Battlefield is one of the grand old dames of the online shooter scene – it’s been wowing fans with its huge-scale battles and an adrenaline-pumping blend of vehicular and infantry combat for years and years now.
It’s also jumped happily around into different time settings, from its origins in the Second World War, back to the First World War, and of course into both modern combat scenarios and even futuristic science fiction. Now we know that the next game will be Battlefield 2042, taking us to another new setting. Find out all the key information right here.
Battlefield 2042 release date and trailers
After months of speculation, it’s all become clear at last – we finally have a release date for Battlefield 2042: 22 October 2021, which is actually a few weeks earlier than we were hoping, which is always welcome news.
We’ve known for ages that the game was heading toward a holiday 2021 release date, thanks to repeated confirmations from EA, but this is now concrete, so you’ve only got a little while to wait before you can drop into the biggest Battlefield game yet.
That’s all thanks to the full reveal trailer, which you can see above, and which took the wraps off the game for the first time, bringing to an end the absolutely huge amount of speculation that had preceded it. Without going overboard, it’s an unbelievably impressive first showing, and makes the next game look like it could be an absolutely stellar entry in the franchise, especially paired with the gameplay trailer that you can find below.
EA has also recently announced that it’ll be sharing more on Battlefield at EA Play Live on 22 July, where we should find out a lot more about the different game modes that the title will offer.
Battlefield 2042 setting and gameplay
With each Battlefield game comes a key question – when and where is it set? Given that previous entries have had seriously diverse settings, a lot is up in the air on this front. With Battlefield 1 and Battlefield V, DICE went back to both World Wars to explore an earlier form of combat, but the likes of Battlefield 3 and 4 showed years ago that it can excel at modern combat scenarios, too.
Now we know that the new game is set in 2042 during a major conflict between the USA and Russia (which you can find out more about using Dice’s official timeline), echoing Battlefield’s original 1942 setting, and the 2142 timeline it visited previously as well. That near-future setting means that much of the weaponry and vehicles on show will be fairly familiar.
However, there are still plenty of futuristic touches, including plenty of drones, robotic dogs (called Rangers), and more besides, so it should make for a nice mixture of new and old. We also know that the game will support 128-player servers, which should make for serious carnage, although only on newer hardware.
The biggest modes, which support that 128-player count, will also be playable with AI opponents and teammates, which could make for a useful environment for players to get to grips with the game. EA has confirmed that it’ll use these bots to fill out games, but that human players will be able to join to replace them without waiting.
EA has also said that the game will have unprecedented scale on the destructibility side (which is hard to believe in comparison to the high watermark of Bad Company 2), building on the “Levolution” events from Battlefield 4 involving moments such as the collapse of a huge skyscraper to change the map.
There will be seven maps initially, and you can find out about them each on the official website, but we’re impressed by the visual variety they bring to the table. They’re also absolutely massive in size, which is why a new vehicle call-in system has been designed, to let you deploy a vehicle to your location via a tablet, pushing back against the risk of having to run a kilometre to get into a fight.
Also coming for big changes is the class system, which is getting overhauled and replaced by Specialists, effectively unique operators with abilities like revives and resupplies that can augment your strategy in similar ways, but with more character. A recent Q&A post detailed this with more granular information, reassuring players that there will be a balance to how you build loadouts, to stop people abusing abilities or spamming certain weapons.
At launch, there will be 10 specialists to choose from, but that’ll expand through a seasonal content plan that will also bring a battle pass system – no surprise in the modern gaming market. These seasons will run for 3 months each, and it seems EA would hope for the player base to gobble them up for at least a few years.
Battlefield Portal mode
Unveiled at EA Play Live in July 2021, the secretive third game mode that’s coming as part of Battlefield 2042 was revealed to be the Battlefield Portal. This is an amazing-sounding new way to enjoy customised experiences on old and new Battlefield maps using a range of weaponry and vehicles from the series’ history.
Letting players build their own custom game modes using complex scripting if desired, the system will open up a huge range of playgrounds to players who want to play in crazy new ways away from the competitive main modes.
This could see modes that force everyone to use certain whacky weapons or more complex scenarios such as one that might give one squad huge powers and pit them against a hundred opponents. The best modes will be highlighted by DICE developers to let people access them more easily, alongside some creations of the developers’ own, so there will be constant rosters of new maps and games to try out.
At launch there will be six maps from older Battlefield games to work with, including:
- Battlefield 1942’s Battle of the Bulge and El Alamein
- Battlefield Bad Company 2’s Valparaiso and Arica Harbor
- Battlefield 3’s Caspian Border and Noshahr Canals
All of these can play host to game modes like Rush, which are no longer part of the official main offering but could find a life of their own on the Portal.
Battlefield 2042 single-player campaign
Something we can also clear up, and another big question when it comes to any Battlefield game, surround the game’s campaign – namely, whether it will have one at all. Older Battlefield titles were pure multiplayer affairs, but in the era of its rivalry with Call of Duty flowering, campaigns became a standard part of the package.
In recent games, DICE stepped away from full-length campaigns in favour of a series of shorter vignettes, which worked really impressively and told interesting stories. Now, though, the single-player side of things has been cut altogether, so there won’t be anything apart from multiplayer to dig into.
Battlefield 2042 battle royale?
Battlefield V’s battle royale mode, Firestorm, was beset by both delays and the burden of not being free to pay, and while it was a really fun option, it’s almost completely dead now, with few players and long matchmaking times.
However, the genre is just as popular as ever, and the huge success of Call of Duty: Warzone has likely given Dice and EA a template to follow – a free-to-play battle royale attached to a premium multiplayer offering.
However, there’s nothing coming on that front for at least a while – there will be no battle royale mode when the new game launches. There are rumours of a longer-term plan for Battlefield 2042, with a new mode coming sometime in 2022, but no proof of that as yet.
Battlefield 2042 platforms and crossplay
Interestingly, at a time like this with the next generation of consoles finally on the market, the question of which platforms something like Battlefield 2042 will support doesn’t so much concern the new consoles, but the older ones.
Now, very unsurprisingly, EA has confirmed that the game will be coming to the PS4 and Xbox One as well, ensuring that the millions of players who haven’t got onto the next-gen bandwagon (or haven’t managed to) aren’t left behind.
However, there will be significant differences between the versions of the game across generations, with older generation consoles limited to 64 players on their servers, in particular. The maps will also be correspondingly smaller, to make sure you don’t have acres of space to run about to find a fight.
We know that we’ll see Battlefield 2042 on PS5 and Xbox Series X, and it’s going to take full advantage of the new graphical capabilities of those consoles. DICE has long been a specialist in eking out spectacular graphical fidelity from consoles, so Battlefield 2042 is looking like an envelope-pusher on the graphics side of things, and indeed in the realm of sound design too.
Reassuringly, we now know that there will be full cross-progression support and crossplay. This means that any cosmetics or items you buy on one platform will carry over to the others, which we love.
On the crossplay side, DICE says it’s aiming to let console players and PC players play on the same servers, although console gamers on the older generation of devices will be limited to each others’ games due to map sizes. However, importantly, console players will be able to opt out of crossplay with PC gamers, letting them avoid any risk of cheaters or opponents with graphical or performance advantages.