I love Battlefield, and Battlefield 4 in particular, but it will be forever tainted by its many technical issues at launch, many of which weren't solved until recently. We already have reservations about Battlefield: Hardline, which is coming out in March, but regardless of how it turns out, it'll always be just an offshoot from the main, numbered Battlefield games. The real return to form the series needs can only come in Battlefield 5, and this is what we'd like to see in its inevitable release.
Remember B Company
The stories in the single-player campaigns of Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 4 are confused, boring messes. They chase the far too serious and already outdated Call of Duty formula of substituting personality and quality writing with relentless, explosive set pieces designed to distract from the fact that the game doesn't have much of a story or character at all.
This is a trap that many shooters fall into these days, but it's more frustrating here because Battlefield: Bad Company already offered a great alternative. Whereas Call of Duty and its imitators riff on Michael Bay's jingoism seen in movies like The Rock, Bad Company looked to David O. Russell's Three Kings to find humor and charm in a modern military story.
The Battlefield games, with their mid-air jet-jacking and cartwheeling tanks, already lend themselves to silliness. The B Company quartet of characters embraced that, and I wish Battlefield 5's single-player story, if it must have one, will lighten-up a little as well.
Image: Giant Bomb
Single-player should learn from and teach multiplayer mayhem
The only thing more annoying about the single-player campaigns in Battlefield is how linear they are. Sprinting down a hallway and headshotting vaguely foreign bad dudes is antithetical to what makes Battlefield fun: big, open levels, a huge choice of guns and vehicles, and endless possibilities on how to approach each encounter.
There are very brief glimpses of more open-ended gameplay in both Battlefield 4 and Battlefield: Bad Company, and they're great. Let me choose if I should attack an enemy town by parachuting in from a helicopter, or by ramming a buggy laden with C4 through the front gates. Single-player should pitch me on Battlefield's signature multiplayer mayhem by teaching me some of these more quirky strategies.
Even the most basic open map filled with dumb enemies would be a great improvement over another claustrophobic level set on an aircraft carrier.
Image: YouTube user Wintergore
A stable launch
Now that it's pretty much fixed and stable, Battlefield 4 is one my favorite games ever made. It's a shame that it took DICE about a year to get to this point. Sadly, experience taught me to expect Battlefield games to launch poorly, but Battlefield 4's launch was so bad, to this day it distracts from what is fundamentally a terrifically designed game.
DICE needs to take its time and come out of the gate with a game that people can play and recommend to their friends on day one. If that means we'll have to wait an extra year or two for the next game, that's fine. We can wait. Battlefield 4 is finally good, has a ton of content, and Battlefield: Hardline is just around the corner. No need to rush. The next Battlefield game needs a stable launch to restore confidence in DICE's ability to deliver on the very fundamentals of multiplayer more than ever. It will be far more valuable to the series than any deadline it hopes to meet.
No more meat grinders
If the narrow corridor is antithetical to Battlefield in single-player form, making it a multiplayer map staple feels like nothing short of cruelty.
I suspect that small levels with choke points where two 32-player teams pound each into ground beef are popular on servers because they're the fastest way to unlock new weapons, but that doesn't make them fun. This is a problem that began with Battlefield 3, and, amazingly, became even worse in Battlefield 4. A Battlefield map without open areas, vehicles, and with an average lifespan of two and a half seconds is just another Call of Duty. We already have enough of those.
It would be nice if they were removed from the next Battlefield entirely, and if DICE used whatever energy that went into them to better design the interior sections of larger maps, something I think we started to see in the Hanger 21 map Battlefield 4's Final Stand DLC.
Whenever I see someone say something nasty in Battlefield 4's in-game chat I take a screenshot. Soon, I'll have to buy another hard drive just to store them all.
Vile online behavior is a problem in every multiplayer game, and, increasingly, just a fact of online life. That doesn't mean we should have to put up with it.
A lot of servers have great tools that allow you to punish or forgive team killing, and the simple ability for a server to self-regulate improves the experience drastically. I'd like to see DICE make an effort cleanse its community of racist, sexist, and homophobic behavior, and at the very least give players better tools to report it.
Push for eSports
I find the rising popularity of e-sports around Dota 2, League of Legends, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive fascinating from a cultural and business perspective, but I couldn't care less about watching the actual broadcasts because I'm not hugely into playing those games.
I am, however, hugely into Battlefield, and the idea of a professional 32-player Battlefield team sounds incredibly exciting to me. You'll never see the full potential of what good teamwork can accomplish in Battlefield if you jump into a random server, but imagine what a team of pros could do if there was some real money on the line. Spotters calling in airstrikes, forward teams rushing to capture points on buggies and ATVs, tanks rolling into bases while a sniper on a hill across the map takes care of any infinitary with RPGs, a commander coordinating all of this with airdrops and artillery support.
I don't think it will be just fun to watch, but in a way could show the community how much more strategic Battlefield can be when players work together.