We've been dreaming of the next installment of Bad Company, waiting for the Battlefield 1942 remake, and hoping for a refreshed part three. Meanwhile, at the recent EA Play Live event, we learned that we will get everything from this pipe-dream list.
Well in a way, because we'd be closer to the truth by saying: a little bit of everything.
That's what the new Battlefield Portal mode is supposed to be, featuring iconic maps and armies from past games of the series, along with the latest, from BF2042. What's more, using an online editor, anyone will be able to create almost any combination of maps, vehicles, and rules in their own mode. On the one hand, it sounds great; on the other hand I have some concerns about whether ideas that sound great in theory will work just as well in practice, when ran through paces by thousands of players.
A delicious battlefield pie
For starters, it's certainly hard not to marvel at the sheer versatility of this editor. I really appreciate the developers at DICE for coming up with something completely different and fresh, rather than trying to copy Warzone ideas and attempting to put their own spin on it theoretically with more potential. They didn't throw in another suicidal battle royale mission, but instead, gave players the ability and complete freedom to design their own battle royale in the Battlefield world; a team deathmatch with their own ideas, or a custom co-op against the AI whatever suits you.
I'm elated like a little kid at the very thought of returning to the Caspian Border with the iconic M16A3 in my hands and watching the mast falling again at the end of the battle. I'm curious to see what Battlefield 1942's revamped World War II frontlines will look like, though at the same time, I also can't shrug of one question: "Seriously? Why now? Why not already with BF V?" I was a little disappointed, too, that with Bad Company we won't see the Vietnam add-on era only vibes too similar to BF3 to be fresh, but maybe the Huey and Vietcong helicopters will be added later on.
I feel I will spend more time customizing online maps than I will running away from tornadoes of the semi-futuristic BF 2042. And they'll be fairly standard options, with the US Army and Marines fighting the Russians and the British fighting the Wehrmacht in the chosen locations. The idea of mixing eras and fighting Spitfires with F-35s, or soldiers with MP40s facing commandos with SCARs and grenade launchers seems a little too wacky, but I can definitely see why some people do find it appealing. It's just not really up my alley, though the idea is bold and interesting, and people ought to have fun doing that.
CLASSIC VS. MODERN WEVE ALREADY SEEN THAT
The idea of pitting ahistorical armies against each other isn't new. Something like this was already done in MicroProse's game Dogifght: 80 Years of Aerial Warfare, way back in 1993, for example. In the "What if?" mode, you could see how World War I biplanes fared against Vietnam-War-era MiGs, or even newer, fourth-generation fighters like the F-16.
"Thanks for killing me [end of sarcasm test]."
Battlefield Portal, aside from the joy of the return to the good old BF, also raises concern. The general access to the online editor (even for people who don't own the game) can make the custom mode lists quickly fill up with a myriad of crap ideas from which it might be difficult to pick out the really interesting and polished ones though on the other hand, there will certainly be community tools available to filter out most of the junk, and the creators themselves promised they will promote the best works.
The second issue is the editor itself, which, after passing the phase of a few main tiles, opens its full potential only in the "logic editor" mode. The interface that looks similar to quasi-programmer setting bars with all sorts of options will surely deter the biggest amateurs, but it's also likely to take away the opportunity to create something good from beginners with good ideas. It's true that the essence of Portal is complete freedom and risk of a lack of balance predetermined or accidental. As a result, however, the casual, Sunday gamer may find themself in some totally pointless, frustration-generating butcheries of design far too often.
Until now, my excitement level for the new Battlefield was in the 7/10 area. I looked forward to the return of the cool vibes of 3 and 4, I knew I would play it and have fun, but it was all so standard. After the new announcements, I am burning with pure joy; Ive spent countless hours in the Arma 3 editor, which gave great opportunities to create various scenarios that were moderately fun to play later. It's not a bad game, but it's realism doesn't bring you the same entertainment Battlefields do.
Battlefield will definitely have a less powerful editor, but it looks like we'll have a ton of fun playing out our fantasy scenarios. Overall, I hope the provided tools will bring lots of interesting game modes coming straight from the vibrant BF community. We will finally be able to play out scenarios such as convoy ambush, or frontline defense against overwhelming forces. I'll be playing like hell.
I kind of think Battlefield Portal will be a haven for clans eager to create their own versions of hardcore mode, tactical coop, and "what if" experiments. Ordinary players, on the other hand, will have to hope that any filters or upvoting systems likely akin to those featured on Nexus Mods will allow them to pick out the best content. It's also certain that the service will be improved on a regular basis by the developers from DICE.
The future, or mere curiosity?
Will Battlefield 2042's Portal be the beginning of a revolution, blazing a new trail for online gaming? After all, games where you create gameplay and define rules yourself, with tools and assets provided by the developer are already a pronounced phenomenon. One way or another, it will be interesting to see whether fan-created content will be able to rival the vanilla modes and maps in terms of polish and balance.
I'm very curious to see how Battlefiled Portal will do in the long run, especially given the fate of the Far Cry Arcade editor, where you could build entire maps from scratch. Battlefield, with its strictly online roots, is certainly more likely to succeed. One can only keep their fingers crossed in hopes that what bodes well in announcements will prove equally good in action. That Battlefield Portal will serve us a delicious cake, and not a malign GLaDOS.
Darius Matusiak | Gamepressure.com