Electronic Arts announced its fourth quarter results on Tuesday, along with new details on the upcoming main entry for the Battlefield franchise. The upcoming title, dubbed Battlefield 6 before its reveal in June, is now headed for the previous generation PlayStation 4 (PS4) and Xbox One consoles, alongside the latest generation of consoles and PCs. As a project once billed as a ânext-genâ experience, the movement has made headlines, although it is somewhat expected in today’s gaming landscape.
While Electronic Arts remains shy about its near future, Battlefield 6 has gained a reputation for its ambition, representing what it calls “a true next-gen vision for the franchise.” Its first appearance focused exclusively on these technical innovations, highlighting high-player battles and advanced models of environmental destruction. But with aging hardware from the previous gen being an inevitable hurdle, the true exclusive next gen Battlefield remains a pipe dream in 2021.
Messy PS5 and Xbox Series X rollout means an exclusive next-gen battleground was nearly impossible
Battlefield 6 will join upcoming sports titles released by Electronic Arts as an intergenerational title, covering previous eighth-gen consoles (PS4 and Xbox One) alongside the new PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, and Xbox Series S.
“The reference [to next-gen] specifically from our prepared remarks concerned the nature of the gameplay. What we can do with the fidelity of the game, what we can do with the physics, the artificial intelligence and the immersive nature of the game, âEA CEO Andrew Wilson told investors on Tuesday.
“And in the case of Battlefield, what we can do in terms of how many players we can have in the game, the nature of the destruction, and these brand new Battlefield moments that are real next-gen opportunities that we may need to be done as part of our next-generation franchises due to increased processing power, memory and the release of new consoles. “
This preview highlights what the latest consoles are bringing to Battlefield, with hardware advancements related to foundational game design. This is especially true with the next generation, where faster SSDs raise the ceiling, supporting larger game worlds, complex systems and much more beyond load times.
The decision to support PS4 and Xbox One saw mixed reception within the community, with concerns about limits imposed due to broader support. But Battlefield 6’s impending reveal should shed some light on it, with Andy McNamara, director of communications for shooters and Star Wars, asking critics to remain calm. “Just because one thing is true doesn’t mean another can’t be,” McNamara tweeted.
From a creative standpoint, it would be naive to assume that the old systems haven’t shaped parts of the next Battlefield. By supporting anything that isn’t state of the art, games need to be flexible to accommodate a wide variety of hardware. But it does require a cautious approach, risking neglecting part of the console audience (looking at you, Cyberpunk 2077), or hampering creative direction to ensure performance parity.
But that’s far from the reality in the modern world, especially for a multi-million dollar property like Battlefield. The military shooter remains a standout title in Electronic Arts’ portfolio, with the publisher recently expressing plans to elevate the title alongside top franchises like Apex Legends and FIFA. For Battlefield, skipping the previous generation would have profound implications, especially for the challenges facing these latest console launches.
The Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 remain hard to find in mid-2021, with the rarity dating back to their respective November launches. The tight supply is further amplified by global chip shortages amid the pandemic, causing a production bottleneck for the foreseeable future. It comes as interest in games skyrocketed amid home orders, removing all available stock from store shelves. It’s a constant struggle to get these devices, with many fetching high prices through the resale market.
A next-generation battlefield might have already been on the roadmap. Whether planned since launch or a late decision, no developer could have predicted today’s console landscape. It’s simply financially unsustainable as an Electronic Arts fall favorite, especially for a service-based game dependent on its community. Ultimately, the next Battlefield needs the support of older consoles to survive, especially where the current generation remains inaccessible to most.
How Battlefield 6 Can Tackle the Generation Gap
While Electronic Arts has several options to alleviate the issues associated with an intergenerational release, recent comments imply its preferred solution. The publisher sees more players and destructive environments, two defining pillars of a Battlefield experience, as ânext generation opportunitiesâ for the franchise. This could see the PS4 and Xbox One versions scaled back, leaving some functionality related to the extra power.
The suggested Battlefield 6 approach was designed with an added level of scalability, sharing basic gameplay principles, but has morphed into a new version of the game. This common ground could help developer DICE provide upgrades to the best consoles, while still supporting those existing users. This could trigger some headaches for intergenerational multiplayer, although hopefully advancements in cross-platform support could bring older consoles closer together, with separate new consoles in their own multiplayer pool.
It wouldn’t be the first time for Battlefield either – Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 4 have also dropped significantly on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles. While PC pioneered 64-player matches, older consoles saw cards. smaller and 24 player lobbies. There’s also the expected visual downgrade, with reduced resolution and lower frame rate to help the porting process for older consoles.
Battlefield 6 will likely fare better on PS4 and Xbox One, compared to the aging Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 of the day, but still a far cry from the next-gen experience. The approach should allow the best consoles to flourish, in line with its ânext-genâ vision, while making the title accessible to millions of people on older hardware. It all depends on Electronic Arts’ ability to strike a balance, providing a battleground that appeals to both generations.