Battlefield 2042’s multiplayer modes will include 128-player matches—but not battle royale
Battlefield 2042 will have three distinct multiplayer experiences at launch, and none of them is a free-to-play battle royale mode.
During a recent pre-reveal event, DICE shared a ton of details on one of those multiplayer experiences: 128-player All-Out Warfare, which will include both Conquest and Breakthrough modes on seven maps at launch. Conquest is Battlefield’s classic, non-linear mode where teams must capture and hold the majority of flags on a map in order to bleed their enemies’ respawn tickets, and Breakthrough (or Operations, as it was known in Battlefield 1) is the more recent fan-favorite where one team attacks a series of points while another defends.
Barring a weird scoring system in Battlefield 1, Conquest hasn’t changed too much since it debuted in 2002’s Battlefield 1942. However, 2042’s version of the mode is mixing up the formula quite a bit. Instead of capturing and holding individual points, each team will try to hold a majority of a map’s sectors. Each sector will have multiple capture points, and in order to own a sector, a team must own all of the sector’s capture points.
However, it is possible for one team to own a capture point in the other team’s sector. If that happens, players can spawn on that capture point and use it to push the other capture points in that sector, as capture points are “clustered” fairly closely together. This ensures that, despite the massive scale of 2042’s maps, players will have plenty of opportunity to get back into the action if they so choose.
It’s unclear how All-Out Warfare will differ in the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 version of the games. DICE clearly stated that those versions of the game will only feature 64-player matches and will have smaller versions of maps to accommodate the smaller team sizes, but we don’t know if Conquest, for example, will feature multiple maps per sector or if it will be like a more traditional Conquest experience.
The other mode falling under 2042’s All-Out Warfare umbrella is the attack-defend mode, Breakthrough. On Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5, and PC, Breakthrough will feature two teams of 64 players where the attacking team is trying to capture the defending team’s sectors and the defending team is trying to bleed the attacking team’s tickets. If you’re concerned that 128-player Breakthrough will devolve into utter chaos, well, it probably will. However, DICE stated that it’s also designed the maps so that players will have multiple routes to attack and ways to approach an objective, leaving room for the kinds of sandbox experiments that are at the core of the game’s design philosophy.
What’s really interesting about these modes is the different ways that players can experience them. You can join servers with 128 human players, but you can also opt to play with and against all AI soldiers, or you can team up with a squad of friends and take them on together. DICE posits this experience as a way for new players to get acclimated with 2042’s maps and weapons before “graduating” to the full multiplayer experience, though you can only ever fight against AI if that’s what you prefer. Likewise, you can also earn progression towards unlocking new gadgets and weapons in these AI-only modes, not just in the standard multiplayer.
In addition to All-Out Warfare, Battlefield 2042 will feature two other distinct multiplayer experiences at launch: Hazard Zone, and a secret mode that DICE LA is working on.
DICE described Hazard Zone as an “all-new, high-stakes, squad-based game-type never seen before in the Battlefield franchise… and no, it is not a Battle Royale!” In fact, DICE seemed pretty emphatic that there is no battle royale mode currently planned for Battlefield 2042.
If we had to, well, hazard a guess, we’d say that Hazard Zone could be a take on Escape from Tarkov’s survival-style multiplayer gameplay, where multiple teams enter an arena, try to find loot, and then extract with what they can find without dying. That’s just a guess, however. In truth, we know pretty much nothing about this mode—including whether it will take place on the seven maps that we’ve seen or have its own maps.
The third multiplayer experience launching with Battlefield 2042 is what DICE describes as a “love letter to Battlefield fans.” This one is in development at DICE LA, not DICE’s main offices in Sweden, and will get a full reveal at EA Play Live 2021. All we know at the moment is that DICE LA senior design director Justin Wiebe said that the studio is “bringing some ‘Crazy’ to the Battlefield franchise” and that an official press release described it as “another exciting new game-type for the franchise.” Is it a previously rumored mode that would let players customize servers with maps and weaponry from across the entire Battlefield franchise? We’ll find out next month at EA Play Live.
Of course, there’s one multiplayer mode that seems conspicuously absent from the discussion, and that’s Rush, the mode that launched in Bad Company 2 (or, technically, in the original Bad Company as “Gold Rush”). When asked whether Rush was going to return in 2042, DICE only said that it couldn’t talk about its plans for other modes at the moment. Conquest and Breakthrough are certainly recent Battlefields’ most popular modes, but smaller modes like Rush and Frontlines definitely have their fair share of fans, so hopefully DICE hasn’t forgotten about them.
The other thing that DICE didn’t mention is a single-player story mode, and that’s because Battlefield 2042 doesn’t have a campaign. Instead, the game’s overarching story will unfold in much more vague narrative moments inside the game’s multiplayer experience. These moments will probably come in the form of new Specialist trailers, in-game text, and the like, but not in story-driven gameplay experiences.
Battlefield 2042 is set to launch on October 22nd for Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.
Michael Goroff has written and edited for EGM since 2017. You can follow him on Twitter @gogogoroff.