Set in World War II, Battlefield V is an immersive multiplayer experience that promises to take players through “pivotal, though sometimes forgotten” battles. Its compelling storylines and striking graphics contribute greatly to the experience of playing the game, but where the UX is truly set to shine is in the immersion and squad play features.
Nicholas Shewchuk is the design lead for UI/UX on Battlefield at EA’s DICE, the storied Swedish game studio behind the Battlefield franchise. Based in Stockholm, Sweden, but originally from Edmonton, Canada, Nicholas’s portfolio includes work on games such as Star Wars: Battlefront II, Need For Speed, Max Payne 3, numerous NHL releases, and many other games for multiple systems.
Nicholas joined the Battlefield V midway through development. While the team has been using Adobe XD since it was released, this was Nicholas’s first time working with Adobe XD on a project of this scope. We caught up with him to find out how he and his team used XD to bring Battlefield V to life.
He gave us insight into his design process and shared what fans of DICE and the Battlefield franchise can expect from the October 19 release of Battlefield V.
How did you use Adobe XD in the creation of Battlefield V?
It has been our go-to wireframing and prototyping tool for the UI/UX team on the project.
DICE has UX Designers working with each feature team to help visualize, prototype, and offer suggestions on good usability. Once the team aligns around a cohesive system and user experience design, we usually create mockups in XD for functionality and start developing art mockups in Photoshop for visual targets around the same time. We’ll go back and forth on both until the feature is both easy to use and visually well presented. We use XD for early sketches, prototypes, and documentation, but Photoshop for final art targets.
Once we have the combination of a signed off visual target and design, we work with our producers, development directors, engineers, and scripters to build the first implementation of it in software. From there, we’ll use a combination of our own assessments, internal playtests, and UXR testing to assess the quality and execution of the design.
How did your design process differ on Battlefield V versus previous DICE projects you’ve worked on, such as Star Wars Battlefront II? Had you used Adobe XD on any prior projects?
A lot of what XD brought us was speed and efficiency. I hadn’t used XD personally on any past projects, and it was introduced to me after moving over to Battlefield V from Star Wars: Battlefront II. On Star Wars, our team built a big Illustrator toolbox where we essentially had two big artboards with all the various UI widgets (star cards, scroll bars, logos, buttons) as well as a standardized Front End template. We used this as a starting point when beginning any new design.
With XD the process was similar, but it was immediately apparent how much quicker, easier, and more efficient it felt to use; aligning elements on your canvas, managing your artboards and assets, as well as exporting screenshots all became much less strenuous.
DICE announced that two key elements the team focused on when building Battlefield V were immersion and squad play. What role did UX and usability play in designing these two improvements?
One of our new elements that for me greatly improves immersion is what we’re calling “physicality.” The easiest example of this is in health and ammo pickups. In previous games you simply would stand near boxes and you would regain health/ammo. Now, whether it’s through an interaction prompt or automated animation, you will see your character physically pick up ammo and health. The player no longer relies on a small white text string to be informed that they’ve been healed, ultimately improving the usability while also enhancing the experience by receiving feedback through the character animation. I really like this change both from the perspective of immersion and how it reduces the player’s reliance on having to glean information purely from text to understand the mechanics.
As for squad play, one of the biggest things we’ve been taking a look at is what I call our “death flow.” We wanted to find ways to get squads to work together more, so we’ve done a lot of work to try and encourage this. First, upon the player’s death, they can now be revived by someone in their squad, and not just medics, giving the team more options. We feel we’ve also improved the “down state” screen here, giving players a more clear option to hold on and wait for a medic, or let go and opt into the spawn flow.