With Battlefield 1, DICE brought us back to the first world war - a well-known yet somewhat forgotten war. The modern warfare was left behind, which is something they haven't done since the release of the Battlefield Bad Company 2: Vietnam expansion pack. It was a bold move, but evidently paid off with millions of copies sold across the globe.
We know that EA has confirmed the next Battlefield for a 2018 release, but in this next iteration, what era could we expect?
Their other project, Battlefront II, is set to be released this November. While the first game centered around the original trilogy, the sequel introduces cross era, spanning all three cinematic trilogies. This will let players experience more of the Star Wars universe. Perhaps DICE is working on a similar approach with the next Battlefield, exploring different wars and eras.
If we get to visit World War II along with the Korean War and the Vietnam War all in the same game for instance, it would probably work in a similar way. This means we could use weapons, vehicles and play as countries from all three wars - in one game. Although it might not be accurate, sacrificing a bit of immersion for broader multiplayer gameplay I would say is a given. Furthermore, the singleplayer campaign could act as a history lesson, teaching us more about the wars while remaining historically accurate.
Then again, this year’s Call of Duty is also falling back to the era of the second world war. Even with that in mind, it still is arguably one of the richest eras and there are so many other aspects of the war DICE could choose to explore. They could even throw in some remastered maps from Battlefield 1942 for some good old fan service. However, it is probably quite safe to assume EA would not want to publish a WWII-title only a year after Activisions latest release.
A possible next iteration - although some may be fed up with the era - would have us jump way into the future with a sequel to Battlefield 2142. Many are ready for it. Imagine large scale warfare with futuristic vehicles and weapons, stunning visuals and a grand return of the Titan game mode. We could visit other realistic planets like Mars, and see completely new environments with urban warfare in man-built cities but also stay on Earth and explore jungles or mountains - a step up in variety as the previous title featured mostly cold maps. Destruction could be taken to a whole new level by crashing ships into skyscrapers or blowing up huge craters, pushing the Frostbite engine to its limit. DICE could really reinvent the futuristic era and make it appealing once again.
Another approach would be to play it safe and go back to the modern combat era. A sudden leap from Battlefield 1 to Battlefield 5 would certainly seem odd, especially to newcomers of the franchise. I am sure however if it was marketed properly, they could get away with it.
We need to ask ourselves what else could be done with this era, that hasn’t already been done. Besides gorgeous graphics, new maps and a fresh story, we have pretty much seen it all. The upside to a game focused on this era is that it provides less limitations when coming up with new weapons and gadgets for the player to mess around with. New, fictional wars between countries we’ve seen several times before is probably what we would get once again, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Since this is now a familiar concept to DICE, they could focus on making the gameplay mechanics as tight as possible. Scrap the gimmicks used for marketing, such as levolution and behemoths. Develop the ultimate competitive mode, present an impressive range of weapons and vehicles, and shock us with unbelievable visuals and uncontested sound design.
There is one highly anticipated sequel that has been confirmed to actually get developed at some point: Battlefield Bad Company 3. In an interview a few years ago, General Manager at DICE, Karl-Magnus Troedsson stated that the Bad Company franchise is one they hold very close to heart. They want to do it right, they want to please the audience. But he also explains that they can't quite put the finger on what people loved about the series. Was it the humor portrayed by the characters in the campaign? The faster, more direct multiplayer with complete destruction of the environment? What actually made it Bad Company?
Troedsson left DICE and EA last year to work with a Swedish publisher of indie games, and will no longer affect the direction of the Battlefield franchise. That's not to say we will never see a new Bad Company game, but it might not turn out to be the sequel the fans had expected.
When considering what factors actually make it a Bad Company game, three traits spring to mind: More infantry focused multiplayer, more thorough destruction and keeping the core simple. 32-player matches with less focus on vehicle warfare have the potential to spawn some interesting competitive modes. However, something the franchise in particular has been all about is keeping it simple and not taking itself too seriously. If this is the next Battlefield game, I don't quite see how competitive modes like Incursions would fit into the style the previous titles have had. It has a more light-hearted approach and is all about fun, casual gameplay. Unless, of course, they reinvent everything which in turn wouldn't really give them a reason to call it Bad Company 3. Additionally, it could be set in any era. I'd like to see a fairly modern setting, centering around the Cold War 1979-1985.
Whichever direction EA has decided to take the Battlefield franchise, I think they should give the competitive aspect a real shot. Invest in Incursions or additional modes that really take it to a new level. The growing popularity of eSports can not be denied and it is time Battlefield took a giant leap into the scene.
It is very likely that the next Battlefield will be taking place in one of the eras discussed in this article. It could be any of the sequels listed above, unless DICE decides to once again completely surprise us, as with Battlefield 1.
We are about half a year away from finding out.