Even though you’ve probably never considered playing Battlefield on your iPad, it’s still kinda awesome that DICE is experimenting with the super-powerful Frostbite engine to make it a completely possible outcome.
“Whatever you can do on console should be doable on mobile as well!” he says, explaining that this isn’t DICE‘s first foray into mobile gaming. The studio’s already worked on the Commander App for Battlefield 4, and showcased 1.3 million triangles on-screen simultaneously in a Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare running on an iPad Air at this year’s Apple WWDC in June.
…but Battlefield 4 itself was the big challenge.
To handle dynamic features such as destruction or moving light sources, most things in the Frostbite engine happen in realtime. This puts extra demand on performance to be able to deliver large, highly detailed worlds with superb visual quality. We were making great progress feature-wise, but hardware and software limitations forced us to either scale down the number of objects and their complexity to retain visual fidelity, or accept lower visual fidelity to cope with a larger number of objects.
Benjaminsson explains that Apple’s new low-level graphics API (named Metal) made things much more accessible, meaning the studio could include both a large number of objects and high visual fidelity, something they’d previously had to choose between.
The team is “pleasantly surprised” with the performance on the iOS devices. Even though the developers stress that this is simply a tech demo “to test the engine capabilities”, rather than a serious pocket-sized Battlefield build, there’s still a glimmer of hope that one day, we might have a decent FPS that can fit in your pocket.