The future doesn't look pretty in Battlefield 2142, but it certainly will offer plenty of combat. Battlefield 2142 is the latest game in EA and DICE's popular multiplayer action franchise, and it's set in a future where a new ice age has created a desperate war for the last ice-free places on Earth. The game will feature a mix of infantry and vehicle combat, with support for up to 64 players on maps that are set in war-torn Europe and North Africa. Of course, as this is the fourth game in the franchise, Battlefield 2142 will build upon the ideas and features introduced in earlier games. This is especially the case with Battlefield 2, which was released last year to critical and popular acclaim. Battlefield 2 introduced a lot of new features that Battlefield 2142 will build upon.
The developers at DICE are aware that the persistence and customization features of Battlefield 2 are a big reason why that game is so popular. Battlefield 2 keeps track of a myriad of different statistics as you play, which are tied to your player account. Everything from how much time you spend on each map (right down to the second) to your hit accuracy with each weapon to your favorite victim is logged and recorded. Battlefield 2 wasn't the first game to track statistics, but players really embraced its system. The game rewards long-term play, because not only can you build up your stats, but you can also gain rank in the form of promotions.
When you create an account in Battlefield 2, you begin as a private, but you can eventually work your way up from the enlisted ranks into the officer corps and even the general ranks, though that requires hundreds of hours of gameplay. And rank isn't just for bragging rights (though that's certainly a big part of it), as ranking up does have its privileges. For one, players with a higher rank get priority for the commander role in the game, which lets them control the artillery, recon-drone support, and more. But the major reason to work your way up in rank is so you can unlock new weapons. You earn a weapon unlock each time you're promoted. It's not unusual to see Battlefield 2 players debate which weapon to unlock next. After all, if you had spent days or weeks to earn a promotion and a weapon unlock, you'd be cautious, too.
With that in mind, the team at DICE has embraced persistence and customization in Battlefield 2142. The sequel will feature deeper versions of all the aforementioned systems. Battlefield 2142 will offer even more detailed statistics tracking and a lot more weapons and equipment to unlock. The idea isn't simply to give the player more stuff to play with, though. Since there are approximately 40 unlocks in the game, ranging from weapons to equipment to abilities, but only four classes, this means that you can customize your character considerably.
Players in each match can have different weapon and equipment load-outs, depending on what they've unlocked and what they chose to bring along to battle. The slot-based inventory system limits how much gear you can tote along, so you might have to choose between carrying the defibrillator (used to resuscitate fallen comrades) and taking along extra grenades. If you're a squad leader, you might have to choose which sort of support drone to carry along, such as the gun droid that flies along with your squad and provides extra firepower (at the price of pointing your squad's location out) or the respawn beacon, which can be planted anywhere. Of course, this makes teamwork all the more important, since everyone in a squad can carry different equipment, so the trick will be to make sure that someone has the gear that you need for every contingency. For example, if you battle your way onto a Titan (the floating aircraft carriers in the game) and make it to the reactor core, it's a bit embarrassing to get there and realize that no one is packing explosives. Sure, you can destroy the core by firing a lot of weapons, but the faster way is to make sure someone has the explosives that you need to bring the Titan down.
Having customized characters also means that you might not know what the person you're shooting at is carrying, either. DICE expects that this will create a bit of a tactical dilemma, as you'll have to make sure you can counter whatever the enemy might bring to battle. Of course, you'll be able to redo your inventory in the time that you're waiting to respawn, but you'll only have access to those things that you've unlocked, so you can see how this system is geared toward rewarding long-term play and teamwork. The more you play the game, the more items you'll unlock and the more versatile your customization options will become. On the other hand, you'll still need to make sure that you work with your team, because no single soldier can carry everything that'll be needed in battle.
Finally, you'll once again want to make sure you rise in rank, not only for prestige's sake, but also because your chances of becoming a commander increase. Like commanders in Battlefield 2, commanders in Battlefield 2142 will be able to direct the efforts of multiple squads, as well as call in support in a number of ways. For example, in Titan mode, commanders are able to steer the Titan around the map to try and avoid enemy assaults, but the Titan can also deliver a withering barrage thanks to its many cannons mounted on its underside. This makes it a mobile artillery platform, capable of pummeling opponents on the ground below.
By building upon the proven persistence and customization features in Battlefield 2, the designers at DICE hope that they can make Battlefield 2142 just as compelling of a game. Of course, that will also depend on if the game can deliver the same kind of intense and dynamic combat that Battlefield is known for. Still, considering that Battlefield 2142 is the fourth Battlefield game, the folks at DICE have a lot of experience under their belt. We'll see the fruits of their labors when Battlefield 2142 ships later this year.