Part II in a behind the scenes series on Battlefield 3: Back to Karkand
Battlefield 3 is our biggest production ever. We also have our biggest pre-order bonus ever: The complete Back to Karkand expansion pack at no extra charge, available after the base game is released. Read on for more info on this bonus content — and learn why Lead Designer Niklas Fegraeus shouted “IMBA!” the very first time he played Battlefield.
Hi Niklas Fegraeus! You’re Lead Designer on Battlefield 3: Back to Karkand, where the classic Wake Island map will be remade. How far do you and Wake Island go back?
— Wake Island was my very first Battlefield experience, like it was for so many others. In 2002, I was actually involved in a professional Counter-Strike clan. We had just trounced our opposing team, when they proposed a rematch – in the recently released Battlefield 1942 demo on Wake Island!
So what did you think of your very first Battlefield experience?
— Never having played anything like Battlefield before, my squad of Counter-Strikers ran along on the ground on Wake Island while the other team dive-bombed us with Zero fighters. I was like “IMBA! What’s the fun in this?” Pretty soon, though, I realized this was something completely new and different, and that it was in fact an awesome game. 🙂
Battlefield 3: Back to Karkand is still in heavy development. Above is an early piece of Wake Island concept art meant for inspiration only. You can still recognize the typical shape of this quintessential Battlefield map.
Fast forward 9 years to the present. What does it feel like being in charge of the reimagining of perhaps the most defining Battlefield map ever?
— It’s a weird mix of pressure in staying true to the heritage of Wake Island, while at the same time having new and exciting possibilities thanks to the Frostbite 2 engine.
— I feel that we have a shot at making our own unique interpretation of Wake Island. The map has seen so many iterations through so many games that we don’t feel constrained by some hard-coded template of what it must be.
One thing on our fans’ minds is why we are working with additional content for Battlefield 3 already?
— Well, with Battlefield: Bad Company 2, we did a lot of experimenting with DLC, and I think that we learnt a lot along the way. The goal is that any content for Battlefield 3 will be of the same quality as Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Vietnam. That means we have to start work early alongside the base game.
Finally, why do you think Wake Island is a great Battlefield map?
— I love the fact that Wake Island is so straight-forward, that you have such a good view of all the action, and that it has plenty of space for vehicle combat. It just screams Battlefield.
— Twitter user @jcdean78 on why he loves Wake Island
Lars Gustavsson was Producer on Battlefield 1942 back in 2002 and worked on the original Wake Island. He probably knows more intimate details about the map than anybody working at DICE today.
Hi Lars! What guided the design for Wake Island back in the original game?
— The basic premise was that we looked at how real-life Wake Island [from the Pacific Theatre in WWII] looks today. We knew we couldn’t do it to scale, but that kind of one-to-one fidelity wasn’t really of interest to us. Funny thing is, it was in fact downscaled so much due to a decimal error in programming. The map was originally meant to be bigger, but the involuntary downsizing created a very cool and concentrated gaming experience.
— That concentration also comes from the fact that when fighting on land, because of the island’s U-shape, you cannot escape. If there’s a tank in your way, you will have to confront it head-on sooner or later. That’s something we have tried to recreate throughout the Battlefield series: To have some kind of clear frontline.
How do you mean, clear frontline?
— Well, on some maps, the frontline can be rather “slippery”, or almost like a merry-go-round. Which happens to work really well on maps like El Alamein. I mean I love that map, but the reason the merry-go-round gameplay works there is because you have an overview of the entire battlefield so you realize when you’ve been overrun. But on Wake Island it was super important to get the sense across of where the frontline is at all times.
What is the gameplay generally like on the uniquely shaped Wake Island?
— It’s very dynamic. Its U-shape means that the water gameplay between the map’s two legs – whether it’s going by boat or swimming across – creates new alternatives for when you’re locked in a hopeless struggle against superior armor. There’s always an alternate solution on Wake Island, and for me personally, that’s what makes Battlefield Battlefield.
There was a special style and tone to that map as well.
— Yes. It was very much a case of “fun over realism”. We took reality and shaped it into something that suited our design ideas. There’s this neat kind of ‘Kelly’s Heroes’ thing going on in the clash between the paradisiac beauty of the map set against the frantic battles.
How do you feel now that Wake Island is set for a reimagining?
— I feel excited! What still grabs me about Wake Island is the fact that it really is all-out war. Aircraft are taking off from the carriers, anti-aircraft guns are firing, boats are coming in, tanks are rolling by… And sometimes you just have to stand there and look out across the glittering water because it’s so beautiful. There will always be a special place in my heart for Wake Island.
Battlefield 3: Back to Karkand is brought to you by the team that developed Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Vietnam. It will include 4 classic Battlefield 2 maps reimagined in the new Frostbite 2 engine. It also features iconic Battlefield 2 vehicles, Battlefield 2 weapons to bring back to the base game, new unlocks and persistence, and more.
This expansion pack will be available post launch of Battlefield 3. To receive Battlefield 3: Back to Karkand at no extra charge, all you need to do is preorder Battlefield 3: Limited Edition.