On Thursday, July 22, we learned about a new mode coming to Battlefield 2042: Battlefield Portal. The mode will let players make their own custom games, giving them control over everything from time to kill to which vehicles spawn on the map. More than that though, Battlefield Portal is combining a number of older Battlefield titles, including Battlefield 1942, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, and Battlefield 3.
While Thursday’s presentation shone a light on Battlefield Portal, we still had a lot of questions after it wrapped up. To answer some of those questions — such as how XP gain would work in Battlefield Portal and whether or not the maps included from older games will make their way to 2042‘s All-Out Warfare mode — I spoke to Rob Donovan, a senior game designer at Ripple Effect.
What are you shooting for with Battlefield Portal’s player experience? Is this something for players to toy around with or something that takes up a larger chunk of their time like Halo 3‘s custom games?
I’m not going to speak to Halo 3‘s custom games, but we’ve been, as a studio, developing Battlefield Portal in secret for quite some time, and we’ve been talking about it, we’ve been playtesting it, we’ve been discussing it. We think that we’re on to something really special, and we really hope that the community receives it warmly and that it becomes something that is really popular.
We don’t want to take away from 2042, but we think that there’s a large enough Battlefield ecosystem that players can go from All-Out Warfare to a Battlefield Portal kind of experience either day to day or in the same session.
Is Battlefield Portal something that will persist in future Battlefield titles past 2042?
I mean, it’s a bit of speculation here. Unfortunately, I’ve got to go back home after this interview and get back to work shipping this thing, because we’ve only got a couple of months left. We’ve been laser-focused on what we’re going to have at launch, what we’re going to be able to ship when 2042 comes out all at once. So, long-term plans are certainly things that we’ve been discussing, things that we’ve been thinking about, but in terms of what is going to happen in the future, certainly the next Battlefield title, I don’t know what it is or when it’s coming out, so that’s a little too far out.
Will players be able to edit how many vehicles are present in a match? In a match with 128 players, can I have them all in tanks or helicopters?
You cannot. There are a lot of technical hurdles around vehicles and players combined with vehicles. What we’re offering at launch is, you’ll get the full suite of vehicles for that team that you’re playing as, whatever that looks like. Battlefield 3 has a lot of vehicles, but 2042 has even more. So you can certainly restrict any of those vehicles if you don’t like them.
If you only want one side to have tanks you can turn everything else off and just have tanks. If you want the other side to have helicopters you can turn everything else off and give them helicopters. But what you can’t do unfortunately is add more vehicles on top of that. No, you can’t have 128 vehicles.
How is XP gain is going to work? During the presentation, I saw XP restriction and reward progress restriction, so what would make a game ineligible for either of those?
Yes, I cringe every time that part of the presentation comes up. That’s not what’s happening today; that was something that we anticipated that we would need to build in some safeguards, so we got a bit ahead of ourselves trying to get that into place.
Right now, the XP is sort of unified across all of 2042. The XP that you get in Battlefield Portal … will contribute to your rank and it will allow you to use that progression system that 2042 is designing.
The XP is something we thought was very important. We want to make sure that Battlefield Portal is not perceived as sort of an after-thought, like something you go off to play a round of and then come back to the real game. We consider ourselves a real game, a selection of games, a variety of games. We certainly don’t want to be the forgotten younger child.
Are you worried at all about players abusing Battlefield Portal, using it to make their own experience or mode where they can easily grind away at XP?
Yeah, I’m terrified about it. It keeps me up at night. I mean, it’s the opposite problem from the one I just outlined, right? We don’t want to seem like this offshoot corner of the game that’s not serious, that’s not real. But by the same token, we don’t want to warp anybody’s progression. We don’t want to be able to have those grind servers.
You know, there are a number of multiplayer games with these sorts of custom experiences, and I’ve been there when you go into the server browser and everything says “achievement farming” and “idle server,” or “exploits,” “glitches” and we don’t want that either. That’s not a good experience for players who are trying to find an interesting game. That’s just, you know, who wants to see that garbage if you’re trying to experience Battlefield in a new way.
We don’t want to warp anybody’s progression. We don’t want to be able to have those grind servers.
So it’s definitely something that we’ve been thinking about a lot, we’ve been talking about it a lot. It’s going to be, we think, really challenging to nail that progression precisely. We’re making sure that we build in some levers after the fact to try and address if it starts to tip too far one way or the other, we’re going to closely monitor it … We’re crossing our fingers and hoping for the best, certainly, at launch.
Will players on PC be able to import their own assets into Battlefield Portal or is it all just Battlefield assets?
It is the Battlefield assets, it’s the maps we’re shipping with. PC players will not be able to import. I’m told there are some sort of copyright issues there as well. But also it hasn’t been our focus to create a map editor or a level editor. Our focus has definitely been to create these experiences. Tweaking the rules of Battlefield, tweaking the gameplay, using the soldiers and the vehicles, and all this incredible content that we’ve reimagined and brought back in really interesting ways. That has sort of been our focus over some of these other things that allow you to make your own maps, let’s say.
I will add though, we are adding a lot of different kinds of play spaces. The arenas, for instance, there are arena play spaces in these giant 2042 All-Out Warfare maps that sort of laser focus on one specific point of interest there. It adds sort of an interesting wrinkle to it, and of course, you can’t add your own things, but it will be a very different experience to play on, let’s say, Kaleidoscope in an arena than Valparaiso in an arena … We’re hoping to give a variety of play spaces for players to create their own experiences within without opening the door to this sort of 3D spatial thing which isn’t really our intent.
You’re bringing in six maps from older Battlefield games, and previously it’s been said that 2042 will have maps from older Battlefield games. Is this what they were talking about or will these maps also be making their way to All-Out Warfare and other game modes outside of portals?
I’m fairly certain that’s what they’re talking about. I will say that these are not going to be in All-Out Warfare at launch. These maps are not large enough really to accommodate the full All-Out Warfare experience. Like we said in the Q&A, you can put 128 players in a map designed for 64, it’s going to be crowded. Having played it I can tell you that people steal the vehicles much faster because there’s twice as many of them [players]. It’s a real challenge.
I will say that these are not going to be in All-Out Warfare at launch.
We didn’t want to double the size of the maps, we didn’t want to add new parts to the maps that weren’t there originally. So these Battlefield Portal classic maps, you’re going to be able to use them in Portal, but they’re kind of not suited as well for the All-Out Warfare for 2042. The All-Out Warfare side has its own plan for live service in its seasons. I know they’ve said specifically “new locations,” so whatever they release in their seasonal content packs we will be bringing over to Portal so that you can utilize it. But going the other way there are no plans for that at launch.
I did a bit of snooping and saw that you’ve been around with Ripple Effect back when it was DICE working on Battlefield Hardline. Will that game or other past Battlefield games will get their own maps and weapon systems ported over to Portal eventually?
Certainly, these discussions have come up. Somebody on the team tried to build a sort of low-rent version of the Hotwire game mode from Battlefield Hardline using the logic editor and it wasn’t totally terrible! They got kind of the basic rules of it. I don’t know if somebody’s going to try it in the community after we launch and make it really good, I don’t know. We’re making all these blocks and things and some of them we’ve never tried to put together in that specific way. I hope somebody manages to make it better than I could even.
But in terms of the classic content, the classic games, we’re not saying anything right now. We’re looking for the community to guide us because there are so many different ways we can go, right? Whether it’s more of that or it’s putting more time into the logic editor, or into more of our community administration tools … There’s just so many ways we can go and we’re not going to commit to any of them today. We’re looking to see what the community has to say, and we know there are so many potential options. Hopefully, we’ll find the ones that everybody enjoys.
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