For those unfamiliar with art books about popular video games, think of them as a picture book for adults. Now substitute goony illustrations of pigs in pajamas with simple, moral-based narratives for concept art and sketches with explanations of what inspired the art and you have an art book. Fans of the Battlefield series of FPS games should keep a lookout for the Battlefield 4 art book. The latest installment in the Battlefield franchise has a full-color, paper companion filled with concept art and sketches along with some behind-the-scenes insight about what inspired the style and content of the game.
The Art of Battlefield 4 features a foreword written by Robert Runesson, DICE‘s chief content officer. Though there are many pages of glorious Battlefield art to pore over, don’t rush ahead. Take the time to read the foreword and the introduction. Gamers often forget the amount of work that goes into making their favorite games and we don’t often get to hear about the hurdles developers jumped to make them. The foreword and introduction of this book demonstrate the love DICE has for this series and provides some background about the series as a whole which will be an interesting read for die hard fans.
When it comes to the art itself, there is a lot to appreciate. Each level receives its own section in the book. Interspersed amongst the art and sketches are short paragraphs explaining the inspirations behind level design and characters, as well as background information about what happens in the game’s storyline during that level. Apart from gaining insight into the creative workings of a developer’s mind, the information in these paragraphs is extremely useful to those who were confused about the events in the game. Those curious about why the war started or the events that caused the squad in BF4 to be sent from one conflict to another may find their answers here. While many FPS gamers turn to their favorite shoot-em-up franchise for a chance to blast some baddies action-hero style, it’s still nice to know why that Russian guy is a baddie or why a tank decided to ruin a perfectly good kill-streak.
As previously stated, it’s sometimes easy to forget how much work goes into making a great game. It’s especially easy to forget that before a level is beta tested or physics are tweaked, before new multiplayer maps are added, games start with an idea and then, a ton of concept sketches. For Battlefield 4, 1500 to 1600 pieces of concept art were created to help developers visualize the direction and tone of the game. While not all of that art made it into the book, the art that is featured is stunning and includes concept art that did not make it into the game. The artists that drew and painted the art featured in the book are ridiculously talented. The Art of Battlefield 4 includes more than just concept art for each of the levels. Look for the Shanghai graffiti and Chinese advertising billboards as well as Russian propaganda posters to get an idea of just how much thought and detail went into the planning and development of the game.
The overall layout of the book is simple. All concept art is broken up by campaign level with the multiplayer maps at the end. The written portion of the book is minimal and comprised of one paragraph every few pages noting the inspirations for the style of each level and details about what went into the design of that level. The Art of Battlefield 4 is an art book and Titan Books, the publisher made an obvious effort to squeeze as much art into it as possible.
At $34.95, The Art of Battlefield 4 is well worth it’s retail price. Compared to other art books based on popular video games, BF4’s art book is larger and packed with more content. Based on its size, the quality of the printing and art inside, The Art of Battlefield 4 is on par with a high-brow, coffee table art book you’d find at the bookstore.
If you didn’t have the time to wander around one of the gorgeous levels in the game because you were too busy rescuing a Chinese VIP, the art book should fulfill your need for details. While not a walkthrough, The Art of Battlefield 4 also does a great job of summarizing the events of the single-player campaign’s storyline. It’s worth the buy for fans of the Battlefield franchise who want a quality collectible.