Niklas Fegraeus, a former pro-gamer and modder who now works as Lead Designer on Battlefield 3: Back to Karkand, has answered a few community questions in this XCN exclusive Q&A:
1. Back to Karkand will feature some of the most popular Battlefield maps from previous releases. How has the FrostBite 2 engine changed the look and feel of these maps?
Frostbite 2 has allowed us to realize the themes and looks of these classic maps in ways we could only dream of back in the BF2 days. And with destruction on top of that, there is a fresh layer of tactical gameplay added as well.
2. What kind of new weapons and vehicles will be available to gamers in Back To Karkand?
We’ve recreated 10 BF2 weapons to unlock and use in both Back to Karkand and the vanilla game, as well as 3 classic vehicles. One of them being the short-take-off-and-vertical-landing jet fighter, capable of hovering in mid air due to its special thrust vectoring. If used correctly, this will give players yet another tactical option to establish dominance on the battlefield.
3. The maps from Battlefield 2 have been re-imagined years later, how far have you gone with the levels of destruction?
Destruction is a huge part of Battlefield and we are constantly trying to bring as much destructibility as we can. In Back to Karkand, we’ve really worked hard to maximize destruction and I think players will be very excited when they’ve played a full round of Strike at Karkand and witness the effect they’ve had on the city.
4. How would you say that the new maps are an improvement for multiplayer campaigns in comparison to the versions seen in Battlefield 2?
Frostbite 2 has allowed us to fully realize not only the gameplay, but also the theme and scenery. It’s just a richer experience in so many ways and I think players will really appreciate what we’ve done, regardless if they’re veterans or have just started playing Battlefield.
5. The classic Conquest Assault mode is back, what sort of twists and improvements have been made for Back To Karkand?
Conquest Assault is a mode where one team starts with total ownership of the map, and the other team has an attack force of vehicles at their disposal. This Conquest experience adds a great story to the map, as well as a very interesting opening attack. It was originally featured as a variant of Conquest in BF2, and we’ve looked at what made it great and tweaked it a little to fit the BF3 gameplay. For example, you now need to take a few more flags to stop the bleed, making strategy more important than just kills.
6. New content will be unlocked through Assignments, how challenging will these be for existing Battlefield 3 players that know the maps?
Assignments are made to challenge players in all kinds of areas, be it teamplay or weapon knowledge. They all give you unique challenges, so players need to perform in a wide range of Battlefield skills in order to complete them all.
7. How does Back to Karkand work in conjunction with the base game?
Back to Karkand is totally integrated into the base game. When you’re chasing the new Assignments, you are still earning XP towards your base game progression, and the four new maps are simply added to your Quick Match filter and server browser. As such, there is no need to select Back to Karkand in a separate menu to access it.
8. What differences have been made to vehicles and how they work within the maps?
Compared to their BF2 roots, the vehicles now feature the full customization set, the same way BF3 standard vehicles do. This gives players more unlocks and options when using them on the maps, compared to what was available in BF2.
9. The Back To Karkand DLC was originally slated to be included with the Battlefield 3 release but it was pushed back. Any reasons for this?
That is a common misconception. The pack was always slated for a post launch release. Back to Karkand is a complete expansion pack with all kinds of new content, created by a separate team at DICE, and we thought it would be really appreciated by our core fans who pre-ordered the game to get it at no extra charge as a pre-order bonus. I’m really glad we were able to deliver that.
10. Do you have any memorable anecdotes from development to share with us?
We once had a faulty setting on the back drop war ships stationed around Wake Island, where they would fire their weapons like there was no tomorrow! They literally filled the sky with cruise missiles, and even though it was completely broken, we all laughed our butts off! Don’t mess with the navy!