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.
On top of the usual Conquest and Breakthrough game types, there are also two mystery modes. Battlefield developer DICE hasn’t fully explained what they are yet, but has said is that they’re not battle royale modes, and has made a few other comments that have us real curious—read on to find out more about that and everything else about Battlefield 2042.
The Battlefield 2042 gameplay trailer was revealed during the Microsoft and Bethesda Showcase at E3 2021—watch it above.
At the top of this article, you’ll also find the cinematic trailer that revealed the game before E3. It includes some great renditions of Battlefield stunts.
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 with maneuvering thrusters. And yes, you can drop them on snipers to squash them.
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.
It’s a huge change. 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, swap from close to long range optics to zoom in on a sniper who’s harassing you. It’s way more loadout decision making than has ever been in a Battlefield game.
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 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.)