Battlefield is DICE's military FPS that gamers absolutely love. Last year, it wrestled the crown for best multiplayer FPS out of Call of Duty’s cold dead hands. DICE will tell you that it has not been an easy road to AAA super stardom. Since 2002, there have been multiple entries into the franchise, but not all of them have been hits. There are some duds in their arsenal.
DICE has a simple formula for creating Battlefield games, with large maps, team based combat, and vehicles. Lots and lots of vehicles. When DICE adheres to this formula, gamers line up to snag a copy. When DICE deviates or falters, the games are not a big success. DICE has tried a lot of different things over the years to keep gamers interested and keep them moving from one Battlefield game to the next.
The most common thing that changes from each Battlefield game is the setting. Not the way Call of Duty changes locations, giving gamers have something new to look at in between the shooting. When a Battlefield game goes from Vietnam, to the distance future, then back to World War 1, the gameplay and weapons change with the times. That has led to many successes in the franchise, as well as many of its failures. DICE takes risks with their beloved Battlefield and that is what keeps gamers interested.
15 Battlefield Play4Free
Imagine if all the great parts of Battlefield 2 and Bad Company were packaged together in a game and that game was free to play. Now stop imagining and wake up, as Battlefield Play4Free did that and it really sucked. Those gamers that missed this free to play, microtransaction heavy failure of a game are lucky.
DICE found a way to strip away the fun and function of their successful Battlefield games, as they committed the cardinal sin of multiplayer FPS, by locking the gamers into one class for the entire match. That’s right, there was no changing on the fly to react to the match at hand. Whatever loadout you picked in the beginning was yours until the match ended. The limitations put on gamers were not outweighed by the Battlefield brand of fun and combat.
14 Battlefield Hardline
DICE goes out on a limb every once in a while with their games and Hardline is a perfect example of when that limb snaps and falls out from under them. Maybe it was the flooded market of modern/future military shooters or maybe it was the current political climate with America’s police force. Regardless of the reason, something drove DICE to make this lackluster game that took gamers off the battlefield and onto the streets of America’s inner cities.
Making this leap from the expansive battlefield to the tight corners of urban combat really limited gamers. The game put you in the role of a cop busting bad guys and took focus away from what made the series so popular. Gamers spent more time being stealthy and handcuffing criminals than most police simulator games.
13 Battlefield Online
Battlefield Online is the only game on this list where DICE handed over most of the development to another company, Neowiz. Released in 2010, the game attempted to remake Battlefield 2 for the free to play audience. However, it never really reached the success of the original.
It was geared for Korean audiences who missed the first few Battlefield games and, before launch, it claimed 100 gamer battles would be possible. The game was not a hit in Korea because just a few short years after its release the servers were shut down. It was a quick and easy chance to grab money from a new market for DICE and EA, but this western shooter did not have a following in Korea. It seems that free to play and Battlefield do not mix so well.
12 Battlefield Heroes
DICE has a lot of competitors in the multiplayer and single player FPS market. Back in 2009, they tried to take on one of the biggest ones, Team Fortress 2. It did not go so well. Instead of translating the fun and function of Team Fortress to the Battlefield franchise, the game stripped away all that was good about the series.
The maps were not massive sandboxes that allowed for gamers to use their imagination when it came to winning, as the maps were cramped and repetitive. Where Team Fortress 2 excelled in creating different classes, Heroes fell flat. Add the fact that the game was free to play, which just added the frustration of gamers being pestered with microtransactions, and you have a below average game. Everything that was effortless and fun was lost and instead gamers suffered through a bad clone of a good game.
11 Battlefield 2: Modern Combat
Console gamers got thrown a bone with this entry in to the franchise. Sadly, it wasn’t the best bone DICE has ever thrown. While PC gamers got Battlefield 2, Modern Combat was DICE’s first console game and the last for about three years, until 2008.
This was DICE’s first single player campaign and it was not a great first attempt. DICE’s inexperience with single player really showed from level design to the actual story. The real travesty was the multiplayer, which DICE knew how to do well. Modern Combat only had two modes and was so poorly optimized that gamers barely stayed connected through an entire match. Those were the lucky ones to get out of the lobby. This early Xbox 360 release failure unfortunately will be echoed again with Battlefield 4 and the Xbox One.
10 Battlefield 4
The launch of a game is so crucial to its overall success, both financially and critically. Battlefield 4 was marred by a tremendous about of connectivity issues and bugs that made launch a nightmare for DICE. It didn't help that this game was the first Battlefield to be released on the current generation of consoles, making it a bad first step into a new era.
DICE scrambled to fix the issues by delaying future projects to address the serious issues. Many gamers gave up and never played the game after the patches were released. Another aspect game to the game that really sunk the launch was the incredibly short single player campaign. Eventually the game leveled out and provided some good old fashioned Battlefield fun. However, the launch set DICE back tremendously and caused a great deal of damage to the franchise.
9 Battlefield 1943
Battlefield 1943 was the band-aid or bridge while gamers waited for the next Bad Company game. The game itself was more of a large scale DLC than a full release game. It only included four maps, but this time it was in the Pacific Theater of WWII. So it was a little different from 1942.
