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The next Battlefield game is Battlefield 2042, thrusting the large-scale FPS series into a near-future Earth (think Boston Dynamics-style robot dogs, not laser guns) where stateless mercenaries fight for superpowers. That’s all fine, but for once the new setting isn’t the focus of a Battlefield reveal.

The big news is that Battlefield 2042 doubles the player count to 128 and redefines the class system to feature “specialists” with unique gadgets. The previous Battlefield games have all tweaked the basic Battlefield format, but this feels like the most significant change to the series since it started in 2002, almost 20 years ago.

Also exciting: A new mode called Battlefield Portal that will let players design their own game types and mix-and-match weapons and vehicles from Battlefield 1942, Bad Company 2, Battlefield 3, and Battlefield 2042. There’s a third mode, called Hazard Zone, which aims for more “high stakes, squad-based gameplay.” We’d wager it’s going more Escape From Tarkov-ey.

What is the Battlefield 2042 release date?

The Battlefield 2042 release date is October 22, 2021. On PC, it’s releasing on OriginSteam, and the Epic Games Store

The big changes: 128 players, specialists, no singleplayer

  • The max player count has been doubled to 128 (two teams of 64) on PC and current-gen consoles.
  • 128-player maps are divided into sectors containing control points; you have to capture all the control points in a sector to control it.
  • Classes have been replaced by specialists, characters who have unique gadgets and traits but can carry any weapon and equipment loadout. (Specialists themselves belong to Battlefield classes such as engineer, assault, and support, but you won’t play as a generic ‘support’ soldier.) 
  • Specialist gadgets we’ve seen: a grappling hook, a health/revive gun (think Doc in Rainbow Six Siege), an auto-turret (think Team Fortress 2), a movement sensor (to catch people sneaking up on you while you’re sniping), a wingsuit.
  • No battle royale mode. None of the game’s three launch modes are battle royale, but considering this represents the future of live-service battlefield, one may be introduced later.
  • No singleplayer campaign. 2042 is the first Battlefield game to launch without a singleplayer campaign since Bad Company.

How do specialists work?

What will likely be the most contentious change in Battlefield 2042 is the introduction of specialists. They’re sort of like Rainbow Six Siege operators in that they have names, backstories, and special gadgets and abilities, but they’re more flexible, because they can use any weapon you’ve unlocked. Battlefield class archetypes like ‘assault’ and ‘recon’ are still there, but DICE now describes them as categories which specialists fit into.

There will be 10 specialists at launch, with one new specialist released each season, and four seasons per year, so there’ll be 14 specialists in total within a year of launch.

Battlefield classes have been fairly strict until now: You get themed gadgets and only certain categories of weapon. Engineer gets SMGs, recon gets snipers, support get LMGs, etc. That’s all over. At launch, Battlefield 2042 will include 10 unique gadgets which can be paired with any gun. You can also change your gun attachments on the fly, allowing you to, say, swap from close to long range optics to zoom in on a sniper who’s harassing you. It’s way more loadout decision making than has ever been in a Battlefield game.

Here’s what can be in a loadout, which is in addition to your specialist item and perk:

  • Primary weapon
  • Equipment (eg, medical crate, supply crate, rocket or missile launcher)
  • Secondary weapon
  • Throwable (eg, frag or incendiary grenade)

Battlefield 2042 modes

Battlefield may have finally given in and become a character shooter, but it hasn’t been tempted again by that other modern shooter trend: There’s no battle royale mode, and there are no plans to make one. The Battlefield 5 Firestorm mode is not returning, at least not for now. There’s no singleplayer campaign, either, although you will be able to play multiplayer-style matches entirely against bots and progress that way, if you want. Apparently the AI has gotten a lot better. (I’ll only agree when I see a bot steal the helicopter I wanted, crash it into the side of a hill, and lie down to snipe for the rest of the game.)

Here are the three main Battlefield 2042 modes:

All-Out Warfare is the term DICE is using to encompass your standard Battlefield game types: the classic point capture of Conquest and the more linear attack-and-defend battles of Breakthrough.

Hazard Zone will be a “high-risk,” squad-focused mode. That’s all DICE will say so far, but based on that description and the name, I think we’re pretty safe in assuming that inspiration has been taken from The Division’s Dark Zone, Hunt: Showdown, and Escape from Tarkov.

