Inverse Game Interviews
'Battlefield 2042' dev answers our biggest question about that wild story change
“there’s a fine line between pewpew and powpow.”
Senior game designer Nickole Li
There’s an old adage that says “war never changes.”
Developer EA DICE is determined to ignore it. In the upcoming Battlefield 2042, players are thrust into the near future where they can now summon tanks on top of their opponents and interact with their robot dog.
“Battlefield 2042 takes place in the near future, allowing us to inject some imagination and some creativity into the experience,” EA DICE Senior Game Designer Nickole Li tells Inverse.
Battlefield 2042 has nixed a traditional single-player campaign, integrating the story into multiplayer battle pass seasons. That overarching narrative will center on Specialists, characters that are new to Battlefield 2042, but fall under familiar classifications like Support, Engineer, Recon, and Assault.
We spoke with Li about Battlefield 2042’s biggest changes, the latest installment’s near-future setting, and the robot dog named Ranger.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Where do you see Battlefield 2042 fitting into the current shooter landscape?
I always tell people Battlefield 2042 is Battlefield, but with more Battlefield.
It's bigger, right? Today’s reveal is basically the tip of the iceberg. Battlefield 2042 is a large, ambitious product. It’s full of things you can only do in Battlefield.
No other shooter offers what Battlefield does.
What do you consider to be the current identity of the Battlefield franchise?
Battlefield 2042 is set in the future, but not so far that it becomes sci-fi. I always say there’s a fine line between pewpew and powpow.
I don't want to have too many lasers in my game, but at the same time, I do want new tech involved.
As you might have seen in the trailers, there’s a robotic dog named Ranger that’s there to support you. We have new vehicles. These things can’t be found in other shooters. Battlefield is all about bringing these elements together into a multiplayer squad-based experience.
The Battlefield franchise is always changing. Which previous game do you think 2042 is most similar to?
The closest comparisons are Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 4, right? Since they’re both in the modern era, the equipment, vehicles, and weaponry are all similar to what you’ll encounter in Battlefield 2042. But it’s not exactly the same.
How does Battlefield 2042’s narrative intersect with multiplayer?
Narrative elements will be fed through the battle pass seasons. They’ll be unique to those specific time periods where players are present. Narrative will also be found on the maps as well as backstories for the various Specialist characters.
After learning parts of the story, things will slowly start coming together, allowing you to understand the world of Battlefield 2042. The narrative is basically like that — you’ll have to keep playing to understand where it’s going.
What kind of role do Specialists play in Battlefield 2042’s story?
All Specialists have their origins that align with the story. They’re not just random characters. The specific Specialists are involved for a specific reason.
The exact details on that are currently unclear as we’ve just revealed the game, but you’ll see each Specialist’s story develop as Battlefield 2042 continues to update.
EA DICE released another game in 2006 called Battlefield 2142. Does Battlefield 2042 have a connection to it?
I think so, yes. There's at least as much connection as Battlefield 2142 has to Battlefield 1942. Ultimately, they’re fantasy products. We set Battlefield games in a particular stage and ask “what would that be like?”
Ultimately, Battlefield always rhymes with reality. It isn't necessarily a simulation or complete mirror of those things. What's the relationship between 2142 and 2042? Well, I guess they're still humans. In terms of continuous lore, that’s not something that I can comment on.
Battlefield 2042 has a battle pass this time around. How did that decision come about?
The battle pass is an opportunity for us. It’s one way for us to inject new content. We might use it to add new guns, gadgets, and whatever. All that new equipment affects gameplay. We want to make sure all players have a chance to access this stuff, so we’ve included all the gameplay items in the free tier.
There's also the matter of the seasons. Each of these seasons also will have narrative elements. These narrative elements will help to grow the world of 2042, and expand the narrative of this game.
What does the premium battle pass include?
We’re careful to make sure players are satisfied with what they are getting from the game. The premium battle pass brings a whole bunch of customizations. They’re basically your cosmetic elements, and some of them can be very unique.
Vehicles can now be summoned to your location. How will that be balanced in-game?
It is an incredibly powerful ability, especially if you drop a vehicle on someone. That said, it's also a tactical choice. There are only so many vehicles allowed on the map at once. Otherwise, it would just be a game with 128 tanks.
You don't want to run all the way across the map to that vehicle depot, just to access that one stupid tank, then drive all the way back. You’ve already been running just to get to the action. All that labor would just would be a drag. Instead, you can just drop that tank right in front of you in Battlefield 2042.
Battlefield 2042 won’t have a Battle Royale mode. Why did you make that choice?
We have an intense high-stakes, squad-based mode coming called Hazard Zone. While not a Battle Royale, it scratches a similar itch. I’d highly recommend that you keep an eye out for that one.
We also have another exciting mode that will be revealed at EA Play on July 22.
Battlefield 2042 will be available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC on October 22, 2021.