Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is having an amazing launch. In its first three days, the game reportedly made over $500 million in worldwide sales, increased the number of players over the last Call of Duty title, and broke the franchise’s record for Twitch views based on Activision’s data. 

Rob Kostich, Executive Vice President and General Manager for Call of Duty at Activision, stated:

“Black Ops 4 is off to a blockbuster start. Our player counts and hours played are up year over year, our viewership on Twitch has set new standards and is showing just how fun Blackout is to play and to watch, and the weekend results yet again put Call of Duty at that highest tier of entertainment. We’re really excited about Black Ops 4’s momentum. There’s much more to come, we’re just getting started.”

This success was heralded by record-breaking PlayStation Store first-day digital sales.

Black Ops 4 originally received some resistance when Activision and Treyarch announced it had cut the single-player campaign to focus on a battle royale mode, but it seems that the decision didn’t hurt the game’s popularity. In fact, the game has received generally favorable reviews, including from Game Informer. If you are interested in seeing Black Ops 4 in action, watch our New Gameplay Today featuring the split-screen mode

[Source: BusinessWire]

In Return of the Obra Dinn, you play an insurance inspector investigating an abandoned merchant ship to determine what happened to the crew. Armed with only a notebook and a handy device called a Memento Mori (which is capable of turning back time to the moment of someone’s death), your job is to run through the fates of the 60 people who once called the ship home. While this premise seems ripe for spooky thrills, Obra Dinn leans away from horror. Instead, it presents a quality puzzler that plays like an ambitious, surrealistic version of Clue.

Nothing is what it seems in Return of the Obra Dinn. Your two ways of interacting with the world are your Memento Mori and the journal, but both are surprisingly complex. Using the Memento Mori recreates the moment of a victim’s death as a freeze frame, including the surroundings. You can walk around, see the victim, the people who were around at the time of the killing, and hear voice snippets to explain the context of the deaths. One early scenario I discovered on the top deck of the ship had one man refusing to let a cargo worker onto a life boat in the middle of the storm before brutally bludgeoning the cargo worker to death to avenge the killing of his brother. I learned more about the brother’s death when I reached the cargo deck, which allowed me to see the full truth behind the scenario and make some important calls.

Obra Dinn isn’t a narrative adventure where you’re going to spy a sheet of paper that conveniently gives you the answer to one of your puzzles. You have to examine every scene and come back to them several times with the Memento Mori. While this might sound like tedious backtracking, it’s just the opposite. You often uncover new details that are essential in solving puzzles, like seeing new wounds or suspicious details in the margins of a scene.

Your journal holds a crew manifest, one sketch of the entire crew, a map of all the decks, and a glossary. It’s also where you input what you think happened to crew members, with every fate serving as a puzzle. You need to answer how the person died (or escaped), who they were killed by, and how. You have to get a trio of crew members’ fates correct before the journal validates them, curbing your ability to brute force your way through puzzles.

The goal seems straightforward, but Obra Dinn is hard. For those who remain undaunted by steep challenges, the interlocking puzzles are fantastic, especially as you come to understand the tools at your disposal. Early on, I rarely used the sketch in the journal because I was so focused on investigating the ties between crime scenes. However, the sketch is just as important because it reveals essential details as well (like how the crewmates from India all sit together and are always with one another) that you can use to help you figure out the identity of crewmates when your other methods fail.

Whenever you’re bogged down in a problem, you always have a way out – but you may have to question your assumptions. The game does a great job encouraging this as you tackle the trickier mysteries, like crewmates who are only in a few memories. You need to rely on abstract thinking and connecting events across scenarios. Determining certain fates require you to focus on what’s missing from a victim’s death scene rather than the things that are present.

What’s most impressive to me is how paradoxically linear and open Obra Dinn is. Most of the 60 puzzles can be solved in any order, with only the tools you’re given and your own detective skills to guide the way. I truly felt like I inhabited Obra Dinn’s world because of how strongly its detective gameplay gripped me. Even when I was struggling during my 12-hour playthrough to find answers or the next clue, I couldn’t walk away from the computer. I had to see this thing through.

