The Call of Duty and Battlefield rivalry is one of the biggest in the industry, and while both are modern military FPS franchises gunning for a similar audience, both have also found their own voice over the course of the years and all the games, giving people distinct ideas of what to expect going in. Those lines have recently been blurred, however, and chances are that Battlefield 2042 could even take a few pointers from Call of Duty: Warzone.
Call of Duty's main profile has been characterized by smaller to medium sized maps with relatively quick, zippy matches focusing above all else on on-foot movement and gunplay as players dashed to headshot and noscope each other in arena-like locations and game modes. On the flipside, Battlefield's claim to fame is immense, sprawling maps with lots of open spaces, squad-based gameplay, a focus on vehicles and equipment with more of a strategical and tactical element to rounds.
Then there's Call of Duty: Warzone, the standalone battle royale mode which... is set in an immense, sprawling maps with lots of open spaces, squad-based gameplay, a focus on vehicles and equipment with more of a strategical and tactical element to rounds. Huh. Could Battlefield 2042 take any pointers from Warzone? Is there anything the apprentice can teach the master? We think so.
TOP GAMEPLAY HIGHLIGHTS
Even though DICE is adamant about the Hazard Zone mode not being a battle royale despite all signs pointing at that, in some ways what we know about the game already indicates that Battlefield 2042 took some pointers from the genre. While the natural disasters tearing through the maps aren't as clear cut as the collapsing circles in battle royales, they definitely help with localizing conflict hotspots on large areas.
That said, there are plenty of other ways in which we wouldn't mind Battlefield 2042 being similar to Warzone - though obviously alongside keeping its own distinctive approach. We still want that distinct Battlefield experience. Here are some thing Warzone can teach Battlefield 2042.
Warzone has featured the Verdansk map in some shape or form ever since it was released, and players still can't get enough of it. Aside from a very, very brief period of only being able to access Rebirth Island while Verdansk was busy being nuked, the fictional former-Soviet city has been the uninterrupted staple of the game.
If we manage to squeeze all this enjoyment out of the same map after all these years, they have got to be doing something right - even considering the minor and less-minor changes that have been made to it throughout the various updates. You can dump a bucket of 80's themed paint on it, but deep down it's still Verdansk.
Battlefield 2042 will launch with 7 maps and more are undoubtedly going to be added in subsequent expansions, but infusing all of those maps with the right chutzpah to offer unending entertainment is key for the popularity and longevity of the game.
Since Battlefield is known for its sprawling, immense maps - and 2042 is only going bigger - the huge scale of Verdansk is perfect for our purposes. Some key elements that have made the Verdansk map such a hit include the clever ways the developers compartmentalized various environments and terrains organically next to one another with seamless transitions that let players take the action from one area to the other without a hitch.
When you are building maps at this scale, many real-world city planning problems need virtual solutions. Huge maps need impeccable infrastructure, because if players need to spend minutes bumbling over crappy terrain to reach the hotspots where the action is, they'll just get frustrated - even more so if they take a headshot and need to respawn right after reaching the fight.
Battlefield 2042 will sport an even more impressive arsenal of vehicles than Warzone does, in true Battlefield fashion, but that's no excuse to be lazy when it comes to making maps pedestrian-friendly. If you can't get across the map on foot with reasonable ease to reach engagement zones, something needs rethinking.
When it comes to variety, DICE has an easier time - Warzone relies on just two maps, and when Verdansk was created it was alone in the fight. With 7 themed maps, Battlefield 2042 doesn't need to cram all sorts of variety into any one of them - but even so, spreading different elevations and environment types across the map is essential to avoid being one-note. Borderline is a great example of this, where the play area is bisected with a desert power complex on one side, and green grassy parks and fancy office buildings on the other.
Dropping into the battle without any starting gear, forced to scavenge for equipment and weapons is a distinctly battle royale feature, and wouldn't really fit into the narrative of Battlefield 2042 independent mercenaries. We're not saying this form of loot-based equipment should be replicated in the upcoming shooter, but making some powerful weapons and equipment harder to acquire during the course of the match can add to the tension and excitement.
