After a string of rumours, whispers and leaks EA has finally lifted the veil of the latest Battlefield, seeing the flagship first-person shooter moving away from the historical setting of recent entries to a near-future backdrop - with this year's model subsequently called Battlefield 2042. In a break from other recent traditions, it'll also do away with a single-player campaign, and there are no plans for an accompanying battle royale mode.
Battlefield 2042 will instead focus on its multiplayer offering, supporting 128 players on PC, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series S and X, while PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of the game support 64 players. There will also be the option of playing against AI bots, either solo or with a squad of friends.
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"I think that's just something that enables us to really lean into what we are best at," Battlefield 2042 design director Daniel Berlin told Eurogamer about the lack of a single-player campaign - something that's been a series mainstay since Battlefield 3. "If you look at the DNA of the studio, what we've been doing for so long, we just said you know what, we're not going to have a traditional single-player campaign this time around, but we're going to put all that emphasis and all those resources into building depth into the multiplayer. Because that is what we do best."
Battlefield 2042 does come with its own narrative backdrop, though, with the game set against a humanitarian crisis brought about by climate change, with nomadic refugees known as the Non-Patriated - or No-Pats - taking up arms as the United States and Russia engage in all-out war. Within that is the introduction of Specialists - named hero characters with their own traits and abilities that complement the existing class system within Battlefield.
"2042 is not a game without narrative," said Berlin. "You still have a narrative driven world, that's something that you will see through the eyes of the specialists that we're introducing. As we go through the live service, and the seasons, we'll introduce new specialists, and you'll see how the world evolves through the eyes of the specialists that we have."
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Battlefield 2042 will also not feature a battle royale mode, following the series' abortive experiments with the pervasive battle royale with Battlefield 5's Firestorm - a mode that showed promise but lacked the ongoing support necessary to make it a success.
"Battle royale is definitely something that is exceptionally popular right now," said Berlin. "We don't have any battle royale plan at this point, but we do have other experiences within the game that we can't talk about which we are super excited for."
To that point, EA and DICE used the Battlefield reveal to lift the lid on traditional series' modes Conquest and Breakthrough - both of which come under the All-Out Warfare banner - with a new squad-based mode called Hazard Zone due for more exposure further down the line, and with a third as-yet-undisclosed mode being made by DICE LA that's due to be shown off for the first time at next month's EA Play event.
"The experience that DICE LA specifically is building is this love letter to our long-term players and fans," said Berlin, with the full reveal of the mode due on 22nd July. Is this the heavily-rumoured Bad Company revival, or a free-to-play answer to the likes of Call of Duty Warzone? DICE is remaining tight-lipped for now.
"Our focus right now is to get 2042 out and make sure that it's the best it can possibly be," said Berlin. "I think we do provide a multiplayer experience that no-one else really does with the cutting edge technology and all the modern hardware to vehicles, to specialists and the dynamic world. In regards to free-to-play, I mean, we've done this in the past, we've got Battlefield Heroes, we had Battlefield Play for Free as well - so we've dipped our toe into this space. And it's exciting for us to see what the future holds here. But we don't have anything particularly to announce today - our focus right now is to make sure that 2042 comes together and really is the best game it can possibly be."
Battlefield 2042 comes to PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One and Xbox Series S and X on 22nd October. For more detail, check out our Battlefield 2042 preview.