EA has announced some big plans for the future of the Battlefield series, aiming to create a “connected Battlefield universe” of game experiences with Respawn Entertainment co-founder Vince Zampella taking charge of the franchise’s future development.
The intention is to bring more development teams in to create new games and experiences for the franchise. We saw that already with Ripple Effect (formerly DICE LA) creating Battlefield Portal for Battlefield 2042, alongside DICE and a team of other studios, but there’s also Bungie veterans Alex Seropian leading Industrial Toys in creating Battlefield Mobile, and Marcus Lehto heading up a new EA studio in Seattle with a narrative focus. As the direction of the franchise is seemingly being taken further out of DICE’s hands, DICE GM Oskar Gabrielson is set to leave the company.
It was Zampella himself that described the Battlefield series’ future as a connected universe, speaking to GameSpot in an interview. However, while the announcement might feel like an early warning shot at the recently release Battlefield 2042 and the plans for that game’s continued development, he also stated that the intent was not to replace it, but to compliment it with further “experiences”.
“This is an ‘And’ strategy in many ways,” he said. “We will continue to evolve and grow Battlefield 2042, and we’ll explore new kinds of experiences and business models along the way that we can add to that foundation to provide an awesome array of experiences for our players. In this universe, the world is interconnected with shared characters and narrative. This universe is also built with our community as we harness the power of Portal and user generated content that puts creativity in the hands of our players.”
Terming things as experiences is an interesting one. EA and DICE have repeatedly described Battlefield 2042 as having three core experiences within it. There’s the main All-Out Warfare with its new maps and 128-player battles, there’s also Hazard Zone and the fan-pleasing Battlefield Portal which remade Battlefield 1942, Bad Company 2 and Battlefield 3 content within the new engine.
The implication is that further experiences could be added alongside these, instead of being new games that standalone, or at least added to the main menu, similar to how Call of Duty: Vanguard has all menu options to lead to Black Ops Cold War, Modern Warfare and Warzone. Certainly there’s already shared characters as the Battlefield 4 character Irish reappeared in Battlefield 2042. It could be that the controversial Specialist characters from Battlefield 2042 are proliferated between games and experiences in general.
It’s certainly an interesting prospect – and I’m just thankful that EA hasn’t tried to brand this a metaverse just yet – but it also seems to mark the end of DICE as the leading light behind the franchise, while the Zampella’s stock is clearly rising within EA. DICE has had several difficult game releases in the last decade, from Battlefield 4 shipping in a bad state at the start of the last generation, to the backlash that the monetisation Star Wars: Battlefront II featured at launch, the sensationalised take on World War II and gameplay modifications of Battlefield V, and now another heavily criticised release in Battlefield 2042.
Further reading: Battlefield 2042 guide – 10 tips to get you started
Battlefield 2042 is out now for PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, Xbox One and PC. The game touts 128-player battles on the more powerful systems, with PS4 and Xbox One limited to the series’ long-standing 64-player limit. That’s in addition to the new Hazard Zone mode that blends together a variety of inspirations for a new squad-based experience, and Battlefield Portal, which revives classic maps and gameplay from past games.
In our Battlefield 2042 review we scored it a fair 6 out of 10, knocking points off for clunky design features, yet praising parts of the core tactical gameplay and the genius Battlefield Portal:
“There’s a good game to be found within the Battlefield 2042 and fun to be had as the spectacle of Battlefield’s signature gameplay is taken to new, more expansive heights, but it’s marred by a handful of unsuccessful gameplay design changes, hurriedly implemented features and bugs at launch.”