Battalion 1944 Interview: Recapturing the Magic of World War 2 Shooters

Bulkhead Interactive talks about its crowd-funded FPS, revealing the potential it holds.

Posted By | On 21st, Jun. 2016 Under Article, Interviews


Battlefield 1 isn’t the only game returning to an older age of combat – Bulkhead Interactive’s crowd-funded Battalion 1944 will be revisiting World War II, offering multiplayer gaming through dedicated servers and promising to focus on skill. Given that Bulkhead is responsible for Pneuma: Breath of Life, it’s apt to say they’re capable of doing a lot without excessive resources. And for what it’s worth, Battalion 1944 is shaping up to deliver a lot.

GamingBolt spoke to communications manager Alex Preece about Battalion 1944 including the desire to return to World War 2 and the kinds of maps that players can expect.

battalion 1944

"We’re big shooter fans here and we’ve seen that genre become a bit sour. To us it doesn’t feel like what they’re meant to feel like, they’re going in a direction that doesn’t suit what we want; and that’s fine."

How did Bulkhead Interactive start out? How did you eventually decide on developing a shooter, especially when the contributing studios had worked on Pneuma: Breath of Life – a first person puzzler?

We made Pneuma off $0. We were living off of pot noodles and working crazy hours! It was a punt and a shot in the dark but it paid off, we managed to make enough to bank roll the studio into making The Turing Test and ultimately the prototype of Battalion 1944.

For a multiplayer shooter, one has to ask: Why a World War 2 shooter, especially since they were all the craze almost 8 years ago?

I think you’ve answered your question there! They were all the craze 8 years ago, we were a part of that, and everyone in our team grew up with that. We’re big shooter fans here and we’ve seen that genre become a bit sour. To us it doesn’t feel like what they’re meant to feel like, they’re going in a direction that doesn’t suit what we want; and that’s fine. But we feel we’re developers of the people! We’re trying to make a game for gamers like us that don’t want fragmented communities, hackers, or pay walls.

Where will Battalion 1944‘s maps take us? Can you tell us about any familiar locations we may be visiting?

The amount of maps is totally scalable. We will always go for quality over quantity. We can currently confirm 4 locations for definite which we announced in our Kickstarter video such as Carentan, Sainte-Mère-Église and a D-Day map. But there will be many more in the works.

What weapons can we look forward to in the game? Will there be fixed classes for players to choose or can load-outs be customized?

Currently we haven’t finished all of our weapon discussions. However we know for sure that we will include all the iconic weapons of WW2 such as the M1 Garand, Kar 98, Thompson and Mp40, And Yes we will be including sniper rifles. The decision between class systems over customization has not been decided yet, however at the moment those discussions are leading away from fixed classes and more towards flexible customizable loadouts.

Battalion 1944

"We’ll be looking into balancing all weapons in Battalion during our Alpha/Beta sessions. It’s important to us that nobody is seen to have any advantage with an overpowered weapon."

What kinds of unlockables will be in the game? Is there a cosmetic system of sorts for players to customize their characters?

All unlockables will be cosmetic, no over powered weapons, abilities or perks. Just you and your weapon. Players will be rewarded for their skill and achievements. We are looking into uniform, character and weapon customization.

Can you tell us more about the “skill-based” nature of the game? How does Battalion 1944 differentiate itself in this era of Battlefield and Call of Duty?

We are differentiating ourselves by going back to basics and ridding our game of overpowered unlocks. Everyone is on a level playing field and we believe your skill should be determined by your play, not through these unfair overpowered unlocks & abilities. Battalion learns from the skill based gameplay of classic competitive shooters and merges it with the stunning visuals that our team can produce, utilizing next-gen techniques such as motion capture, physically based rendering and photogrammetry to make Battalion a truly next gen competitive shooter.

In terms of multiplayer modes, will there be anything akin to what’s seen in the modern shooters i.e. Team Deathmatch, Control, Domination, etc.?

All core game modes, CTF, TDM, & S&D. Players/server hosts will be able to change player limits. For the official servers we’ll adjust rule sets based on community feedback! Also looking at including various objective based game modes.

