Battlefield 1‘s newest expansion In the Name of the Tzar is close to its release, and in order to know more about it, DualShockers had a chat with Producer Andrew Gulotta at Gamescom in Cologne.
Gulotta talked about a rather large variety of topics, including the philosophy behind the choice of the theme for the DLC, gameplay, balancing and more.
The October Revolution is even more unexplored territory in games that World War I itself. According to Gullotta, Battlefield 1 is known for telling untold stories, and presenting the conflict in ways that people did not expect. In The Name of the Tzar carries on with that unexpected approach.
When the team started to consider adding the Eastern Front and Russia, they came across the story of the nation leaving World War I early; they just had to tell that story, since it’s unique and interesting.
When you look at a civil war, it can be very controversial, but DICE wanted to tell the story in a respectful and authentic way. The DLC is based on history and remains true to its historical references. Gulotta feels that the team handled that well.
Speaking of the order in which the DLCs are being released, the team knew that they needed to include the French and Russian armies, and they wanted to give them special attention. This included new character models, vehicles, weapons, and settings, allowing DICE to tell “a broader story.” They started with the French army as it played a huge role in the conflict, so they wanted to create something special for them. The same goes with the Russian army. It was important to release them as first and second DLC.
The DLC focuses only on multiplayer. While the team loves the single player portion of the game, a high percentage of players is spending time mostly in multiplayer, so the team wanted to “double down and put value where the players are.”
Incidentally, DICE is currently evaluating the Xbox One X. They don’t yet know what kind of improvements they’ll implement for Microsoft’s upcoming console, but more information wil probably be shared “soon.”
On the topic of introducing new weapons, the team approached that just like they do with everything else: they thought about what players expect and then on how they could provide something unexpected instead. In the Name of the Tzar includes eleven new guns, and not all of them are Russian even if many of them were used on the Eastern Front.
An important element in the selection is creating something that wasn’t yet in the game, like the Perino Model 1908 which has a spring-loaded clip reload coming with a very unique animation, or the Parabellum MG14/17, which is a light machine gun with an ammo belt.
Balance is also important, and it’s “really tricky” according to Gulotta. Part of the development team is dedicated to preserving it, tweaking things like bullet spread, drop, damage and reload times. There is no “best weapon in the game,” but each gun does something really well, fitting different situations and play styles. As a consequence, players have to find the weapons that work best for them. The objective is to provide an offering that includes something for everyone.
The team is focusing very heavily on supporting the live services of the game with monthly updates: this is more frequent than ever before, and comes from the drive to bring the best balance to players.
Research for development is done via books, online resources, talking with historians, and discussing with experts. When it comes to weapons, developers receive hands-on experience, and at times they even get to fire them to capture their sound, feel and visual effects. A lot of research is done on every aspect of the game to achieve the all-important authenticity the team aims for.
When they started doing research on the Eastern Front and on the Russian Revolution, the theme became even more fascinating and gripping for them, with elements like the Ilya-Muromets, which is the largest bomber of the war, or the Women’s Battalion of Death, to which they paid tribute by including a female scout on the Russian side.
Gulotta also explained how Russia didn’t have any shortage of vehicles; while there are some maps more focused on vehicular warfare and some less, the nation was quite innovative and had modern vehicles and weaponry. The fun part was to pick those appropriate to the game and its balance.
Interestingly, while armored trains already exist in the original game, the Russian army was a huge proponent of their use, implementing them way before World War I, and turning them into a relevant element of their combat strategy. The DLC includes a new variant of the armored train with a snow plow and new camo.
There will also be two operations, the Brusilov offensive is set in World War I proper, and starts in the Galicia map, moving up to the Carpatian mountains with Lupkov Pass, and then Brusilov Keep itself. The second operation titled “Red Tide” is set during the Russian Revolution. It starts in the Volga River map, moving into Tsaritsyn.
In The Name of the Tsar releases on September 19th. Battlefield 1 is already available for PS4, Xbox One and PC. Electronic Arts recently announced the Revolution Edition, and is in the process of including the competitive mode named Incursions.