The History of BattlefieldBy Kyle Mann | August 26, 2011 | Features | 16 comments | Share
The Venerable Franchise Through the Years
A teenager walked into a now-defunct Circuit City store and perused the then-massive PC games section. He turned over the games and admired the packaging (PC games came in boxes back then), trying to decide between a $50 copy of Jedi Knight II and a $50 copy of Medal of Honor: Allied Assault. He was on the verge of leaving empty-handed when one particular game’s cover caught his eye. A tank rumbled toward the viewer, its gunner hanging on for dear life as flames licked at the metal beast’s back; Japanese Zero fighters screamed over a crystal sea, scanning for their next target. The game was Battlefield 1942, and in a twist that would make M. Night Shyamalan proud, I was that teenager.
Battlefield 1942 ignited a series that has ebbed and flowed in popularity over the years, but one that has constantly re-invented itself in an attempt to stay relevant and fresh. Before Battlefield, the bulk of multiplayer shooters offered little more than isolated CTF or deathmatch challenges. The player’s first flight in a Corsair (at least, the first flight that didn’t end in a fiery death), soaring over dozens of ant-sized soldiers swarming control points across a massive map, was an experience completely different from anything else out there, a harbinger of things to come for the next generation of PC and console gaming hardware alike. It truly was a game ahead of its time.
Fast forward almost 9 years, and here we sit on the brink of Battlefield 3’s assault on the shooter market. The market has changed: Half-Life 2, World of Warcraft, Steam, three new home gaming systems, and now-legendary series like Mass Effect and Assassin’s Creed have all revolutionized our expectations for video games. The next game in the series will land smack in the middle of a fundamentally altered gaming landscape, and we’ll witness firsthand how well gamers receive the evolved formula for the Battlefield franchise. Whether it falls before its enemies like the monstrous Call of Duty, or rises to reclaim its place as king of virtual warfare, there is no denying the profound impact the games have had on our beloved hobby. I can’t think of a better way to usher in the new era of Battlefield than to take a look at the storied history of the franchise. Click through all the pages to check out our overview of all the core titles in the series, then leave a comment letting us know which is your favorite!
Update 10/24/2011: our video channel GamerSpawn has worked long and hard to create a documentary based on this article! Give it a watch below.