The Road to Battlefield 4: Spectator Mode

In this in-depth “Road to Battlefield 4” blog post we tackle a highly anticipated feature for Battlefield 4: Spectator Mode. The team at DICE explains how being able to view Battlefield matches in the engaging Spectator Mode will gratify curious fans, competitive gamers, and ambitious YouTube video makers alike.

With the crazy moments that happen only in Battlefield, the impressive skills of top players, and the amazing Frostbite 3 visuals, we really wanted to give everyone a chance to view Battlefield 4 matches – not just those participating in the battles themselves. That is why Spectator Mode was created, to give everyone front row seats to the all-out war of Battlefield 4’s multiplayer.

Here to take us through Spectator Mode are two of its creators: Daniel Matros (Assistant Producer) and Dennis Brännvall (Junior Gameplay Designer). The duo will discuss the different camera views in Spectator Mode, the many display options for those who spectate, how the mode ties into competitive gaming – and more. Take it away, guys!

Get Some Perspective: The Views of Spectator Mode

We are very excited that Spectator Mode is returning in Battlefield 4, and this time around we are challenging and expanding upon the concept of spectating in a first person shooter. Our goal has been to give spectators the best possible views of the Battlefield, and the ability to quickly switch between both camera types and players – without toggling through an entire team to get what they want.

So how does Spectator Mode in Battlefield 4 work? It all starts with Battlelog. When you find a BF4 server, you can choose to join as a Spectator. If spectating is enabled, there are four Spectator slots per server, and those four slots are excluded from the number of players the game mode allows. So on PC and next-gen consoles, you could have 64 players + 2 Commanders + 4 Spectators.

Battlefield 4 Spectator Mode Tabletop View

Tabletop View gives you a bird’s-eye view on the action, but thanks to the picture-in-picture screen you can also keep an eye on the action on the streets, in the air or at sea.

Once inside Spectator Mode, you can observe the matches in four different views: First Person, Third Person, Tabletop and Freecam View. Each view comes with its own merits, and our goal is for players to find the perfect views for the situation at hand – and to easily switch between them.

The first view you will see in Spectator Mode is the Tabletop View. This is visually similar to the Commander Mode screen, and here you will have a UI with icons for the starting points, players, vehicles, and so on. From this position, you can then select anything that has a camera – players and all the vehicles – and you see their actions in a smaller picture-in-picture screen. Using Tabletop View and its smaller screen gives you a great overview of both the big and the small aspects of the battle.

Switching to First Person View puts you in the heat of the battle and is visually reminiscent of actually playing Battlefield 4 yourself. Third Person View also follows one specific player, but from an overhead perspective. This gives the Spectator a wider view of the surroundings, and captures the chaos of all-out war in a more cinematic way. Finally we have Freecam View, where you have five different cameras that you can switch between. These cameras are placed on the map by us from the beginning, but you can move them anywhere you want – an ideal setup if you are creating your own Battlefield 4 movies. You can capture all the action from different angles to get that cinematic feel, like the one you see in our own Battlefield 4 trailers. One cool thing is that the video team here at DICE actually use the Spectator Mode themselves to capture those cinematic camera angles.

Battlefield 4 Spectator Mode First Person View

Spectating in First Person View throws you right in the chaos of all-out war and lets you analyze in detail how other players take on the Battlefield.

We looked at having just one Freecam but quickly realized that it wouldn’t cover the entire Battlefield. So one criteria for making a great Spectator Mode for Battlefield 4 was to have several Freecams, since you need the ability to fly around and switch positions quickly. This is also true for the competitive world, where having just one Freecam can easily make you miss parts of the action. If you look at shoutcasting of competitive gaming, you can’t always see where the action is. Sure, you get information based on the kill feed, but you can’t always see what’s going on around the corner. So in the Battlefield 4 Spectator Mode, you will get a combination of many different view modes and camera angles – making it great for competitive games.

See What You Want to See: Spectator Display Options

At the top of your screen you will find the controls for moving between players, and switching between the four camera modes. You can see every player in the squad you are currently spectating. You can also see where the five cameras are, the score for the two teams, the remaining time, and the objectives (like flags in Conquest mode). There are squad bars on the two sides of the screen to keep track of the squad member’s health and classes. In addition to that, the Player Card shows the player’s current weapons, attachments, gadgets and vehicle customizations (if you are spectating a vehicle).

Battlefield 4 Spectator Mode Free Cam

Navigation with the Freecam is done with the same basic controls that are used for your soldier in-game. An adjustable speed of the camera enables you to move around both fast and precise.

