Secret game development fact: after the release of Battlefield 4, chief DICE spokesperson Patrick Bach had said made-up portmanteau ‘levelution’ so many times that he had to be retaught the rest of his former vocabulary from scratch.
Strange, then, that DICE neglected to incorporate the feature into the game’s first expansion pack, China Rising. As it turns out, the developers had planned environmental events for all four of its new maps - but none made it to release.
In a pre-release interview, DICE producer Craig McLeod said that the China Rising team had erred toward “subtle” levelution for the new maps.
“We looked at Altai Range, with the weather station. We thought maybe we could collapse that - but we then realised it would kill the gameplay space and the flow of that central key area,” he said. “It’s not necessarily a case of putting a big, epic set piece in every single map - it’s where it fits and where it won’t.”
Instead, the team had designed weather events. Dragon Pass would be rendered sodden by rain, and Altai Range covered in snow; fog would roll off the hills in Guilin Peaks, and Silk Road would be swamped by a sandstorm.
But even these less dramatic sequences failed to make it to release. Their trace has only now been uncovered in China Rising’s sound files - alongside a suggestion of other missing features. Neogaffers believe players would have been able to switch between commander and infantry without having to leave the server first. And if players levelled up during the course of a match, they would be complimented by nearby comrades.
As it happened, no sooner had China Rising been released than DICE dropped everything to fix Battlefield 4. In the fight to bring the main game to a level of adequacy, levelution was presumably the last thing on anybody’s mind. Did you notice its absence?