When the first Battlefield game arrived the multiplayer gaming landscape was very different to the one we see today. Broadband was only just becoming affordable for the masses and online multiplayer shooters were still at home on PC, where typically between eight and 16 players battled online in kill-or-be-killed conflicts of hi-octane twitch skill.
Battlefield exploded onto PC in 2002 with huge-scale, 64 player, class-driven, tactical team-based first-person shooting, and nothing has quite been the same way since. Backed by the biggest publisher in the world, Electronic Arts', over the last nine years the Battlefield franchise has become one of the most popular and important FPS series on any format -evolving to offer ever greater online conflicts, whilst also adding story-driven shooter action to its arsenal.
With the latest Battlefield title, Bad Company 2, set to release in March, we thought it was about time to look back at the history of this genre-busting series, and take a glance at what's to come in the new decade.
Battlefield 1942 (PC, 2002)
The game that started it all was a huge break from the norm. The main Conquest mode favoured cooperation with a team of 31 other players to capture key points on the map, then outflank and outfight opposing forces until all of their respawn Tickets had been depleted.
While the singleplayer experience used bots to simulate human behaviour, it was picking and learning how to play as a specific class, then taking on the authentic WWII campaigns with other real-life players, that made this such a satisfying draw - especially since the maps were utterly huge compared to anything else out at the time. We certainly wouldn't have games like MAG without Battlefield 1942; a true honoured and decorated gaming classic.
Key Features of Battlefield 1942
- Huge-scale 64-player online battles: Where teamwork and co-operation were as important as a quick trigger finger!
- Global Conflict: Players across the world joined either axis or allied armies and fought in battles based on those in WWII.
- Class Based Gameplay: Assault, medic, scout, anti-tank, or engineer, each with specific abilities that helped the in-game war effort.
- Raging battles on land, sea, or air: Courtesy of 35 historically accurate WWII vehicles and 19 authentic WWII handheld weapons.
- The Road to Rome: Focused exclusively on the key Italian and Sicilian campaigns of WWII.
- Secret Weapons of World War II: Invited players to go to war like never before with 16 new experimental weapons and vehicles, Also added eight fresh WWII campaigns, new locations, and objective-based gameplay.
Battlefield Vietnam (PC, 2004)
The next stop for the Battlefield franchise took players into a whole new era, this time equipped with more firepower, modernised weaponry and vehicles, and a deeper infantry experience from the jungles to the beaches of Vietnam.
Key Features of Battlefield Vietnam
- Powerful Vietnam-era vehicles: Players rule the skies in the F-4 Phantom, airlifted vehicles in transport helicopters, and more.
- Weapons of Jungle Warfare: Gamers mastered pongee sticks and booby traps.
- Worldwide Online war: From dark jungles to villages on the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
- Customisation: BF Vietnam fans went to war as Viet Cong, Green Beret and more, each with multiple character skins.
- Rousing Soundtrack: Included songs by CCR, Jefferson Airplane, and more.
Battlefield 2 (PC, 2005)
Battlefield 2 brought the intensity and excitement of Battlefield 1942 into the modern era with enhanced team play and the latest, most technologically advanced vehicles and weapons systems available to man - a good two years before Call of Duty got a similar treatment.
Fighting for one of three military superpowers - the United States, the Chinese, or the newly formed Middle East Coalition - Battlefield fans were once again thrust headlong into epic 64-player conflicts - this time with their individual character's growing RPG-style in skill the more they played.On top of which, destructible environments and improved visuals and AI made this a worthwhile step forward from its innovative forebear.
Key Features of Battlefield 2
- New Game, New Era: The modern setting delivered state-of-the-art weapon systems, vehicles and armies, with players picking from U.S., Chinese, or Middle East Coalition troops and fighting in warzones across the modern world!
- More Soldier Classes: Included Assault, Sniper, Special Ops, Combat Engineer, Medic, Heavy Weapons, and Anti-Tank units, all with persistent character growth.
- Richly detailed destructible environments: Where action was scaled automatically for the number of players, ensuring a unique experience with every play.
- Soldier kits: Enhancing vehicle interaction by allowing players to upgrade vehicles, like medic kits transforming a vehicle into a mobile aid station.
