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DICE Discusses Changes Coming To Battlefield 4 Console Controls

by Matt Bertz on Oct 27, 2013 at 12:02 PM

As every player who participated in the console versions of the Battlefield 4 beta quickly realized, DICE made some subtle and not-so-subtle changes to the control scheme. As a result, the Battlelog forums were aflame in debate regarding whether or not the game is improved because of them. To understand DICE's thought process behind making these alterations, we spoke with Battlefield 4 executive producer Patrick Bach.

One of the things that hasn't been talked about in the Battleblog posts is the changes to the control scheme on consoles. Why did you make these amendments?

When we looked at controls in Battlefield 4 we placed the team play aspect of our controls as the highest priority. We wanted players to be familiar with using spotting and the communication rose in multiplayer as well as the engage and tactical visor in single player. To accomplish this we needed a button that allowed players quick access while also enabling the player to still perform all the necessary functions of Battlefield, like shooting, aiming, moving, and melee. We also know that players require consistency, especially players who will want to move from a PS3 to a PS4 or a Xbox 360 to a Xbox One. With this in mind, we moved our teamplay functions to a bumper button, which required us to make additional changes, all to highlight one of Battlefield's key strengths. It also enabled the use of the communication rose with a controller.

The first one I noticed right off the bat is vehicle movement is drastically different. You no longer use the left trigger to brake/reverse, left bumper to fire, right trigger for throttle, right bumper for countermeasure in a tank  instead all movement is tied to the left analog stick, and the countermeasure has been relocated to the d-pad. What did you see as the benefits to this new scheme?

We wanted to have a more intuitive control scheme as the default for Battlefield 4. Since you are moving your character with the analog stick it made sense to have similar controls for vehicles. If you prefer to use the triggers for acceleration and breaking you can change to that layout in the options menu.

You've buried the scoreboard in favor of making Battlelog easily accessible via the back button, which seems odd considering people are much more likely to check their score mid-match than they are to see what their friends are up to. What was the thinking behind this change?

Battlelog is a key social feature that helps friends play together in Battlefield. Quick access allows players to have the best, smoothest social gaming experience on the go, while they are playing. The score board is still available quickly by holding the Start/Option button.

Exiting a vehicle now requires that you hold X down, which tempers how quickly people can jump out of armored vehicles. Can you explain the reasoning behind this?

Interactions are complicated in Battlefield. Players often mistakenly entered a vehicle when they actually just wanted to reload their gun and vice versa. This solves this problem. We also moved the button for picking up weapons and kits to ease the overload on the Interact button in Battlefield.

Melee attacks have also moved from right bumper to R3 to accommodate for the inclusion of the Commo Rose on the right bumper, which also is the new button for spotting. Can you talk about the trade-offs you made here?

Accessible teamplay and social interaction via Battlelog are key to having the most enjoyable Battlefield experience. Keeping those options at the player's finger tips cements Battlefield's key differences from other shooters. Our default layouts are designed to be accessible and familiar to new players, while keeping teamplay and social features close at hand.

For people who don't like these new controls you are offering a Veteran scheme that basically returns the controls to the Battlefield 3 standard, with one major difference  the Commo Rose is still married to the right bumper whether you are on foot or in a vehicle, which moves countermeasures and melee attacks.

Why did you not offer the complete BF3 standard as an option? A lot of players who have built up a muscle memory born out of playing the game for hundreds of hours would probably appreciate this.

We recognize that change is hard, and the veteran control schemes are our nod to players who wish to have a Battlefield 3 control style. We continue to see teamplay as a key area for Battlefield, and that meant that we could not purely duplicate the old setup.

Have you ever thought about allowing fully customizable control schemes for consoles, like PC players have? It would open up the accessibility of the game drastically for disabled gamers, and allow players who aren't fans of the new or veteran schemes to set the game up to their liking.

We have looked into it and there is quite a lot of complexity involved in that due to first-party certification issues. There is a reason you almost never see this on console games. With that said we are looking into how we could look into this for the future.

Battlefield 4 is coming to PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 on October 29. The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions follow shortly thereafter.