Despite the well-documented problems with Battlefield 2042, Electronic Arts said today that it remains “all-in on Battlefield (opens in 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 joined EA (opens in new tab) in October 2021 after his project Disintegration, developed at his first post-Halo studio V1 Interactive, failed to take off. EA said at the time that the new studio led by Lehto would “focus on the development of first-person shooters,” though no further details were revealed. Today’s announcement gives a clearer sense of what this team is focused on.
“Marcus will bring his long legacy of creating compelling worlds and compelling narratives 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 reinforces what was already known thanks to a job listing in July that revealed that Lehto’s then-unnamed studio was working on a single-player Battlefield campaign. It wasn’t clear at the time if the campaign would be a mode within a larger multiplayer-focused Battlefield game or something completely standalone, but the fact that it was happening was good news. The lack of single-player action wasn’t Battlefield 2042’s only problem (or its most pressing), but it was certainly noticeable.
EA clarified on Twitter that Ridgeline’s campaign will not be part of Battlefield 2042.
To clarify: 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 entirely new Battlefield experience that complements and builds on the foundation of the series.”
“The next generation of Battlefield creators is a global team of talented, hungry individuals dedicated to taking the series to new heights,” said Beede. “This team includes veterans who have worked on the series for years, as well as new talent from the industry, who bring years of experience working on incredible titles in the Battlefield universe.”
Respawn Entertainment co-founder Vince Zampella, who became head of the series (opens in new tab) in December 2021, said the move proves EA is committed to Battlefield’s long-term future.
“With Marcus and his team at Ridgeline Games joining the world-class global team we’ve already built, Battlefield is in the strongest position to succeed,” Zampella said.
However, one of the longest-serving veterans of the Battlefield series won’t be around to help with the effort: Creative Director Lars Gustavsson (opens in new tab), whose titles in the series date back 20 years to the original Battlefield 1942, is leaving the studio. Gustavsson’s departure comes less than a year after the departure of former DICE general manager Oskar Gabrielson.
“Creative Director Lars Gustavsson, who has been with the franchise since the beginning and is known as Mr Battlefield, has decided that he is ready for a new adventure. We would like to thank him for his invaluable experience, expertise and friendship for everyone 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 excited to lead 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 that Activision used with great success in the Call of Duty series. Development of the upcoming Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (opens in new tab)For example, it 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-service battle royale, is simply too big for one (or even two) studios to handle, and it seems clear that EA is aiming to similar heights for Battlefield.
The good news for Battlefield fans is that EA’s persistence seems to be paying off: Season 2 recently launched, and the response so far seems generally positive—or at least cautiously hopeful—and there’s been a real uptick in player numbers and on Steam. from an average number of concurrent players of less than 2,000 in May to more than 5,700 (opens in new tab) last 30 days: Far from a real hit, but definitely moving in the right direction.