What are your thoughts on weapon balancing, especially in this age of constant complaining and nerfs?

We’ll be looking into balancing all weapons in Battalion during our Alpha/Beta sessions. It’s important to us that nobody is seen to have any advantage with an overpowered weapon. Just have the advantage with how skilled they are in using their weapons. This is something that will require a lot of testing and feedback to get right, that is where interacting with our supportive community can really help us.  We are incredibly focused on making Battalion competitive and fair.

How will matchmaking work in Battalion 1944? Will there be ranked playlists for hardcore players to partake in?

Companies like ESL have been hugely helpful with figuring out the best possible way to use matchmaking in Battalion but as of yet we have nothing set in stone. Our back-end team are currently focused on building our BattleRank system.

Battalion 1944 2

 

"We’ve got a great team that know what they’re doing. Like most big studios, we basically run our own version of UE4 that’s designed to help streamline the creation of Battalion."

Will the game run at 1080p and 60fps on both the PS4 and Xbox One? What are your targets for consoles?

Although our targets are for 1080p and 6ofps we are stressing how highly unlikely that is on console. This is due to Unreal Engine being a very complex engine and the consoles lacking in power, unfortunately for us we don’t have a 200 man team. That’s what it takes to get a game like this to run at that specification

I am assuming that you’ve heard rumors about an upgraded PS4 (code name Neo) flying around the internet (please click here). As you can see, there is a marginal improvement in CPU but impressive improvements in the GPU and Memory bandwidth. As someone who is in the development industry, what is your take on this? What kind of improvements do you think this will result into? (this question is from a theoretical perspective since nothing is confirm yet)

Obviously we can’t comment on this, but we can say Battalion will be a great experience for PlayStation users and we are actively working with Sony to make that experience as exceptional as possible.
Do you see devs aiming higher performance parameters for Neo and delivering sub-optimal performance on current base model PS4? (this question is from a theoretical and developer perspective since nothing is confirm yet)

Obviously we can’t comment on this, but we can say Battalion will be a great experience for PlayStation users and we are actively working with Sony to make that experience as exceptional as possible.

Are there any plans to launch a DX12 version of the PC and Xbox One builds?

We’re totally looking into these features and seeing how we can utilize them in our development pipeline or not. We have a great relationship with Microsoft devs so we’ll see what we can do!

The game is going to run on Unreal Engine 4. What can you tell us about the modifications you have made to achieve the desired graphical results?

Trade Secrets! We’ve got a great team that know what they’re doing. Like most big studios, we basically run our own version of UE4 that’s designed to help streamline the creation of Battalion. This is one of the pillars we’ve been working on from day 1 so that further down the line Battalion‘s development can feel seamless.

Battalion 1944

 

"Giving PC players maximum flexibility and control is vital to us. The best competitive games give the control to players."

Do you think the resolution and fps debate for the PS4 and X1 has been blown out of proportion?

Yes and no, it’s frustrating as a developer to get blamed for bad frame rate, because chances are the graphics are pretty good! But if we lower the graphics to benefit the frame rate, we get flamed for having bad graphics, we can’t win! Players need to understand the job of a developer more, our community have been excellent and understanding our process in making Battalion, we just need the rest of the gaming world to follow their suit!

What can you tell us about the PC version in terms of graphical settings and visual effects?

Giving PC players maximum flexibility and control is vital to us. The best competitive games give the control to players. We also want to make sure that by changing the controls, players aren’t given an unfair advantage over others. Battalion is all about balance, we don’t want to risk this by breaking the game with silly console hacks!

Are you planning for a simultaneous release across all three versions and when is the game coming out?

Battalion will be released on all platforms, we have the equipment, time and money to have Battalion available to everyone. However, the order of release, dates, and times may vary subject to discussions with the platform holders themselves. This is with Battalion‘s best interests in mind for players on all platforms.

Is there anything else you want to tell us before we let you go?

We are just so excited to model this game around the community that want it. We just need the community to trust us to deliver something amazing because we don’t want to release anything too soon. We just can’t wait to see people’s reaction when it is finished because we are trying our hardest to bring the golden age of gaming back to the 21st century.


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