The real draw for this Battlefield game was on consoles. It was a chance for these gamers to get to know the original 1942 with a fresh coat of paint and the game even broke a few records for downloads on Xbox Live. But it is the overall experience that places it on the back end of this list. The game was a place holder, waiting for the next game to really improve with actual innovation. 1943 was playable and offered a real Battlefield experience, it was just not complete.
8 Battlefield 2142
DICE had tackled World War II and modern combat, so they looked to the future with this 2006 release. This game is very black and white among die hard Battlefield fans. Those that love it, do so because of the Titan mode. In Titan, teams would attempt to take down the opposing team’s warship by attacking one of two weak points. Fans have been clamoring for a sequel or update to this mode ever since.
The game overall was a weird but fun venture into the future of gaming and warfare. Sadly, the mix of mechs and future weapons were not quite enough to rank this game higher. That is because outside the Titan and Conquest mode, there wasn’t anything else to do in the game. With all that in mind, it was still a great first step into the future war genre of FPS.
7 Battlefield Vietnam
DICE gets a lot of points for trying a new theater of war with Battlefield Vietnam and this game also featured a real leap forward in terms of gameplay mechanics for the studio. The two sides were vastly different and created unique strategies and playing styles depending on which side of the conflict you were on.
On the American side, gamers felt the weight of the US Military behind them in the guns they used and the vehicles they had at their disposal. The Vietnamese side was more agile and stealthy, with the ability to rush the Americans from all sides without warning. Very few games since have felt so balanced and authentic to the setting. DICE’s attention to detail flourished in Battlefield Vietnam and gamers responded positively.
6 Battlefield 1942
The Battlefield that started it all took everyone by surprise back in 2002 and gamers still venture back to Wake Island to this very day. The PC community has really kept this game alive and kicking with mods that took a great game and made it iconic.
Not many gamers had ever played a 64 player match spanning land, air, and sea when the game was first released. The focus on classes, mid-match tactical decisions, and teamwork struck a chord with PC gamers who were being left behind for console gamers. Each map favored a different approach that DICE really built on throughout the series. 1942 was such a strong first entry into the series and the basis for all of the successful games that followed.
5 Battlefield: Bad Company
Bad Company was DICE’s first enormous success in the single player arena. Gamers took control of Preston Marlowe and his quest to steal some gold while the rest of the world was occupied by Russia and the US fighting each other. The comedy and new Frostbite engine worked in harmony to create one of Battlefield’s best games.
The focus on single player was due to DICE’s determination to improve on the failures of Modern Combat. They wanted to deliver a console experience that was memorable and replayable. The departure from PC may have ruffled a few feathers, but it allowed DICE to show off their adaptability. It also introduced gamers to a few new modes like Rush, which has been carried throughout the series. Bad Company was funny and is still a great Battlefield game.
4 Battlefield 3
After the completion of the Bad Company series, DICE went back to its roots and tried to build on the success of Battlefield 2. Battlefield 3 is a worthy sequel, bringing back fan favorites such as fighter jets and 64 player matches.
What makes Battlefield 3 really stand out was DICE’s commitment to post-release content. The single player was not as strong as the Bad Company games, but the constant stream of new maps and content for multiplayer was well received by fans. DICE returned to form creating memorable maps and winning back PC gamers who felt lost during the Bad Company years. The model of post-release content continued in subsequent Battlefield games, which only improved the franchise.
3 Battlefield: Bad Company 2
The sequel to the funniest and most off the wall Battlefield game would need to match it in gameplay, but exceed it from an entertainment level to be considered a success. Well, Bad Company 2 did exactly that. DICE took the model built in the original and ran with it. Destructible environments and an improved multiplayer helped elevate the sequel to be better than its predecessor.
The single player story is still leaps and bounds above any other Battlefield game on this list. This game was also the introduction of UVAs into combat. For all the talk about pandering to console gamers, this game delivers a fun experience that improved on the first game.
2 Battlefield 2
This is the game that put Battlefield on the map for all gamers. Back in 2005, Battlefield 2 had to contend with both Call of Duty and Medal of Honor on consoles. DICE was looking to stand out from the crowded World War II and FPS console market, so they stayed on PC. PC gamers kept Battlefield all to themselves which only added to allure of the game. While console owners got Battlefield 2: Modern Combat, a lesser game as previously stated, PC gamers embraced this title for years after its release.
With that game, DICE expanded the team based play and coordination they established in 1942. The introduction of commanders and special forces, as well as robust modern vehicles, made every match a unique and fun experience. Without this game, Battlefield would not be a franchise and this list would not exist. It was the first FPS in the franchise to be taken seriously by critics and gamers.
1 Battlefield 1
Battlefield 1 is the most fun and the most interesting game on this list. That isn’t the only reason it takes the top spot, as the game is solid from its single player to its multiplayer. The weapons are balanced, the game modes fit the mechanics, and it added a welcomed learning curve to multiplayer that had been missing for a few years.
Gamers played most FPS the same way, until DICE introduced these WWI era weapons and vehicles. It challenged players to think and act differently, especially those coming from the Call of Duty franchise. It is also DICE’s largest release of a Battlefield game to date. Gamers can tell from the production value, the overall graphic, and the endless commercials last Holiday season. But it is the best Battlefield game of all time because you can go from flying a biplane to riding a horse to fighting with bayonets in the trenches, all within the same match.