In the Rush and Conquest modes, DICE remain supremely confident. "We are best in class in multiplayer but we are always humble about that," Liu goes on. "Yet we know that we can always improve; we strive to be the best, always. We're going to keep updating our game as we learn more stuff to keep being on top." DICE doubled their troubles by splitting the campaign in two and building a dedicated co-op campaign, dismissing the cooked-in co-op of Gears of War and Halo.
"For co-op you need specific mechanics or specific level design really to support cooperative gameplay," says Liu. "We could just put two players in a single-player map but it just doesn't suit as well; it works, but we want something optimal for two players. "Of course we're looking at every single competitor you can think of," adds Liu, when asked if there's much to learn from Call of Duty and other modern military shooters. "There are a lot of things that they are doing very well, that we can be inspired from. There's also a lot of stuff we don't like, so we know what not to do. I think we've learned a lot in all aspects."
While Bad Company was built for consoles, Battlefield 3 is a return to the studio's PC-centric roots and DICE's Frostbite 2 engine is at its best when running on a refrigerator-sized PC. The PC version supports 64 players on every map, forcing DICE to scale the maps down for the 360 port's 24 players. "But you're definitely not getting less of a game," Liu reassures us. "It has the same amount of destruction and the same amount of visual fidelity. We've scaled the maps accordingly for console so it still makes the pacing alright so the balancing is good.
"None of the platforms are better or worse in terms of gameplay. The PC version is faster and more packed, but in the console version, one player can make more of a difference because there are fewer people around. There is no right version or wrong version of the game; it's just different ways of playing."
On every platform, DICE sees Battlefield as the more hardcore modern warfare alternative, and they're supporting it with a dedicated server browser and their free Battlelog system. "It's definitely that dedicated crowd that really wants a server browser," says Liu. "If you have a great game and the core likes it, then it'll grow and expand to a bigger audience. I would say just looking at the buzz and looking forward to Battlefield 3, it definitely caters for the hardcore."
But is the early release date and hardcore audience enough to beat Call of Duty this month? "It depends on how you define winning," says Liu. "The only way you are going to win over the true gamers is by making a great game. You can come so far with great marketing, but at the end of the day you need to have a great game to back it up. That's how we usually do it; the only way to do it, really. We always try to do our best. We've got our own goals. It's more about competing with ourselves and always beating our previous results - in those terms we're definitely going to win."
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