We want to give you as much information as possible in the Spectator Mode interface, like squad bars, ticket count, objectives and team names. But you should also be to toggle the different layers on and off, because let’s face it: Battlefield 4 is a beautiful game, and sometimes you want to view it without distractions.

Another thing that was important to us when designing the third person camera is that it should never clip through buildings and walls, because that takes you out of the experience. Our programmers worked hard on making it look great in third person, even in narrow situations like crawling through a tunnel. You don’t have to be that “active” in the Spectator Mode’s third person view; it should take care of itself and not wind up in weird places.

Spectator Mode and Competitive Gaming

Spectator Mode will tie into competitive gaming in many ways. There’s been a lot of buzz in the pro league world since we revealed Spectator Mode at E3, and we hope to see Battlefield 4 played at more competitive events in the future. The broadcasting-friendly features of Spectator mode, along with the depth of gameplay and improved teamplay mechanics, will allow BF4 to take a big step into the competitive gaming scene.

To make a game interesting in the world of competitive gaming, you have to be able to have spectators. We want to give people a chance to view players that are really good at Battlefield 4, and for anyone to share their experiences. While no one can say exactly when, we at DICE are convinced that e-sports will someday become the most popular sport on the planet, and we’d like Battlefield to be one of the games that makes that happen. That’s another reason why we need a Spectator Mode, and a really good one as well.

Battlefield 4 Spectator Mode Third-Person View

Third-Person View gives you a wider view on the surrondings, and lets you follow the selected player in a more cinematic fashion.

All the game modes are great to spectate, but we’re really excited about Obliteration. By design, this game mode focuses the action into a single point of interest – namely where the bomb is and what’s happening to it – which makes for exciting and easy to follow spectator experiences, not to mention plenty of crazy Battlefield moments.

Challenges and Color Coding

The biggest challenge with creating Spectator Mode was to make sense of developing it for such a vast game. We struggled with that a lot: how do we support having both a big overview and a detailed view – and make it work well? This required a lot of thought, and we had to hammer out many edge cases. How would we support Squad Deathmatch that has 4 different teams, for instance? The Battlefield 4 mentality of “all game modes, all maps” was something we felt was needed for Spectator Mode too. Early on though, we considered whether to just not allow Spectators on servers with 64 players, due to all the challenges that would mean for developing it. But we realized we had to support it – and it had to be a good experience.

The color coding was another challenge. Initially, there was some confusion at E3 and gamescom when we used the same colors as the active players see in-game. For instance, one of our producers had this “moment” on the gamescom live stream where he thought the player was shooting at his team mate. That made us realize we weren’t there yet. We knew we had to distance ourselves from the colors in-game since the spectator is supposed to be a neutral entity on the Battlefield. We finally decided on what the team colors in Spectator Mode should be: deep red and deep blue.

An Exciting New Feature

To round off, we asked our Spectator Mode developers what part of the new feature they are most excited about.

DM: — I want to see how people will shoutcast Battlefield 4 with the help of Spectator Mode. Will they use the first person view fusioned with a real-time strategy point of view, or will they use third person only? It’s going to be very interesting to see how our tool is going to be used.

DB: — Spectating a 64-player Conquest match lets you fully appreciate all the different multiplayer narratives that our game consist of. You get the awesome vistas when all the vehicles come rolling out of the HQ’s, you get the close quarters infantry fighting, the pesky snipers on top of a roof and then the helicopters that take them out. And it all happens at the same time, and you’re able to capture it all as a spectator. That’s when I’m the most happy that we didn’t scale down or compromise – Spectator is an awesome feature and I can’t wait to hand it off to our very capable fans and see what they make of it.

We hope you have enjoyed this post. Spectator Mode will be available on PC and next-gen consoles, but you can try it out now in the on-going Battlefield 4 Beta. Remember to give us your comments and thoughts on this blog post. Let us also know what you think about Spectator Mode in our poll below and stay tuned for more The Road to Battlefield 4!

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  • TheFoamForge 03.02.14 at 01:17

    Is spectator mode on the xbox 360?

