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Battlefield 4 dev DICE on Commander Mode and the importance of 60fps

Like PC, next-gen console "getting the full Battlefield experience".

Buy the next-generation version of Battlefield 4 and you'll get the "full Battlefield experience", developer DICE has told Eurogamer.

The Swedish developer has used the PC version of the game, which as Battlefield 3 players know features huge 64-player battles and, if your computer is up to it, 60 frames per second visuals, as the target for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of Battlefield 4, due out later this year.

Battlefield 4 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One includes 64-player battles and 60fps visuals, unlike the console versions of Battlefield 3 and the current-gen versions of Battlefield 4.

Battlefield executive producer Patrick Bach said getting the next-gen versions of Battlefield 4 to 60fps was a priority for the development team because it wanted to recreate the PC experience in the living room.

"We have a very complicated game with a lot of moving parts," Bach said. "We had to decide, yes, we will do this in 60fps. Everything else is secondary. We know the game is great when you have 64 players and destruction, and if we could get what we had on PC for a long time in your living room with a pad, wouldn't that be amazing? That's what we're aiming for."

The extra horsepower of the next-gen consoles has allowed DICE to up the player count to 64 for multiplayer, matching the PC version. Current-gen players, however, are stuck with 24.

"They [next-gen console players] will experience another level of chaos they haven't seen before," Bach said. "12 versus 12, you can keep track of quite a few people, but only so many. When you get to 32 versus 32, that's when it becomes hard to keep track of the other team, when it feels like there are more things going on than just around me and what I can control.

"That's the experience we always wanted to get to with the consoles without sacrificing the other core pillars of the franchise."

64-player multiplayer and 60fps means next-gen console players are "getting the full Battlefield experience", Bach said.

"It lies in the title: Battlefield. You want it to feel like a proper war and that the things that are happening on the map, even though you're not a part of the battle, you can see the battle going on and you can choose to go to this other fight than the fight I'm just in. When you have 32 versus 32, that's when that starts to happen for real."

"Commander Mode was slightly flawed in Battlefield 2. We've been working on it for some time figuring that out, and I think we've got it."

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Meanwhile, Commander Mode, last seen in Battlefield 2142 and, before that, Battlefield 2, returns for Battlefield 4.

Commander Mode, which displays a tactical, top-down view of the battlefield, lets one player per side gather intel, issue vehicle and supply drops and go on the offensive by triggering devastating attacks either from PC, console or a tablet.

Bach said DICE had spent some time trying to work out Commander Mode's "tricky design", which, he admitted, was flawed.

"Commander Mode was flawed in Battlefield 2," Bach said. "A lot of people thought it was fun to play, but they also felt it was this thing they could do on the side, like a jump in, jump out experience. Some people felt it ruined their experience on the ground when they had a bad Commander. So we had to fix those design flaws before we started to implement it. We've been working on it for some time figuring that out, and I think we've got it."

The focus of Battlefield 4's Commander Mode is that Commanders play against each other rather than with their team. Commanders have their own scoring and persistence, and use what Bach describes as "the pieces on the chess board" to win the game. "So, if I'm a good Commander and I help my team to take flags, I will get more toys to play with," he said.

When Commanders go on the offensive they can trigger the devastating Gunship. "It feels very cool when you see the text on the screen when you're on the ground and it says, 'Gunship above'," Bach enthused.

"When that spawns in you think, 'okay, I can't be in the open any more. I need to go under something because I'm very exposed.' Especially for snipers on the roof - they get very scared when it happens and you see the big shadow over the whole battlefield.

"It's really cool."

"It feels very cool when you see the text on the screen when you're on the ground and it says, 'Gunship above'"

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Available on all versions of the game is the new Spectator Mode, which lets players watch a match in progress.

You can follow any player in third-person or first-person view, see the entire map from a top-down perspective and fly around the world using a free cam. From there you can place five cameras and toggle between them. This, Bach says, gives players virtual TV sets, and on next-gen consoles you can use their in-built recording functions to make movies.

"We see people doing that on YouTube already, but mostly for PC. Now you can do it on console."

This should also be useful for eSports, Bach continued, because you'll be better able to scrutinise matches and have referees. "It's very positive for us."

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