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December 2023

Battlefield 2042

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Ripple Effect Studios
Release Date: Nov. 19, 2021

About Tony "OUberLord" Mitera

I've been entrenched in the world of game reviews for almost a decade, and I've been playing them for even longer. I'm primarily a PC gamer, though I own and play pretty much all modern platforms. When I'm not shooting up the place in the online arena, I can be found working in the IT field, which has just as many computers but far less shooting. Usually.


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PS5/PS4/XSX/XOne/PC Sandbox Mode Preview - 'Battlefield 2042'

by Tony "OUberLord" Mitera on July 22, 2021 @ 11:00 a.m. PDT

Battlefield 2042 is a groundbreaking first-person shooter set to revolutionize the modern multiplayer sandbox.

Pre-order Battlefield 2042

I did not know what to expect from the mysterious third gameplay mode that was teased in previous presentations of Battlefield 2042. At best, I figured it would be a relatively forgettable mode that people would poke at, but it would be second fiddle to the main mode. What I did not anticipate was to be blown away by, of all things, a robust "Battlefield Builder" scenario editor that contains maps and other content from three previous Battlefield games. Electronic Arts teased that the mode was going to be a love letter to fans of the Battlefield franchise, and it's easy to see why.

The event kicked off with a video that show the new mode being played without context. We saw a soldier standing in a building and watched as the weapon in his hands changed to various weapons throughout the history of Battlefield. Behind him, vehicles started dropping in, from WWII armored vehicles to modern jets.

Then ... madness.

P-51's diving down on modern jets!

German WWII infantry fighting against VTOLs!

A ... melee-only match of knives versus defibrillator kits?!

It was as if someone took content from four different Battlefield games and put them in a mad-lib generator, and that is not too far from the mark in describing the new Portal mode. Portal is a robust "experience" editor that allows anyone — not just owners of Battlefield 2042 — to create, edit, and share custom scenarios for Battlefield 2042 multiplayer. This can be anything from a high-level tweak to create slight variations of existing game modes to complete custom game modes using a logic editor.

Portal mode uses assets and ideas from 2042 in addition to a curated list from Bad Company 2, Battlefield 1942 and Battlefield 3. Not every weapon from those games makes the cut, but the list is lengthy. Weapons, vehicles, and gadgets from all four titles can be used highly interchangeably as you design an experience within Portal. There are some restrictions; you cannot have classes from different "eras" on the same team, but there are far fewer restrictions than you might think.

In addition to the maps that come with 2042, Portal experiences can take place on six maps that have been remastered from the other games. Making the cut are Caspian and Noshar Canals from Battlefield 3, Arica Harbor and Valparaiso from Bad Company 2, as well as El Alamein and Battle of the Bulge from Battlefield 1942. In the case of the latter two, which existed well before level destruction was a thing, the maps now fully support the ability to obliterate structures and the landscape alike. All of the maps also support up to 128 players (on next-gen consoles and PC) and have smaller "arena" variants for more close-quarters experiences.

By digging into the editor, you start to get a grasp for how powerful it could be in the proper creative hands. You have full control over the player count of a match, which classes are available, which weapons or attachments they can use, all the way down to whether you want one team to be unable to go prone or other mechanical tweaks. You can also make asymmetric teams, so perhaps it's a match of 24 snipers versus 48 shotgunners.

Balance will be up to the creator to strike, so although the base-stopping power of World War II weaponry pales in comparison to modern weapons, you could increase the damage multiplier on the older era team to make it more competitive. You can also adjust headshot/bodyshot multipliers per team, tweak movement and aim down sight speeds, or tweak things like projectile speeds and health regen. For that sniper versus shotgunner match, you could disable the sniper team's minimap, compass, or even their heads-up display.

The tool provide an array of potential gameplay experiences in the right hands, and that was readily apparent even before we reached the logic editor. Using an intuitive drag-and-drop system, you can set up what are effectively blocks of code. Each block has a rule type, conditions that affect it, and actions that occur when the conditions are met. Perhaps killing a player gets them full health or a weapon upgrade à la "gun game" from other games. We did not even cover the parts of the interface that were labeled "Control Actions" and "Variables" or the capability that those options might add to the editor.

The editor will not let you edit the levels themselves, such as changing their boundaries or where objectives are located. Such a "spatial editor" was not the goal for Portal — or at least not for launch — but multiple times during the presentation, it was reinforced that the mode is a living one that will see further enhancements and additional content. I suspect that means adding more content from the existing games, but I would throw my entire wallet at the screen if they added content from my beloved Battlefield 2142.

The developers will create official experiences to be played in Portal, but they will also feature community-made ones on a rotating basis within the game. Experiences that become popular will get some love, and I suspect some real gems will show up in the featured list in short order. Players can also collaborate with each other when designing experiences, sharing them with others to get their changes and then incorporating it back into the original design.

Someone in the chat of the presentation described the new mode as "Battlefield in the Multiverse of Madness," and that is an apt way to put it. More than just a love letter for Battlefield fans, the Portal mode is the developers effectively taking decades of enthusiasm for the games and weaponizing it. You could decide to make an experience that re-creates playing Caspian in the new engine with some minor tweaks, make a zombies-like mode in a 2042 map, and millions of different ideas beyond there. As excited as I am for the Battlefield 2042 game in its entirety, I am more excited to see what wonderful Portal experiences that smarter people than I will come up with when the game launches later this year.

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