  • Godsroyalgunner 11.13.13 at 20:31

    But it should be more awesome with battle recorder

  • RATLHED 11.03.13 at 03:24

    This game is a turd, the maps are getting old. Better push China Rising ahead about 3 weeks to keep people Interested. Or it may be time for a change – COD!
    I’m pissed that I actually paid for premium before playing the game. My expectations were based on Bad Co. and BF3. What a let down. Also, Dawn Breaker – What a stupid map for Jets. Get rid of Commander and utilize some better graphics.
    This Game Doesn’t have that old BF feel.
    Nice job screwing up the vehicle controls.
    P.S. The Campaign Story Line Sucks, and way to many long dragged out Soap Opera Cut Scenes

  • starlighter54 10.29.13 at 01:12

    I love spectator mode, I’m glad they’re bringing it back for BF4!

  • metafa 10.24.13 at 21:49

    Listen, Dice! This Spectator Mode is worth NOTHING!! Even the first Counter-Strike had it, everyone knows it, also your “improvements” are worth nothing! You betrayed us! The only thing worth something would have been a F*ING BATTLERECORDER!!! just like in BF2. What??? Do you think I will let myself monitor by 3 friends simultenously from 3 different camera angles ALL THE TIME to be able to record 5 min of memorable gameplay a day??? Are you freaking kidding me?? I defended you Dice, multiple times against a lot (!) of haters. I pre-ordered BF4 without even thinking about it! This ends now! Thank you, Dice! BASTARDS!

  • Mambo-B 10.23.13 at 17:56

    I hope you can report cheaters inside the game menu now so dice can track the cheaters!

  • DerpiestShazbot 10.17.13 at 00:17

    I hope we will be able to spectate matches while we’e queued to join the server as a spectator.

  • MickeyMcE 10.15.13 at 06:28

    I’d like to be able to see where guys are being killed from. Right now someone dies and your like… What just happened? Then it switches to another teammate. Maybe have it switch to the killer so we can see his perspective and where the kill came from.

    • mattyindaflow7 10.16.13 at 08:16

      i actually hate that the “kill cam” gives away the position of your killer, especially in the case of sniping, it shows the exact position, which could ruin a nice den or hide
      spectator mode though ive never seen, so i think if they dont have that aspect they should add it

      • danewgui2 10.17.13 at 00:10

        Not if its hardcore mode, plus server owners can change that to “off” if they want to regardless. Hopefully that option comes back.

  • MaximusBiPYC 10.15.13 at 01:59

    Russian 5gen multirole jet is T 50 not Su 50 I hope DICE will change it. I like that they put the spectator mode in. Will use it in the beginning of Bf4 and the dlc to know the layout of the maps

  • prisonp34 10.15.13 at 00:11

    good idea

  • Hogstooth 10.14.13 at 03:45

    Spectator Mode and Battle Recorder both should’ve been in Bf3 your halfway to having them both where they are needed BF4.

  • IhIawk20_N7 10.13.13 at 23:09

    Its a MASTERPIECE really!! Good job!! Every pro gamer appreciate this, i personally will use spectator mode for making strategy and to find those good spots from where you can guard the objective(in conquest) , and of course if i find some player suspicious(using wh,aimbot,no recoil and sh** like that) i can spect him and pretty much find out is he a CHEATER(looser) :D . Take advice this is one of the most beautiful things you done so far and only cheaters (and newbies)will say that this feature sux!! Im montenegrin sorry for grammatical errors.THX

  • Dafortycal 10.13.13 at 19:28

    I have to like BF4 so far. I still have not been about to figure out how I can put a couple of burst into someone and they keep going, and some guy is able to pop up and cap me with a pistol from twice the distance. I was in some type of armored vehicle and someone tossed a M67 under it and it blew up, maybe I didn’t see another weapon being used but a anti mine vehicle should be about to take damage. the shotgun doesn’t come with enough ammo. I hated this with BF3 and 4, the helicopter are way too powerful, in real like they cannot take a lot of damage and keep on killing people, that is the things I am getting darn tired of getting killed a copter would never dare to fly so close to the ground to attack a single person. It should only take two hits from a missile to bring one down and if you fire a real long burst with a machine gun they should take damage. I also notice that I spotted a lot of guys on the other side, opened up on them and they didn’t take damage, that was because they were on my side but blue/green wasn’t showing. Once a building falls, seems like there is a little bit too much dust in the air and that makes it too hard to see, it should clear up a bit after a few minutes. I know that isn’t real but either is have a parachute under your uniform. I think that the copter should be able to take a lot less damage, too make up for this a door gunner positions be added, and let’s get real for a second, there should a limit placed on their ammo. Once they run out they can land it (bonus points), bail or switch positions with another crew member.

  • Squirrel652 10.12.13 at 15:32

    Love this spectator mode, you can do all kinds of cool stuff with it such as cinematics. Check this Time Lapse out, how cool!!!????