My only frustration with the Obra Dinn is the overarching story. The plot is ultimately fine, with more than enough emotional beats coming together for an engaging mystery. However, the ultimate payoff fails to complement the thoughtful gameplay giving players who solve every fate the narrative short shrift. Luckily, the individual stories you learn about the crew during your investigations – their betrayals, ambitions, loves – are enticing enough on their own to make up for the deficit. This mixed quality of storytelling doesn’t stop the experience from highlighting its other strengths; Return Of Obra Dinn is a surprisingly hardcore detective title with a surreal bite, and one that shouldn’t be missed by anyone who loves a great challenge.

From how much I loved Papers, Please, I knew I would be making time for whatever creator Lucas Pope put out next. I’m happy to say that from my brief time with Return of the Obra Dinn, it’s on track to cement itself as a worthy successor, both in terms of narrative and unique gameplay.

Cork and I climb aboard the Obra Dinn and show the basic loop of the game, with possible spoilers for the game’s first few mysteries. I say “possible spoilers” because we may have been completely wrong! That’s part of the game’s charm.

Return of the Obra Dinn releases today on Mac, Windows and Linux.

Return Of The Obra Dinn, the latest game by the creator of Papers, Please, is one tough puzzle game. I spent 12 hours running down the fates of every single crew member during my review of the game, often getting off track and trying to figure out how to get back on the path to answers. What follows are some spoiler-free tips I gleaned to help you if you get lost or are fumbling around for an answer.

Best of luck, inspector.

1.  Be Prepared To Backtrack…A Lot
In Obra Dinn, there are a large number of fate scenarios you have to investigate. However, you’re not going to get every answer you need from just observing them once. You’re going to have to return to all of them, many times, throughout your journey in order to establish character relationships and question hypothetical answers you’ve made. 

2. Get All The Chapter Memories Done First
You might be tempted to start smoking your pipe and making educated guesses as soon as you hit your first memory. Don’t do that. Instead track down all the journal memories on the ship first, play through them, and after you’ve collected all the available ones, start trying to solve fates. Trust me: It’ll save you a lot of time and bad guesswork in the end.

3. The Sketch Is An Invaluable Tool
You need more than your eyes, ears, and the scene at hand to solve a large number of these fates. The sketch of the crew, available in the notebook, has invaluable information that you can’t overlook. Examine it closely. Look at the crew members who hang out together in the sketch and cross-reference them with the crew members that hang together in the memories. You’ll often find that crew members from the same country, listed in the manifest, have a habit of being together. That’s valuable info, especially when it comes down to the process of elimination for figuring out late-game fates.

4. Pay Attention To The Audio Logs
Every memory in the journal has an audio log attached to it. While a number of them don’t have any dialog and are just death gurgles or explosions, the ones that do have dialog have a transcript and often throw out crew member names or roles.

5. Flies
To trigger the first memory in each chapter you need to find that chapter’s corresponding decomposing corpse (ew). Look for flies on every deck. Each chapter in the journal even tells you the general area where to find the first memory.

6. Don’t Be Fooled By The Death Descriptions
The death descriptions you can use to attach to characters when determining how they died is huge. However, you will not use all of them. I won’t say which ones you won’t use but rest assured, a number of them are red herrings.

7. Fates
The puzzle for each crew member is called “fate” and not “death” for a reason. Keep that in mind.

8. Three’s Company
Fates validate in threes, so don’t freak out if the answer you’re dead sure about isn’t triggering a validation. However, if it’s been two or three validation sets, and that one hasn’t gone off yet, you probably need to revisit the particulars of your guesswork.

9. Coroner’s Report
Sometimes you’ll see someone that has died in a fairly obvious way. However, several of the fates in Obra Dinn are misleading. Be sure to look closely at each victim. Was that man crushed? Or did he simply fall down the stairs? Did a bullet kill this person first or was it a weapon that struck them earlier? Take everything into account when making calls. Sometimes the simplest explanation is not the correct one after all.

