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Urban Warfare: The Battlefield franchise has stuck to its guns…

In the world of gaming, where iconic titles and characters abound, rare is the series that can lay claim to defining a genre. Rarer still is the series which, having so thoroughly eclipsed everything around it, has had its very name become synonymous with everything even remotely related to it. Grand Theft Auto has become the byword for open world games, and even titles that share only a vague similarity to it are inevitable weighed and measured according to the standards it sets. Now, with GTA 5 beckoning on the horizon, once again the gaming community is readying itself to plunge with heedless abandon into the heady world of decadence, crime and corruption that has become the series’ mainstay.


Stretching as far back as 2002, the Battlefield franchise has had us killing all sorts of enemies in a variety of place. But even looking back now at the bad graphics and horrible mechanics of Battlefield 1942, it is a title that many gamers of today will regard in high esteem. Yes, it might not have been a pretty game and it had a lot of glitches, but if it weren’t for those, the series might not have been as popular as it is today. It was the beginning of something big, and developer Electronic Arts could feel it.

One can argue that the same glitches are still in place 13 years later, but set that aside for a minute and take a step back to look at the franchise as a whole. Man, there have been some really good Battlefield games… I have to admit, that I didn’t really get into the Battlefield franchise until two years later with Battlefield: Vietnam. The game had a certain appeal, and while the graphics were marginally better than that of Battlefield 1942 and its two sequels, it seem like an improvement in general.

It was also the first time that gamers could get behind the flight sticks of a Bell UH-1 helicopter (or any helicopter, for that matter) in the franchise. The Vietnam conflict was a particularly weird one for the US, as it was the first time that helicopters played a combat role, and the terrain certainly had its challenges.But still, the PC-only title managed to sell millions of copy and probably introduced a million more gamers to first-person shooters.

A string of games later, 2006’s Battlefield 2142 is probably one of the titles that EA would like to be forgotten, locked away in the vaults of bad game ideas and shoddy designs. Retaining the war aspect, EA decided to take the title into the future which didn’t do too well for them. It wasn’t until two year later that things started to go a bit better: 2008 saw the release of Battlefield: Bad Company. Not only was the game one of the most enjoyable in terms of plot and dialogue, but also in its graphical capabilities.

That was thanks to the fact that EA, for the first ever, made use of the Frostbite engine. In its first version, the engine allowed for detailed graphics, better motion and hit detection and overall better graphics. The engine had HDR Audio, which made important sounds louder for better hearing, and it also featured Destruction 1.0, a mechanic that allowed players to destroy certain objects.

It truly was a turning point not only for the franchise, but also for EA. After Battlefield: Bad Company, the developer produced a number of expansion packs for the games already in its stable, as well as a Vietnam version on Bad Company, and even a free-to-play Battlefield Play4Free game. But arguably, the biggest title by sheer amount of people playing, came in 2011, which is still Battlefield 3. The game made was the last title to make use of the Frostbite 2 engine, so EA pretty much had the hardware down to a T.

While the franchise had been going on for nine years prior, Battlefield 3 was many gamers’ introduction to the series if they didn’t know about it before. Everything just seemed to work into the studio’s favour, as it was the last Frostbite title, it was the last Battlefield on previous generation consoles, and it was released at just the right time towards the end of the year.

It’s actually difficult to say that a certain game was a defining point for the franchise, as bar for some of the early releases, pretty much any Battlefield title that EA pumps out has been well received. And besides, any game that can produce five expansion/DLC packs has already made its money back.

As a matter of interest, if you compare all the Metacritic scores of most of the Battlefield titles, Battlefield 2 is actually on top with an average of 91%. The lowest scoring Battlefield game of all time according to Metacritic is the Xbox360 version of Battlefield 2: Modern Combat with 79%. That is if you disregard the third-person Battlefield Heroes, which managed to muster up 69%.

Keeping the momentum going and hoping that players will continue the trend of taking things to battle, Battlefield 4 arrived two years ago and marked the first title to be released that made use of the revamped Frostbite 3 engine.

The new engine allowed EA to work with a whole new set of actions and aspects, which allowed them to push things just that little bit further. This gave them the flexibility to develop maps on a much larger scale while keeping the graphics at an optimum and disc space as low as possible.

Battlefield 4, as with any Battlefield game for that matter, wasn’t without its faults, but in May last year the official tally was over 7 million copies sold. It also spawned five separate DLC packages, of which the last one was released as late as December last year.

To nobody’s surprise, this year will see the release of another Battlefield title, but it will be taking a departure from the usual format. Battlefield Hardline is going all out on the cops-and-robbers theme, where players portray the roles of either thugs trying to rob a bank, or the police that have been dispatched to stop them. We recently got a pretty good taste of what the game will be like thanks to a beta, but down to its core it is still very much a Battlefield title.

Say what you want to about the franchise, there are still players knee-deep in the war against others and that isn’t going to change anytime soon. EA know it, and the market knows it.

Battlefield seemed to find a nice formula very early on, and it literally stuck to its guns. Other staple franchises like Call of Duty have been around for almost as long, and for the most part the two franchises are mortal enemies, but they do have one thing in common: entertainment.

Its human nature to be entertained, and CoD as well as BF have tapped into the vein of entertainment with a host of updates, adapting to changes in the market, and listening to what players want. Previous BF games are a good testament to that, in the sense that EA hasn’t revisited titled that didn’t do very well proving that you are at least on the pulse of what gamers want more so than other. And don’t forget that they actually have the money to throw behind new developments. Like it or love it, the Battlefield franchise is here to stay. For a very long time.  

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