We asked Medal of Honor: Warfighter's Kristoffer “Hoffe” Bergqvist why we should be excited about another shooter. The answer includes "switchblade missiles".
Medal of Honor: Warfighter has a lot to live up to. It's been developed in close collaboration with the soldiers it aims to respectfully represent; it has a long history of beloved prequels to commemorate; it's going toe-to-toe with the biggest multiplayer shooter franchise in the industry this holiday season; and its immediate precursor didn't come through its double parentage trauma-free. This time, Danger Close is determined to make the multiplayer side something uniquely flavoured and crunchy as all get out. We asked Warfighter's multiplayer creative director why this shooter should be on our radars.
VG247: Is the single-player close enough to the multiplayer experience to make it effective as a training aid?
Kristoffer Bergqvist: It is. Something we get feedback on from the previous Medal of Honor was that the multiplayer experience and the single-player one were pretty different. They were made by two different studios on two different continents. That's one of the main reasons for moving the Medal of Honor multiplayer team to Danger Close to be under the same roof as the single-player team. So we now have the same features. there was a lot of talk about peak-and-lean and going prone in the last game, which existed in single-player but not in multiplayer; this time around you hyave the same feature set so you can peak and lean and prone in multiplayer as well. Also, the gun feel is the same, so if you learn how to handle your M16 in single-player, you can go into multiplayer and use what you learned there.
Frostbite 2.0 makes everything beautiful, but does it lend anything in particular to multiplayer beyond that?
Probably the thing that helped us the most is that when we got Frostbite, it was pretty much playable from the start, so we could have playtests. We have had daily playtests for almost two years. We're increasing our content offering so much, like we have six classes now instead of three and they all have their different support actions, score chains and abilities. Adding all those things is of course a huge design risk, because it's a pretty delicate balance between the classes in multiplayer. The only way we could pull that off was by having these daily playtests. That helped us a lot.
We also had a very agile process in developing this game; having the entire team play the game as much as possible, and then talk about what we'd do next. That's how we find fun things, I think. If the engineer and the artist are sitting there thinking "this is going to be pretty fun" they're going to go in super motivated to do it, and out comes fun.
Was there anything you had to ditch during development which you regret?
I think we managed to keep pretty much all the features that we took so far that they became fun. One thing that came in that I'm really happy about is that we have one drivable apache helicopter that's kind of the final reward if you play really well and get the longest score chain. How that one works is that you earn it; and you get to fly it; and you get to shoot rockets with it; but your fighting friend also gets to ride with you, in the gunner seat. that's really nice, especially is one is stronger than the other, you and he fly that together.
It was a challenge to balance that, because it's a vehicle and it can fly. Since it's a rare thing, we can't have a tutorial about it, and the player doesn't get a lot of time to learn the ropes. So it has to be fun from the start; it has to be efficient from the start. So it was a challenge, but we ended up shipping it. It was fun.
Did you have any serious debates about nerfing or cutting content which caused division among the team? What weapons are controversial to you?
In the beginning we had a lot of those discussions. They weren't heated but they were passionate. Because we are defining what Warfighter multiplayer is, what Medal of Honor multiplayer is. We took a lot of back and forth-ing before we found out "okay, this is us". It's crowded now in the shooter space, and we needed to find out what is us. That process took a while, but once we got there it was fun. We're a very passionate team, and we have a lot of discussions about features, but no blades were drawn.
"It’s crowded now in the shooter space, and we needed to find out what is us. That process took a while. The big thing is our take on team play with the Fire Team. Everything kind of comes out of – no. Everything comes out of the discussion we had with the Tier 1 Operators. That’s how they built Medal of Honor single-player, just by talking to the troops. And we felt that multiplayer needs to come from the same base."
What is that defining factor, do you think, that makes Medal of Honor: Warfighter distinct from the rest of the genre? What's the DNA?
The big thing is our take on team play with the Fire Team. Everything kind of comes out of - no. Everything comes out of the discussion we had with the Tier 1 Operators. That's how they built Medal of Honor single-player, just by talking to the troops. And we felt that multiplayer needs to come from the same base. Those guys were actually the ones bringing up the Fire Team feature because they work like that; they work really tightly pressed. And the Global Tier 1 feature, we feature special operators from all over the world, also comes from that. that's kind of the root of it all.