10. Here’s Some Perspective
When you’re backtracking through memories, be sure to look at them from different angles. Try gazing at all the action from a new corner in the room or even turning away from the action to investigate the quiet spaces. You’ll often find new faces or useful information stowed away in them.

Today, Rockstar released the last trailer before Red Dead Redemption II’s release on October 26. It’s a short snippet that nonetheless gives a sneak peak at the fracturing within Dutch’s gang of outlaws.

Also, it’s worth noting that while we’ve seen John Marston’s return in previous trailers, this is is the first time we’ve heard his voice. We have no confirmation on whether or not Rob Wiethoff is voicing Marston this go round but boy, it sure does sound like him.

For more on Red Dead Redemption II, check out our hands-on preview of the game here.

 

The latest trailer for Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu And Eevee reveals a new mechanic where you will be able to earn titles by defeating masters of specific Pokémon with specific Pokémon. For example, if you want to be called a Charizard Master by the nurses at the Pokémon Centers, then you need to track down the Charizard Master in the world and fight their Charizard with you’re Charizard and defeat them.

Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu And Eevee is coming to Switch November 16. For more on the game, head here for an interview with longtime Pokémon producer/director/composer, Junichi Masuda.

Dark Souls releases on Switch tomorrow and it will be the first time a Souls game has appeared on a Nintendo console, and the first time it will be available on a handheld platform. It’s a new adventure for the original Dark Souls, despite releasing seven years ago, and we’ve spent some time with it in order to offer some feedback.

The Good

It Runs Great!

The biggest question about Dark Souls on Switch, since its announcement, has been how will it run. The good news is, it runs well. I have played about five hours of the game with about 70% of that time happening in handheld mode, and I haven’t noticed any significant slow-down. Rolling through big collections of destructible barrels, fighting large enemies, and taking on lots of smaller enemies has all been fine. The framerate is consistent, even if it is not hitting the 60 FPS it hits on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

Even Blightown, which you can see in the video above, is solid. It’s still a dangerous hell-hole filled with poison and gross insects, but the Switch handles it admirably.

There Is Essentially A Pause Button

Every current-generation console has the ability to go to sleep instead of powering down entirely so that you can quickly pick up where you left off when you return to your game. The Switch, however, does this significantly faster than the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and in the case of Dark Souls it means you essentially have a pause button.

When it comes to playing online, putting your system to sleep can be problematic, but if you’re playing offline, pressing the power button on top of the Switch instantly pauses the action and pressing it again drops you right back in after a very quick pit-stop at the home menu. It’s a godsend.

You Can Record Video

This isn’t some revelatory inclusion. Obviously, Dark Souls Remastered on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One allowed you to record footage of the game. For whatever reason, though, not every Switch game is capable of recording video, so including this with the list of good things about the game is here really just as means of information delivery: by holding down the screenshot button, you can record 30 seconds of Dark Souls footage on Switch. It’s perfect for capturing every single one of your victories, deaths, or just to take a look back and see exactly how many Souls you were carrying when you died to decide if they’re worth going back for.

The Bad

The Button Layout For Menus Is Weird

PS4 and Xbox One’s menus default the southern ‘X’ or ‘A’ button to confirmation and the eastern ‘O’ or ‘B’ to cancel. The Switch, for whatever reason, swaps the layout so confirming and canceling actions in its menus are reversed. The same goes for its games. Super Mario Odyssey and Breath of the Wild, for example, have you confirming menu actions using the eastern button, and the southern button to cancel. When I am holding a Switch in my hand, my brain has no problem with this swap, but Dark Souls didn’t get the memo, so I still – even five hours in – find myself accidentally canceling out of menus often. This leads to weird things like pressing the eastern button in the home menu to start the game, but then pressing the southern button to load your save just moments later. It’s weird, and absolutely something you can get used to.

The Brightness Is Strangely Low

Much to the developers’ chagrin, I think we all pump that brightness up a little bit more than requested when that weird abstract slider shows up on screen asking you if you can see the symbol on the left. I pumped it up a few extra notches while playing in handheld mode, but when I started playing, it still felt too dark. Even with the Switch’s brightness pumped up to max, it still felt a little dark, so I ultimately went back to the in-game settings and pumped that brightness setting all the way up. At that point it was satisfactory. Dark Souls is a dark game, but I was surprised how much I had to turn it up in handheld mode in order to see what I needed to see.

