In the coming months, Developer DICE LA hopes to turn things around for EA’s flagship shooter, Battlefield 4, now known rather unfortunately for its unstable and often bug-filled patch and DLC launches.
DICE Producer David Sirland believes things can change, however, especially with the help of the ongoing Community Test Environment that has already proven itself a major benefit to both the Battlefield team in Los Angeles and the game’s dedicated fan-base.
The “Fall Patch,” which launched late September on all platforms, significantly improved on Battlefield 4’s gameplay experience on nearly every front by introducing fixes and tweaks developed over four months of testing in the CTE, an open testing ground accessible to Battlefield 4 Premium members on PC since May.
Earlier last month, CTE participants were invited to test out brand new maps included in Battlefield 4’s upcoming Final Stand expansion. According to Sirland, it was the first step in a DLC release that, for once, is going exactly the way the studio had envisioned it.
I caught up with Sirland in a recent interview to talk about the CTE’s success so far and what it means for Battlefield 4’s future.
“I think, for Final Stand, our upcoming expansion pack for BF4, it’s the first time we actually did this the way we envisioned it to work,” he explained.
“So, basically, we showed stuff before it’s actually even Alpha and get a lot of initial feedback and then we will try to work on that and show it again and, you know, get another set of feedback and hopefully we’ll address a lot of the issues people had the first time around. And, then, eventually release it [as] hopefully a more stable and high quality release because of it.”
Having good luck with the initiative so far, I asked Sirland if this level of player engagement and open testing is some thing we can expect for Battlefield titles beyond Hardline, which is already benefitting from CTE improvements in its current pre-release state.
“I would think so, yeah,” he answered.
“As I said, it’s up to every game and it is a bit of a hassle to set it up initially, but I would bet so. I mean, just looking at the latest patch that we released this week, how much of a stable release that was compared to other releases in this game’s history, it gives us a lot of confidence in doing — because it had so many changes, this patch. It’s a huge patch. It’s almost like half an X-pack in terms of features, or code features, anyways, which is where big things can go wrong and you create other follow up issues.”
“We feel really confident that running something through a test environment where we have this amount of people — I mean, we don’t have a couple of thousands of people on there. We have a couple of hundred people active day-to-day. But, it gives us so many hours of continued testing and playing on these maps…”
“It’s just impossible to compete with that from a QA standpoint because we get thousands of hours compared to hundreds of hours. But I think you will see more of this in the future. I can’t talk for any of the other games in particular, but I think it will happen. I think we are showing that it works.”
What’s your take on DICE’s new approach to content and patch releases? Is Battlefield turning a new leaf?
Stay tuned for our full interview with Sirland later this week. For everything Battlefield, keep your sights locked on MP1st.