EA’s Future Battlefields
A comprehensive preview of Battlefield 2042
Thanks to the reveal event on Wednesday we’ve learned a lot of new details about the latest entry in the Battlefield franchise, including the setting, gameplay changes including Specialists, freak weather, and futuristic firepower, along with an October 22nd 2021 release date.
From the get-go we learned that Battlefield 2042 is multiplayer only, there is no single-player option on offer. Instead, DICE hopes to weave narrative into the multiplayer. Battlefield 2042 will be the first entry since Bad Company with no single-player offering which is sure to upset many. Likewise, there are also no plans for a battle-royale game mode. Battlefield 2042 design director, Daniel Berlin, defended this decision in an interview with Eurogamer stating that they are going to “lean into what we are best at.”
“If you look at the DNA of the studio, what we’ve been doing for so long, we just said you know what, we’re not going to have a traditional single-player campaign this time around, but we’re going to put all that emphasis and all those resources into building depth into the multiplayer. Because that is what we do best.”
Moving on, as basic as it sounds, we also finally know the name of the entry. Fans had long speculated that the upcoming title would be set back in present day or near future, as a spiritual successor to Battlefield 4, and it seems they were right. EA decided to break (or continue, depending on how you look at it) their streak of odd naming conventions, landing upon Battlefield 2042 as the title for the upcoming release, following Battlefield 3, 4, 1, and V. Whilst the name doesn’t follow a numerical sequence of releases, it does reveal the setting of the game. Battlefield 2042 takes place in the near future, in a world on the brink of war.
Near-Future Global Crises
In the years leading up to 2042, the world is wracked by global crises such as rising sea levels, storms, and food & fuel shortages. This led to the rise of the Non-Patriates, or No-Pats; people who have been displaced by these crises with no nation to call home and no government to support them.
As the crisis worsens, so too does tension between the last two superpowers, the US and Russia, for control of the fast-changing world and resources. This reaches a breaking-point in 2040 with a global blackout. Without many of the technologies we take for granted; internet, navigation, and forecasts against the extreme weather, the world boils over. Governments can’t spy on each other so they can’t trust each other. As war ignites over the following years, both the US and Russia employ the combat trained No-Pats as proxies in a war for resources, maintaining plausible deniability over direct involvement.
This near-future setting offers an intriguing backdrop for Battlefield’s large-scale battles, with futuristic weaponry and vehicles, unique environments, and extreme weather events.
Bigger World, Bigger Warfare
Speaking of Battlefield’s large-scale warfare, we also learned that the battlefield is getting even larger in 2042. Prepare for combat on unprecedented scale with double the players. That’s right — the player count is doubling. Since its inception, Battlefield as been 64 players in a server, pitting 32 players against another 32, at least on PC until Battlefield 4 brought this experience to consoles. With Battlefield 2042, however, DICE are taking it even further. The player count on PC, PS5, and Xbox Series S|X, will now be 128 players, populating even larger maps. (It should be noted that PS4 and Xbox One versions will remain at 64 players on scaled down maps.) This is one of the largest changes players will experience when they can get their hands on the game, but this is sure to amp up the grandeur of Battlefield’s warfare. Twice the players, twice the chaos.
Following the increased player cap, maps in Battlefield 2042 will be even larger and complex than before. EA have detailed the seven maps coming on release and it’s safe to say that each and every map looks incredibly unique and exciting.
Battlefield has long been known for its large and detailed war zones, and this isn’t changing in 2042. Each map will have several main areas of action and distinct events. For instance, ‘Hourglass’ is set in a neon metropolis in Qatar where you’ll be fighting in the shadows of huge skyscrapers overhead as engulfing dust and sandstorms roll in periodically. In ‘Orbital’, fighting takes place around a rocket launch, making it a race against time while watching out for deadly storms. Meanwhile, ‘Kaleidoscope’, a map very much reminiscent of Battlefield 4’s ‘Siege of Shanghai’, is a state-of-the-art metropolis in Korea. With huge open fields and looming skyscrapers, players will be able to zipline between buildings and fight in the streets for control of the city’s data centre.
Whilst there are less maps on launch than traditional for Battlefield, these maps are significantly larger and more complex than previous titles while maintaining the same quality and detail. Exploring these new maps, each with incredibly varied, globe-trotting settings is an aspect I’m personally really excited for.
We also learned several interesting details about game modes in Battlefield 2042, with overhauled fan-favourites and new game modes entirely. Staples of the franchise, Conquest and Breakthrough are returning in Battlefield 2042, while Hazard-Zone is all-new.