 

Final Thoughts

There is no denying that Dark Souls on Switch is not the absolute best way to play the game. That honor belongs to your PS4, Xbox One, or PC, but the Switch version of the game is perfectly fine. You sacrifice a higher frame-rate for the opportunity to play the game handheld (and have the option to pause!), and in my experience the trade-off has been worth it.

Sources close to Six Foot, developers of the spaceship war game Dreadnought, have told Game Informer that the studio is attempting to stay afloat by letting a number of employees go. Dreadnought, which was made in collaboration with Spec Ops: The Line developer Yager, only released four days ago.

The situation has been a long-time coming for the company, which reportedly began telling its nearly 200 employees about money issues earlier this summer. A team meeting was held with the Six Foot CEO Matt Ballesteros, who explained to the staff that the company only had enough money to continue development for a few months, later pinpointed as mid-October. He warned his employees that anyone not comfortable with rolling the dice should feel free to leave and insisted there would be no judgment for doing so.

At the time, the Steam release of Dreadnought, which had enjoyed moderate success on the PlayStation 4, was pegged internally for a mid-Summer release. As development timelines continued to get pushed back, though, the idea of the game releasing and suddenly infusing much-needed capital into the development studio began to look more and more like a fantasy. Ballesteros tried to convey the extent to which the studio was teetering on the edge to his employees and seemed to want everyone to be keenly aware how precarious the whole situation at the studio was.

Internally, it seemed fairly well-known that October 12 would be the last day the studio could confidently pay their employees. After that date, without more money, pay could only be determined on a day-to-day basis. Six Foot shifted their entire focus to making sure Dreadnought launched as quickly as they could possibly get it out to keep everyone employed.

On October 14, the game officially launched to a fairly muted response. As Steam reviews and feedback started coming in, Six Foot started trying to stamp out the major issues, but one developer described the work as “simultaneously both hurried and spiritless.” The writing was on the wall, even though the CEO had not yet confirmed it, and it was hard to keep working knowing anyone could get ejected soon within a matter of hours.

A bi-weekly meeting two days after launch, standard through the development of the game, was pushed from 11:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. to give the team more time to gather data on the game’s sales and to let everyone concentrate on working on the title. From launch, reviews on Steam were mixed, and they had not rallied within the intervening days. Even fixing the game’s major issues would likely not be able to reverse the momentum, so the extra day to monitor response felt to some like it was only prolonging the inevitable hammer. By 4:00, an all-hands meeting confirmed what everyone already knew, but were still struggling to accept.

Dreadnought launched too late, the team was told. The money wasn’t there, the game wasn’t successful, and the company couldn’t keep everyone employed in the hopes that it would suddenly become successful. There were only grim solutions left for Six Foot.

“It cost about $400,000 for the last blitz/crunch/push to get Dreadnought launched on Steam,” a source familiar with the numbers told us. “Paying everyone in general costs about $80,000 a day. The game has not made anywhere near that; I do not recall the exact number, but it was less than $20,000 a day.”

The studio chose 45 employees and offered them the option to voluntarily take an unpaid leave of absence with the opportunity to resume their jobs when – if – Dreadnought ever becomes successful enough to generate a profit. Alternatively, any of the 45 could simply choose to be laid off for unemployment and remain in good standing with the company for potential rehire options should, again, Dreadnought ever come to life.

It’s the sort of choice no one there thought they would ever have to make. One developer told us that they genuinely believe, if not for a few small decisions leading to a few small delays, they would still be employed right now. The choice weighed heavily among the those affected – the game could end up simply never making enough money to get Six Foot running again and waiting for the phone call to get off the bench sounded potentially ruinous for those already struggling. 

“I’m scared out of my mind right now,” one developer said after being told about the option. “I’m scared s–tless.”

