Above: Skip to the end of the trailer for a brief Battlefield Royale teaser.
Back at E3, DICE announced that Battlefield 5 will be getting a battle royale mode with one word: "Royale." And that was pretty much it. The lack of preparation—there wasn't even a logo to show—made news of the mode seem like a last minute inclusion, whether or not it was.
While we have little to go on (except a very brief teaser at the end of the trailer above), we can make some educated guesses as to what Battlefield 5 Royale will be like. And we have some hopes of our own to add, because if this mode is going to be any fun, it probably can't just be Battlefield but with 100 players—though who knows, maybe that would work?
When is Battlefield 5's battle royale mode coming?
Battlefield Royale (or whatever they end up calling it) won't be included in the Battlefield 5 launch—DICE said at E3 that it will be added post-launch. That could happen before the end of the year, but we don't have any idea how far in development the mode is. Just because it only took Epic a couple months to create Fortnite Battle Royale doesn't mean the same will be true of Battlefield.
DICE senior producer Lars Gustavsson told ScreenRant at E3 that no date is set for the mode, saying that they're "still painting a picture" and want to "be agile and work with the community."
Some good news is that we don't expect the mode to be paid DLC, as EA is doing away with season passes for Battlefield 5 and offering all content updates free. Instead, the plan is to sell cosmetic items, and we imagine that battle royale mode will play into that heavily.
How will spawning work?
We suspect we'll be jumping out of a plane PUBG-style. Battlefield 5's Airborne mode already spawns players in a plane with parachutes, and it doesn't seem like a coincidence that there's a paratrooper system already in place and a battle royale mode in the works. For now, it's a safe bet.
What other inspiration has BF5 taken from the genre?
Though the battle royale announcement came as a slight surprise to me, it probably shouldn't have, as there are hints all throughout BF5's design. Aside from the Airborne mode, one other change has battle royale written all over it: squadmates can now revive each other even if they aren't medics, which makes squad play more similar to PUBG and other battle royale games.
You also start with less ammo than in previous Battlefields, meaning there's more pressure to find resupply crates and support players—ammo conservation and loot hunting, again, scream battle royale.
What vehicles will be available?
We're not sure yet, but the Gamescom trailer embedded at the top of this article features a brief tease of the mode, and that tease includes a tank, so that much is confirmed.
What we hope for
Part of me hopes that it's literally just Battlefield 5, but with 100 players in teams of four. Imagine how dumb that would be: one of your teammates is in a tank, another is flying around aimlessly, you're on a hill sniping for some reason. It'd probably be pretty fun for a while, but the idea is full of problems. There'd be no loot gathering (except ammo), and that's a standard part of the battle royale format. Everyone would drop on the tanks, and planes seem unlikely, as it wouldn't be fair to let some players spawn into them, and Battlefield hasn't had proper take-offs in several games. Still, I'd love to try it.
If the mode includes tanks, which it looks like it does (see above), having one wouldn't necessarily be a big advantage. For one thing, it puts your entire team at risk of insta-death: In the Battlefield 5 alpha, if a tank you're in is destroyed you go straight to the spawn screen without the opportunity to be revived. Plus, you'd be in a big loud target, and good assault players can easily pester tanks with explosives while staying out of the way of their machine guns. It may even be a bad idea to get into a tank. But who could resist?
Most importantly, my hope is that Battlefield clearly distinguishes itself within the genre. Keep the classes in place, and maybe even keep the spotting system, but make it so that suppression doesn't earn an icon and only scouts can mark targets. Keep the vehicles, or at least most of them, in some way. I want to play Battlefield's version of battle royale, not a prettier PUBG.
That said, there's no way to know for sure which of Battlefield's staple features will work in a format the series has never tried—not without actually testing it. So I am heartened to hear that DICE wants to iterate quickly with help from the community. My guess is that the mode will get off to a rocky start. The community is going to find every major bug, every OP weapon, every problem with the map (maps?), and make themselves heard, and hopefully DICE can respond quickly enough that BF5 Royale takes flight.
It's fair to feel exhausted by the sudden explosion of battle royale modes—everything is getting one—but the format has hardly been fully explored. Battlefield could nail it in a way we haven't seen before, and that's exciting. And if battle royale just isn't for you, never fear: the industry will be on to some new trend in a couple years, guaranteed. I just hope it doesn't move on before someone makes a Twisted Metal-style battle royale game, because I'd play the hell out of that.
For more on Battlefield 5, here's where we think it improves over Battlefield 1 based on our experience in the closed alpha test. Let us know in the comments where you think the battle royale genre should go next (if anywhere), in Battlefield or otherwise.