Accessibility is the keyword for the Battlefield Heroes dev team and I've never been happier to hear it. I like my WWII shooters just fine, but they do start to feel a little stale after the fourth or fifth version; and it gets really hard to get into a series once the established fan base is dead-set on going after the blood of noobs in multiplayer. And now that Battlefield has gone back in time and to the future, where else can the series really go?
To Toon Town, it looks like. And that's not a bad move if the idea is to net the casual crowd and attract people who aren't into any of the other Battlefields. Heroes aims to be for everyone with its charming, cartoon-y look, basic gameplay mechanics, and extensive online community support. Like Team Fortress 2, Battlefield Heroes will feature special abilities depending on what class of soldier you play (invisibility for snipers, whoo-hoo!) - but the similarities stop there. For one thing (and this is most important), it's free to play. You'd think that'd count against the game in terms of depth and detail, but Heroes is actually way deeper than it's cartoonish looks and $US 0 price tag lead people to believe.
The character customisation stands out as the most complex - it hogged the limelight at the EA Showcase, even. How can you not like peg-legged snipers sporting bunny ears? You unlock even more options for your avatar's appearance by going through missions to earn special items that work kind of like Achievements - because the whole community will see those bunny ears and know that you completed a mission to get them.
The community aspect of Battlefield Heroes also adds a whole other layer of depth. Ben Cousins, Executive Producer of the Battlefield franchise, explained that Heroes is as much a game as a web project. There are going to be friend lists, community boards and Facebook type apps for people to get into surrounding actual gameplay.
All of this goes live in winter (hopefully the 2008 side of it). Digital Illusions Studios CE has already started the closed beta phase with dev personnel and their families. This will go to a larger pool of core users in the fall and by winter, when (if) the game goes live, EA and DICE hope it will be the "world's largest PC action game."