The 45 employees were told to report their choices to Human Resources by 10:00 a.m. on October 17, with those who say nothing being presumed to choose the latter option and are automatically laid off. To make matters worse, not all of the 45 were present for the meeting explaining this, with several out of town after the game shipped or simply not clocked in for their shift at the time.

A source told us that they were still in shock for much of the night and simply missed the deadline, having mentally opted to take a leave of absence but, having not emailed HR until after 10:00 a.m., has since been laid off instead.

While there is some disagreement among those we talked to over how this was handled, the developers we talked to all agreed that Six Foot’s higher-ups were transparent through the game’s development that this situation was likely. The team wanted to believe that Dreadnought could release and find a place in the market, but the spreadsheets simply worked against their favor when push came to shove. For months, management told the developers that they were gambling their futures there and asked them to do what is best for them, even if it meant leaving the company. Six Foot staffing is working to help the 45 workers in any way they can, according to some of the people let go.

At the moment, a remaining skeleton crew remains working on Dreadnought, though it is unclear for how long. “It reminds me very much of the Telltale situation,” one of the sources told us.

Our best wishes go to everyone affected by the layoffs.

Battlefield 1 marked a departure for the series, in that it split up the campaign into a series of vignettes rather than a single experience that followed an individual soldier throughout the war. Battlefield V takes the same approach, following a variety of Allied troops across several diverse campaigns. Suriel played through them, and he walks Leo and me through his experiences in today’s NGT.

We head to Norway, France, and North Africa during our quick tour, getting a look at stealth-oriented gameplay as well as some more traditional all-out firefights. You’ll never think about throwing knives the same way again. Well, at least you won’t if you ever even thought about them at all in the first place.

Battlefield V is coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on November 20.

I recently had the chance to play a couple of hours of Battlefield V’s single-player campaign, which returns to the “war stories” format of Battlefield 1. For some quick impressions of what these new stories are like, as well as what’s changed this time around, check out the latest episode of New Gameplay Today.

I also had the chance to interview Eric Holmes, the design director behind Battlefield V’s campaign. We had a long chat about how the team at DICE tries to alter the tone of its various war stories while not being disrespectful, how it handles the weighty issues that underline WWII games, and post-release fact-checking, dubious or otherwise.

This interview was transcribed by interns JP Gemborys and Jill Grodt.

With a lot of the war story stuff, obviously you have been shifting with Battlefield 1 and V towards the anthology format. What has been the overall reception to the switch?

The feedback that I’ve seen is very positive, in that people like that there’s diverse – kind of – voices in it. You know, there’s multiple tones and styles. One of the things I was worried about when we were making BF1 was that there would be a favorite one and that there would be a best one and then there would be a worst one and everything would be sorted in between. But one of the things I found, much to my surprise, is that didn’t happen. People had different favorites. And it’s – I guess it’s almost kind of like favorite ice cream kind of a thing where there isn’t a best ice cream and there isn’t a worst one, but there are different ones.

And that was kind of the stand out thing for us. I think it helped us with authenticity as well because then, you know, it’s very unlikely if you took all the events of BF1, like a guy drives a tank through the frontline. Guy’s an ace fighter pilot. Guy is a horsemen with Lawrence of Arabia, guy is a runner in Gallipoli and then lastly he’s an Italian mountaineer. You’re like “who did all that?” No one.

Right.

So, I mean, I guess that World War I James Bond could go through all that stuff, but then it starts to feel kind of weird and – 

That there’s one person that gets to do everything. 

Yeah, so then you’d end up either doing one of two things. You find a way for it to be different people, or you have to find a way to charm your way through that story. It ends up becoming a bit more like Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes or something like that, where I guess it’s like, he can go anywhere and be brilliant with stuff, but he’s a very unusual person. And he’s special. 

The other thing that set a lot of the war stories apart were the gameplay elements of, here’s your tank story, here’s your pilot story, and here’s the regular foot soldier story. Is that the approach you are taking to help new players get introduced to how a tank controls, here’s how a plane controls, here’s tackling different objectives. Is that the starting point?