It defines that authenticity; it defines our gear. We spent so much time making sure we have all the right weapons for all these soldiers. We have 72 soldiers in the game to unlock; all of them comes with a gun, that we have seen, or a gun configuration, that we have seen, used in the real field.
What's your personal favourite class, or soldier?
It depends on what mood I'm in. We have this guy that has ballistic armour and he fires explosives and a shotgun; he's really slow, he's like a tank. I'm having so much fun with that one. A different day I could just be the sniper, being in the window somewhere, picking up guys from a distance - especially when I'm in a bad mood, I love that. We have one class which is light - he's not the fastest character but he's among the faster one. He's like light infantry, he can throw flashbangs to disorient his enemies, he can do like very violent room entries. He also has access to a lot of the cool UAVs, so he can read where enemies are, the point man. It's hard to say, which I think is a good thing, because we want all the classes to have the same kind of player.
What about Fire Team combos? What's a good choice there?
Right now we're having a lot of fun with one guy playing the tank and kind of send him in to attract fire, and then you have a point man behind, just picking off enemies as they show themselves. It's also a lot of fun just being two spec ops - you're super fast, you have all the intel about where enemies are; you just run up there and hatchet them.
What class do you find most troublesome to go up against?
I have a hard time with snipers some time, because I just get so frustrated; my strategic thinking goes out the window and I just wanna run up there and hatchet them in the back with my axe. And then I get killed again and again and again. But I think going up against a demolitions guy, when he has full armour and he has this awesome firepower, is - I don't know; I love it. I love the horror in it, when you run around the corner and he's there and you're like "oh, shit". Because the only way to defeat him is to get distance, so I like that - dudes in cover fire trying to back out of there, and you just try to outsmart him. It's fun, but it's also a really intense, horrible kind of experience.
What's your favourite gadget? I like the little planes.
I have a couple of favourites. I love the spider mine. It's a mine you throw out - this is the sniper's - you throw it out and it fires tripwires, all over the place, like a spider web. If someone walks over those, they go boom. I like those because it takes strategy to place them well; if you place them in an area where there are no spots for these wire to attach, the won't really deploy, so you have to be smart and try to kind of hide the wires a little bit. Another favourite is the switchblade missile. It's actually a mortar tube. You place it on the ground; you fire the mortar into the air; it folds out wings, turns into a UAV with a camera on it so you can look at where the enemies are. Once you've found the enemies, you activate the warhead, and fold the wings in again, and it turns into a TV guided projectile. It's a magnificent invention.
"We had a Polish Grom visiting the office, and they sat down with one of the animators to make the reload for the 4-16. Then we had one of the Navy SEALs walk by and saw us reload it, and he went, “That’s not how you reload a 4-16.” It turns out they are trained differently. We actually took this into the game, so if you play with the SEAL, he’s gonna handle his gun a little different, compared to the Grom."
And that's a real thing in the world? Amazing. Speaking of the real world, in the course of your quest for authenticity, consulting with Tier 1 operators, did you learn or experience anything really special?
We've heard so much, just sitting down and talking with these guys. When we had a Polish Grom visiting the office, and they sat down with one of the animators to make the reload for - I think it was the 4-16. They worked on it for a whole day and it turned out awesome; super authentic, very explosive, fast reload. We put it in the game, had it there for a couple of weeks. Then we had one of the Navy SEALs walk by and saw us reload it, and he went, "That's not how you reload a 4-16." And we were pretty sure it is, but - you're a Navy SEAL so we don't want to argue with you. It turns out they are trained differently. The Navy SEAL will reload the 4-16 in a different way to the Polish Grom. We actually took this into the game, so if you play with the SEAL, he's gonna handle his gun a little different, compared to the Grom. We saw that same difference on a lot of units once we started investigating it.
Another cool thing we had that was also a Grom and a SEAL. The Grom guy was at the office helping us out, and we had a SEAL coming in to do something the same day. And they looked at each other and were like, "it's you!" And they were hugging each other; it turned out they'd been working together deployed out somewhere in the world. it was really cool to see them come together.
Medal of Honor releases on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on October 23 in the US; October 25 in Australia, and October 26 in Europe.