DICE and EA have finally lifted the curtain on the next installment of the Battlefield franchise: a massive, near-future, sandboxy title called Battlefield 2042. And clearly, developers are hoping this one will help players forget all about Battlefield V.
Battlefield 2042 isn’t a surprise, for anyone who’s been paying attention. A handful of leaks recently spoiled the game’s premise and a few key details, but now it’s all official. Battlefield 2042 is set in a near-future world that’s been ravaged by climate-driven disasters, leading to the most severe refugee crisis in human history. People who have been displaced are called Non-Patriated, or No-Pats, and the soldiers among them are recruited to fight in a global war waged by — surprise, surprise — the US and Russia.
Battlefield 2042 has three main modes: All-Out Warfare, Hazard Zone and a third mystery experience in development at DICE LA. We know two things about Hazard Zone: It’s squad-based and it definitely isn’t battle royale. Meanwhile, All-Out Warfare includes Conquest and Breakthrough, two fan-favorite multiplayer modes that also are not battle royale. You’ll be able to play these online, or solo against AI soldiers. Developers at DICE said the AI gameplay is more of a training ground for new players and fresh strategies, while online play is the real treat.
Battlefield 2042 has the largest environments in the franchise’s history, including maps in South Korea, Singapore, Egypt, Qatar and the granddaddy of them all, Antarctica. These maps contain living events that can disrupt gameplay, like the SpaceX-style rocket that will either take off as planned or explode on the launch pad, and the massive shipping containers that are randomly plucked into the sky, taking everyone inside with them.
The game will support matches of up to 128 players on PC, Xbox Series X and S, and PlayStation 5. On Xbox One and PS4, rounds will be capped at 64 players, and the maps will be scaled down a bit. Otherwise, updates and gameplay will be the same on all platforms, though DICE has yet to confirm cross-play capabilities.
Battlefield 2042 introduces a new approach to character classes. There will be 10 unique Specialists in the game, each with distinct weapons and abilities, but also opportunities for customization. There are four confirmed Specialists so far: recon, assault, support and engineer.
Each Specialist’s primary weapon is locked while the secondary choice is up to the player. For instance, the assault Specialist always has a grappling gun and a trait that makes him more nimble, while the recon Specialist gets a surveillance drone that shoots EMP darts, and the ability to sense nearby enemy movement. Either of these characters can then be equipped with a sniper rifle, or a grenade launcher, or an automatic weapon, whatever you want.
During a media briefing, developers made it clear, over and over again, that Battlefield 2042 is leaning into the series’ sandbox roots. Maps are vast, even in regards to airspace, and there are more gadgets and guns to play with than ever. To that end, players will be able to call in a vehicle at any time, and it’ll parachute onto the map in seconds. This includes jets and helicopters, and it means you can try to kill enemy snipers by dropping tanks on them, which sounds awesome.
There are also dynamic weather events built into the environments, including a tornado that randomly appears on any map, sucking up vehicles and players alike. Either run away from the twister, or find a way to use it to your advantage. One of those ways might be a wingsuit, though DICE developers wouldn't confirm which Specialists will have access to that particular fashion item.
Battlefield 2042 will include a Battle Pass system for seasonal content with free and premium tiers, though there won’t be any maps or gameplay advantages locked behind the premium paywall, just cosmetic items.
Finally, Battlefield 2042 will land on October 22nd, and it’ll cost $60 on PC, Xbox One and PS4. It’s $70 on Xbox Series X and PS5. Pre-orders are open right now, and EA will invite some veteran Battlefield players to participate in a technical alpha in early July. More information on that third gameplay mode and other details will be revealed at EA Play Live on July 22nd.
Battlefield 2042 is built for the next generation and it introduces a handful of fresh features, but at its core, this is a return to classic franchise form. EA and DICE have focused on building vast multiplayer sandboxes filled with opportunities for creative mass murder and high-flying action. And somehow, they composed a near-future sci-fi narrative starring people with no allegiance to any country, and still managed to turn it into a proxy war between the US and Russia. This also seems like a clear-cut chance to introduce a more diverse cast than normally seen in military shooters, but for now, it looks like Battlefield 2042 has a few white dudes and a woman in the support role. See? Classic.
None of this is surprising, considering the response Battlefield V received in 2018. Battlefield V was buggy, lean and emphasized single-player content at a time when battle royale was peaking. And for the first time in series history, it featured a woman on the box, a move that largely came off as pandering rather than inclusive.
Battlefield 2042 is taking the franchise to a fresh yet familiar place. That second part is key, and after Battlefield V, EA knows it.