Despite the well-documented issues with Battlefield 2042, Electronic Arts said today that it remains “all in on Battlefield (opens in a new tab)and announced that a new studio called Ridgeline Games, led by Halo co-creator Marcus Lehto, will be developing an all-new campaign “set in the Battlefield universe.”
Lehto joins EA (opens in a new tab) in October 2021 after his Disintegration project, developed at his first post-Halo V1 Interactive studio, failed to take off. EA said at the time that the new studio Lehto was leading would be “focused on developing first-person shooters”, although no further details were revealed. Today’s announcement gives a clearer idea of what this group is focusing on.
“Marcus will bring his long legacy of crafting compelling worlds and compelling stories to Battlefield,” Battlefield General Manager Byron Beede said in today’s announcement. “Backed by a world-class team, he will lead the charge to develop a narrative campaign set in the Battlefield universe that will engage fans in new and exciting ways while staying true to the classic elements of the series.”
The announcement cements what was already known thanks to a July job listing revealing that Lehto’s then-unnamed studio is working on a single-player Battlefield campaign. It wasn’t clear at the time whether the campaign would be a mode in a larger, multiplayer-focused Battlefield game, or something entirely standalone, but just having it happen was welcome news. The lack of single-player action wasn’t Battlefield 2042’s only problem (or its most pressing), but it definitely showed up.
EA clarified on Twitter that the Ridgeline campaign will not be part of Battlefield 2042.
For clarification: The new narrative campaign experience @RidgelineGames is working on is not part of #Battlefield 2042. It will take place in the Battlefield universe.September 8, 2022
Ridgeline’s campaign is just one part of what Beede described as “a global effort, coordinating multiple studios under a leadership team of industry veterans to build a connected Battlefield universe.” Original Battlefield studio DICE will continue to develop the multiplayer portion of the game, while Ripple Effect Studios, formerly known as DICE LA, “is focused on creating an all-new Battlefield experience that will complement and build on the foundations of the series”.
“The next generation of Battlefield creators is a global team of talented and hungry individuals dedicated to taking the series to new heights,” Beede said. “This team includes veterans who have worked on the series for years as well as new industry talent, all of whom bring years of experience working on amazing titles to the Battlefield universe.”
Respawn Entertainment co-founder Vince Zampella, who became the show’s chief (opens in a new tab) in December 2021, said the move demonstrates EA’s commitment to Battlefield’s long-term future.
“With Marcus and his team at Ridgeline Games joining the world-class global team we already have in place, Battlefield is in the best position to succeed,” Zampella said.
However, one of the Battlefield series’ longest-serving veterans won’t be around to help with the effort: Creative Director Lars Gustavsson (opens in a new tab), whose series credits date back 20 years to the first Battlefield 1942, is leaving the studio. Gustavsson’s departure comes less than a year after that of former DICE chief executive Oskar Gabrielson.
“Creative Director Lars Gustavsson, who has been with the franchise since the beginning and is affectionately known as Mr Battlefield, has decided he is ready for a new adventure. We would like to thank him for his invaluable experience, expertise and friendship. for all these years,” Beede said.
“Lars has dedicated a significant portion of his life to Battlefield and is proud to have helped shape the franchise into what it is today. He is thrilled to pass the baton to the next generation of Battlefield creators. at DICE, Ripple Effect, Industrial Toys, and Ridgeline Games.”
The move to a multi-studio effort echoes the system Activision used to great success on the Call of Duty series. Development of the next Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 (opens in a new tab), for example, is led by Infinity Ward, with support from Activision Central Design, Activision QA, Activision Shanghai, Beenox, Demonware, High Moon Studios, Raven Software, Sledgehammer Games, Toys for Bob and Treyarch. Call of Duty, which features a single-player campaign, conventional multiplayer modes, and a live battle royale, is simply too big for one (or even two) studios to handle, and it seems clear that EA aspires to similar heights for Battlefield.
The good news for Battlefield fans is that EA’s persistence seems to be paying off: Season 2 has recently kicked off and the response so far seems generally positive – or at least cautiously optimistic – and there has also been a real increase in the number of players on Steam, from an average number of simultaneous players below 2,000 in May to more than 5,700 (opens in a new tab) over the past 30 days: Still far from a real success, but a definite move in the right direction.