It wasn’t the starting point, no. It is a benefit to the approach that we’ve got in that. Someone can play a tank and not worry about people trying to nail them with dynamite from some corner next to the spawn point. And they’ve got the time to let it breathe and they can feel like they’re in control. But it wasn’t where we started. I think it was more about mapping out, okay, what territory does Battlefield encompass? It’s got planes, it’s got tanks, it’s got foot soldiers of various different types of kits, it’s got these other mechanics it’s introducing; it’s going to these locations, okay. What are some interesting ways to kind of focus on one to three of those things at a time? And, okay, there’s some fantasies that pop out of that. Cool, all right, but that’s one way to kind of map the needs. 

And the other way was to go, “Hey, forget all that for a moment. Let’s just throw up interesting stuff we know about World War II or we found as we dug around.” It could be things based off classic maps or experiences you’ve had in like “Hey, that could be a really awesome story about attacking Wake Island, because that was a favorite map. Okay, what do we know about Wake Island? Not much, let’s go and research that. Okay, is there a story there? Probably is.” In this case, we didn’t do anything with Wake Island because we’re not touching that area of the war right now, but you could absolutely see a valid story popping up or something like that. 

And then it can kind of come down to shaking [that] down to, “Okay, these are some ideas that we’d like to kind of compile together and they’re complimentary,” and then looking at what [the multiplayer team is] doing and then there’s a bit of horse-trading. “Well, we’d really like to do this Norwegian thing with skiing – is multiplayer going to Norway? Because there’s no point in us doing it if you’re not going to Norway – oh, we do want to go to Norway. Okay, cool, that’s a win, okay let’s cement that one.” And then there were other ideas, which we’re like “I’m really passionate about doing this thing! What do you think, multiplayer?” “We’re not going to do that.” Okay then, there’s not much benefit to that then, I’ll put that in the vault. 

Looking at some of the stuff from Battlefield 1, what were the biggest takeaways from the community in terms of feedback? Like we want more of this, we want you guys to move more in this direction, or here’s something we’d like you to do for the next game?

I think people liked the characters from different countries, and that definitely became sticky and led to us go, “Okay can we take that a step further; can we go into languages and try and see if we can go deeper on it. People did like the fact that there were different tones to them. I think it would be kind of a weird set of war stories if it was four funny World War II stories, or four super dark World War II stories. You have to kind of push that stuff around and I think, again that’s another thing why people like other ones. Like what’s your favorite Marvel movie? There isn’t a best one necessarily, but people like different ones for different reasons. 

When you’re trying to go for those lighter tone stories, what do you see as the limit? How do you balance ideas like, “We want to make sure this isn’t like our other stories, but we don’t want to make light of the fact that these people are at war?”

I think you’re touching on the bones of it there. So if it’s kind of a total offering, you want to make sure that, you know, let’s say this table represents everything and these four quadrants. The darker this one is, maybe the other one that’s lighter needs to be lighter to pull the center of gravity around. The more closed maybe this one is, maybe the more open this one needs to be, because there’s an overall kind of sense of how we want to measure where it goes. And people cried at some of the stuff in Battlefield 1. They found it very emotionally powerful. And I know I definitely laughed at a bunch of the stuff in Battlefield 1, and I’ve watched a bunch of streamers that play it too and watch how they react, so that’s an interesting new world with Battlefield 1, getting to watch people play the game online.

We don’t want to be disrespectful to the people who fought the war. That is an absolute line for me. I think it’s about respecting the events, and then exploring what it would be like to fight there and then trying to find a way to realize that in a way which is compelling within that offering. So, for example, the most outrageous one in this game is definitely “Under No Flag,” and the reason that can be outrageous is the people who fought in the [Long Range Desert Group] and the SAS and the [Special Boat Service] were outrageous, and if you go and read up on those people, there’s amazing stories of these people doing incredible, daring feats. 

A good one is a bunch of SBS guys land on a beach, they’re walking up and some Italian soldiers spot them and shout at them, and they just wave back. And one of them shouts “Hello!” in Italian, and the soldiers wave back and they go back to their canoes and they leave. There’s cases of them going into bases and getting caught in spotlights, and then just waving at people or walking away. And then people don’t know what to do. They were like, “He can’t be an enemy; there’s no one around here. Plus, he didn’t shoot at me.” 

