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

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

News by Pete Davison, .

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?

This article may contain links to online retail stores. If you click on one and buy the product we may receive a small commission. For more information, go here.

Comments 13

  • Avatar for cscaskie #1 cscaskie 4 years ago
    "too many interchangeable, focus-tested, DLC-saturated, brown-tinted military manshooters on the market"

    I'd like to have this rendered in a stylish font on a T-shirt.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for christopherhughes97 #2 christopherhughes97 4 years ago
    Some people hate humor? I don't think I've met these people, but if they exist, I'm glad I haven't.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for easter #3 easter 4 years ago
    NOLF sequels get mentioned, my heart sinks a little.

    The only kind of totally incidental but absolutely vital squad-dialogue I can recall from recent memory is from Left 4 Dead. For that matter the writing in Borderlands 2 is also top notch.

    It's the little things like this that add up to such a rich experience and make single player campaigns worth it. I suspect the same can be said of the recent BioShock Infinite (haven't played yet, waiting for its eventual GotY packaging). And how could I forget the excellent House/Typing of the Dead: Overkill? The banter between G and Washington is great.

    The lowest common denominator is the worst, basically. The games catering to "Them" are frequently entertaining, but almost always devoid of soul.

    By the way, how does BC1 rank compared to 2? Mechanics, writing, presentation, etc. Looking to pick up BC2 on Steam someday. Thanks for the input :)Edited November 2013 by easter
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for ARedDevil #4 ARedDevil 4 years ago
    @easter I like humor in games but BC2 just wasn't very funny - one cliche after another. I also found the missions very boring.

    If you can get it really cheap then go for it but I had high hopes for the SP and was very disappointed.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for metalangel #5 metalangel 4 years 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.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for donmilliken #6 donmilliken 4 years ago
    Humor is too niche . . .

    That about sums up for me why I don't play many first person shooters these days. Bad Company's humor was very hit or miss, but I still appreciated that they made the effort. Crack a joke once in a while, crack a smile. I can't stand games that take themselves too seriously.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for monty_79 #7 monty_79 4 years ago
    He has a point to be fair. GTA V has a lot of humor in it, and that was a commercial failure.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for donmilliken #8 donmilliken 4 years ago
    Ha! Great point monty! Developers always seem to need to make some kind of excuse when a game doesn't do as well as anticipated and the excuses rarely make much sense. Sometimes a game just doesn't do well and there's no explanation for it. I'm still flabbergasted that Bulletstorm did so poorly. That game was amazing!
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for RonF #9 RonF 4 years 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.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for bigdsweetz #10 bigdsweetz 4 years ago
    @monty_79 I need you to explain this to me.... How is GTA V a failure in any way?
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for bigdsweetz #11 bigdsweetz 4 years ago
    @donmilliken You must know absolutely zero people in the military. But that might not be the issue here. I thought the humor was well done for the game.But to each their own. Just curious as to what you used as a yardstick for the humor though.
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for donmilliken #12 donmilliken 4 years ago
    @bigdsweetz So, you're suggesting that if I knew more soldiers, I'd find soldiers standing around making pop culture references funnier? The "yardstick" I used was that as I played the game, I found some of the humor funny and some of it not. That's all. I didn't think the humor in the game was done badly or anything, just some of it didn't work for me. It worked for you and that's fine, I respect that. Comedy isn't universal. What makes me laugh might not make you laugh and vice versa.Edited December 2013 by donmilliken
    Sign in to Reply
  • Avatar for bigdsweetz #13 bigdsweetz 4 years ago
    @donmilliken What I was referring to was that people who are infantry generally have the deposition that they had in Bad Company. The stupid jokes, the corny banter and the potty mouth's. I will say your absolutely right and concede your point. What makes me laugh might not make you laugh.
    Sign in to Reply