It's impossible to miss. The Battlefield 2042 tornado, a real-time, dynamic weather event that does a better job of selling this massive multiplayer shooter than just about anything developer DICE could say. The twister surges through some of the Battlefield 2042 maps when you least expect it, hoovering up anything caught in its propagation, including debris, players, and even vehicles.
Unlike the weather effects and Levolution events in previous Battlefield games, 2042's tornado is less predictable, builds in real-time and is completely beyond player control. "There's multiple paths that the tornado can take, so you don't necessarily know where it's gonna go," lead designer Daniel Berlin tells GamesRadar+ ahead of today's Battlefield 2042 gameplay trailer reveal. "But where it does go, it destroys the things that are destructible – it causes destruction in its wake."
Berlin's reference to destructibility will likely come as music to the ears of Battlefield fans excited to get their hands on 2042 when it launches this October. You see, while the tornado is a tantalising attraction in and of itself, it's how DICE is using it as a showcase for 2042's environmental design that's the far more exciting prospect here. That's because Battlefield 2042 destruction is elevating the chaos of war to a whole new level for the next generation; the tornado is merely there to show you how its cookie crumbles.
The cycle of violence
"This is going to be the most sandbox-enabling Battlefield we've had," says Berlin of Battlefield 2042's multiplayer. "All the cutting edge technology is in there, and then we're just upping the ante on the dynamic world as well, by introducing this big, disruptive physics entity that just moves around the map."
While the tornado is very much a threat that you'll need to remain keenly aware of during matches, then, that doesn't mean that the more inventive of Battlefield players won't be able to use it to their advantage, as Berlin explains: "If you're struggling to capture a particular location, and you see the tornado coming, you can then try and move behind it, and watch as it just picks everyone up. It just causes destruction with everything. It's really cool and it's really fun."
Of course, Berlin also admits that there are times when it's simply "a good idea to avoid" the tornado altogether, and making those on-the-ground calls both individually, and collectively within your squad and team, is part of the strategic element that surrounds Battlefield 2042's weather events. For another example of this, take Hourglass, the Qatar-set map which can become enveloped by a rolling sandstorm that thunders across its desert landscape. Do you use the obscured vision of the storm to your advantage, and make a surprise push on an enemy holding point, or do you run for shelter, hoping to pick off other players making the same decision?
"In previous games, I never really chose a Class based on their gadget," admits associate producer Marie Bustgaard Granlund. "I was more going towards the weapon that was tied to that Class. But a Specialist can use any gun; they're not locked behind their Classes anymore, so if you would like to play as an Assault character like Webster, you can still equip a sniper rifle or a shotgun if you would like to play with that type of weapon. I think that is something that kind of enables more unique playstyles, and something that I'm really excited about."
These options present opportunities for players to create unique Specialist builds that could, in turn, allow for the kind of advanced squad compositions usually seen in the hero shooters that Battlefield 2042 has taken a page from. Webster, for example, has a grappling hook that can get him to elevated positions quickly and easily. Equip the Assault Specialist with a sniper rifle, as Granlund mentioned, and those elevated positions suddenly become ideal sharpshooter perches, which can then be defended against any potential sneak attacks from behind (or above) by Boris' sentry gun.
It's these kinds of tactics, further enhanced by the new Plus system that allows players to switch between weapon attachments on the fly, that DICE is hoping to encourage with Battlefield 2042 Specialists, furnishing the culture of player experimentation and creativity that has been a hallmark of the series since its inception.
DICE thus believes the more dynamic nature of 2042's weather events will open up dozens of unique tactical opportunities such as these, while still offering those Battlefield moments of emergent, unexpected chaos that just sometimes works in your favour, and other times… not so much. Berlin offers just one story from a recent playtest to illustrate what that kind of chaos might look like.
"I found myself right in the open, and I was taking fire from an enemy soldier using a sniper rifle," he says, "so needless to say I was in a bad spot! Luckily the tornado had picked up a vehicle some distance away, and threw this vehicle where it landed right on top of the sniper that was shooting at me! It was one of those crazy sandbox moments that we are really gunning for with 2042."
I may destroy you
More broadly speaking, Battlefield 2042's levolution and weather systems are but the icing on the cake of a long-needed rejuvenation for the series' destructibility template. Recent Battlefield titles have diluted and dialled down the franchise's trademark destruction physics over recent years, but DICE is finally changing course, bringing back those wall-busting, roof-smashing simulation effects in all their glory, while also expanding on those foundations with new ways to leave a mark on 2042's environments.
While unable to go into much detail, Berlin mentions a new destruction system called Ground Deformation, which essentially means more reactive and realistic forms of "destructible terrain". Any Battlefield veteran has spent plenty of time cowering in a hole created by various grenades thrown towards them, and you can expect 2042's maps to allow for more of that kind of war-torn topography, only at even greater scale and depth.
"We've also added smaller means for you to interact with the world," Berlin adds. "Lowering or raising bollards, using ziplines, managing doors and gates that can be locked down, massive cranes that are moving containers in real-time, you can raise and lower bridges... the list goes on. We've taken inspiration from a variety of previous Battlefield games to make sure our new massive maps are as dynamic and epic as they can possibly be."
The tornado may be the poster child for Battlefield 2042, then, but it's all the hard work DICE has done around this eye-catching selling-point that should really excite longtime Battlefield players, especially those who have fallen out of love with the series over recent iterations. When the Battlefield open beta takes place later this year, by all means, go and have fun wingsuiting through the eye of the tornado with your squad, and enjoying the mayhem.
But I'd also recommend exploring what's left in the tornado's wake; the demolished structures, levelled cityscapes, and broken windows. Only then will you get a true sense of the scale and detail that DICE is trying to achieve with 2042's destruction physics, and – if it works as well as the studio is saying it does – that'll be more than enough to keep you impatient till launch day.