Another good one, is SAS guys who went into an air base, blew up all these Stukas and then went and hid behind a hill. The next day, the Germans fly in all their replacement planes. The next day, they walk back in, blow up all those ones and then leave. So these guys are really, really cheeky characters who are very independently-minded and larger than life. It was easy to get inspired by these people and then, “How do we realize that?” I think Mason is a really interesting character along those lines; he’s just he’s so much larger than life. It feels appropriate for him. 

One of the war stories is coming post-launch. Are you planning to change anything up for that last one. Do some stuff that maybe you weren’t able to do in the campaign proper?

I don’t think so. I think that the reason we’ve pushed the date in the first place was to make everything as good as it can be. We really want to make these things shine, and push for quality. So it’s not like – I’ll be ridiculous for a second; this is intentionally ridiculous – but it’s not like we’re trying to sneak swastikas in after the launch because they weren’t allowed before or something like that. It’s just that we want to make everything good. 

It feels like there’s going to be a lot of post-launch content. Do you feel like you guys have enough there to satisfy people at launch versus over the course of time post-launch? 

That’s a tricky one, because I’m only allowed to talk about what we’re showing here today. I think that the Tides of War will be a really interesting offering for people. And I think part of what Tides of War will be, will also be a relationship with the players, seeing what they want to have and then hopefully delivering that. But in terms of talking about future war stories type content, I can’t talk about that today, unfortunately. 

How malleable is the post-launch content to community feedback? How much are you looking to change your approach to post-launch content based on what players say after they get their hands on the game?

That’s not really my department, unfortunately. But we want to have a strong relationship with our players. And we want to give people what they want. We’d be stupid to not give them what they want, right? But so, as to how much control – any particular forum or medium has – I could not tell you.

How much do you look at the stories that might have inspired a lot of these narratives and how they happened in real life versus altering those things to fit the game? 

I think we tried to leverage stuff wherever possible. I’d love to give you an example if I can think of one. I know one we found, but ultimately didn’t do. It was great, and I would have loved to have done it. There is an interview with a surviving SAS member, which was beautiful. He was a super young guy – I think he was 21 or something – and he was a navigator. So, he would drive the jeeps at night over the desert with no features. He would navigate, I think, by the stars. I think he was in the same car with David Stirling – who was the founder of the SAS. Stirling was complaining to him saying, “How close are we to the objective? We should be here by now!” The guy just literally stopped the jeep and said, “Well, I think we should be here.” And as he stopped the jeep, all the lights came on in the runway in front of them and then a plane came in and landed. That was like a movie moment, it was incredible.

So, we tried to find anecdotes like that, as we go, that we can leverage and realize because they’re often so much better than what you can make up. If someone also says, “That’s bull****, that never happened,” you can say it did, and it was him, and it was here. That’s kind of a beautiful thing when you think about it. 

The campaign I was playing through before we started was the French campaign, “Tirailleur,” which – beyond the cultural aspects – there is a racial undertone, even in that first cutscene. They were talking about how things were different for them here as black soldiers. How do you look at these racial issues during World War II and also think about the climate under which this game is going to release? 

I’ll start with some fairly recent history. If you go and you search former President Francois Hollande, he, two years ago, granted citizenship to 28 Tirailleurs – surviving soldiers today. There is a national apology as part of their national discussion. They erased these soldiers from history. Many of the Tirailleurs were promised that they would have citizenship and they would have full pay, and they would have full pension, and they got screwed out of almost all of it. Before France was completely taken back, many of them were shipped out of the country and then they were told they were only going to get a fraction of the pension because it’s worth more than you need in your country. 

There was at least one very significant revolt in which a bunch of people were killed. There were surviving ones that stayed in France but weren’t granted citizenship. So, there’s a whole national issue there in France which is officially acknowledged but it feels like only recently has reached more of a mass awareness. So, it’s not only historical, but it’s also kind of contemporary in its nature right now.

