EA has officially announced Battlefield 2 after first details of the game appeared in the US press yesterday. BF2 is in development at Digital Illusions (DICE) as expected, and promises to follow Battlefield: Modern Combat's example by dragging the online conflict into the 21st century when it's released next spring.
Rather than just delivering a modern themed BF1942 or Vietnam, however, DICE has apparently gone back to basics, delivering a new game engine that promises richly detailed and destructible environments from combat hotspots around the world, realistic physics and a new "material penetration" feature that measures a weapon's chances of firing through barriers based on their composition. All of which ought to make for a more complicated and exciting experience.
What's more, BF2 will support over 100 players, with battlefields adjusting in scale to accommodate the number of players, providing an ideal vehicle-to-player ratio as the game goes on. Speaking of which, "more than 30" is the word on BF2's vehicles, and if the PS2 version is anything to go by we'd expect M-1 tanks, plenty of choppers and hopefully some of the US military's War Dolphins. Apart from the yanks, you'll be able to play as the Chinese, or a Middle East Coalition - the same three sides in the PS2 Modern Combat title.
EA's announcement today also talks of advanced team-play features that allow you to form part of a squad, or work in Commander Mode to help organise strategic assaults for your team-mates. (Something which sounds not altogether different to Savage: The Battle for Newerth, but we're probably reaching a bit there.) We can say with some certainty however that you'll be able to progress up the ziggurat from recruit to General, unlocking new weapons, vehicle decals and medals along the way.
It'll be a task and a half to balance it, but DICE has the pedigree to deliver on this sort of thing, and we'll be keen to see how the Swedish developer is getting on at E3 next month. EA has yet to confirm the game's E3 showing, but with the game due out in the spring it seems like a dead cert. Expect more details in the coming weeks.