During EA’s less than stellar EA Play live-stream, they hinted at a variety of in-development games across their many studios and one of them was assuredly the next mainline Battlefield game. Battlefield V released back in 2018 to middling reviews and did not live up to the excellent Battlefield 1 just two years prior. The franchise has been on quite the proverbial roller coaster, reaching big highs with Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and Battlefield 3 to the derided lows of Battlefield: Hardline and Battlefield V. Meanwhile, Call of Duty has been reinventing itself and doling out impressive releases one after another. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare was an exceptional installment and one that birthed its own wildly successful Battle Royal spinoff. How can Battlefield 6 stay competitive? Can it even keep up?
It is important to note that both games play radically differently and each offer a distinct pace of gameplay. Call of Duty is twitchy and frenetic while Battlefield is more methodical and tactful but Battlefield has lagged behind in one important aspect. While both games have strong multiplayer components, Battlefield just can’t seem to deliver a worthwhile story mode. For a franchise that has endured three console generations, it is remarkable that it has yet to yield a compelling solo campaign and to be frank, often feels like an afterthought. It is often a poor imitation of its effectively bombastic multiplayer but made worse due to gameplay restrictions.
One could just as easily fire up a match of conquest and learn the ropes rather than engaging in a soulless and pointless story mode. It’s not all doom and gloom however, Battlefield 1 took major strides in delivering a refreshing and thrilling campaign by splitting the narrative into vignettes that blended seamlessly from war hero to war hero. With the upcoming Battlefield 6, EA and DICE should consider going down this route again and if rumors are true, the modern motif can work wonders narratively.
Battlefield’s only handicap is that it doesn’t have the flexibility Call of Duty has enjoyed. It can’t go all blockbuster crazy and for many, Call of Duty is more akin to Fast and Furious than anything military related at this point. From space combat to mech battles, Call of Duty has reemerged as an action set-piece game. Battlefield can also pivot to something less grounded but it would be risky, albeit a welcome risk but a tall order nonetheless. Battlefield revels in its stark realism and acute attention to detail so a sudden trip into space warfare might feel a bit jarring but maybe that’s what it needs to stand out.
Call of Duty also has the benefit of having fan favorite characters like Captain Price and Soap Mactavish while Battlefield has nameless heroes that you already forgot about. Bolstering their campaign would go a long way toward cementing Battlefield as a force to be reckoned with. Call of Duty often offers the whole package, maybe it’s time for Battlefield to do the same?
Co-op play is another sore spot for the Battlefield franchise that desperately needs a dramatic overhaul. Last year’s Battlefield V sported a pitiful co-op experience that felt utterly undercooked. Battlefield 4 outright skipped co-op. Battlefield 3 offered a fun yet brief 2-player co-op experience which spanned 6 missions. Sensing a pattern here? Without a doubt, Battlefield needs a great co-op mode like Special Ops in Call of Duty. It needs to not only offer it but also truly deliver a satisfying and addicting mode that will have players populating it for years to come.
At its core, Battlefield is a fun alternative to the run and gun nature of Call of Duty but its slower gameplay lends itself to co-op even more so. Fans got a taste of that potential in Battlefield 3 and there’s at least hope that Battlefield 6 might follow suit. Although there wasn’t much to glean from EA Play, it is confirmed to be coming to next-gen consoles at some point in 2021. Interestingly enough, the 2021 slated date means Call of Duty 2020 will have the stage all by itself this holiday season which places more added pressure on EA to deliver the goods. While it may not be make it or break it for Battlefield but Call of Duty isn’t slowing down anytime either.