DICE Executive Producer Patrick Bach takes a look back at the patching process of Battlefield 3, its current state and how the gaming public views DICE’s AAA shooter six month later. Is it now, finally, the game it was promised to be?
Speaking to Eurogamer, Bach admits that Battlefield 3 could have seen a better launch. “Of course, three months before shipping, I would have loved to have said, f*** it, let’s ship it six months later. But you can’t do that when you’re that close.” In a case such as this, he explains, “what we tried to do was make sure the game was good enough when we shipped it, and then post launch we have been updating it quite a bit, and also releasing these expansion packs, which also fix stuff in the game. There is definitely stuff I want to do better, but then again that’s why I always try to make things better.”
Reflecting on DICE’s experience with Battlefield 2 and comparing it to Battlefield 3, Bach mentions, “Battlefield 2 had the same cycle. When it was released people thought it was great. And then you had all the complaints. People still played it.” He continued, “we patched BF2 several times. It wasn’t until 2.5 or something that people said, now it’s done. Now this is the game you should have shipped.”
Six months after the release of Battlefield 3, and after a number of substantial patches filled to the brim with tweaks and fixes, can Battlefield 3 fans say that they now experiencing the game Battlefield 3 was meant to be? Bach would believe so, stating, “I completely agree. Now the game has never been better.” Though, he admits it has not come without its hiccups and challenges.
“It’s such a complicated game. I don’t know how many guns we have in the game. It’s plenty. Then, together with all the vehicles, maps, and gadgets, they all need to work perfect on all maps, and it needs to work the same on all maps,” explains Bach. While many gamers have taken a liking to the new patch, others have produced mixed results. “I’ve heard some people say, I didn’t notice any difference. And I’ve heard people say, it was good, now you broke it. So when you say that, it’s a bit like, this is the patch that made the game complete. But is that a good thing or bad thing compared to the other people who didn’t notice anything, or say we broke it? We can’t win,” confesses Bach.
However, to take some good out of the less favorable results, the team at DICE at least knows that people care about Battlefield 3 and that they want it to be the best game it possibly can be. Bach explains, “I love the fact they notice the differences and the changes we made and approve of it, they get why we did this and that, because we spent a lot of energy looking at all the numbers. We didn’t have all those numbers when we shipped. We didn’t know about all the balancing issues. What I’m proud of is people trust us to stay in the game so when we release the patch they’re still playing and can actually enjoy the result of the patch. In some games you never get a second chance, you never get the chance to do your first patch.”
Bach mentions that it’s all about trust: “To me it’s trusting us to improve. I want to improve and do better, and it feels like our fans are actually aware of that.”
Is this the end of incoming patches for Battlefield 3? Not by a long shot. We are still expecting fixes for the currently bugged M26 MASS, as well an end to the PlayStation 3’s VoIP and input lag issues, among other things. This is, of course, not to mention the upcoming expansion packs as well. In fact, earlier, Bach promised fans “12-18 months of value for Battlefield 3.”
He stresses, “we are listening and we are not getting lazy. We know Battlefield is not a game where you just release it and then move on to something else. It’s a game where you need to have a team that works on it post-launch.”
Let’s hear your thoughts about the current state of Battlefield 3. Is it finally the game you’ve been expecting after the recent patches? Is it close? Or, does it still have a long way to go?