DICE’s Battlefield series will return to the modern era — the near future — with Battlefield 2042 on Oct. 22. The developer’s newest shooter promises the same “only-in-Battlefield moments” on a grander scale, thanks to futuristic weapons of war, real-time destructive weather like tornadoes and sandstorms, and massive maps that support up to 128 players at once.
Battlefield 2042 is being built for PlayStation 5, Windows PC, and Xbox Series X, the platforms that will support those 128 player counts. (Last-gen consoles will max out at 64 players.) The focus is on multiplayer; there’s no traditional single-player campaign this time, DICE general manager Oskar Gabrielson confirmed in a preview of the game last week. Instead, DICE will deliver its narrative over time through Battlefield 2042’s live service and seasonal content.
The world of Battlefield 2042 is grim. Rising sea levels, environmental collapse, and economic turmoil have shattered nations and scattered their armies. Non-patriated soldiers, “No-Pats” in Battlefield’s marketing and narrative, fight not for country, but for the salvation of the planet and self-preservation. The battles of Battlefield 2042 span the globe: South Korea, India, Singapore, Qatar, Antarctica. Every battle is a fight for territory, for resources, or for technology.
At least the future also looks fun. Players will have access to the kind of technology unavailable in DICE’s most recent Battlefield games, set in World War I (Battlefield 1) and World War II (Battlefield 5). That includes Boston Dynamics-style quadruped robots, drones, wing suits, and futuristic tanks and warplanes.
All those weapons of war, the massive maps, and, yes, the chaos-causing tornadoes, will contribute to generating those only-in-Battlefield moments in the game’s multiplayer sandbox.
DICE promises at least three multiplayer experiences for Battlefield 2042. The first, All-Out Warfare, is classic Battlefield gameplay, only amplified with bigger maps and higher player counts. DICE announced two game types for All-Out Warfare:
- Conquest, in which two teams fight for advantage over a play space that aims for “varied pacing” and moments where there are a large number of players that collide, resulting in chaos.
- Breakthrough, a more guided mode in which one team attacks while another defends. Players fight to capture points on the map, and DICE promises lots of action and chaotic Battlefield moments.
The second experience is called Hazard Zone, which Battlefield 2042 design director Daniel Berlin described as focusing on “tight squad play” that’s distinctly different from All-Out Warfare and “completely new for Battlefield.” Berlin and others at DICE stressed that Hazard is “not a battle royale mode.”
The third to-be-announced multiplayer experience is in development at DICE LA. EA did not announce specifics, but calls the third mode “a love letter to Battlefield fans and one that long-time players will feel right at home with.” A reveal of DICE LA’s contribution to Battlefield 2042 is planned for July 22, during Electronic Arts’ EA Play Live event.
Battlefield 2042’s maps look varied not just in size, but thematically and geographically. Players will wage war in Egypt on a map bisected by a massive wall, with lush greenery on one side and a desert landscape, where sandstorms can form, on the other. In Antarctica, players will ride hovercrafts and tanks over glaciers in a fight for natural resources on Irreversible, the game’s largest map at nearly 6 square kilometers. Discarded, a map set in India, has players fighting to secure a “rogue nuclear asset” on a shoreline filled with massive ships stranded on land due to changing sea levels. And Orbital, set in French Guiana, features a massive rocket launch (which DICE says can fail, leading to mass destruction). DICE says it plans to launch 2042 with seven maps.
Tornados, sandstorms, and other real-time events will add chaos to those maps. A tornado might sweep up soldiers, tanks, and planes, throwing players across the map — or letting them hijack another player’s ride in mid-air and fly away to safety. Nickole Li, senior game designer, said that weather events will be unpredictable. Players won’t be able to set their watches to when a twister may appear, nor will every map have a cataclysmic event.
The size of Battlefield 2042’s maps has changed how the developer approaches level design, Berlin said. Players will fight over sectors of the larger map, and they’ll be clustered into focused, objective-based portions of those sectors to assume control.
Maps are also changing with vehicles (and sniping) in mind. Players will be able to call in vehicles from an in-game tablet, summoning tanks, planes, ATVs, and helicopters in seconds. Vehicles will have multiple seats, offering roles for drivers, spotters, gunners, and other positions. Every seat has a vital role to play, DICE said, and the more players who occupy a vehicle, the more proficient it becomes. (DICE teased a vehicle that has the ability to drop mines, which certainly sounds like fun.)
As for snipers, who might dominate on 2042’s very large maps, DICE has a solution. You can call in a vehicle to deal with them directly — meaning, you can spawn a vehicle to land on a far-off sniper, crushing them.
How players interact and customize their own weapons is changing, too. As players move through levels, from open fields to interiors in skyscrapers, they’ll be able to customize their hardware on the fly. DICE’s new Plus System will let soldiers quickly change out scopes, barrels, ammunition types, and under-barrel attachments in the field.
Battlefield 2042 will send players into battle as Specialists, the game’s version of classes. DICE promises 10 classes at launch, with more to come in seasonal releases. Four Specialists have been revealed so far:
- Casper, a recon class Specialist who can provide intel and disrupt his enemies using a recon drone gadget that spots targets and shoot EMP darts. His Movement Sensor trait helps Casper be aware of his surroundings, showing nearby enemies on HUD, which DICE says is “fantastic” while sniping.
- Webster Mackay, an assault type Specialist, is a frontline fighter, DICE said. He’s mobile, thanks to a grapple gun gadget that aids in positioning and the Nimble trait that lets him move faster while aiming.
- Maria Falck, a support class Specialist, is a proficient healer. Her Combat Surgeon trait can revive teammates back to full health, compared to a portion of health from other Specialists.
- Boris is an engineer who uses tech to lock down areas and boost positions. His sentry turret gadget offers extra firepower, and his Sentry Operator trait boosts that sentry system, acquiring targets faster.
Players will get access to new Specialists, new weapons, new locations, and new cosmetics in Battlefield 2042’s battle pass. DICE will offer one for each season of content, both in free and premium (cosmetics-focused) tiers. The developer already has four seasons planned out.
Battlefield fans will get a taste of the game’s massive multiplayer during a technical test in July, which will be invite-only. DICE promises more pre-release hands-on opportunities with Battlefield 2042 later in the year, including an open beta for the game’s Hazard Zone mode. Players who pre-order will get early access to that open beta, DICE said.
Battlefield 2042 will cost $59.99 on PlayStation 4, Windows PC (via Steam, Origin, and the Epic Games Store), and Xbox One. The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X versions are priced at $69.99.
More information on the game is coming July 22, at EA Play Live.