Here's the thing: Battlefield 2042 is really good now. This game launched in 2021 in the kind of state that made it a punching bag for players and critics alike, but since then DICE has hunkered-down and quietly fixed almost every problem, adding and tweaking judiciously, and as PCG's Morgan Park wrote a few months ago "I'm having as much fun as the glory days of Battlefield 3 and 4".
But "the launch was not easy," producer Nika Bender told us. "Let's be completely honest." Associate producer Alexia Christofi added: "We shot for the moon, and we just missed." The game was forced to delay Season 1 to firefight and, the internet being the internet, the user reviews and general vibes around the game were little short of a disaster. Publisher EA, of course, merely put on a Darth Vader voice and said the game "did not meet expectations".
Since the recent release of The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, which appears to be this year's punching bag, developers have been sharing their own stories about the titles they worked on that didn't turn out great, but which they loved elements of anyway. For senior backend engineer Joakim Bodin, now at Epic but until recently of DICE/EA, that game is Battlefield 2042.
"This game had many iterations, and the deadline never changed much, so never stood much chance [of] being great at launch," said Bodin on Twitter, appending a picture of the game's metascore of 68. "I'm proud though to have pushed hard to have this game have full cross play, progression and (mostly) commerce. Its online systems will serve future titles well."
Future titles eh. Battlefield is too big for a single badly received game to bring it all down, and there certainly appears to be plenty in the works. EA recently opened a new studio in Seattle called Ridgeline, which is working on a singleplayer Battlefield campaign. Ripple Effect, the LA-based studio that developed Battlefield Portal, is working on its own thing. Battlefield GM Byron Beede also confirmed to PC Gamer last year that something new is in pre-production at DICE.
"We're already in pre-production on the new Battlefield experiences coming out of DICE, Ripple Effect and Ridgeline Studios," said Beede. "As a global team now across multiple studios, we are out to unlock the full potential of this franchise as one of the best first-person shooters around. This global effort is allowing us to work on those new experiences while also continuing to have a team dedicated to the future of Battlefield 2042."
DICE will have to do it without one key figure, however. Last week it was announced that Lars Gustavsson, the former creative director on DICE's Battlefield games and—much more importantly—the man they used to call "Mr Battlefield," has a new studio. TTK Games is based in Stockholm and making a "new, next-generation online shooter".