Making a rare appearance at the Game Developers Conference to reveal details about a new product launch, Electronic Arts unveiled its new "Battlefield 4" on Tuesday night in San Francisco. Complete with a 17-minute gameplay trailer, the new installment in the franchise will come out in the fall of 2013.
And while "Battlefield" has long been recognized for its prowess as a large-scale multiplayer military shooter (compared to, say, "Call of Duty" games), the DICE developers on stage in San Francisco on Tuesday did their best to emphasize the serious emotional investment that players would make in the title's single-player campaign.
"Like movies, our goal is to create believable places and characters," executive producer Patrick Bach said after showing a long trailer for the new game.
Patrick Soderlund, executive vice president at DICE said that while the "Battlefield" franchise "helped define multiplayer for the first-person shooter genre," the new buzzwords for "Battlefield 4" were "human, dramatic and believable."
"So what do we mean when we say 'human'?" Bach asked the audience. "It's about connecting to the characters around you. How you react and affect the world. And it's not about the geopolitics, it's about the people inside this war. And when we say dramatic, what do we mean? We mean the drama and the actions of the player and their experience. It's about creating dramatic motivations that propel the story and you as a player."
Without going into too much detail after a visually stunning gameplay trailer found here (warning; there is graphic imagery and language), the DICE representative emphasized that the new Frostbite 3 engine will make a more engaging "Battlefield 4" possible finally.
"The power of Frostbite leaves us with no excuses," Soderlund said, referring to DICE’s legendary game engine that's been used to power "Battlefield" titles since the series first debuted in 2008. "Technology has actually helped us become better storytellers. With Battlefield 4, we've come up with experiences that touch us emotionally."
DICE and EA would not speak about multiplayer in the new "Battlefield" game, which is probably the main thing all "Battlefield" fans are wondering about. But Soderlund and Bach both emphasized that "Battlefield 4" would bring into the single-player campaignsome of the features that first made the franchise's multiplayer mode so popular. While they remained deliberately vague about what, exactly, this meant for "Battlefield 4," the two DICE representatives said that the single-player campaign would feature things like "larger environments" to facilitate "more tactical choice" for players.
"Battlefield 4" is set for release this fall for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox 360, and most likely whatever next-generation console Microsoft is currently cooking up. EA is also already accepting pre-orders for the game — currently only on the PC and current generation consoles — that will give players access to a premium expansion pack and an early multiplayer beta for "Battlefield 4."
Yannick LeJacq is a contributing writer for NBC News who has also covered games for Kill Screen, The Wall Street Journal and The Atlantic. You can follow him on Twitter at @YannickLeJacq and reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.