Battlefield 2042’s new Portal experience lets players craft their own modes with an intricate set of tools unlike anything else the franchise has ever seen. To gain some insight on just how ambitious this new sandbox really is, Dexerto spoke with Ripple Effect to learn how it all came together.
EA finally lifted the veil on Battlefield 2042’s mysterious third mode at the July 22 EA Play Live event. After much speculation, fans got their first look at Battlefield Portal, an expansive set of tools that allow community-crafted experiences to be shared around the world.
Not only can players fine-tune settings and even spend hours learning to code through the advanced logic editor, but they’ll be able to do so while using assets from previous titles. From simpler modes you build with friends in mind, to more intricate playlists you can host competitions in, the possibilities seem to be wide open.
To get a better understanding of how Portal works and what went into the ambitious undertaking, Dexerto spoke with Ripple Effect game developer Tompen Andersson, to learn more about the community-driven Battlefield sandbox.
To start off, is there a single example that stands out as the craziest mode you’ve seen while Portal has been developed?
“Right now, we’re in pre-Alpha. There’s plenty of crazy ideas. One of my favorites that I think we’re going to show at one point is…it’s like the ‘what if scenarios,’ one stupid idea feeding into another stupid idea. Would a Russian tank survive an onslaught of say 20 EOD Bots? Who would win in that fight?
“It’s almost like kids sandbox-type stuff. You can settle those discussions within Portal. Would modern soldiers, the 2042 Specialists, be able to take on double their numbers against 1942 soldiers?”
Is there a limit in place? Could you theoretically have 128 players all spawn in their own jets at the start of a game, or will Portal have restrictions?
“So we do have tech limitations, especially when it comes to vehicles. There are budgets to adhere to. We control those numbers but it’s something we can revisit and look at, see what people want to create and see what we can open up.
“We are a little bit careful with things we know is a huge burden on servers or performance. It’s always going to be possible to create experiences we haven’t thought of, but we want to minimize bad experiences.
“So 128 jets for example, will not be possible. You can spawn maybe 40 vehicles, but not 128.
“That’s the gamble. What do we want to make available to people and how crazy can they go with it? I still think we’re gonna be super surprised. It’s already crazy. Just having the tools, you can create crazy things so who knows what we’ll see.
“I’ve seen infection modes that are completely nuts. There’s one guy stalking as the infected and slowly mutating the others. Having very different parameters in terms of speed, health, weaponry, that kind of stuff.”
So you confirmed that playing Portal modes will award experience and Battle Pass progress along the way. Will you be forcing any limits on that end as well? Could a player technically create an AI farming simulator just to grind XP and instantly get through the latest Battle Pass?
“So we do have behind the scenes restrictions on these things aside from strict monitoring on what’s happening. We want to be able to go in and control people who are creating farming.
I don’t know if you know anything about LittleBigPlanet and the type of experiences people can put together. You know, those ‘join my achievement experience’ and all of a sudden you’re flung up in the air getting 100 achievements at the same time. So we want to restrict those.
We want to make sure that people find value in playing Portal and playing each other’s experiences. So we want to be as open as possible but we’re monitoring and we’re putting in some restrictions, just to stifle people going overboard. Those would be limits you don’t normally hit playing All-Out Warfare for example.”
You’ve also touched on the fact that classic weapons will be returning in 2042. They’ll be fine-tuned for the new experience but there’s also a setting to revert back to how they originally felt. Will that be the same moving forward with 2042? Say, for example, one weapon is maybe too powerful early on so you release a patch to nerf it. Could players just go into the Portal and essentially revert any balance updates if they wanted?
“You cannot roll back patches. Not now, at least.
“We’re gonna monitor and see what people want to create. I think knowing esports communities for example, the absolute control you want over tuning values, it’s not something we’re supporting off the bat.
“Right now we’re supporting ‘blacklisting’ if you will. ‘These weapons are okay to use but I want a server without explosives.’ That’s something players can control themselves now. ‘We believe this weapon is overpowered so we’re gonna turn it off on [our] server’.
“When it comes to the tweaks you were talking about, we have the historical tweaks and the 2042 tweaks. With the 2042 tweaks, it’s just to make sure that they’re normalized around the 2042 values.
“If you played any Bad Company 2, the balance between weapons, infantry, and vehicles was very different to today. You felt like more of a superhero in a way. That’s something we want to get to with the historical tweaks. We want you to feel like you felt in Bad Company 2 if you chose the historical settings.