    • [DICE] Vincent Vukovic 10.14.13 at 14:26

      We’re definitely excited to see the creative things players will do with Spectator Mode.

  • DarkMatterGaming 10.11.13 at 22:39

    i love the intro to battlefield 4 its way better that battlefield3

  • Meshblorg 10.11.13 at 21:38

    Bring a built in battle recorder please. We can create a section on Battlelog that’s like a YouTube with battle recorder videos.

    • aguering 10.12.13 at 06:13

      THIS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OMG I’ve been asking for this in every spectator thread.

  • NLsandman 10.11.13 at 12:40

    any measurements to prevent abuse of the spectator mode like letting spectator mode run 10 seconds behind the actual game?

  • katha 10.11.13 at 09:47

    While this is a welcomed addition, as long as there’s no demo recording, I’m not too excited.

  • Hideyoshii 10.11.13 at 09:20

    This is also great to learn the game and tactics of other players. Use it to your advantage.

  • THEMUFASA1 10.11.13 at 05:53

    Is there going to be spectator mode in the ps3????

  • Reg4real 10.11.13 at 05:44

    i would like to see a lock on player system were you can spectate only a friend and his point of view. as it is right now when a player dies,you switch to another player

  • StormexDante 10.11.13 at 05:21

    This was the one feature from BF3 that was missing. I am so happy that this is returning. Albeit, I wish you could view matches and replays after they have already happened, so you can do the acting and filming all by yourself. But this is a step in the right direction

  • 2.Skinny 10.11.13 at 05:13

    With all my heart, thank you Dice. This is an amazing feature which will be loved by all.

  • AFSARGE 10.11.13 at 05:09

    PLEASE MAKE Spectator Mode available on tablets PLEASE PLEASE

  • [KOR]GunShip 10.11.13 at 04:31

    I think it could be a cheating… maybe..

    • SlashNeck 10.11.13 at 08:21

      Totally agree, from all aspect. Good only to spot hack codes, but in majority only to be victimized by stalker, server exploits, tactics leaks, and so much more, equal to the inverse of appreciative player to player (percentage of people who actually appreciate, respect and willing to positively learn how to play). Worst victim would be those who lagged and will be cursed and scorned greatly, eventually kicked.

  • killzone64 10.11.13 at 04:16

    if dice really wants professional gaming groups to pick up bf4 they need to add LAN support as online only mp has proven in the past to be glitchy at best. for example a few MLG Starcraft 2 games were ruined due to issues with battlenet.

  • Blitzorz 10.11.13 at 03:40

    Obviously DICE don’t realize the best reason for and possibly the true side effect of having spectator mode… And that is that admins and match ref’s can spectate to physically see if someone is cheating or using autoaim hacks. Punkbuster isn’t and has never done a very good job of keeping up with catching hackers in BF3 and even BF4 beta.

    We run servers for BF3 and have to run third party plugins via procon to detect and ban cheaters.

    This is a very welcome addition to the game (although not something new) and will definitely help admin servers and keep competitive matches relatively fair.

  • smilecry 10.11.13 at 03:24

    Great idea hope that I can host a tournament with this feature with my twitch account.

  • netwalker 10.11.13 at 02:59

    Spectator mode is kind of useless with a demo recording option. We REALLY need a battlerecorder DICE!!!!!!

  • Shaade_Silentpaw 10.11.13 at 02:33

    Will DICE be using spectator mode to help catch cheaters?

  • capt_cheese_wiz 10.11.13 at 01:51

    All I can say is I can’t wait till hardcore mode.I don’t wanna know where the player is when I get killed and vice versa.I hope spectator mode won’t allow cheaters to watch where you are so they can tell their buddies.seems like if people whine enough about a game the game makers cater to them.I’m tired of people wanting a cod style game.battlefield has never been about that and that’s the main reason I only play it.I’ve already seen the camos for the guns and there was a little of that in bf3.don’t put spectator mode on hardcore don’t regain health in real life by hiding somewhere.

  • ChuckyzHou5e 10.11.13 at 01:12

    Grab a snack, lay back and enjoy.

  • Blue6Max 10.11.13 at 00:56

    Will the graphic overlay be able to be turned off and on? That way we can have clean video without the info.

    • [DICE] Vincent Vukovic 10.14.13 at 14:30

      Yes, you’ll be able to turn it off completely.

  • Architect1911 10.11.13 at 00:53

    Thortok2000 – Instant switching would mean people could cheat and find out where the enemy is without loosing their score and making the effort to disconnect.