- Commander Mode: Allowed one player to strategically coordinate their forces.
- Special Forces: Allowed players to fight across new maps as one of six different Special Forces soldiers.
- Euro Force: Yet more maps, vehicles and weapons on show as players took the powerful new Euro Force into action against MEC and Chinese armies across all-new Asian locations.
- Armored Fury: Dropped players into a deadly confrontation between the Middle Eastern Coalition, Chinese Army and U.S. forces following an attempted invasion of America.
Battlefield 2: Modern Combat (PS2 & Xbox, 2005; X360, 2006)
Battlefield's first foray on consoles dropped players into the heat of battle with Battlefield 2: Modern Combat. This was the first Battlefield game to feature a singleplayer story-driven component on top of its signature online play, plunging players headlong into the fog of war in war-ravaged Kazakhstan, before asking them to ultimately choose sides in a furious showdown where nothing was as it seemed.
Key Features of Battlefield 2: Modern Combat
- Battlefield on consoles: First released for PS2 and Xbox, then ported to Xbox 360, this was the first Battlefield to appear outside of PC, paving the way for Bad Company!
- An all-new story-driven singleplayer mode: Players across the world joined either axis or allied armies and fought in battles based on those in WWII.
- Class Based Gameplay: Dropped players deep into an action-packed war framed by government-sponsored propaganda.
- Online play with features from Battlefield 2: Featured 30 vehicles, 50 state-of-the-art weapons, persistent character growth and more than 10 maps!
Battlefield 2142 (PC, 2006)
he year is 2142, and the dawn of a new Ice age has thrown the world into a panic.The soil not covered by ice can only feed a fraction of the Earth's population. The maths is simple and brutal: some will live, most will die.
That was the premise behind Battlefield 2142 - a radical departure from previous instalments, jumping forward into the next century to a world where technology had evolved, but mankind was still at war. The more things change, the more they stay the same, eh?
Armed with a devastating arsenal of hi-tech weaponry, including assault rifles, cloaking devices and sentry guns, Battlefield 2142 saw players take control of the most lethal vehicles known to man, including massive battle Walkers on the ground, and futuristic aircraft ruling the skies. This was back to intensely tactical 64-player battles on PC, but not like fans had ever seen before - and featured an all-new mode that made this stand out from the rest...
Key Features of Battlefield 2142
- Titan Mode: Players waged epic-scale war to defeat theirr opponent's Titan, a massive flying warship, controlled by the team's commander. Doing so meant destroying the Titan's shields, boarding the craft, fighting to it's reactor core and detonating it from the inside - all while defending their own Titan!
- Customisable Abilities: Gamers got to expand their abilities and blend multiple player classes to match their play-style - making for an even more personalised experience!.
- A changed world: In BF 2142 players fought for survival in brand new 22nd Century snow-covered locations from Minsk to North Africa!
- Futuristic warfare: Still 64 player, still online, but featuring EMP grenades, sentry guns, smart mines, cloaking devices, Battle Walkers, high speed recon vehicles, and more!
- Northern Strike: Boasted ten new unlocks, three new maps, two new vehicles, and a new game mode called Assault Lines.
Battlefield Bad Company (PS3 & X360, 2008)
After the console success of Modern Combat, Battlefield got it's first fully fledged HD console outing, featuring trademark multiplayer mayhem (complete with the new Gold Rush mode), plus a singleplayer story laced with irreverence.
Set in the near future, the Battlefield: Bad Company single-player campaign dropped gamers behind enemy lines as part of a squad of four soldiers -risking it all to go AWOL on a personal quest. Featuring a dramatic storyline flavoured with attitude, Battlefield: Bad Company leads gamers far from the traditional frontlines on a wild ride with a group of renegade soldiers who decide that sometimes the gratitude of a nation just isn't enough.
Key Features of Battlefield Bad Company
- Cinematic single-player experience: loaded with dark humor.
- War, your way: With environments that were 90 percent destructible, gamers got to shape the battlefield to match their play style like never before in Bad Company
- 24 players online: Like the original Battlefield did on PC, Bad Company raised the bar from the typical 16 players of Halo and CoD.
