EA and DICE have been plagued by a litany of issues surrounding two of their biggest franchises this gen. Battlefront 2 made the headlines for all the wrong loot box related reasons, and Battlefield V hasn't fared much better
It's a fairly miserable state of affairs when every new announcement of free content or theoretically exciting update is met with some form of collective irritation from an ever vocal fanbase.
Battlefield loyalists were burned by a divisive Beta for this latest instalment, which suffered from a myriad of balance issues and player visibility frustration. V's launch didn't fare much better, with support for the initially delayed Battle Royale mode evaporating into the ether, unpredictable server stability, and a pervading sense of stagnation.
There's nothing fundamentally wrong with the premise of the game. Battlefield remains one of the most cherished franchises in the land, but ever since the golden era of Bad Company and 1943, it has ground to a halt. The much touted Frostbite destruction tech is getting progressively worse with each new title; BC2 set the benchmark for environmental interactivity all the way back in 2010.
Now, it seems to be massively scaled back, with maps presenting countless instances where things that look like they should break appear stubbornly invincible.
As a huge fan of the aforementioned classics, it became harder and harder to put up with Battlefield 1's horses of doom, inexplicable armour pickups, and far too open map design. Balance isn't the only thing where DICE seem to be missing the mark; Battlefield V's objecting vaulting never worked when you needed it, and everything, from menu design, to max player counts and the overall visual aesthetic, is in desperate need of a reboot.
Fortunately, it's not all doom and gloom! We are still true believers in this once universally revered old goose, and there are a few things that we feel could be done to right the ship.
For starters, upping the max capacity for larger team modes is surely a given at this point. Any new Battlefield title going forward should push the limits in this regard, with 100 player matches being a decent starting point. It's maddening that players are stuck in 32v32 skirmishes. If DICE really want to convey the scale of war (and play catch up with Infinity Ward) this would be a welcome first step.
Doubling down on destruction would give Battlefield another massive point of differentiation from Call of Duty, which still stubbornly refuses to embrace dynamic physics. The Bad Company spin offs are tough to beat in this regard, with the second game supporting fully collapsible structures that were a sight to behold.
1943 was also a technical marvel, despite being a smaller scale re imagining, and yet Battlefield's 3, 4, 1 and V (such terrible branding) use of destruction pales in comparison.
There's something incredibly satisfying about annihilating a camping sniper's position, or clearing a group of stubborn defenders by quite literally blowing away their cover. There's no technical reason why this can't be done, and with next gen hardware around the corner, not to mention PC gaming always being on the bleeding edge, this makes a world of sense.
But it's not just back of the box, bullet point features that can get things back on track. There's an argument to be made that both EA and DICE are in need of earning some goodwill, and there's a couple of low cost / max return ways to do just that. Perhaps a remastered Bad Company Collection, or Battlefield 1943 Super 4K Enhanced Edition? How about a delicious cocktail of them both?
Once they've proven to be sales monsters, we'd happily purchase a full blown Bad Company 3 (the single player campaign deserves to be revisited), or they could dip further into the well, and bring 2142's Titan mode into Apex Legends. A man can dream.
One of the biggest issues with 1 and V was the unwavering seriousness that each title claimed to take their respective subject matter. Despite their narrative ambitions, you can still equip solid gold weapon skins and blue face paint. Players were left with a bizarre dichotomy where the push and pull between being fun and believable never quite settled on one or the other.
For Battlefield to truly rise again, EA and DICE would do well to embrace the lighter sides of the franchise. As "gritty realism" and "boots on the ground" become repetitive and laughable marketing cliche's, there's a gap to be filled. One roughly the size of a smiley face key chain attached to a frag grenade. Since there's no new Battlefield title arriving in 2020, the stage is set for one helluva comeback. Have we mentioned that Bad Company 2 is absolutely fantastic?