“But it’s not a time machine. You can’t go back and pick the balance on patch 5.10 or whatever it may be.”
Although we’re yet to see Hazard Zone, can you see a future where there’s potentially both sides of the esports equation? You’ve got Hazard Zone as the super-competitive side for 2042, but then players also making their own competitions through Portal.
“I can easily see the community creating their own competitions.
“Just the power of these tools, allowing them to curate that experience. Password protected servers to make sure only the players that are supposed to be there, are there. That’s what I think the true value of this is. Then we’ll see after launch, is there more we need to support to make sure the competitive players feel we’re listening to them and building the tools they need to have good competitions.
“We’re doing everything we can to have as much functionality as possible in for them at launch. I think they can easily form up competitions in a way that they can’t even do in Battlefield 4.”
So to kick things off when 2042 launches, there will essentially be content from four different games. How did you settle on those titles and those maps specifically from those titles?
“I want to be clear that it’s 40+ weapons, 40+ vehicles, and 30+ gadgets from the three titles to start. It’s not a recreation of those titles when it comes to every piece of hardware in there.
“The focus for us, I have a long, boring priority list for the team. I make sure we have as big a toy box as possible. 2042 has near-future, high-tech gear. So we know that people will want to go back and experience some of the stuff they’ve seen in Battlefield 3, Battlefield 4 already. But Battlefield 4 is a newer title than Battlefield 3, so that’s more recent. Some of this is data, some is anecdotal, looking at what players are screaming for.
“People have been screaming for Bad Company 3, they’ve been talking about Battlefield 3 remakes, all that sort of stuff. This is really a love letter for them. We want to make sure they see that familiar content and bring that to new players that have never experienced this before.
“For me at least, a lot of these things have very fond memories. Battlefield 1942, the game that started it all. Bad Company 2, the first time we went blockbuster on console. Battlefield 3, long-awaited since Battlefield 2, very cinematic experience. Every veteran longs to get back to some of those maps.”
So say throughout the first year, the community demand is really there to see a particular map or weapon from a different game that’s not already featured in Portal, would that be something the team listens to?
“It’s something we take very seriously at Ripple Effect. When we were doing live service in Battlefield 4 and all the way since, we love working with the community and listening to the community.
“We haven’t picked these things just because they’re our favorites, even though some of my favorites are in there as well. We are definitely going to listen to what they want and see what we can do from a production standpoint to make these things become real. But we don’t have to be limited to the content of yesteryear. It’s all the content you get in 2042’s live service.
“As an example, maybe you have areas in 2042 that play insanely well for close quarters. Maybe you want to set up a TDM space within one of those maps…
- Read more: How to access Battlefield 2042 Open Beta
“For launch, we actually have what we call ‘Mini Arenas.’ A TDM space for all the 2042 maps. We didn’t mention that in the runup to this, but there are some lovely areas you can play TDM in that rival the old greats.”
Since Portal will be a big evolving project, how long can you really see there being support for it? Is this something that 3-5 years from now will still be this massive application or maybe when the next Battlefield comes out it’s different or not there in the same capacity?
“Right now, we’re just focusing on the launch and the ambition to make it as open and complete as we can. We’ll see in the future. I hope we’ll see a lot more but that’s something we have to discuss further down the line.”
Seeing how big Portal is and the ambition behind it, what went into the decision behind packaging it in with 2042 as opposed to having it be a separate experience in a separate launcher?
“That’s a really good question. I think it’s just…we’ve been long talking about UGC (User Generated Content), basically paying homage to how we’ve seen people wanting to interact with Battlefield in the past. We’ve had custom games in BF1, BF5, we had a lot of customization on servers before. This is just a way for us to really play into that.
“Custom games, it’s there at launch but you can do more than you’ve ever been able to since the beginning. It came from an ambition to really get this out into players hands and see what they wanted to create.”
We recently got confirmation that crossplay is in the works for All-Out Warfare. How is that looking for Portal? Can I create a mode on PC and send that code to a friend on PS5 to play together?
“I can’t remember the latest on how you share these things. But the way that we’re talking about it is for you to be able to build something… because it is web-based, you can build an experience on PC that people can use on the PS5 and Xbox Series X | S. But you’re never going to be able to create a 128 player experience that you can play on PS4 and Xbox One.
“Other than that, we’ll do whatever we can to make sure as many people as possible can play in every experience.”