- Gold Rush: A fresh mode for Bad Company, this pitted two teams of twelve against each other in attack/defend objective-based matches that made full use of the destructible environments.
- HD visuals: This was the first Battlefield game designed exclusively for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
Battlefield Heroes (PC, 2009)
Released in June 2009, Battlefield Heroes was the first Play4Free downloadable game from EA.
Battlefield Heroes let players create, customise and level up their own war unique hero - then take them into battle against other players of a similar skill level; using their special abilities to destroy the enemy, or support your friends in the fashion of the fully-fledged Battlefield titles.
Being free to play, Battlefield Heroes makes an ideal introduction to the series, and comes highly recommended if you're thinking about dipping your toe into the series bullet-strewn waters.
Key Features of Battlefield Heroes
- Don't pay a penny: A free cartoon-style shooter for the PC, Heroes is a great introduction to the series!
- Combined classic gameplay with brand new innovations: It's a totally new experience!
- Cartoon-style graphics: Bringing the fun back to shooters.
- Third person camera: So your Hero takes centre-stage!
- Unique war Heros: Players make their own with extensive character customisation system!
- MMO-like special abilities: Added strategic depth to combat.
Battlefield 1943 (PS3 & X360, 2009)
This little gem arrived on Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network Store in July 2009, and swiftly went on to become the fastest-selling download-only game of all time, thanks to a very reasonable price point for a game with a fantastic online calibre and a respectable set of modes and maps for the price.
BF 1943 lets players pick their path - be it as a rifleman, a steel-fisted tank commander, or ace fighter pilot - and play as a lone wolf or with friends, coordinating to turn the tide of battle in 24-person online gametypes.
Key Features of Battlefield 1943
- By land, sea, and air: Unleash wide destruction with bombing raids, tanks, or fighter planes launched from aircraft carriers and enjoy one of the best vehicle experiences in any multiplayer game.
- Varied locations: Play with 24 players online in three beautiful and destructible locations from the Pacific theatre and experience a balance of infantry combat complemented by land, sea, and air vehicles.
- Next-gen destruction: Watch as the beautiful Pacific islands quickly turn into scarred battlefields as destruction rains upon you and your fellow soldiers as you fight to win the battle!
- Ranking, persistence, and squad support: Featuring a deep, persistent ranking system accessible through a fully enabled website, track your stats and follow the leaderboards on the web. Jump directly into a squad to set up private matches and play with your friends!
Battlefield Bad Company 2 (PC, PS3 & X360, 2010)
In Battlefield: Bad Company 2, the Bad Company crew will again find themselves in the heart of the action, where they must use every weapon and vehicle at their disposal to survive. The action unfolds with unprecedented intensity, introducing a level of fervor to vehicular warfare never before experienced in a modern warfare action game.
The 'B' company fight their way through snowy mountaintops, dense jungles and dusty villages. With a heavy arsenal of deadly weapons and a slew of vehicles to aid them, the crew set off on their mission and they are ready to blow up, shoot down, blast through, wipe out and utterly destroy anything that gets in their way. Total destruction is the name of the game - either online or offline, enemies will soon learn there is nowhere to hide.
Key Features of Battlefield Bad Company 2
- Singleplayer Campaign: B Company return to HD consoles - and for the first time, also appear on PC!
- 8 Huge Multiplayer Maps: Each with a different tactical and gameplay focus and set across a variety of environments!
- Ultimate Online Vehicle Warfare: 15 land, sea and air vehicles, each with a tactical advantage during play. Race into action with the ATV or rain death from above in the UH-60 transport helicopter with its 2 side-mounted rail guns.
- All-new Squad Gameplay: Team up with 3 other players and fight together to unlock special awards and achievements in 2 squad-specific game modes
- Destruction 2.0: Take down entire buildings, create firepoints in cover or blow it up entirely! In Battlefield Bad Company 2there will be no place to hide!
- 'Play It Your Way': Experiment and refine your ideal combat style with 4 character classes (medic, assault, recon and engineer), 15000+ kit variations, 46 weapons (200 different customisation opportunities), 15 gadgets and 13 character specialisations.
- Awards and Achievements: Combat efficiency and performance is rewarded with special awards such pins, stars and insignias.