A two-handed ballistic shield is coming to Battlefield 4 as part of the upcoming Dragon's Teeth expansion pack, according to a GDC talk given by an EA DICE animator.
Initially, the team were hoping to include the ability to equip a ballistic shield in the game and shoot from behind it with a selection of handguns, according to senior animator Ryan Duffin. But after trying a number of approaches, the team realized that the best way to deliver the bullet-stopping piece of equipment to the game was to make it a two-handed, movable piece of cover.
The shield will be part of the Dragon's Teeth expansion coming to the game this summer. Little is known about the expansion other than it will focus on urban warfare.
During the animation bootcamp talk, "Using the Power of Layered Animation to Expand Premium Content in Battlefield 4", Duffin explained how the team went through through different approaches to try and deliver a shield to the game that could be used with a handgun.
"It turns out that stopping bullets in a first-person shooter is a ton of fun."
Ultimately, all of the approaches failed because they didn't have enough time to create the needed animation changes or they were hindered by last-gen console memory constraints.
"We didn't have enough memory," Duffin said. "It added about a megabyte, but a megabyte on a 2006 console is a lot, so it didn't work out."
After working through three approaches, the team started looking at the possibility of having a shield that would be wielded with two hands, making it impossible to use a handgun at the same time. While a gun can't be wielded at the same time, players will be able to melee with the shield with an attack range of about one meter.
"There was a lot of resistance at first," he said. "But the more we assessed it, the more we realized it was a better feature."
And that wasn't just because it streamlined the process for adding the new item to the game, but also because it turns out it was a better fit for the squad-based type of gameplay seen in Battlefield games.
"It turns out that stopping bullets in a first-person shooter is a ton of fun," he said. "We're confident that it will create a new dynamic for the game."