Explaining Away Civilians In Battlefield 3

Alec Meer from Rock, Paper, Shotgun recently spent some time with Battlefield 3‘s executive producer Patrick Bach and unloaded some choice questions on him, one of which concerned the minefield that is the morality of war. Bach actually addresses why they won’t be allowing anything like the “No Russian” level from Modern Warfare 2.

“If you put the player in front of a choice where they can do good or bad things, they will do bad things,” says Bach. It seems like a simple notion but also wholeheartedly true. If it wasn’t, where and why do gamers find so much fun in simply mucking about in GTA IV? As Bach sees it, “games are where movies were in the 30s or 40s,” meaning that they are on the precipice of a new era where they can be a more integral part to the social zeitgeist. Bach wants them to “tell something, be political.”

For Battlefield 3, however, this means that there will be no civilians in the game. Bach says this is to prevent potentially offending behavior, such as shooting innocent women and children. He is attempting to take a more cerebral stance on war, one that he feels would be adversely affected if players were constantly offered the seemingly inconsequential option to shoot civilians.

It seems to me like Bach makes some good points. People usually can’t resist the temptation of being just a little dark, a little sinister. There are definitely games where doing so is appropriate or where that freedom of choice adds to the experience, but in a case like BF3 where a very deliberate and concerted story is being attempted, sometimes those choice can work against the game. What do you guys think?

Source: Rock, Paper, Shotgun

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  • Slapper

    It is very true about people just going crazy when offered the chance. Everyone does it at one point or another. I think this is a great way to concentrate the efforts of the game and also who needs civilians taking up resources from the game. Good job EA!

  • Ekfsus

    while this is true this takes away a LOT of tension from the game when you know 100% that it’s going to be an enemy, part of the war today is not knows whos civilian and whos foe, no civilians means less realism, just make it so you can’t kill them, many games have done this, they dont need to react to you shooting them either, just put them in for environment purposes.

  • Slate

    I agree… civilians would give it the sense of realism, but would become a free for all and could send the wrong message.

  • Slate

    I agree… civilians would give it the sense of realism, but would become a free for all and could send the wrong message.

  • Anonymous

    I personally dont think the BF series has ever been about realism in this way. It attempts to model realistic combat (and I say attempt, because really, it doesnt do that either), not moral quandaries. For one the game is mainly multiplayer based, up until Bad Company the single player was just bot matches with scripting.

    I think its appropriate in this situation because EA never said they were trying to create a realistic war game, just a realistic shooting game. For a game like Six Days in Fallujah, it is irresponsible to ignore those parts of war.