With Battlefield Portal, DICE has fostered the possibility for every Battlefield fan’s fever dream. If you were a fan of community servers in earlier Battlefield titles, Battlefield Portal aims to recreate that experience tenfold.
Let’s talk through what Battlefield Portal is all about.
What is it?
Battlefield Portal is a custom game mode experience that puts power in the hands of the player. Using remastered content from older titles on top of the new content available in Battlefield 2042, you can create the Battlefield experiences of your dreams.
The easiest comparison to make it to Halo’s Forge mode. While Portal doesn’t have a 3D editor at launch, DICE gives players the ability to create servers with custom map rotations and rulesets. Want to pit a bunch of Battlefield 3 soldiers against the armies of 1942? No problem. How about a knife vs defibrillator fight? Also not a bother.
Thanks to the inclusion of AI, as seen in the All-Out Warfare multiplayer mode, you can even create single-player or co-op experiences, too. Create a squad of 4 vs 124 AI in a zombie horde mode, should you wish. The possibilities are almost endless with the backbone of what DICE has implemented to Battlefield Portal, and it’ll likely only get better as the live service progresses.
At surface level, it’s possible to view Battlefield Portal purely as a way to play remastered content from the series’ past. If you like, that’s exactly how you can approach it. Portal brings back several classic maps, weapons, vehicles, and gadgets from three of Battlefield’s most beloved games.
The three that DICE has chosen to focus on are Battlefield 1942, Battlefield Bad Company 2, and Battlefield 3. These three eras mark distinct time periods, introducing distinctly different weapon and gadget types from across history.
DICE hasn’t recreated every single piece of content from those games, but has instead been selective in which maps, weapons, gadgets, and vehicles they’d like to bring across to 2042. The studio told me that it looked at player data to see which weapons and gadgets were used the most, meaning much of the popular arsenal is here. Yes, that includes the M1 Garand.
In total, 40+ weapons remastered from across the eras are included, along with 40+ vehicles including the Little Bird Helicopter and B17 Bomber. 30+ gadgets are thrown into the mix with classic BF3 defibs and EOD bots taking centre stage.
For those lamenting at the changes to the Battlefield 2042 class system, you’ll be pleased to know that soldier archetypes are returning as they were for each specific era. That means the traditional four class structure will reappear while playing as a relevant faction.
On top of all of that there’s also all of the content included in Battlefield 2042 to mess with, and any new content that arrives in the new seasons will also arrive in Portal.
DICE have chosen six classic maps to include at launch, two from each era. There’s Battle of the Bulge and El Alamein from Battlefield 1942, Arica Harbour and Valparaiso from Bad Company 2, and Caspian Border and Noshahr Canals from Battlefield 3.
These appear to encapsulate a good mix of different environments while staying true to which maps are the fan favourites. From the trailers, they’re looking prettier than ever in the new version of the Frostbite Engine.
DICE has done a good amount of work to bring them up to modern standards. Most notably, the 1942 maps have seen a lot of love, as you’d expect. Classic Battlefield destruction mechanics didn’t exist when 1942 was made, so the team has gone back in and added destruction to those early maps.
Valparaiso has also seen some adjustments with the tide receding out to allow for a larger play space. That’ll be needed as, for the first time, you can populate these maps with 128 players on next gen consoles and PC. PS4 and Xbox One players will be stuck at the classic 64 player count, though.
DICE was clear that these maps are, aside from necessary updates, essentially as you remember them. Levolution events like the natural disasters we see in Battlefield 2042 haven’t been added back in.
Of course, there’s also the complete set of Battlefield 2042 maps for you to experiment with. Any future maps included in the live service are promised to be included in Portal too. I asked DICE whether there were any plans to remaster other old maps, but it said that it was just focusing on launch for now and had nothing to discuss just yet.
So how will these experiences work? Well, there’ll be a couple of ways to access them. At launch, there will be a select number of official experiences. These are modes created by DICE that aim to recreate those classic experiences that you know from Battlefield’s gone by. For example, Conquest, Rush, and Team Deathmatch will all make an official return.
Beyond that, there’ll be community experiences. Custom modes are designed to be easily shared in Battlefield Portal, and DICE will be keeping an eye out to feature the most popular ones in a rotating community spotlight playlist. Alternatively, you’ll be able to peruse a server browser of other player experiences that have been opened to the public.
Or, if you’re feeling creative, you can create your own!
This is where things get super interesting. The builder is a web based experience that allows you to create your custom Battlefield experience. As it’s based on the web, you don’t even need to own Battlefield 2042 to have access to it. It also means that DICE can update the builder separately from the game, and you can pull it up on any device – even your phone.
There’s a basic mode that gives you access to the vast majority of game settings. From there, you can choose map rotations, game modes, and which factions are available to choose from.
Beyond that, you can get much more granular. It’s possible to create weapon, vehicle, and gadget restrictions. If you like, you can prevent players from being able to sprint, crouch, or aim down sights. You can even make changes to the heads up display, recreating those classic hardcore modes, should you like.
For those who really know what they’re doing, there’s a complete Logic editor that enables players to go absolutely wild with their creations. Using it, you can create things like custom victory conditions and trigger ingame levolution events manually.
DICE told me that they’re working on creating some official guides that will help players get to grips with these complex editing tools. The studio is also partly relying on the community to create guidance on how to get the most out of Battlefield Portal.
What does it mean for Battlefield 2042?
Ultimately, DICE has nurtured the possibility of endless content for Battlefield 2042. If there’s one thing that the last two Battlefield’s have lacked, it’s a sense of community and frivolity.
Portal opens up the floor for community members to create whatever creations they like. Veteran players will likely still remember the custom servers of Battlefield 3 and 4 that they used to frequent. The servers might have had slightly tweaked rulesets that made the game that little bit more fun. After a while, you’d begin to see the same usernames appear on scoreboards and, before you know it, communities were formed.
Portal seems like a return to that approach to Battlefield. It’s surprisingly hands-off from DICE. The team told us that it’s intentional that some games created in Portal will be unbalanced. Tech from 2042 is likely to dust soldiers from a century previous, but it’ll be up to players to experiment with rulesets and create modes that are fun to play.
I can’t wait to see what the community comes up with.
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Featured Image Credit: EA/DICE