Is that something that you are looking to actively do? Find allegories between what was going on in World War II and what’s going on today?

I’m not sure if I should speak about that. If people find things in the stories that make them think about stuff, that’s good. I do love that people will go off and research things. They’ll go and look on Wikipedia. We saw a lot of cases after World War I in Battlefield I where we even had teachers reaching out to DICE saying, “We’re really happy you guys made this game. People are suddenly much more interested in history and they’re taking books out of libraries about this war.” That’s a great thing. 

Did you get a lot of “well, actually” from people who – well you know…

The funny thing is, I did see stuff on forums where if they had done so much as Google their claim, they would find that they’d hit bedrock of truth again. Like, some guy posting, “There were no American volunteer pilots in the Royal Flying Core!” Google it. You’ll find the first hit you’ll get is about the American volunteers in the royal flying core in Battlefield I are guys who flew in a squadron, flew Bristol fighters – which is the fighter that we used – and their unit motto is one of our section names, as well. It’s fun when people put their foot in their mouth like that. [Laughs]

How do you – as a company – respond to that kind of stuff? I imagine that maybe one or two of those picked up traction as a “glaring inaccuracy” and you would have to back up with how that claim is actually wrong.

You know what’s fantastic? The community self-corrects. People will pillory someone like that going, “Nope, your wrong. Here’s a link. I’ve proven it.” So, we have a really passionate community with Battlefield. I think there are people out there who like to yell, “Everything sucks!”  But there are a lot of people who love Battlefield. I guess, if we didn’t base it on something, everyone would yell, “That sucks!” There are fairly easy things to go and search for and find and find that kind of grain of truth. 

Do you have a particularly weird example where a person was completely incorrect and it was really satisfying to have someone come in to correct them?

No, there was one I watched for. I did expect to see people after, “Nothing is Written,” in the Lawrence of Arabia episode, for people to say that women didn’t fight with Lawrence of Arabia. But they did! And we found a particular case where there was women who joined with him to fight the defense around Petra. You know, that place in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where they go in…

I haven’t seen the movie, I’ll confess.

Oh, well that’s Petra. So, Lawrence fought a defense at Petra with a great number of women from the local villages. That’s where we pulled our protagonist from. She was one of the women that was there and assumed to have lost her husband she dedicated herself to fighting with Lawrence.

Looking at a lot of different topics you’ve covered, do you ever look at different ways you can portray them? When you look at what you have done with Battlefield 1 and then you move forward into V, do you think about a different theme? A lot of it is “war is hell,” but do you want to tell – not just another war story – but a coherent message? 

You’re talking about growing principles across all of them? An editorial kind of message?

In one game versus another.  Do you have an overall takeaway you want from players?

Yeah. How much can I say without – because some of that stuff you should just get from the material, shouldn’t they? You shouldn’t necessarily… I think, it is a little on the nose but if you look at the prologue, there is a statue. The very first thing you see in the prologue is the iconic image from the end of our last prologue with the two soldiers pointing their rifles at each other just before they load. At the base of that statue, there is a quote. The quote is: “The sins of the Fathers will be visited upon the children.” I think going into World War I, there was a mental image of “We are going to another war.” At some point that became “The Great War.” And at some point, that became “The war to end all wars.” Then [the war] ended and another one happened, and I think that people couldn’t believe it was happening again saying, “Did we not learn anything last time?” [That’s] a theme, I think. And what suffering that brings by not learning is a theme. 

Speaking to that, how do you look at this thing that is supposed to teach you that war is bad but what you’re doing throughout the game is using weapons of war to kill other people. How much do you reflect on having those conflicting messages? 

I think that’s great. If you fight and it’s just points and score, that’s one thing, but I think having an emotional and a philosophical depth to it, is fantastic. I hope people like it and get something from that. I guess the “anti-vision” for it would be feeling like someone is standing behind you and wagging their finger and thinking you’re terrible for enjoying this, which is not what we want to create. I think, if you think more about war and you reflect on humanity and humanity’s relationship with conflict, that would be a victory.