Battlefield, the huge blockbuster game series developed by DICE and published by EA has been running for 16 years, and with Battlefield V having been released a few months ago, I thought it was time to look through the history of the franchise and see how it has developed across each game into what it is now.
Battlefield 1942, the first entry into the series, was released in 2002 on the PC – It was a multiplayer focused game that was more about working as a squad rather than being a lone gunner. The main game mode (Commonly known now as Conquest) is fundamentally the same as it is now; the aim is to work as a team to capture control points until either side runs out of respawning tickets – Simple enough. The game also featured the ability to drive various vehicles, ranging from tanks to aeroplanes to ships and submarines – This was all that the game contained, no story, just a focus on one single multiplayer game mode making it as good as it possibly could be. A sequel to the game called Vietnam was released around a year and a half after 1942, built on a modified version of the engine used in 1942, it also featured the same game mode, Conquest, but with new maps based around America and Vietnam.
The following game, Battlefield 2: Modern Combat, was a console-only version of the game released in 2005 that featured a story mode that looked at a fictional war between NATO and China, triggered by a terrorist group which set up war crimes and blamed it on each side. The winner of the war must then combat the terrorist forces which plan to nuke the world (How original)… The game did also feature a multiplayer mode, once again using the Conquest game mode, but also introduced a Capture the Flag mode; both game modes supported up to 24 players on a server as well, setting a high standard for Battlefield’s reputation for large-scale battles between players – The same year, EA released Battlefield 2 on the PC, which featured a new storyline set in 2007 where a war has broken out between the US, Russia, China, and a fictional Middle-Eastern Coalition – The US also has support from the EU. The war is fought on different fronts as the coalition and China are invading the US and the US are attacking the other way.
Now we get to the good bit. In 2008 a game was built on an engine that was developed in-house that enabled a huge amount of terrain destruction. I’m talking about the Frostbite engine – Battlefield: Bad Company introduced the world to this innovative engine – It was the first game in the Battlefield franchise that was developed with the storyline as the main focus of the game, this was due to the rise of console gaming and the rise in popularity of single player games such as Halo and the Call of Duty campaigns – The story focused on a squad from “Bad Company” who go AWOL to go into a neutral country to steal gold from a dictator – This game was particularly impressive since the game engine allowed for 90% of the world to be destroyed, ranging from building to vegetation – This meant that new inventive ways of attacking could be dreamt up, for example, blowing up a wall to remove sniper cover. The game originally featured only one game mode, Gold Rush, with the aim being to either attack and destroy creates of gold, or to defend them. While the game was in beta testing, there was a huge outcry for Conquest to be added, and as such, it was released as a free download after launch.
Two years after the release of the original Bad Company, the sequel was released – Battlefield: Bad Company 2 – The storyline continued on with the same characters that were featured in the original Bad Company as they focus on trying to capture a scalar weapon; the game finishes looking at a war that is about to break out in the US after being attacked by Russia through Alaska and Canada, supposedly leading onto a follow-up game – The issue here being that the follow-up game was never released. The multiplayer featured a whole host of new game modes this time around, along with the normal appearance of Conquest, the game also featured a game mode called Onslaught – This game mode tasked a squad of 4 players to capture objectives against bots, this was only released on console. The game also featured another new game mode called Rush, where players must attack or defend targets. The game ends when all respawn tickets are used up – This game mode was adapted from the game mode Gold Rush from the previous game and proved to be very popular.
The next game in the franchise is where the series finally began to peak – Battlefield 3, built on the Frostbite 2 game engines the game looked better and featured terrain destruction that had never been seen before. This game again had a storyline focus and followed the story of a soldier who is being interrogated by the CIA who don’t believe a terrorist threat is real since the supposed terrorist is a CIA Informant. As he talks through his missions, the agents fail to believe that the threat is real so with his squad mates, he escapes captivity and foils the attack – This was the first Battlefield game that I ever played and is my personal favourite within the series; the multiplayer featured the same game modes as Bad Company 2 including Rush, Squad Rush and Squad Deathmatch. More game modes where available as DLC.
All of the following games are built on the Frostbite 3 engine, the first being Battlefield 4. The storyline of this game is pretty short and I’ve written about that here, but I didn’t really look at the contents of the story. The story is set in a fictional war between Russia and the US in the year 2020, 6 years after the events of BF3; the game also features characters from BF3 for example – One of the interrogating CIA agents joins the protagonist when attempting to rescue 3 VIPs. The antagonist of BF3 is also seen in the custody of the Chinese, the multiplayer had a huge new feature within the game though. I’ll use an example that was available on the BF4 Beta. In the centre of one of the maps, a skyscraper (One featured within the storyline) can be destroyed and completely changes the map and the way that it plays – While just writing about it may not prove the effect that it has, I can say that I have experienced the effect, having been on the top of the roof of the building as it collapsed (I subsequently died due to the collapse of the building and not knowing what the hell happened).
With three games left in the franchise, the amount that the games have left to innovate slows down. Instead, the focus is on the style of gameplay, for example, Battlefield Hardline was focused on cops against robbers and featured multiplayer modes that fit that game style – The final two games, Battlefield 1 and V (Five) were looking at the First World War and the Second respectively; each game improving graphics and realism. The difference in the story though was that each mission was a separate story based on a real action that happened within the war, normal ending with the protagonist dying at the end, highlighting the effect of the war killing so many people. Considering that the series has been around since 2002 and has been running for over 16 years, I can only give kudos to EA for not messing up the series yet. Hears hoping that they don’t in the future.