Battlefield 2: Special Forces Q&A - Initial Details
Producer Mike Doran gives us some new details regarding what's in the expansion pack for the hit first-person multiplayer action game.
With Battlefield 2 burning up the sales chart since its release in June, EA hasn't wasted any time in commissioning an expansion pack for the game in Battlefield 2: Special Forces. There's a wealth of new content in Special Forces, including an impressive six new armies (compared to just three in Battlefield 2), along with a slew of new maps, weapons, and features. For a quick situation report on the expansion, we caught up with longtime Battlefield producer Mike Doran. Special Forces is expected to ship this winter.
GameSpot: First off, there are a lot of people voicing concern and complaints that current issues in Battlefield 2--such as bugs and balancing--haven't been addressed, but yet DICE is working on an expansion anyway. Would you like to address that?
Mike Doran: This is a common misconception that we'd love to address. The truth is that work on Battlefield 2: Special Forces began several months ago. The expansion pack is being developed by DICE Canada, while DICE Sweden is running the postlaunch support team. To be clear, we are actively working on the next patch, and development of Special Forces has in no way affected our continued efforts towards supporting the base product.
GS: Could you go ahead and give us a quick rundown of what's new in the expansion, for those who haven't been keeping track? We know that there are six new "armies," and a bunch of new weapons, maps, and vehicles.
MD: In Special Forces, we have six new armies, 10 new vehicles, 12 new weapons, and eight maps.
GS: Are the new maps finalized, or nearly finalized by now? Did you have a chance to work on feedback from Battlefield 2? For example, it seems that the most popular maps are the urban-focused ones, such as Strike at Karkand, Maashtur City, and Sharqi Peninsula. Meanwhile, the bigger maps, such as Kubra Dam, seem less popular. Will Special Forces' maps be more like the former, or the latter, or something else entirely?
MD: At the time of this writing, our maps are not finalized just yet, but they are getting close. We have noticed that the most popular Battlefield 2 maps seem to be the urban-focused levels. Our focus for this expansion pack is on the infantry game, so the end result is that a lot of the levels feel much closer to something like Maashtur or Karkand as opposed to Kubra Dam.
GS: What can you tell us about the new vehicles? We saw a couple of new wheeled transports, and we've heard the Apache attack helicopter is in. What kind of roles are they expected to fill in the game? For example, are there new antiaircraft vehicles, tanks, APCs, and so on?
MD: As I mentioned earlier, the focus for Special Forces is the infantry game. That does not mean that we forgot about our vehicle heritage. The expansion pack has several new vehicles, including Jet Skis, new helicopters, and a few new land vehicles.
GS: We had a chance to see the game at the EA press event, but we didn't really get many details regarding the new weapons in the expansion. Can you reveal any to us? Will there be new locked weapons that will need to be unlocked with promotions for the new armies? How about new locked weapons for the existing armies? What sort of roles are the new weapons designed to fill?
MD: The new weapons in Special Forces range from more traditional additions, such as new assault rifles to more unique additions--we've added tear gas and flashbangs, which is a first for the Battlefield franchise.
GS: Will any of the new content, such as zip lines, be made to work in the existing game of Battlefield 2, perhaps in a patch or an update for those who don't purchase the expansion? For example, will the Special Ops class in the USMC side be able to use a grappling hook? (That would be useful to avoiding claymore traps at the top of certain ladders in BF2 maps).
MD: We're not ready to discuss the unlock strategy for the expansion pack at this time.
GS: Speaking of which, what will happen to the existing Special Ops classes that are in the three current armies in Battlefield 2? Will they remain the same, or will they be modified to take account of all the new Special Forces factions in the expansion?
MD: The Spec Ops class in the base game of Battlefield 2 will not see major changes with the release of the expansion pack.
GS: What will happen to your current BF2 stats? Will Special Forces include new ranks and badges that you can work toward? As we understand it right now, the current game caps off somewhere around the sergeant rank.
MD: Special Forces will add new ranks as well as new badges and medals. Beyond that we aren't ready to go into detail about how the stats system will be impacted by the expansion.
GS: Will maps still be limited to two preset sides, or will you be able to select different armies for the new maps? Because as it is right now, there are only eight new maps, but six new armies, and that doesn't leave a lot of variety for each army. So will you be able to, say, take Map A and then select which armies battle on it?
MD: Unfortunately, this will not be an option in the expansion pack. The weapon balance for each army is tied to the level design. This change would be too much of a risk.
GS: And, finally, wild moments are part and parcel of Battlefield 2. Care to share any crazy stories from testing the expansion with us?
MD: Seeing the zip line and grappling hook come together as a gameplay element has made for some memorable moments. We've found that situations a soldier would normally be a sitting duck in now become opportunities to use these new toys. Seeing your teammate zip behind an advancing squad, or using the grappling hook to make a hasty retreat is great. It makes us look back at a lot of the older Battlefield 2 levels and say, "I wish we had the grappling hook there!"
GS: Thanks, Mike.