Under the name “Battlefield,” publisher EA-Games has released several full-price games and some extensions. Even if there are a total of four independent games plus expansions, they have unmistakable similarities. The name is a program. “Battlefield” provides the player with battlefields that can be played in different ways. The sometimes huge areas can either be walked on, driven on, or overflown. The special thing about it: Every player can use all vehicles and war machines standing around. Whether on land, on water, or in the air, the idea of including war machines in the game plot was implemented for the first time in Battlefield. The first-person shooter genre is still heavily influenced by this today.
All games in the Battlefield series are first-person shooters, which means that the player perceives the game world from the character’s first-person perspective. The setting of the game worlds is the significant difference that distinguishes the different game versions from one another. The first Battlefield of 2002 (Battlefield 1942) deals with the Second World War. The name of the successor “Battlefield Vietnam” (2004) speaks for itself. “Battlefield 2” from 2005 is set in the context of the present. The latest title from 2006 (Battlefield 2142) carries the successful game concept into the future. Instead of tanks and helicopters, hovercrafts and giant combat robots fight against each other.
In Battlefield, two armies face each other on a battlefield and fight each other with a weapon arsenal adapted to the setting. Both parties start the game with a fixed quota of points, the so-called tickets. The battlefield is divided into several sectors. Each area has a flagpole. If a team succeeds in hoisting their flag on this mast, the area is awarded to them. If a soldier falls in the game, his party loses a ticket. If a team runs out of tickets, it has lost. In addition, those who no longer have flags and whose soldiers are all dead lose if there is no longer any prospect of a reconquest.
Another special feature of the Battlefield games from the first version was that the player could go into battle not only as a soldier equipped with a wide variety of weapons. Numerous vehicles, naval units, and aircraft are also available to him. Here, however, skill is required. Flying precisely from A to B in a helicopter is no trivial task for beginners. Going into battle with this one requires long training. The many vehicles available make the game more varied than conventional shooters. The more powerful among the vehicles also represent a strategic component. After a certain waiting time, the vehicles repeatedly appear at certain points (called “spawning” in technical jargon). The team, which dominates the areas with the superior vehicles, thus has a real strategic advantage. Accordingly, such areas are usually particularly hotly contested.
A background story or storyline was deliberately omitted. Battlefield is what it says on the tin: a battlefield. Up to sixty-four players fight against each other in two teams at the same time on the battlefields. It is also possible to replace the opposing players with bots, i.e., opponents controlled by the computer. However, this solution is intended more as a provisional, as a kind of training option, so that beginners can first practice the basic game controls before they jump into the hustle and bustle of the network.
Battlefield clearly relies on teamwork. Messages can be sent to teammates using keyboard shortcuts. In this way, for example, information can be quickly given about enemies that have been sighted, or help can be requested – an important strategic function. Many vehicles can only be used effectively in a team. In Battlefield 1942, the B-17 bomber is a compelling vehicle, but it has to be operated by several players.
In addition to the pilot, machine-gunmen are also needed to fend off any attacking hunters. In the newer Battlefield titles, players can even talk to each other within their groups via headsets without using separate software. Another indication that teamwork is essential here. From Battlefield 2, a reward system ensures long-term motivation. Those who have collected enough points can use more powerful weapons and additional functions over the long term.