Battlefield Portal was created by DICE LA, which is now called Ripple Effect Studios, and it’s exciting. It lets players run custom games with up to 128-players, and beyond just tweaking basic server variables like map rotation, you’ll be able to design custom game types using maps, weapons, and vehicles not just from Battlefield 2042, but also from Battlefield 1942, Bad Company 2, and Battlefield 3.

What are the setting, vehicles, and maps like?

Battlefield 2042 is set just 21 years in the future, so the tech isn’t too out there: drones, robot dogs, etc. The premise is the usual galaxy brain speculation: Due to global warming, a number of the world’s countries have collapsed, leaving large parts of Earth’s population stateless. Naturally, stateless people (“Non-Patriated” or “No-Pats”) have formed elite mercenary armies who now fight on behalf of the US and Russia—or maybe for themselves. Without a singleplayer campaign, this’ll all be explored through the seasonal updates.

The vehicles are near-future versions of jets, helicopters, tanks, and other ground vehicles. While there are hovercrafts, EA says that naval combat has not been a focus, although it has heard that people are interested in it. Maybe that’ll be a post launch concern.

The new vehicle call-in system, which drops ground vehicles from the sky, is available to any specialist with any loadout, but your team has a vehicle budget, and each player has a call-in cooldown. You can also spawn directly into vehicles like in the other recent Battlefields.

The Ranger robot dog can also be called in, and it’ll follow you around, or scout ahead if you order it to. You can also tell it to self-destruct or stick C4 to it. Not very nice, if you ask me.

The maps have big destruction set-pieces, such as the rocket on Orbital, which can either have a smooth launch or a not-so-smooth launch. (We asked whether players could affect that outcome, and didn’t get an answer, but probably yes.)

EA also says that there’ll be more airspace for dogfighting in jets.

Here are the seven All-Out Warfare maps that’ll be at launch, described in EA’s words:

  • Kaleidoscope: Set in Sogdo, South Korea. Forces here will clash to control a quantum powered disinformation hub after an attack threatens the global network.
  • Manifest: Set in Brani Island, Singapore. Players will see a strategic flashpoint emerge as global trade chokes this location which is vital for the American supply lines.
  • Orbital: Set in Kourou, French Guiana. The battle here is over a rocket launch site as a controversial space launch becomes a race against time.
  • Discarded: Set in Alang, India. Here you see shipbreakers facing tidal extremes as factions fight to secure rogue nuclear assets.
  • Renewal: Set in the Eastern Desert, Egypt. Players will fight for a groundbreaking agriculture technology centre in the Egyptian Desert.
  • Hourglass: Set in Doha, Qatar. Shifting sands and a lost shipping convoy tear a city center apart.
  • Breakaway: Set in Queen Maud Land, Antarctica. Struggle over oil and gas that pushes soldiers to the brink as an industry clashes with nature and ice gives way

Battlefield 2042 PC requirements

Following the announcement about Battlefield 2042 playtests, DICE also revealed the recommended PC requirements to run the game:

Minimum

  • OS: 64-bit Windows 10
  • Processor (AMD): AMD FX-8350
  • Processor (Intel): Core i5 6600K
  • Memory: 8GB
  • Video Memory: 4GB
  • Graphics card (AMD): AMD Radeon RX 560
  • Graphics card (NVIDIA): Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti
  • DirectX: 12
  • Online Connection Requirements: 512 KBPS or faster Internet connection

Recommended

  • OS: 64-bit Windows 10
  • Processor (AMD): AMD Ryzen 5 3600
  • Processor (Intel): Intel Core i7 4790
  • Memory: 16GB
  • Video Memory: 8GB
  • Graphics card (AMD): Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060
  • Graphics card (NVIDIA): AMD Radeon RX 5600 XT
  • DirectX: 12

Battlefield 2042 will support Nvidia features

Like last time, DICE is working with Nvidia on ray tracing, DLSS support, as well as Reflex latency optimization for players using GeForce RTX GPUs. AMD cards did well in our Battlefield 5 benchmarks, though, so owners probably shouldn’t fret about the official partnership just yet.