Battlefield PortalSource: Electronic Arts

Some of my fondest gaming memories are of messing around with my friends in Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Battlefield 3, and Battlefield 4 during my adolescent years. While many teens were hooked on the twitchy run-and-gun chaos of Call of Duty, my buddies and I were cracking ourselves up by driving C4-covered jeeps into tanks, trying to take down jet fighters with tanks, and using close air support attack helicopters to try and run entire squads of other players over.

Battlefield, among other things, is well-known for its playground, especially compared to other Xbox shooters. It's a beautiful sandbox filled with a wide variety of weapons and vehicles that you can experiment with and use in several creative different ways. Players get a feeling openness and freedom that not many multiplayer shooter games have, and that feeling is what made myself and many others fall in love with the series.

Recent changes have gone too far

Battlefield VSource: Electronic Arts

Unfortunately, it feels like EA and DICE made an attempt to move Battlefield away from this direction in recent years. Both Battlefield 1 and Battlefield 5 featured maps that were generally smaller and more restricted than previous games, which led to most of the infantry combat feeling very Call of Duty-like. Additionally, most of the weapons in these games didn't feel very distinct from one another, which made the weapon sandbox feel too uniform. With the exception of Battlefield 5's Tiger tank, vehicles and aircraft were less effective and had less of an impact on the outcome of matches as well.

These changes to the franchise's fundamentals significantly impacted enjoyment. Both the tight overly-structured maps and the generic weapon sandbox made it impossible to succeed with any "outside the box" strategies, and the fact that the strength and capabilities of vehicles were scaled back made doing anything unexpected or unorthodox with them pointless, too. It simply wasn't possible to positively contribute to your team by trying out weird and interesting ideas, and that seriously bummed me out.

Returning to the roots of Battlefield

Battlefield 2042 PortalSource: Electronic Arts

Thankfully, it looks like EA and DICE are embracing what made the likes of Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 4 so special with Battlefield 2042. The game's reveal trailer showed everything from tanks parachuting from the sky to jeeps being driven off rooftops into hovering helicopters, with the iconic RendeZook maneuver (jumping out of a jet to blow up another jet with an RPG, than getting back into your jet) even making an appearance. The trailer also revealed some of the new features coming to the game's sandbox and environments as well, such as wingsuits and devastating dynamic weather systems.

With Battlefield 2042, the developers seem to be putting creative fun first.

While it's true that we still haven't seen much raw gameplay of Battlefield 2042 yet, it is exciting that EA and DICE are using these goofy, fun-focused strategies and features to show the game off. To see the developers fully embrace the outlandish and silly potential of a wide weapon and vehicle sandbox is a breath of fresh air, especially when we know that the Battlefield 2042 maps are among the largest in the series' history and will support up to 128 players, opening the door for tons of fun stuff that was never possible before.

Things are looking even better with the Battlefield Portal mode, which will allow teams to use any of the factions, weapons, and vehicles from both Battlefield 2042 and older Battlefield games on a selection of remastered Battlefield maps. The Battlefield Portal trailer indicates that players can expect to dogfight with fighter jets in World War II planes, use defibrillators in melee combat against Nazi soldiers, use explosives to launch 1940-era jeeps at modern aircraft, and more. The mode sounds like everything I've ever wanted out of a Battlefield game, and when Battlefield 2042 launches, there's a pretty good chance that I'll be playing it often for a long, long time.

Ultimately, it's clear that with Battlefield 2042 and Battlefield Portal, developers are embracing the crazy sandbox-driven mayhem that made previous entries like Battlefield 4 as popular as they were. The quality of the gameplay itself is something we can't determine until the Battlefield 2042 beta arrives, but based on everything the developers showed off in trailers so far, the game looks like it's going to offer an experience that my teenage self could only dream of.

All-out warfare

Battlefield 2042

Battlefield 2042

Battlefield goes back to the future

Battlefield 2042 debuts Electronic Arts' next-generation vision for the military shooter, supporting up to 128 players, the largest ever maps, devastatingly destructive weather systems, and more.

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