Once upon a time, DICE's Battlefield series could confidently lay claim to the status of Most Devilishly Handsome Game, but the next generation switchover has stirred up a horde of equally attractive competitors, such as Bungie's Destiny and Crytek's Ryse.
Still, DICE's executive producer Patrick Bach is happy about how the Frostbite engine stacks up to rivals - and Need for Speed: Rivals senior producer Jamie Keen argues that the engine is a "constantly evolving animal". Battlefield 5 (rumoured to be in development at Dead Space studio Visceral) should be a sight for sore eyes, then.
"I think we made the right move a couple of years ago when we actually started, a couple of years before Battlefield 3 was even announced, we said what do we want games to be five years from now?" Bach told OXM in a feature about Frostbite, published in our current issue. "And we can see now that the level of "next gen", if you want to call it that, on Frostbite is pretty stable.
"We're still, I would argue, one of the best looking next gen games - I don't want to say the best-looking next gen game, but we have an engine that truly takes advantage of the next gen machines."
Few would dispute Battlefield 4's technical chops, but many would probably take issue with the developer's QA and bug-testing procedures, as regards the Xbox One version in particular. US law firm Robbins Geller filed a class action suit against EA in December on behalf of share holders affected by "materially false and misleading statements highlighting the purported strength of the Company's rollout of version 4 of its all-important Battlefield video game series".
During our interview - which took place just before the game's launch - Bach suggested that a certain number of bugs were inevitable. "If we'd wanted to play it safe, we wouldn't have created a new version of Frostbite - we would have stayed on the right side of the fence. We are trying to push things as far as possible. That doesn't mean you will have loads and loads of bugs, of course."
This is DICE's third revamp of Frostbite. Will there come a time when a brand new engine is required? Keen feels the question misses the point a tad. "Talking about an engine as a finite thing in space and time is slightly misleading," he explained. "Engines are constantly in development and they're constantly changing."
"And that's something you particularly see with Frostbite, there's a lot of under the hood stuff that goes on, so it's a constantly evolving animal. There are all these things from all those different game studios being rolled back in. It's never going to 'run out', per se."
Grab the issue for our full chat with Bach and Keen. You can order a copy online here, or download a digital copy (which obviously doesn't include the free posters) from iTunes, Zinio and Google Play. You can also subscribe on iTunes or in print.