The history of Battlefield

Battlefield V launches on 20 November, bringing with it a brand new four-player co-op mode, a collection of single-player missions seen through the eyes of several World War 2 factions, and an intense Battle Royale mode packed with nail-biting action and environmental destruction.

Before that, though, let’s brush up on our Battlefield. Starting from 2002, here are all the major installments of DICE’s globe-conquering military shooter. Which one’s your favourite?

Battlefield 1942

Released: 2002

It’s common for game series to shift wildly over the years, but the bones of Battlefield as we know it today are incredibly similar to the 2002 first. In Battlefield 1942, you started by picking your class from scout, assault, anti-tank, medic, and engineer, before embarking on large-scale skirmishes across historically inspired maps.

From the off this was a game centred on all-out war across land, sea, and air. The United States clashed with Japan on Wake Island, for example, while Germany fought UK forces on El Alamein. Within each map were an array of vehicles, including capital ships, submarines, and aircraft. Even the developer remained the same, DICE helming the series’ debut. Although back then the Swedish studio was called ‘Digital Illusions CE’.

Battlefield Vietnam

Released: 2004

After two Battlefield 1942 expansions came the second notable installment in the series: Battlefield Vietnam. Its focus on asymmetrical warfare reflected the conflict’s conditions, loadouts for the US military and Vietcong differing dramatically.

The former had tanks, choppers, and bombers, while the latter relied on anti-tank/anti-aircraft weapons. In the interest of balance, Vietnamese soldiers also had access to mobile spawn points, which did a great job of representing their real-life counterparts’ vast network of tunnels. A cool detail saw vehicles fitted with radios playing music of the day. We never tire of Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Battlefield 2: Modern Combat

Released: 2005

The next step in the Battlefield series was Battlefield 2: Modern Combat. Built on a brand new engine, visuals and scope improved massively. Not only was this the first time PS2 and Xbox owners got in on the action, with a version coming one year later on PS3 and Xbox 360, but it was also the first Battlefield to feature a dedicated single-player campaign.

In it, a terrorist organisation called Burning Flag misleads NATO and China into starting a war. You could chose to control either side before eventually foiling Burning Flag’s plans to launch a ballistic missile. Here’s where Battlefield started morphing into the all-encompassing single-player/multiplayer shooter we know now.

Battlefield 2142

Released: 2006

Battlefield took its first steps into the future with this 2006 entry set a whole century after the first game. Here in a chilly new Ice Age, two military superpowers in the European Union and the Pan Asian Coalition battle over the remaining unfrozen land. The land was cold but the hardware was hot, and included hover tanks, railguns, and even mechs.

A new flying warship called the Titan even starred in a game mode of the same name, in which the objective was to destroy the other team’s while protecting your own. You did this by wearing down the Titan’s hull using missile silos, then boarding the armoured beast, and finally blowing up its reactor.

Battlefield: Bad Company

Released: 2008

An entertaining story mode took pride of place in the most cinematic Battlefield yet. It starred characters this time rather than nameless soldiers. You played Private Preston Marlowe, a guy whose aim was to steal gold while a war between the United States and Russia raged.

This was also the debut of DICE’s Frostbite engine, which powered ridiculously destructible environments. You could blow tank rounds through walls, knock down roofs, and completely flatten some poor guy’s house. This wholesale mayhem went on to form a major pillar of the Battlefield experience.

Battlefield 1943

Released: 2009

This 2009 entry, set in the lovely tropics of the Pacific Theatre, was a bit of experiment for DICE. Their first purely downloadable title, it launched on Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network. The studio even posed a fun challenge: once the community reach a combined total of 43 million kills they unlock a new dogfighting gametype called Air Superiority. Spoilers: they did.

Regenerating health, a reduction to three classes, and unlimited ammunition made Battlefield 1943 more accessible than ever, and this led to plenty of new fans.

Battlefield 3

Released: 2011

The next generation of Battlefield kicked off with DICE’s stunning modern military shooter. Built on Frostbite 2, and with new graphical technology enabling the most realistic looking firefights available at the time, you really felt slap bang in the middle of every violent encounter.

The multiplayer was also amazing, pitting up to 64 players against each other in lusciously realised locations such as Paris, Iran, and Oman.

Battlefield 4

Released: 2013

Taking cues from the last game, Battlefield 4 teamed a meaty single-player story mode with a deep multiplayer component. The story saw you play a US marine who headed to the likes of Baku, Shanghai, and Singapore to prevent a war between China and America.

In the multiplayer, meanwhile, DICE introduced us to a map-changing concept called Levolution. Here, cracked dams flooded cities and toppled skyscrapers plunged stages into clouds of dust.

Battlefield 1

Released: 2016

The first World War 1-set Battlefield game found a brutal new energy in hand-to-hand trench battles, thunderous calvary charges, and frantic dashes from noxious clouds of mustard gas.

The single-player also deserved praise for its diverse collection of mini campaigns putting players in the boots of Australian infantry in Gallipoli, Italian mountain fighters, and African American corps the Harlem Hellfighters.

Battlefield V

Released: 2018

And finally we come to Battlefield V, DICE’s upcoming WW2-era shooter and its 16th overall installment.

On November 20 you’ll look forward to a brand new four-player co-op mode called Combined Arms, another essential smattering of single-player war stories based on aspects of the global conflict, Grand Operations mode which takes you through matches spanning multiple maps, and what promises to be one of the most environmentally destructive battle royale modes ever seen.

Bring on the next entry of Battlefield!