We Spoke To Criterion Games About Battlefield V’s Firestorm Battle Royale Mode

After playing Battlefield V’s Firestorm mode last week, we got the chance to sit down with Criterion Producer, Arthur Rohart about the mode, why it didn’t release alongside of the game and how it distances itself from other battle royale games.

Let’s talk about the development for Firestorm and what it’s like to create your own version of Battle Royale with the Battlefield franchise.

We are both (DICE and Criterion) are fans of Battle Royale games. So as we were playing them and loving those games, spending a lot of time into it; we were talking well while there’s obviously one game that needs a battle royale game and its Battlefield because of the destruction and vehicles you know, the weapons and gadgets. So we started like early on deploying different ideas and working on it. We wanted to bring all the core transport and combat vehicles into a battle royale as well as a really cool zone, something that’s threatening; you’re always on the move. We also wanted to explore other objectives while you are actually surviving like supply points and safe boxes.

My favourite, however, is bringing the destruction into battle royale because in other games – you can just camp in a house but in our game, someone can just explode the house with a rocket launcher and anti-tank. Something that actually happened to me once – a tank smashing through a house. That was a big one to me because you always want to be on the move.

Was Firestorm ever planned to launch alongside the game? Why is it only releasing now?

It was more about like getting it right, really.

The DICE team was we really focused on getting all the modes, all the singleplayer, getting that right. Battlefield fans, they have expectations from that game and DICE delivered a fantastic game. So for us, it was just getting it right – the right battle royale that players have been expecting.

The Battle Royale genre is incredibly fast moving. We saw Apex Legends completely change the game, setting records just a few months ago. Has the vision for Firestorm changed over time?

Not really, personally we are massive fans of Apex Legends and really admire the work that Respawn Entertainment did. Most of my days were playing Firestorm at work and Apex Legend at home but the two are really different games, Apex is all about the characters and is a very very fast paced game. Firestorm is really more about destruction, the combat vehicles, and the objectives – the players’ stories in our game will be different so in the end, they’re really two different games.

Free to play and accessibility has been the big aspect of battle royale titles, how will Firestorm attract new players who probably never played Battlefield before.

Well first, Firestorm was made to satisfy the Battlefield players – respecting that player base. I think it also has a chance to bring out some new players as well as the first half is not as intense. You still get a chance to land if you don’t land in a hotspot, enjoy the game, get some guns and is also a mode that allows you to get some vehicles really quick. It serves as a nice introduction to Battlefield sandbox, for players, there are lots of other things as well within Battlefield and with a planned roadmap and content coming in the future. So there’s a lot of content in the game for new players.

For Battlefield veterans, what gameplay elements are we going to see retained in Firestorm and what didn’t fit into the battle royale experience?

Whenever we explore all the different battlefield tools and toys when we actually began work on Firestorm, again with the whole getting it right. We always make sure it fits the mold. Tanks was a challenging one because we definitely had to make it was quite balanced. Classes were the thing we decided not to bring because we wanted the level playing field – everyone starts equal at the beginning. However, we wanted to tie in the progression into the main game as well pull in your characters cosmetic because you don’t wanna invest like all those hours into a character, getting to know them and you can’t bring them in because it’s really cool what DICE made.

Battle royales have a competitive focused which ultimately made them a new genre for esports over the last few years. Do you think Firestorm will go down this path? 

I don’t really know. For now, we are mostly focusing on the launch and getting the balancing right. We’ll see what the reaction of the community will be like first. I think for now as we approach launch, it’s about getting the balance right but we’ll see about the reaction.

In Battlefield V’s Grand Operations, the last stand round was pretty much a taste of battle royale for Battlefield – was this something you guys used to test or didn’t have anything do with?

It’s something that was just completely separate and different (from Firestorm) but it’s just a reflection of DICE team being a fan of battle royale. The DICE and Criterion were big fans of battle royale but it’s something completely separate.

Firestorm, why did you guys decide to choose a ring of fire over something like maybe Icestorm.

It came mostly from making sure that players noticed the zone. In other battle royale games, you don’t really notice the zone – sometimes it just comes up and because you don’t really pay attention to the UI and map so we really wanted to bring something that the player notices; something that people are scared of as well. So that’s how we came up with the fire.

The fire makes sense because you can see it from afar, you can hear it coming in and destroys everything as well, destroys buildings etc. So it’s about creating again that sense of threat you know, you’re always on the look. What I really like about it is when you start the game, you can see it but personally I like the destruction it brings because we’ve had some interesting stories. Like I had one time, I was hiding in the house and had to completely move into a corner and jump out the window so I didn’t get hit by the Firestorm. Like today, I saw a team in one of the last zones completely hidden in a house and had to move out because of the fire destroying it.

It’s mostly about that, making sure the player doesn’t have to rely on the UI – they look at the world around them, the immersion and they feel that sense of fright and they say to themselves – we have to move.