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Battlefield: Bad Company's Humor Was Too "Niche"

Humor is too personal to be truly mainstream, says DICE. What do you think?

By Pete Davison. Published 4 months ago

Although many fans are keen to see the Battlefield series return to its Bad Company spinoff, it's unlikely happen. The reason? The humor, of all things.

Speaking with OXM, creative director Lars Gustavsson noted that he believed people didn't regard Bad Company as a "serious shooter" due to its lack of "hard-boiled" content, and that humor was too much of a personal thing to rely on in "mainstream" games.

"It is a discussion about niche and mass market, I think," he said. "If you make your product more niche, you’ll get more happy fans, but that audience will be smaller – some people won’t care, some people will love it."

Considering that one of the most common criticisms of the modern gaming landscape is that there are too many interchangeable, focus-tested, DLC-saturated, brown-tinted military manshooters on the market, Gustavsson's arguments ring somewhat hollow. Call of Duty and Battlefield in their current forms may sell well, but that doesn't mean that there's no scope for breaking from their rather po-faced traditions. In fact, given that the most recent installments in both series have been subject to rather more mixed reviews than in previous years, that's perhaps a very good indication that they should try something a bit different -- or, indeed, go back to what made Bad Company so great, as seen in this excellent compilation video:

"It's not that we've buried the crew, so to speak," continued Gustavsson, by way of clarification. "But it is true that for some reason if you want to make a game for the masses, you need to be more neutral when it comes to things like humor, because humor is very personal. Some people love it, some people hate it."

Humor and first-person shooters can work incredibly well. In fact, in the early days of the first person shooter -- as chronicled in our three-part series from a while back -- humor was often an integral part of the experience, largely because in many cases graphics hadn't yet got to a level where games could be truly, convincingly realistic and "gritty" in the way that they are today.

But there's a place for humor in games today, too, as many developers who specialize in it demonstrate on a regular basis. And there's an argument for putting humor back in modern first-person shooters, too; some of the most fondly regarded games in the genre from years gone by have a distinctly comedic slant -- Monolith's No-One Lives Forever, Free Radical's Timesplitters and Croteam's Serious Sam are just three examples -- and we've even been seeing something of a resurgence in self-consciously silly shooters in recent months thanks to games such as Rise of the Triad and Shadow Warrior.

Not only that, but the strong success of the excellent Saints Row IV -- one of the silliest, most humorous games in recent memory -- proves beyond a doubt that humor and mainstream appeal do not have to be mutually exclusive.

What do you think? Are games too obsessed with being "serious business" these days, or would you welcome a more light-hearted approach to franchises like Battlefield and Call of Duty?

The best community comments so far 13 comments

  • metalangel 4 months ago

    Bad Company was great. Those moments of extremely realistic, flowing conversation and actual ideas and opinions being exchanged - wow. These felt like real guys on a real mission.

    Of course, creativity doesn't fit with EA's target audience (the bottom of the barrel, nicest way I can put it) which is why all of it was removed and we instead had Battlefield 3. Who cared what happened in the story there? Some guy had his kid's toy dinosaur and got executed? Whatever.

    You still see some of the humour of games of old, in stuff like Borderlands and Saint's Row but that's about it for mainstream releases I've played that made me laugh.

  • monty_79 4 months ago

    He has a point to be fair. GTA V has a lot of humor in it, and that was a commercial failure.

  • RonF 4 months ago

    More than humor, BC's characters have some, if not much, personality, which is much better than all other military shooters.

    The last military first person shooter's campaigns I played was Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3, which were really bad. I was really hoping they would move the characters from Bad Company to the main series as it would be a great solution to those wanting a great single and multiplayer game.

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