EA has revealed Battlefield Portal, the second part of the Battlefield 2042 package. For a great many of you, it may just change the way you think about the version of all-out-warfare DICE is delivering this year. If you're over the age of 25, and a fan of multiplayer first-person shooters, there's a good chance that you've spent some amount of time in the last decade pining for a sequel to 2010's Battlefield: Bad Company 2. For reasons that we'll never truly understand, DICE has failed to abide. That's left the modern warfare spin-off to become memorialized within our collective nostalgia for battlefields that can be razed to the ground. All that will change with Battlefield Portal, a toolset that will give us an opportunity to see what Battlefield: Bad Company 3 might have looked like.
Well, kind of. Let's back up for a second here so I can explain what this "love letter to Battlefield fans" is all about. Battlefield Portal is a web-based builder application that will let you combine content across four eras of Battlefield to create custom game modes and unique experiences that can be played within 2042. It's an undoubtedly impressive proposition. A 20-minute demo of Battlefield Portal only scratched at the surface of possibilities and the malleability of the toolset, although the breadth of opportunity here is clearly outrageous should you be willing to put in the time. That all said, I have my sights set on creating something pretty simple.
Everything old is new again
The building blocks for a modern Bad Company game are in Battlefield Portal. Well, various iterations of one at least – that's something we'll have to figure out together, with code from the editor traded easily between members of the community. This journey begins with the sandboxes. Battlefield Portal arrives with six classic maps from Battlefields of the past, including two from Bad Company 2 – Arica Harbor and Valparaiso. Were DICE to ever return to Bad Company, I'd want to see some fan-favorite maps return, and these two would rank highly on my most wanted list (although Oasis and Port Valdez would be close behind).
Arica Harbor and Valparaiso are being updated to run on Frostbite 3.0 – just as you'd hope they would, were a new game to emerge in the modern era. Developer Ripple Effect Studios has rebuilt all of the map assets; you'll be able to enjoy these spaces in 4K and at 60fps for the first time, even as they maintain the Destruction 2.0 opportunities that helped define the originals. Christian Grass, general manager at Ripple Effect Studios explains that "these maps aren't simple recreations. We have reimagined them to take advantage of our modern tech. We saw this as an opportunity to capture more of the original intent of the experience and used our tech to overcome some of the limitations of the past."
These updates manifest themselves differently, depending on the age of the map. Battle of the Bulge and El Alamein from 2002's Battlefield 1942 are receiving more significant updates than, say, Caspian Border and Noshahr Canals from 2011's Battlefield 3. You'll be able to play all six of these classic maps at their original player count or, if you are playing on PS5 or Xbox Series X, you can ramp it up to Battlefield 2042 levels of chaos. Accommodating higher player counts is where the Bad Company 2 map updates are focused. "Take a map like Valparaiso," Grass continues, speaking of a map fondly remembered for its fishing village and lighthouse skirmishes. "You can choose to play a version of that map at low tide, an addition we made to better accommodate 128 players."
By looking back at something like a Bad Company 2, you can see just how far the series has come. When the game launched in 2010 for Xbox 360 and PS3, Rush mode on Arica Harbor was limited to just 24 players. Now Battlefield is arriving with 128 as standard. Of course, these maps were designed around smaller player counts, so dropping 128 soldiers into Arica Harbor will probably be a disaster. Thankfully, Battlefield Portal will let us experiment with the variable, so we'll be able to push the max player cap incrementally until we find something that fits – at the very least, we'll be able to see how Bad Company 2's Rush mode (a fan-favorite game type that doesn't otherwise feature in Battlefield 2042) would play with 64 players ripping areas around the M-COM stations to shreds.
Battlefield Portal will include 23 of Bad Company 2's weapons, ten gadgets, and nine vehicles – and yes the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter is one of them; Valparaiso wouldn't be the same without it. The Assault, Engineer, Medic, and Recon classes can also be dialed in should you mess around with the logic editor, so you could rebuild close approximations of their original utility – back then, each class had seven unique primary weapons, as well as specific gadgets like the Ammo Box, Repair Tool, Defibrillator, Med Kit, and Motion Sensors.
How the 23 weapons will handle in the Battlefield 2042 engine remains to be seen, although senior game designer Rob Donovan says that, should we want to, we'll be able to closely mirror the handling experiences offered by the classic games. "One of the things that we are introducing is a setting to use classic tuning, so that you can restore some of the TTK from those original games, so the weapons will behave more or less like they did."
Updating Bad Company
There's a lot of reasons to be excited about Battlefield Portal. It's an expressive system that appears easy to learn and difficult to master, giving you the tools to really tinker with variables and create some truly unique experiences. How would World War 2 soldiers fare against operatives of 2042? What would a war fought with weapons from all throughout history be like? Who wins in a battle between knives and defibrillators? How would Bad Company play if it were built in a modern engine, complete with all of the next-gen flourishes being pushed into 2042? Battlefield Portal appears to stretch as far as your imagination, so long as it's within the borders of a Battlefield sandbox.
I'm interested in the opportunity to return one of the greatest FPS experiences of the last 20 years, updated and modernized to reflect the great strides DICE has made in the field since. Bad Company 2's gunplay rendered out in the Battlefield 2042 handling model, running at a snappy 60fps. The highly destructible maps presented in Frostbite 3.0 with updated 4K assets, tweaked to accommodate larger player counts. All of that, combined with a capacity to dive in and tweak everything from class composition, weapon and vehicle availability, damage and spawn modifiers, and more. We have the tools to create the ultimate Battlefield: Bad Company experience here, one that's authentic to the past and cognizant of modern advancements in the genre.
Battlefield 2042 preview: 128 players, massive maps, and multiplayer mayhem like you've never seen it before, here's everything you need to know about DICE's all-out-warfare.
More than that, if you really wanted to, you could switch out the Bad Company 2 equipables with those from Battlefield 3 or Battlefield 2042, just to see how more modern guns, gadgets, and even classes or Specialists would play within Bad Company's famously aggressive maps. You could do the opposite, recreating the Bad Company 2 game experience as closely as you can and drop it into the sprawling maps of Battlefield 2042 with 128 players running amok, just to see how the setup would play a little further in the future.
In a parallel timeline, DICE pursued the same areas of innovation and expansion following Battlefield 5 and funneled them into Bad Company 3, rather than 2042. We'd be seeing the innovations of the Frostbite 3 engine through the lens of organic destruction. The increased player count would be leveraged for wider-scale Rush conflicts. The new Specialists would more closely reflect the carnage of Bad Company's classes. The weapons and vehicles designed for more frenetic close-quarters action. What we have instead is the opportunity to create a modern interpretation of Bad Company within Battlefield 2042, one that gives us just a hint of what a third installment would look, feel, and play like. That's enough for right now, so long as we can find the time to figure out how the Portal editor works.