It's DICE day. We got to see EA's Battlefield Heroes at GDC as well as next-gen first-person game Mirror's Edge, and it's all sounding promising. Great news arrives in these impressions that there won't be any in-game ads at all. The shooter will be funded purely from ads on the game's website, where you create your character and launch the game. Read below.
DICE has revealed their free-to-play PC shooter for the first time. The demo, fronted by producer Ben Cousins, revealed the latest Battlefield game to have a comedic take on combat, set in a cartoon World War. The concept is a kind of design caricature of the original Battlefield games: all the elements are there, but simplified. The point-capturing dynamic is the same, and the vehicles are still there. This time, however, it's all a little more approachable and accessible.
Cousins explained that the game would run on a 1Ghz chip and integrated graphics – ie your crappy laptop. The game would also track player skill and select exactly the right instant game for you to play in. Heroes' level of accessibility means that you won't even have to use a server browser to get into the game. "We use a bunch of methods to match up players," explained Cousins. "You won't get your arse kicked by a fourteen year old."
"The character creation is all done on the website," said Cousins, as he demonstrated the MMO-style character creation process. "Then the game is launched via the website." The war between the "Royal Army" and the "National Army" looks a lot like a cuddly World War II. Cousins explains that the two empires are at war over the results of a sporting competition. It's all incredibly friendly and not – as some people have speculated – much like a rip-off of Team Fortress 2. Cartoony it might be, but Battlefield Heroes has its own style. In fact, it's rather more like World Of Warcraft: the game is played in third person. Again, explains Cousins, it's about accessibility.
The live demo shows us the game in action, with the three character classes showing off quite different skills and abilities. A light class enables stealth and sneak attacks, the medium is your average machine gun soldier, and the slow moving heavy racks up lots of firepower. Each of the character classes is able to pick up a number of powers, including group-heals, grenades and wall-hacks that allow them to spot (or set up) ambushes.
All this, for free. Cousins explained that the game would depend entirely on the website adverts that players saw when launching the game, and during loading. "We won't be putting billboards in the game," he said, as the team wanted to preserve the clean, cartoonish world they've created. The crowd murmured as the game loaded and we were stuck looking at an advert for Crysis. "We've been known for our long loading times," Cousins jested. "Don't worry, we're going to optimise."
"Don't forget, it's completely free," Cousins told us, just to be sure.
Battlefield Heroes releases this summer.