When a Battlefield game makes noise on the internet, it’s almost always because some player pulled off a ludicrous stunt, like jumping out of a flying jet to shoot down another jet with a rocket launcher, and then hopping back into the first jet’s cockpit.
Colloquially referred to as “Battlefield Moments,” Electronic Arts wants to turn these typically rare happenings into a regular source of excitement for players in Battlefield 2042. The upcoming next chapter in the long-running series brings some big changes for its debut on the new consoles, but the most dramatic shift up front may be the way EA is pitching it.
The publisher’s first-look trailer for the next military shooter from Swedish developer DICE isn’t subtle. Eschewing gameplay in favor of a vibe, the Battlefield 2042 hype reel draws on a number of classic viral clips for inspiration as it showcases hectic firefights where everyone is scoring their own action hero moment.
Whether or not it can actually deliver remains to be seen. But as DICE shared during a pre-E3 preview meeting, the studio is working to ensure that 2042 has all the pieces it needs to juice up the potential for clip-worthy Battlefield Moments to spill out of any given match.
It starts with a back-to-basics shift: Battlefield 2042 is a multiplayer-only experience. It’s the first game in the series to completely skip a story mode in almost 15 years. Instead of offering a campaign, 2042 will break up across three distinct online modes, though we only have the details on one at this point.
All-Out Warfare is positioned for now as 2042’s centerpiece, and it’s the place where players will find series-standard Conquest and Breakthrough matches. These battles will all play out on massive maps that are subdivided into multiple sectors that each offer their own capture points and objectives.
Image: EA / DICE
The scaled-up maps are necessary because of a major change in Battlefield 2042: For people playing on PC, PlayStation 5, or an Xbox Series console, game lobbies will top out at 128 players, or double the max of Battlefield games from the recent past. (A separate release for PS4 and Xbox One will cap the lobby size at 64.)
More players means more chaos, and the now-standard practice of serving up Battlefield maps that transform over time is getting some fresh tweaks in 2042. DICE is highlighting just one example of how that affects gameplay at this point: Tornadoes. These randomly occurring weather events pick up and toss anything they touch. Rather than leading to instant death, however, tornadoes can swoop in to shake up a firefight and briefly move the action to the debris-strewn skies.
It’s easy to imagine how a rampaging tornado that tosses everything sky high might prompt the kind of outlandish and over-the-top circumstances that fuel a classic Battlefield Moment. One DICE developer hosting our presentation described a scenario where a sniper that had been harassing him was suddenly silenced when a tank thrown aloft by a tornado landed on the long-distance shooter.
Vehicles should be a more common sight in 2042 than they’ve been in the past. Larger maps means more ground to cover, and a doubled player count means more bodies in the field that need to be moved. To counter that and keep matches moving, DICE will now let you call in a fresh ride via parachute drop.
It starts with a back-to-basics shift: ‘Battlefield 2042’ is a multiplayer-only experience.
Vehicles should also be more useful and enjoyable for passengers, as well. Most Battlefield fans are familiar with the experience of spending multiple minutes riding shotgun in an APC with nothing to do while the driver heads to a destination, only to get blown up upon arrival. DICE gave vehicles a fresh look for 2042, and promises that every seat in whatever ride you settle into brings some kind of utility. So a vehicle with every seat filled isn’t just a tempting target; it’s also a more formidable war machine.
Battlefield 2042 also evolves the idea of soldier classes, introducing Specialists. These are named characters with specialties that roughly line up with the Assault, Support, Engineer and Recon class roles of yore. The difference here is each Specialist brings gadgets and abilities that set them apart.
Of the four (out of 10 total) that we got to see, you get a sense of how this all shakes out. Casper is analogous to the Recon class, and he brings along a recon drone that lets him mark targets either manually or automatically, as well as a movement sensor that alerts him when an enemy combatant is getting close — a handy tool for a sniper-oriented role that often operates solo.
Webster does the Assault thing, but with improved mobility thanks to a grappling hook and his “nimble” trait, which lets him move faster while aiming down sights. Maria, the Support Specialist, can “shoot” healing at allies with her S21 Syrette Pistol, and her “combat medic” trait means any ally she revives comes back at full health. Finally, Boris is an Engineer-type who can quickly set up a stationary sentry turret that he can control directly or leave to operate autonomously.
Crucially, none of the roles in Battlefield 2042 are tied to a specific weapon. Casper doesn’t have to carry a sniper rifle into battle, for example. If you prefer up-close recon work, head out with a shotgun and pipe intel to your team from behind enemy lines instead. Any weapon can also be modified on the fly with the new “plus” menu, which lets players swap gun parts like magazines and sights in the heat of combat, with the push of a button.
There’s plenty more, too. Wingsuits will factor into the action, giving players in mid-air more flexibility that they’d have using a parachute. Maps will transform in ways that don’t involve the weather, such as on the Orbital map where a battle raging at a launch site can be interrupted by a rocket lifting off. And all players can look forward to an assortment of free post-release add-ons, like new maps.
Image: EA / DICE
Variety is the key word here, and the fuel for EA’s hope that Battlefield 2042 can more capably encourage the kinds of zany, clip-worthy moments that fans love. By giving players more options on the ground and in the moment, the hope is there will be less of the friction that in the past has slowed down the pace and intensity of matches. Even something as simple as more ziplines between skyscraper rooftops, or a carefully placed ramp is driven by this idea of encouraging more happy accidents.
There are two more reveals ahead for DICE as well. Hazard Zone is the second of 2042’s three modes, and it’s a squad-based way to play that, EA’s reps said, is definitively not a battle royale mode a la Fortnite. The third, as-yet-untitled mode is even more mysterious. It’s also not battle royale, and it’s described as a “love letter” to longtime fans. But that’s all we know for now.
Expect more soon from EA and DICE, with an especially big reveal set for EA Play Live on July 22. Look for Battlefield 2042 this fall when it comes to PS4, PS5, XB1, Xbox Series S/X, and PC via Origin, Steam, and Epic Games Store on Oct. 22.