Best Battlefield Games, Ranked: Looking Back On The Series Ahead Of Battlefield 2042
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The Battlefield series has always stood out from its competition because of its enormous battles, whether they be in war-torn Europe during World War 2 or in a crumbling metropolis in the modern day. But despite the games' shared elements, they aren't all created equal. In fact, the quality gap between the very best Battlefield game and the worst is surprisingly large--especially when considering how only a handful of years separated the two. With Battlefield 2042 releasing on November 19, we've ranked the mainline Battlefield games from worst to best.
11. Battlefield V
After years away from the deadliest war in human history--World War 2--DICE finally returned to it with Battlefield V, a game that followed the excellent Battlefield 1 and attempted to capture its best qualities via the returning War Stories single-player mode. The problem was that it just wasn't as interesting, despite intentionally focusing on lesser-known regiments and combatants during the war. Map design in multiplayer and the lack of many memorable weapons and gear from World War 2 didn't help matters, and the time-to-kill often felt so painfully short that you barely had time to make any tactical decisions before you got destroyed by a tank.
See our Battlefield V review.
10. Battlefield Hardline
One of the biggest departures for the Battlefield series to date, Battlefield Hardline put players in the role of law enforcement officers rather than the military. Much of the game takes place in Florida, and the single-player campaign features an arresting mechanic and a greater focus on stealth and investigation than the other games. This sounds fine in theory, but the more character-driven story required much better writing than what we got, especially with a bizarre, nonsensical ending that soured the whole experience. On the multiplayer side, there are heist-style objectives and other police-themed modes, but it generally doesn't feel all that different from the other Battlefield games--and never feels as fun.
See our Battlefield Hardline review.
9. Battlefield 2142
Once again beating its rival to the punch by going to the future way before Call of Duty ever did, Battlefield 2142 took the large-scale multiplayer more than a century into the future as a new massive world war erupted between major factions. The futuristic setting didn't change the game's emphasis on both on-foot and vehicular combat, however, but simply made it even more creative. Fictional tanks, air vehicles, and even a mech straight out of Halo or Metal Gear are all included, alongside futuristic weapons that go beyond what we even dream of being possible today. Since its release, Battlefield has mostly stuck to historic and modern settings, but that is going to change very soon.
See our Battlefield 2142 review.
8. Battlefield Vietnam
Years before Call of Duty followed suit--and only in certain levels--with Black Ops, Battlefield had already headed to one of the most controversial wars in American history with Battlefield Vietnam. It aimed to deliver an accurate representation of the jungle-based warfare soldiers experienced during the decade-long conflict, with helicopters and jet fighters both available to pilot as ground troops clashed in the brush underneath. Punji sticks weren't just for Tony Hawk, so you'd also have to watch your step to make sure you weren't sent to a very painful early grave. No war is better known for its era's music than Vietnam, either, and Battlefield Vietnam delivered with songs like Fortunate Son by CCR as well as an Apocalypse Now reference with Ride of the Valkyries.
See our Battlefield Vietnam review.
7. Battlefield: Bad Company
Shifting from the ultra-serious tone of many of the other Battlefield games and featuring a full single-player campaign--the series was largely known for multiplayer-only and bot-based matches at the time--Battlefield: Bad Company helped to introduce the franchise to an entirely new audience. The game's destruction, made possible by an early version of the Frostbite engine, helped to keep matches feeling tense, and even those who just wanted a roller coaster ride campaign were in for a good time. The only people who weren't? PC players, as the game was only released for Xbox 360 and PS3 despite the series' long history on the PC. That would be rectified with its sequel, which came to all three.
See our Battlefield: Bad Company review.
6. Battlefield 4
Released to coincide, roughly, with the launch of the PS4 and Xbox One, Battlefield 4 was an absolute mess at launch--it simply crashed to the dashboard as often as it worked as intended. But after a few patches, it became one of the best modern-era Battlefield games around. With incredible destruction through a new system dubbed "Levolution," entire skyscrapers would routinely crash to the ground and change the entire map, often while taking down lots of players in the process. It once again featured a single-player campaign that reached an explosive finale, and it even featured the late Michael K. Williams in a major role. Battlefield 4 wasn't the greatest game in the series, but it showed us just what was possible with new technology.
See our Battlefield 4 review.
5. Battlefield 1942
Not the 1942th interaction of the game, but rather the very first, introducing the massive, all-out battles across land, air, and sea that continue to define the series to this day. As with some of its successors, Battlefield 1942 is a global warfare game, with multiple battles and locations featured across its 16 maps. At the time, the series was exclusive to PC, allowing for cutting-edge--at least at the moment--technology compared to what was offered in most console games. It's surprising just how much of the game's DNA we still see in modern Battlefield games, including the ticket system and mix of several vehicle types without throwing off a multiplayer match's balance. Is it still worth playing today? Probably not, but it's worth appreciating.
See our Battlefield 1942 review.
4. Battlefield 2
The game that would be a bit of a hint of things to come, Battlefield 2 was ahead of its time in many respects. It went to modern-day combat years before Call of Duty did so, and with a bullet penetration system and 64-player PC battles, it made for something on a scale most players had never seen. It also included Commander mode, a strategic role that let one person oversee a battle and make decisions from an eye in the sky. This mode would later be brought back for Battlefield 4, another modern-day entry, and added a level of coordination and tactical planning to attacks that wasn't present in the previous games. Unfortunately, the "real" version of the game is only available on PC, with the console-exclusive Modern Combat offering a completely different and inferior experience.
See our Battlefield 2 review.
3. Battlefield 1
Though World War 2 has been the subject of countless video games over the years, its predecessor--the supposed War to End All Wars--hasn't received nearly as much attention. Battlefield 1 takes the series back further in time than ever before for an explosive and just as chaotic take on first-person shooter multiplayer, complete with dogfights in the sky and enormous battles on the ground. With less emphasis on long-range automatic weapons, snipers become even more deadly, resulting in cat-and-mouse matches playing out as the bravest soldiers attempt to reach an objective. It's all made even better by War Stories, a single-player mode that shines the spotlight on several soldiers from a variety of regions during the war.
See our Battlefield 1 review.
2. Battlefield: Bad Company 2
Released only a little more than a year before Battlefield 3, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 put a heavier emphasis on destruction than its predecessor while continuing its Hollywood-style campaign romp. Unlike the previous game, this one actually came to PC in addition to consoles, and while it didn't make the same cultural splash as its successor, there is a reason so many people keep demanding a Bad Company 3 game whenever DICE teases a new announcement. The other games, including both Battlefield 3 and 4, show a little more restraint, which is often a better approach for dealing with realistic warfare, but there is something about the all-out chaos of Battlefield that makes Bad Company 2 such a perfect fit.
See our Battlefield: Bad Company 2 review.
1. Battlefield 3
For years--and sometimes without a clear reason--the Battlefield series had struggled to reach the same cultural relevance as the Call of Duty series. It usually wasn't a reflection of the games' quality, and with Battlefield 3, EA and DICE finally established Battlefield as Call of Duty's equal. In this case, Battlefield 3 was arguably the better game, with 2011's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 feeling like a retread of the previous two games' best elements without knowing exactly what made them work. Battlefield 3 contrasted itself with its enormous maps, blend of on-foot, vehicular, and aerial combat, and environmental destruction. No place in the game was truly safe, with sniper fire and explosives always keeping you from getting too comfortable, and Caspian Border remains one of the best maps in the series' history.
See our Battlefield 3 review.