When two armies clash, it's a foregone conclusion that they're going to pack some serious hardware from the get-go. However, in keeping with the setting of Battlefield 2042, no-pat mercenary groups (of which we will play a member of) might not have access to, or be able to afford, the fanciest toys. An interesting strategic angle would be added to the battles if uniquely powerful weapon and vehicle prototypes would be hidden in maps that players cannot traditionally unlock in a permanent manner, but can only be used during the given match if you find it first.
The world of 2042, according to Battlefield, may be struggling with a resource crisis, political upheaval and natural disasters, but it's clear enough from the trailers that technological advancement has not stopped one bit. It's plausible that advanced weapons technology was under development, and whenever the locations that serve as the game maps were abandoned (they all are, based on the footage we've seen), some of these prototypes are left behind.
Hell, if DICE commits to setting Battlefield 2042 in the same timeline as the sci-fi 2142, some of these prototype pickups might work as easter eggs - what if you stumble on an early prototype of the armored walker from 2142, allowing you to bring a new force to bear in the struggle against the enemy?
We wouldn't suggest implementing scarcity in terms of consumables or ammo - once in the past EA tried to field a microtransaction system where players had to pay for every bullet and it did not go over well. Things that are necessary for gameplay should always be accessible, whereas things that give you an advantage should be scarce. This way the action never stops, but an extra layer of tension and tactics come into play as both sides scramble to find these limited pickups first.
Much like how areas with the best loot in Warzone become combat hot spots, those areas where players know such powerful pickups could appear would similarly become the locations where the fighting is most fierce, giving players a clear objective.
Mid-match side quests of sorts haven't really been a thing in Battlefield games before, and it makes sense since disciplined military units will focus on their mission and their objectives. In Battlefield 2042 however, we play as independent no-pat mercenaries fighting proxy wars for countries we aren't even the citizens of, which would mean the introduction of such a mechanic would totally make sense. If you're out in some dangerous warzone fighting for money anyway, why wouldn't you want to make a bit of extra on the side?
In Warzone, contracts are squad-based, so if your team picks one up that specific contract is yours alone - unless you are killed before completing it. Battlefield 2042 will be team based with squads within these teams, so with slight alterations this manner of distributing contracts between players could work. Additional objectives like this that give players a chance to earn extra rewards by completing optional tasks would add variety to the matches and the gameplay, and should two squads on opposing teams be tasked with the same objective, additional conflicts might spring up around the map outside of usual combat hotspots.
Of course, since Battlefield gameplay is highly objective-focused and cooperative, a balance needs to be struck so that squads heading off to complete their own little contracts does not take precedence over taking the whole team to victory. Some contracts might offer bonus points for taking an active role in securing certain control points in All-Out Warfare game modes, for example.
Dynamically Changing Content
Warzone, in broad strokes, has stayed the same since release, but Activision makes sure to keep the game constantly fresh. Seasons and updates change out time-limited game modes, bring in new weapons and skins, add new mechanics and change the way Verdansk looks and plays week to week, month to month. This way, as time goes on, players are never really playing the same Warzone as ever before.
When it comes to non-live-service games such as Battlefield 2042, fresh injections of content come in the form of DLC and expansions - while these do the trick of keeping the game relevant and new, they have the side effects of fracturing the playerbase while also leading older content to get abandoned as most players move on to play the new maps and modes only.
A blend of the two systems would be a fantastic approach to combat these arising problems. In Call of Duty: Warzone, Verdansk keeps changing, new game modes come and go, and the game keeps evolving in both subtle in overt ways. Battlefield games have almost always been followed up by content support in the form of expansions, which we do not doubt will be the case with 2042 as well, but what if alongside those expansions DICE would deliver free changes and updates to vanilla content as well, keeping that base experience just as fresh as whatever brand new content the expansions bring?
Either way, ensuring that the game does not grow stale is a surefire way of having hundreds or thousands of players sticking to Battlefield 2042 years after it is launched.
Battlefield 2042 is still a ways away from release, but we'll be sure to learn more about the features during the main showcase at EA Play on the 22nd of July.