I think it’s fair to say that the Battlefield franchise has been around the blocks a few times. 19 years on from the first game in the series, DICE has taken their large scale sandbox multiplayer shooter to wars in the past, wars in the modern day and even wars in the far flung future, and with
With 17 games in this long-running series, we felt the urge to rank them in order. Alphanumerical order. Now, we can debate whether alphanumerical should be letter first or numbers first, but I’ve decided that, since this is my list, we’re going to put numbers first this time around.
Battlefield 1 was not the first Battlefield game, but rather the 15th (including spin-offs). Still, it absolutely deserves to be at the top of this alphanumeric listing of the series, because it is without a shadow of a doubt Battlefield 1. Not only that, but it also features the First World War, or WWI. If DICE had taken ‘The Great War’ moniker and called it Battlefield Great, it would have been much further down on this list.
Battlefield 1 was a major departure for the series, with EA and DICE spotting the weariness that many FPS fans had with increasingly futuristic shooters, and deciding to flip the script, stepping back in time to the globe-spanning conflict that defined much of modern day warfare. Tanks, planes, machine guns, and more are all present, as are show-stopping large-scale battles and level events.
It was a big change from the evergreen Battlefield 4, but it’s a game that has an awful lot of fans.
You know the saying “First the worst, second the best”? Well, the second half of that holds true for Battlefield 2. Except it wasn’t actually the second game in the Battlefield franchise – that was Battlefield: Vietnam, developed by the now defunct DICE Canada. EA and DICE started their game numbering shenanigans early, is what I’m trying to say.
Anyway, if Battlefield 1942 created the fundamental gameplay that has endured through the series’ lifetime, then Battlefield 2 filled in a lot of the blanks around it. You had the first step into the modern era of warfare, you had squads for the first time to help with teamwork, and the Commander role to oversee your team’s efforts. It’s since been superseded on every level, but will be fondly remembered by long-term fans.
Battlefield 2: Modern Combat
The first Battlefield game to come to consoles, and DICE’s first attempt at a single player campaign in the franchise with a rather unique ability to switch bodies between soldiers on your side as you battle through to complete the story objective. The game also stands alone in its use of a non-DICE game engine, borrowing RenderWare to get things up and running on PS2, the original Xbox, Xbox 360. Sadly, Battlefield 2’s PSP port never saw the light of day.
Battlefield 3 was the game where the series got a hairy chest, as it were. This was when EA and DICE thought, “Yes, we can really take on Call of Duty and be the biggest shooter franchise in the world!” It didn’t quite pan out that way, but Battlefield 3 remains one of the most popular entries in the series.
The game featured a serious story about war in the Middle East and chasing after terrorists with dirty bombs, but it was really the multiplayer that endured, evolving the excellent Bad Company 2, bringing Fighter Jets back into the mix, and reconsidering some of the excesses of the destruction system.
This was the big one at the turn of the last generation, bridging the divide with a solid successor to Battlefield 3. It also marked a huge step up for the FPS franchise with 64-player battles on PS4 and Xbox One. Oh, sure… its biggest modes were pretty broken at launch, as server issues hampered the game, but once it was patched up over the course of the following year? There’s a reason why Battlefield YouTubers have been dropping videos extolling Battlefield 4‘s virtues every other week for the last few years.
The game that started it all: Battlefield 1942 was the pioneering war shooter for PC that laid the foundations for everything that would come. Huge battles, a mixture of land, sea and air, of infantry and vehicles, and the defining Conquest game mode that continues to be the default match type of the franchise for so many.
Surely Battlefield 1943 would be a direct sequel to 1942, right? Wrong. This was instead a mini-remake for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, scaling the battles down to a platform appropriate 24-players, featuring just four maps and three classes, but bringing it bang up to date with the Frostbite Engine and its environmental damage. It was a huge success while people twiddled their thumbs waiting for the release of Battlefield Bad Company 2.
This one isn’t even out yet, but we felt that we had to include it on this list already. We’re fairly certain of its positioning here, though if it changes come the game’s release on 22nd October, we’ll let you know!