  • Slinkeeee 10.11.13 at 00:13

    “Fan-made Battlefield 4 videos” – you can’t monetize them on YouTube, all the money that would go to the channel owner goes to EA instead. Such a load of Bull!!!

  • Thortok2000 10.10.13 at 23:44

    Right now switching between player and spectator (or vice versa) seems to require disconnecting from the server first. Also switching to commander, I assume, but we can’t test that yet. I would rather it not require a disconnect.

    Often I suspect someone of hacking and would like to watch them to find out, from first person, and possibly record a video as evidence. Having to disconnect in order to do so is annoying. =/

    Or, the alternative, that I would also like, is to record a battle and be able to watch it after the battle is over. That way anything the suspected hacker has ALREADY done can be watched and played back repeatedly and analyzed. It’s also good for checking out what good players do and learning from them. Or things like “how the heck did he get up there” and stuff like that. Being able to go back and spectate a recording of the battle would be AWESOME.

    But since I figure that’s probably difficult and would involve lots of storage space, considering the amount of activity that goes on in a match, being able to live-switch to spectator and back would be great. (And I would still like a CoD-style first-person last-few-seconds-before-you-died kill-cam. Maybe have that be picture-in-picture with the main screen being the current form of killcam.)

  • Soulofwin 10.10.13 at 22:01

    What about a battlerecorder? That would be great!

  • Wumpa37 10.10.13 at 21:18

    I read somewhere that the game you spectate is OFC few minutes behind the real events

    • Oberon-FR- 10.11.13 at 11:40

      Thats exactly how I immagined it should be. Best way to prevent cheating, maybe the only one.

      Can anyone confirm this ?

      If the spectator feed is not delayed, I will never ever play on a server that allows spectators, in fact I don’t think many server will allow it.

      • ramirez89 10.13.13 at 13:30

        The only real reason why this is required is to detect cheaters, but a SPECTATOR mode in itself will not help. Competitive gaming is in dire need of a battlerecorder or a feature where you can review all your games. Dice says they want BF4 to be competitive and then they give us a half-baked version of it. I’m really grateful that we have this, but don’t you see HOW many frcking cheaters there are. There are just way too many cheaters out there that don’t get detected, and DICE doesn’t realize how much an issue this is. There is absolutely no way of knowing whether people hack or not.
        You cannot spectate competitive games at random and people shoutcasting cannot follow a single person so closely as to see if that guy uses no recoil macros, for example, or not. Sure you can see some livestreams and what-not, but you will not be able to detect hackers with this.

        There must be a way how to review people’s games. Spectating is good, but it won’t be much of an anti-cheat measure as it is.

  • GERITSEL 10.10.13 at 20:44

    Well Bladedog That,s what we were thinking too ! and its works perfect !! You can,t hide anymore !!

  • bladedog40 10.10.13 at 20:18

    Sounds cool but a cheater’s/troller’s paradise? Jump on the freecam and tell your buddies over skype where the enemy is.

    • SomeDooD 10.10.13 at 20:43

      Skype? lol

    • KreAture 10.10.13 at 21:47

      No, it’s an admins final weapon.
      Jump on the cheaters first person cam and see exactly how he picks his targets or follows ppl behind walls. Nonchalant potshots that always hits, carefully avoiding actual headshots, taking incredible ammounts of hits and generally being wonderfull while standing planted on the spot laying waste to everyone around may finally be a thing of the past.

  • GUERRERO9951 10.10.13 at 20:14


  • AUTh0rity 10.10.13 at 19:51

    Spectator is great, but still needs this added/changed please->

  • jsilverstreak 10.10.13 at 19:16

    Dang that is the same color as color blind mode. It would be cool if we could change the color to what we want

  • maddingamer 10.10.13 at 19:13

    we want spactator on CONSOLE! HOOAH!

    • Skater_Ricky 10.10.13 at 21:05

      “Spectator Mode” will be on Next Gen consoles as well as PC.

  • szrz 10.10.13 at 19:12

    Battlerecorder back please!!!

  • G3neral_Tso 10.10.13 at 18:54

    Will we be able to spectate a full server and then join that server when a slot opens up (from in the game?)

    • PhaxeNor 10.10.13 at 19:52

      In the current version of Battlelog you can not join the server when a slot open and you are on the server as Spectator. All you get is this message: You are already playing on this server.
      Do hope this will be changed/fixed :)

  • Macpon7 10.10.13 at 18:47

    Just give us Paracel Storm already! Hooa! If you agree!