EA Labels vice president Patrick Söderlund discussed in an interview with CVG two of developer DICE's current projects, both of which have been long-awaited: Star Wars: Battlefront and Mirror's Edge 2.
Because of the following behind the Star Wars: Battlefront franchise, it is both ironic and a little shocking to consider that the opportunity was almost passed up completely. It was only once Söderlund discussed the possibility with DICE that the idea took shape, and the developers excitement and persistence are largely responsible for making the new Battlefront game a reality.
"It was almost not happening," Söderlund said. "It was just something as boring as resources and availability. The DICE guys Karl Magnus Troedsson and Patrick Bach were talking and I told them we were in dialogues with Disney over this deal and they just looked at me and said, 'Why haven't you spoken to us? What are you doing? We want to make Battlefront.'"
Söderlund explains that he was initially surprised by DICE's eagerness to begin working on the next Battlefront title. "I didn't anticipate them wanting to work on a license – they've always been new IP or their own IP," Söderlund resumed. "But they were just like, 'we would kill to make this game' and the whole studio started talking about it like, 'please give us this game'. That's when I called Frank [Gibeau, EA Labels boss] and I realised we had something here. [...] They begged to do it, the opportunity was there and that's exactly why you'll see a game that will be what it needs to be."
It's terrifying in retrospect to consider that this "match made in heaven", as Söderlund describes the relationship between DICE and Battlefront, could have been passed up forever.
Turning the discussion towards the Mirror's Edge reboot, Söderlund revealed that, while DICE had been experimenting with a sequel for years, there were no definitive plans to move forward with the game until one key interaction.
"I'll be honest with you: we've been looking at Mirror's Edge for many years and had small prototype teams and incubations around what it could be," Söderlund explained. "But it wasn't until Sara Jansson, who is now the producer on it, came to me and called Karl-Magnus Troedsson and said, 'listen, I have an idea for what this could be'. She presented a vision so inspiring that we were like, 'we have to build this now'."
The labels vice president underlined much of what DICE has already noted: that Mirror's Edge 2 will include more open-world, action-adveture elements, and offer a more captivating storyline than its predecessor. "What I can say is we're taking more of an action adventure approach on it than maybe before," Söderlund said. "First-person, running predominantly... This will be more of an action adventure game, but true to what the first one was to a large extent."
Söderlund is optimistic that Mirror's Edge 2 will live up to the fandom created by the original, while building upon some of the game's weaker links:
"[Mirror's Edge] feels old compared to what's out there today, in design approach and everything," Söderlund admits. "There are still some fresh things in the way that it looks and feels – it still looks really good, actually. But it still feels a little bit old school on its game design and compulsion loops. So we have to bring that forward and change that format. I think the story is another part that could've been a lot better. We didn't deliver upon the fantastic world that we created and the story is a big part in a world like that."