One thing we do know is that this will have the biggest battles ever seen in the Battlefield franchise, with up to 128 players. Head here for everything else you need to know about Battlefield 2042.
After doing the past and the present, DICE set their sights on the far-flung future. Battlefield 2142 was Battlefield but sci-fi, with hover-tanks, futuristic weapons and gigantic Titans that provided the basis for the expansive Titan game mode. It’s still had a lasting impact, though it’s doubtful that DICE will return to this far-flung future war setting.
Battlefield Bad Company
Bad Company was a huge step forward for the Battlefield series. With the PS3 and 360 era well and truly underway, EA and DICE set their sights on the console FPS crown. It was the first game to use the Frostbite engine with all its environmental destruction features. It was also the first game to feature the Rush game mode – it didn’t even ship with Conquest, which had to be patched in later – and it had a much more meaningful single player campaign inspired by the 1999 film Three Kings.
Battlefield Bad Company 2
Those rapscallions from Bad Company came back a few years later for just one more mission, and it was an absolute hoot. This is still the best single player story in a Battlefield game. After Bad Company tried to feature much wider sandbox maps for its campaign, this was a much tighter COD-like story mode, just with a sense of humour.
The multiplayer gameplay was fire as well. The enhanced destruction allowed you to take down entire buildings, classes were refined back to four, and there was solid post-release support with map packs and the Battlefield: Bad Company 2: Vietnam expansion.
What if you had a Battlefield game, but it was cops and robbers instead of Americans and Russians? That’s what Battlefield Hardline asked, as EA tried to turn this series into a more regular fixture in their release calendar.
It didn’t pan out, but that’s not to say that Hardline didn’t have its moments. The campaign created by Visceral Games was a bit of a laugh, while the multiplayer was filled with inventive game modes like Hotwire (where five vehicles acted as control points), Heist (where Criminals tried to grab loot and make off with it), and others.
An under-appreciated entry in the series.
EA’s dalliance with the “Play4Free” platform saw them spin out Battlefield Heroes in 2009. With a toon-y art style and a parody of World War II for its setting, it was intended to run on low-end computers and even browser ( to rake in some microtransaction cash). There was some common ground with Battlefield 1943 in only having three classes. It actually survived quite a while, with the servers shutting down in 2015.
Developed and published by Neowiz, Battlefield Online was a remake of Battlefield 2 for the Korean market. After entering open beta in 2010, the game didn’t really go much further, with its servers shut down three years later.
It does hold one claim to fame, though. Prior to the release of Battlefield 2042 later this year, Battlefield Online is the game with the highest possible player count, with support for 100 players!
This one was more on the nose, a 2011 follow up to Battlefield Heroes with a more realistic modern warfare style and tone. The classes were modelled after those in Bad Company 2, while most of its maps were updated from Battlefield 2. It met the same fate as Battlefield Heroes and at the same time.
Should Battlefield V really be this far down in the list? Some might say so, and those people would be, as I am, reading the ‘V’ as a letter and not a numeral.
DICE originally outlined bold plans for the game’s multiplayer mode, of retelling the war from 1939 and running all the way through to the end as part of a live service. It never happened like that. There were missteps in rolling out poorly received balance patches, while the hardcore fans decried that they were getting far fewer maps through the live service than through the old map packs. The war retelling scrapped, DICE gave the vocal online contingent what they wanted with the War in the Pacific update rekindling the magic of BF1942 and BF1943, but more balance changes went down like yet another lead balloon.
In the end, DICE cut their losses to focus on the long rumoured “Battlefield 6”, now known as Battlefield 2042.
While DICE was hard at work on Battlefield 2, the now defunct DICE Canada was charged with following up Battlefield 1942, turning to the Vietnam war for inspiration. New vehicles like helicopters were added to the mix, there were new gadgets and weapons to use, and the game was generally well received, but this was primarily a Vietnam-themed spin on the first game’s magic.
It’s still pretty harsh for it to be this far down on the list, to be honest.
And that’s our list! Do you agree with the order we put these games in? Let us know your own preferred ordering system for the Battlefield series below.