Conquest is all about capturing and holding several control points across the map in a battle of attrition. With 2042’s larger maps, Conquest has also expanded, however. Previously, control points were a single area, but with larger maps comes larger control points. Now, players will have to capture various smaller flags that make up the larger control point. This will undoubtedly make use of the greater player count, making fights for control points that much more grand and intense.
Breakthrough is also returning from Battlefield 1 and V. This mode is an asymmetrical battle with an attacking and defending team, combining the best of Conquest and Rush into one, epic battle spanning a whole territory. As with Conquest, EA and DICE have said the mode will be bigger than ever, promising strategic opportunities and all-out warfare, but as of yet there are no specifics.
As for the new game modes coming in Battlefield 2042 there is still not much information, but EA did tease ‘Hazard Zone’, describing it as “combining edge-of-your-seat gameplay with the best of the Battlefield sandbox”. Other than Hazard Zone, there is another confirmed new mode which is currently unnamed with EA promising a sneak peak of it at EA Play on July 22. Nevertheless, it is described as a “love-letter to core fans” offering “ a new way to play Battlefield”.
Specialists in Destruction
Battlefield 2042 is also building upon the traditional class system of the franchise. Previously, players could choose from four distinct classes; Assault, Medic, Support, and Recon. Each class had a specific play style and purpose — Assault was the anti-tank specialist, Medics were the healers, and so on.
In Battlefield 2042, these classes have been changed significantly which has caused somewhat of an outrage online. The latest entry moves towards a ‘Specialist’ system. Based on the four classes, Specialists have one unique Speciality and Trait each, but the rest of your kit is fully customisable. This means that the restriction of weapons to certain classes, such as snipers to Recon, is no more.
The outrage about this system stems largely from the confusion around it. Currently, this system is believed to still follow the four class system despite being a completely new and distinct system for 2042, but this will make more sense when looking at the Specialists in more depth. EA promises ten Specialists at launch and have showcased four so far.
Lets take Webster Mackay as an example. Described as ex-military, Mackay comes equipped with a grappling hook as his Speciality allowing for quick traversal, and Nimble as his Trait, which lets him move quicker while aiming down sights. It is believed that while he is a unique character with tools only available to him, he is nevertheless part of the Assault role and will have access to the traditional Assault gadgets.
Furthermore, given there are ten planned Specialists there will presumably be multiple Specialists for each role, each with their own Specialty skill and Trait.
Once more Specialists are revealed and EA shares more details on the system we’ll have a much better idea of how this system actually works, but this is the current understanding of this new feature.
Fighting in Style
How players customise their weaponry and characters is also getting an upgrade in 2042.
With the introduction of the Specialist system it would be fair to assume that customisation would be more limited in favour of characterisation, DICE have stressed otherwise. Players will have extensive customisation of their soldiers while still maintaining the unique essence of each character.
The trailer showed us a glimpse of this with these two shots. They may look like two completely different characters, but this is in fact the same Specialist just with different customisation.
If this is anything to go by, then it looks as though DICE will be delivering on their promise of extensive customisation.
Taking this further, DICE’s new ‘Plus System’ will allow players to quickly modify their weapons on-the-fly. Changes to scopes, barrels, ammunition types, and under-barrel attachments can all be made in the field. This mechanic should allow players to better adapt to the variety of different scenarios on offer within just a single map. Such a system reminds me of Crysis which allowed players to quickly swap out scopes, barrels, and under-barrel attachments from a radial menu on a single button press.
Evolving the Battlefield
A final detail we learned was that EA and DICE are taking a live service approach to Battlefield 2042, aimed at keeping players engaged for years to come. The world of 2042 will be constantly evolving and expanding through ‘Seasons’, with each one lasting around three months. Every Season will come with an associated Battle Pass, both free and paid versions, which will deliver new content to aim for. In its first year, DICE hope to deliver four Seasons, with four Battle Passes, four new Specialists, and other additional content.
More news on Battlefield 2042’s live service approach will be shared closer to launch.
A Taste of More to Come
Immediately following the reveal trailer on Wednesday, EA and DICE announced that there would be more news coming in the near future, including a gameplay showcase in just a few days on the 13th June. Fans will also be able to get their hands on Battlefield 2042 with an invite-only Technical Test in July, and an open beta later in the year, leading up to the game’s October 22nd release date.
Battlefield 2042 will release on PS4 and Xbox One, and PC through Steam, Origin, and Epic, for £49.99 or $59.99. Meanwhile, PS5 and Xbox Series S|X versions will cost £69.99 or $69.99.
And that’s that! There’s everything we know about the newest Battlefield title! As a long-time fan of Battlefield I was pleasantly surprised by the reveal on Wednesday, but I remain cautious. Given the state of many releases recently I’m hoping to find out more information before I make up my mind.
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