New Battlefield 2042 mode lets you bring defibrillators to a knife fight

Battlefield 2042: airplanes fly over armorized robot dogs as flames fill the sky in the background
(Image credit: EA)

EA Ripple Effect Studios has finally unveiled Battlefield 2042’s third multiplayer mode, which finally gives fans the ability to create their own custom Battlefield experiences.

Battlefield Portal will allow Battlefield 2042 players to build, discover and share their own custom Battlefield sandbox game experiences, with maps, vehicles, classes,  weapons, teams and more from plenty of Battlefield games of past and present, including Battlefield 2042, Battlefield 1942, Bad Company 2 and Battlefield 3 at their disposal. 

You can't create your own map from scratch, but you can tweak an existing map from the franchise with rules, items, and event triggers to make your own new experiences - whether that's a challenging co-op firefight or a goofy-rules multiplayer match. For example, as the reveal trailer for Battlefield Portal shows, players could create a ruleset allowing one team to only have knives while the other only has defibrillators. The possibilities are vast. 

Players will then be able to share these built experiences online, if they choose, allowing the Battlefield community to play their experiences. Players can explore the creations of others by jumping into matches created by the developer or by others in the community.

We attended a virtual preview for Battlefield Portal recently and can safely say that it looks to be the “love letter” to Battlefield fans that EA promised. 

Reimagined classics

Battlefield 2042

(Image credit: EA)

Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of exactly what content Battlefield Portal lets players utilize. As we’ve said above, Battlefield Portal contains content from Battlefield 2042, Battlefield 1942, Bad Company 2 and Battlefield 3. That means that players have some classic fan-favorite maps to play with, with a total of 13 maps across the Battlefield franchise available at launch. 

So, in addition to the seven maps being introduced in Battlefield 2042, Battlefield Portal will also give players access to the Caspian Border and Noshahr canals maps from Battlefield 3, the El Alamein map and Battle of the Bulge maps from Battlefield 1942, and the Arica Harbor and Valparaiso maps from Bad Company 2.

All these maps have been reimagined and revamped to run in 4K at 60fps - with EA Ripple Effect Studios explaining that the latest tech has allowed it to “overcome the limitations of the past”. Built in the latest Frostbite engine, these reimagined classic maps also allow for 128-players on PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC (PS4 and Xbox One will still be restricted to 64 players) - though players can choose to simply keep to the original player count on new hardware if they prefer. 

Giving an example of how these maps have been imagined, the developer explained how the Battle of the Bulge map from Battlefield 1942 now has improved visuals and its short-draw distance has been blown out to modern standards, while Valparaiso from Bad Company 2 now has both low and high tide variations.

These maps can be used as staging grounds for building a Battlefield experience, but players also have the option to access EA Ripple Studios’ “official experiences” which allow them to relive these iconic, reimagined battles and deathmatches.

Building a Battlefield experience

Battlefield 2042

(Image credit: EA)

Perhaps what most players will be interested in, though, is how they can create their own Battlefield experience. Battlefield Portal will contain a web-based platform called the Battlefield builder, accessible through the game on console or PC, where you can create your ideal experience using all the content from these classic Battlefield games and Battlefield 2042. 

The nice thing about Battlefield builder is that it can be as straightforward or complex as you want it to be. Players are taken through a step-by-step process whereby they can choose which maps they want to include in their experience (though you can’t edit the map itself), which game type they want (with custom available as an option), as well as options to choose which era of Battlefield they want each side to play as, and which faction. So, for example, you could pit Battlefield 2042’s USA against Battlefield 1942’s Russia.

The era you choose for each side then allows that side access to all the content from that specific era. Unfortunately, you can’t mix and match. So the Bad Company 2 side can’t access Battlefield 2042’s Ranger robot dog, for instance. Players can then decide which weapons and vehicles they want each side to have access to as well as more specific elements like which attachments, items and ammo types they can use, just to name a few. 

You can get pretty specific in these general customizations, choosing how many players you have in each team, how those teams are weighted towards AI, projectile speed and so on - and even more specific later on - but the basics of creating an experience seem pretty straightforward from what we have seen and leave room for plenty of experimentation.

Battlefield 2042

(Image credit: EA)

Customization becomes somewhat more complicated with the logic editor, a feature where elements such as visual scripting come into play. Players can create blocks to build very specific game modes and experiences from scratch, such as having players’ health replenish when they get a kill. It looks very similar to modding, with players able to set conditions, variables and actions as part of "subroutines". Essentially it allows for more granular customization for those who want it, allowing for specific actions to occur when a condition (like an event) is triggered. The developer didn't go into detail about all the options on offer with the logic editor.  When asked about the maximum number of logic edit blocks which can be made, the developer simply stated “we haven’t hit the limit yet”.

EA Ripple describes this as a feature for advance builders and reassured us that it plans to release Wikipedia-like guides to help players get to grips with this - on first sight - complicated editing tool, but also explained that they hope that the community will “learn from each other”. Given how players have built supplementary guides and challenges in Minecraft, Mario Maker and others, this isn’t too far-fetched an ambition.

And community seemingly is a huge part of the Battlefield Portal multiplayer experience. After players are done creating their experience, they can choose to share with the community, allowing others to try it out and offer feedback - that you can either accept or ignore. The Battlefield Portal landing page will also feature a rotating curation of the most popular experiences, allowing you to try the experiences of others - with a “robust tagging system” allowing you to find specific experience types.

Though, if you prefer to keep your experience private, then you can choose to only share with select friends - with admin controls allowing you to message, kick and ban players. You can also play alone, if you so choose, as the minimum number of players is only one - though you’ll likely need AI to pad out the rest.

All the content from Battlefield 2042 All-Out War is available in this builder, including the ability to call in vehicles on command, with new content set to be added as it rolls out. It’s also worth noting that thanks to a global progression system, players will still gain experience from playing Battlefield Portal matches.

A love letter to Battlefield fans

Battlefield 2042

(Image credit: EA)

EA Ripple Effect is clear: Battlefield Portal is meant to be fun rather than competitive. So the developer hasn’t made an effort to balance these experiences, as the whole point is to leave balancing in the hands of the creators - though you can use a “historic tuning” setting to improve older weapons. Ripple Effect’s Senior Game Designer, Rob Donovon, describes Battlefield Portal as the “backbone of a world of games that aren’t necessarily team based”.

And you don’t even necessarily need to own Battlefield 2042 to build in Battlefield Portal, with the web-based platform available for anyone to create experiences within - though you won’t be able to play your creation. But EA Ripple Effect described this as “putting on a life jacket but not going in the water”.

Battlefield Portal will be included with Battlefield 2042 at no extra cost, available alongside the All-Out Warfare and Hazard Zone multiplayer experiences when the game releases on October 22, 2021. We currently don’t know much about the Hazard Zone, other than it will focus on tight squad-based play. 

EA Ripple Effect also confirmed during the preview that the open beta for Battlefield 2042, originally slated for July, will kick off in September instead, with those who pre-order the game being offered early access.

We can’t wait to get our hands on Battlefield 2042 to try out the Battlefield Portal’s endless possibilities. After all, we’ve always wondered who would win in a wrench fight between the US and Russia...

Vic Hood
Associate Editor, TechRadar Gaming

Vic is TechRadar Gaming's Associate Editor. An award-winning games journalist, Vic brings experience from IGN, Eurogamer and more to the TechRadar table. You may have even heard her on the radio or speaking on a panel. Not only is Vic passionate about games, but she's also an avid mental health advocate who has appeared on both panels and podcasts to discuss mental health awareness. Make sure to follow her on Twitter for more.