Battlefield 4 PS4 preview – “We’re starting a new era of interactive entertainment”

It’s minutes after the world first reveal of Battlefield 4 and we’re sitting opposite DICE General Manager Karl-Magnus Troedsson above a swanky champagne bar in the heart of Stockholm. Our first question after witnessing 17-minutes of dizzying in-game footage is one we can’t avoid – Battlefield 4 is coming out on PS4, right?

“I can’t comment on next gen consoles,” is Troedsson’s diplomatic response, an involuntary grin creeping across his face. “What I can say is we’re super excited – we’re starting a new era of Battlefield but also a new era of interactive entertainment. It’s a very interesting time moving forward, but you’ll have to wait and see…”

Untangle Troedsson’s finely honed PR-speak and there’s only one logical conclusion; Battlefield 4 will be on PS4 – or we’ll eat our replica AKS-74U. (Especially considering EA’s chief financial officer Blake Jorgensen didn’t get the ‘don’t confirm PS4′ memo and, um confirmed Battlefield 4 for PS4 saying “We’re very excited about Sony’s platform. The technical power on the platform is going to allow us to do things we’ve never done before. I’ve seen the new Battlefield and it is stunning”.

The eye-melting gameplay footage we’ve seen running on DICE’s new Frostbite 3 engine is as much a confirmation as any, however it’s not just the obvious visual fidelity of Battlefield 4 that has our next-gen trigger finger itching, but the surprising focus on a narrative-driven campaign from a series that’s traditionally held multiplayer above all else

“Battlefield is at heart a multiplayer game and we will never forget that,” explains Troedsson, “but we love making single player games as well. When we built [our] first real single player game – I would argue, Battlefield Bad Company – we felt we had a lot of learning to do but it was a challenge we wanted to take on.” And from what we’ve seen of Battlefield 4 so far, it certainly seems as though DICE has risen to that challenge.

Battlefield is at heart a multiplayer game and we will never forget that

Our demo kicks off with a squad of soldiers hopelessly trapped inside a sinking car. To make matters worse, Bonnie Tyler’s ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ is blaring over the in-car stereo – “I don’t wanna die to this song…” laments one of the crew.

It’s a strange scene on which to open – there’s none of DICE’s trademark explosions and lens flare, no screen-shuddering examples of the new destruction physics, no deliciously authentic chugging of machine gun fire; just four guys in a car staring imminent death in the face.

But it’s here we’re introduced to Battlefield 4’s sophisticated facial animation – eyes pop, nostrils flare and sweat glistens in a disturbingly authentic display of human panic. “This is of the biggest places where Frostbite 3 comes into play,” offers Troedsson. “When you tell a story you can talk about the big brush strokes – the war, the geopolitical situation – but that’s not what we’re trying to do here. It’s about the human element. You can get very up close and personal with your characters, and not just for ‘the kill’ but actually in a dialogue situation. It’s about getting into the story between the characters, that’s what we want to dig deeper into with Battlefield 4.”