/green/red, etc. It could be used as a TEAM spawn point, not a squad instead of any other spawn method. Upon throwing the smoke grenade, players can parachute from the sky just as you would a spawn beacon. This idea could be VERY over powered if used correctly, as in the entire team communicating and waiting for a smoke to pop on a base, and the entire team counterattacking an opponent. lol The pros and cons, you know?

  • SOLIDSNAKE1217 08.23.13 at 05:13

    WOW you guys really have Night Vision Goggles ? or you just saying that as far as the IRNV is concerned ? because if so then you guys just hit a whole new HIGH For me being a Battlefield Fan this game just sounds so Amazing can’t wait to play

    • STOTT 08.23.13 at 07:55

      Hell yeah! but can anyone tell me when the IR scope will see through smoke?

  • tigertail11 08.22.13 at 21:51

    Would love to see sliders built into server set up to allow the admin to determine when the weather will start to turn. Say at 90% tickets left or 10% tickets left. Also it would be awesome to see the water receding back to normal say in about 10min, ever changing the battle ground.

  • Tacad 08.22.13 at 21:03

    In terms of levolution in respect to the commander’s assets available, can you destroy radar stations and artillery like BF2? I also have some other questions not entirely related to levolution, but BF4 in general. Will there be alternate appearances to each kit (not camos, but different looks of tactical gear, helmets, ect.)? Also, will premium have any discount if you preorder and receive China Rising for free? Or will it overlap like Back to Karkand for BF3? I hope there will be a discount, because the preorder incentive seems to be rendered mute if you receive it in premium again.

  • wWaAVve 08.22.13 at 19:59

    The ENVIRONMENT will achieve what we are looking for-teamwork and variety, depth and strategy, NOT more gadgets and crap, so perk up those “mini” Levolutions and here’s why.
    Fire extinguishers exploding, glass windows breaking, alarms and bollards are not just COOL but can actually affect STRATEGY. And they’re just scratching the surface.

    In any game mode there could be mini or side objectives along the way to a flag that squad and classes would focus on more instead of simply having everyone attack a flag or defending a flag or just shooting enemies randomly.

    Dont get me wrong that’s all fun and good, however some BF play feels a little scattered at times as a team.

    These mini levolutions directly affect strategy which just unites the whole force adding TEAMWORK while still allowing freedom to go off to take out a generator, but now your generator wasn’t just some cool blowing up effect. Instead it stopped all elevators to the flag. I know DICE is starting to do more stuff like this and that is the RIGHT DIRECTION.

    That creates more depth and organized teamwork and the feeling that your squad physically helped the whole 32 player battalion in very SPECIFIC ways.

    Your squad is taking out that mini radio tower which blocks the enemy Commander’s communication with their own squad for awhile while I go East with my squad to take that flag.
    It’s still Conquest but with more depth and little side missions that affect strategy directly. That is more rewarding and focused.
    So DICE please focus more on strategic MINI Levolutions not player perks.
    Perk up the ENVIRONMENT!
    Thanks.

    • SDAR32319 08.22.13 at 20:39

      I like your idea, especially the radio tower and generator bit, but it would also be nice to have more player perks along with that.

  • wWaAVve 08.22.13 at 19:30

    Will there be dynamic weather on every map and will it be timed randomly or is it only on Paracel at the same point of time each match?
    I hope random on every map but I love what DICE is doing so far!

  • FvHound 08.22.13 at 18:10

    All those little things, Turning off lights, opening and shutting doors, as well as car entranceway Was sick, Locking down certain buildings like shops? Really means there’s a difference where places and things are on the map, Certain control points will be more defensive, or Require night vision Indoors because of the lights. I’m pre ordering as soon as I get paid.

  • KG001 08.22.13 at 18:00

    Did i read this right? is it a misprint/misinterpretation? in the end it says. “flipping on night vision goggles and taking out an unprepared opponent.”
    You can see in the video a guy shoots out the light switch and thereby darkening the room! If not maybe we will have some real night maps:-)

    • White 5orrow 08.22.13 at 20:41

      I really hope they do real pitch black night maps… That’ll be amazing and so fun.

  • lightspots 08.22.13 at 16:50

    That seems great!but don’t you guys find the scene when the ship crashes into the house wired?the house returns to its original status firstly,and then it crumbles.hope dice fixes it!

    Ps:it will be better if the ruins are also destructible!

  • Coreyweb 08.22.13 at 16:45

    I must say I’m also REALLY curious to see some console footage. All the stuff I’ve seen and they’ve shown thus far is PC obviously….I wonder how the console versions will fair. Hopefully it’ll look as good as what we’re seeing now. Cause it looks hella good.

  • Coreyweb 08.22.13 at 16:37

    Sounds freakin’ sweet. I understand that things like that have to be “set piece” but I hope it doesn’t start to feel super stale. That’s the problem with “epic” scale events that aren’t necessarily dynamic. That’s what makes the dynamic destruction so important and immersive. When stuff just blows up when you shoot it, and its NOT set piece, that’s where the REAL immersion comes. These set pieces look really cool, but I just hope that there’s still that immersive destruction everywhere else.

  • RodLeGas 08.22.13 at 15:43

    I want to know about dinosaur mode!!!

  • ColonelChocomel 08.22.13 at 15:28

    Levolution is really the thing making BF4 this exciting. I just don’t know what’s the most awesome thing about it.

    • [DICE] H Brun 08.22.13 at 15:34

      Great to hear! Thanks for reading.

      • lightspots 08.22.13 at 17:13

        They are great!but I hope the house destroyed by the ship won’t go back to its original complete status first.
        It will be great if there are multiple ways for the house/skyscraper/levee to crumble:D

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