My first Battlefield game was Bad Company 2. I played it at a friend’s house endlessly, with two of us switching off and taking turns playing multiplayer. That game, along with the franchise’s next two entries, Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 4, dominated my life until I hit college. They were unmatched in terms of visuals and gunplay. Most importantly, I’d never played another game with such a grand scale before.
With Battlefield 2042, developer Ripple Effect is continuing to emphasize scale. The maps will be even bigger, fitting more players, more vehicles, more objectives, more everything. What I didn’t expect was for that same treatment to be given to a brand new mode, Battlefield Portal.
For the first time in the franchise, players will be able to create and curate their own custom experiences. Want to pit Nazis against futuristic U.S. troops? Go ahead. Want to shove 128 players on a map meant for 64? Knock yourself out. But this isn’t your typical custom games mode. It’s not like the custom games you’d find in Halo. Instead, Battlefield Portal is something bigger, something grander, and something that’s only possible in Battlefield.
The Battlefield ethos
It’s not like Battlefield 2042 is changing the game here. I mentioned Halo’s custom games for a good reason: They’re the most recognizable iteration of custom games and, importantly, they’re present on consoles. PC players had been able to change up their gameplay experiences for years before Halo 3 came out, but it was with that title that console players were finally able to make their own game modes and maps.
However, Battlefield 2042 has a long, similar history to lean on. Regardless of which entry in the franchise you’re playing, Battlefield games are largely similar. The same can’t be said for the Halo franchise, which has implemented aim-down-sights and toyed around with dual-wielding so much in the past. Call of Duty, similarly, isn’t built for a mode like this, with its loads of perks, abilities from Black Ops 4, and so many other changes that came with each entry in the franchise.
With Battlefield, you always know what you’re getting. Fights on a grand scale, vehicle combat on the ground and in the air, and destruction, which is present in every map available in Battlefield Portal. Portal and the developers working on it can use that to their advantage. There aren’t any massive changes to leave out or include, nothing that players are going to see and either hate or miss. In something as complex as Battlefield Portal, it’s one less variable to include.
And Battlefield Portal has a lot of variables. When talking about the scale of the Battlefield games, it’s not just about their maps. Everything in the Battlefield franchise is immense, from the number of maps to player counts, the number of vehicles, weapons, attachments … the list goes on. It makes sense then that Battlefield Portal’s scale would match.
Where Halo’s custom games stop at tweaking established game modes, Battlefield’s own custom games mode will let players code in their own game types. It’s a decision that’s so completely in line with the design philosophy of the Battlefield franchise that it couldn’t be done anywhere else because no other developer seems to think that way.
While it’s true that other franchises would benefit from something like Battlefield Portal and certainly have the talent to put together something like it, they haven’t. So far the developers at Ripple Effect are the only ones to say “yes, this will work with our game,” and that’s because they know that it’s what Battlefield is about. Taking things a step further and giving players more control over their experience are two core principles of the Battlefield franchise.
Could 343 Industries implement a deeper custom games mode with coding and use of assets from multiple games? Sure! The teams at Sledgehammer, Infinity Ward, and Raven Software could too. But they haven’t. That’s not what Halo or Call of Duty is about. Battlefield Portal on the other hand perfectly encapsulates the principles of the franchise. It’s the only shooter where players could and can continue to expect bigger and more innovative experiences.
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