The next Battlefield game is Battlefield 2042, thrusting the large-scale FPS series into a near-future Earth (think Boston Dynamics-style robot dogs, not laser guns) where stateless mercenaries fight for superpowers. That’s all fine, but for once the new setting isn’t the focus of a Battlefield reveal.
The big news is that Battlefield 2042 doubles the player count to 128 and redefines the class system to feature “specialists” with unique gadgets. The previous Battlefield games have all tweaked the basic Battlefield format, but this feels like the most significant change to the series since it started in 2002, almost 20 years ago.
Also exciting: A new mode called Battlefield Portal that will let players design their own game types and mix-and-match weapons and vehicles from Battlefield 1942, Bad Company 2, Battlefield 3, and Battlefield 2042. There’s a third mode, called Hazard Zone, which aims for more “high stakes, squad-based gameplay.” We’d wager its going more Escape from Tarkov-ey.
What is the Battlefield 2042 release date?
The Battlefield 2042 release date is October 22, 2021. On PC, it’s releasing on Origin, Steam, and the Epic Games Store. Battlefield 2042 will also release on PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, and PC/console crossplay support is in the works, as well as cross-progression. A version of Battlefield 2042 is coming to the older PS4 and Xbox One consoles, too, but those versions won’t support 128-player matches or crossplay with the PC or new consoles.
The big changes: 128 players, specialists, no singleplayer
The max player count has been doubled to 128 (two teams of 64) on PC and current-gen consoles.
128-player maps are divided into sectors containing control points; you have to capture all the control points in a sector to control it.
Classes have been replaced by specialists, characters who have unique gadgets and traits but can carry any weapon and equipment loadout. (Specialists themselves belong to Battlefield classes such as engineer, assault, and support, but you won’t play as a generic ‘support’ soldier.)
Specialist gadgets we’ve seen: a grappling hook, a health/revive gun (think Doc in Rainbow Six Siege), an auto-turret (think Team Fortress 2), a movement sensor (to catch people sneaking up on you while you’re sniping), a wingsuit.
No battle royale mode. None of the game’s three launch modes are battle royale, but considering this represents the future of live-service battlefield, one may be introduced later. No singleplayer campaign. 2042 is the first Battlefield game to launch without a singleplayer campaign since Bad Company.
How do 128-player maps work?
The increased player count is accommodated by bigger maps that are divided into sectors. Within each sector, there’s essentially a mini-Battlefield match playing out. In the standard Conquest mode, teams can hold a sector by holding all of the points within it. It sounds like you could spend all your time hanging out in one map sector, but there’s nothing stopping you from calling in a vehicle and heading elsewhere. The near-future tech doesn’t include mechs—sorry Nat—but you can get a tank dropped from the sky using the new call-in system. (And yes, you can drop them on snipers to squash them.)
How do specialists work?
What will likely be the most contentious change in Battlefield 2042 is the introduction of specialists. They’re sort of like Rainbow Six Siege operators in that they have names, backstories, and special gadgets and abilities, but they’re more flexible, because they can use any weapon you’ve unlocked. Battlefield class archetypes like ‘assault’ and ‘recon’ are still there, but DICE now describes them as categories which specialists fit into.
There will be 10 specialists at launch, with one new specialist released each season, and four seasons per year, so there’ll be 14 specialists in total within a year of launch.
Battlefield classes have been fairly strict until now: You get themed gadgets and only certain categories of weapon. Engineer gets SMGs, recon gets snipers, support get LMGs, etc. That’s all over. At launch, Battlefield 2042 will include 10 unique gadgets which can be paired with any gun. You can also change your gun attachments on the fly, allowing you to, say, and swap from close to long range optics to zoom in on a sniper who’s harassing you. Its way more loadout decision making than has ever been in a Battlefield game.
What specialists have been announced?
So far, DICE has revealed four specialists. Here’s who they are and what they do:
Wikus “Casper” Van Daele
Birthplace: South Africa
Specialty: OV-P Recon Drone (what it sounds like, a remote control spotting drone)
Trait: Movement Sensor (he’s alerted to people sneaking up behind him, at least if they move too quickly)
Specialty: Grappling Hook (the ‘zip and you’re there’ kind, not the swinging kind)
Trait: Nimble (he moves fast)
Specialty: S21 Syrette Pistol (heals or revives from a distance, like Doc in Rainbow Six Siege)
Trait: Combat Surgeon (revives teammates to full health, instead of partial health)
Pyotr “Boris” Guskovsky
Specialty: SG-36 Sentry Gun (like Team Fortress 2 or Overwatch’s turrets)
Trait: Sentry Operator (sentry guns are more effective when he’s nearby)
Battlefield 2042 modes
Battlefield may have finally given in and become a character shooter, but it hasn’t been tempted again by that other modern shooter trend: There’s no battle royale mode, and there are no plans to make one. The Battlefield 5 Firestorm mode is not returning, at least not for now. There’s no singleplayer campaign, either, although you will be able to play multiplayer-style matches entirely against bots and progress that way, if you want. Apparently the AI has gotten a lot better. (I’ll only agree when I see a bot steal the helicopter I wanted, crash it into the side of a hill, and lie down to snipe for the rest of the game.)
Here are the three main Battlefield 2042 modes:
All-Out Warfare is the term DICE is using to encompass your standard Battlefield game types: the classic point capture of Conquest and the more linear attack-and-defend battles of Breakthrough.
Hazard Zone will be a “high-risk,” squad-focused mode. That’s all DICE will say so far, but based on that description and the name, I think we’re pretty safe in assuming that inspiration has been taken from The Division’s Dark Zone, Hunt: Showdown, and Escape from Tarkov.
That’s pretty much right on the money, according to details found by a dataminer. The data gathered suggests players will be collecting intel from various data drives and crashed satellites once they’ve been dropped into the map. Tactical upgrades will be available to aid with issues like losing your equipment, plus ones presumably for general exploration and fighting. Some PvE incidents will be dotted around the map too, with AI soldiers patrolling with the help of tanks or helicopters.
Battlefield Portal was created by DICE LA, which is now called Ripple Effect Studios, and it’s exciting. It lets players run custom games with up to 128-players, and beyond just tweaking basic server variables like map rotation, you’ll be able to design custom game types using maps, weapons, and vehicles not just from Battlefield 2042, but also from Battlefield 1942, Bad Company 2, and Battlefield 3.