The Battlefield series is now in the hands of Respawn co-founder Vince Zampella

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Battlefield 2042 doesn’t include a singleplayer campaign, but something like a new Battlefield campaign is probably in the early stages of development. EA announced today that Respawn co-founder Vince Zampella will oversee the Battlefield series from here on out, and that new Battlefield “experiences” are coming from Ripple Effect, the studio that made Battlefield 2042’s Portal mode, as well as a new Seattle-based studio led by Marcus Lehto, the former Bungie creative director who designed Master Chief.

Meanwhile, DICE general manager Oskar Gabrielson is leaving the company, and former Ubisoft studio director Rebecka Coutaz is taking his place.

The news comes from GameSpot. While EA didn’t explicitly tell the website that Ripple Effect and the Seattle studios will be making standalone Battlefield games in the newly christened “Battlefield universe”—t’s all “experiences”—I’m confident that we can expect one or more standalone games based on my knowledge of EA, the studios, and the people involved.

Ripple Effect used to be called DICE LA and was renamed just before Battlefield 2042 launched, signaling that it should no longer be thought of as a branch of DICE but its own creative unit. Zampella has previously said that the studio is working on a new game, and told GameSpot that “anything is possible” for these upcoming Battlefield projects. 

As for the unnamed Seattle studio, Lehto has been charged with “expanding the narrative, storytelling, and character development opportunities in the Battlefield series,” according to GameSpot. That will include a “variety of experiences” that we’ll see in Battlefield 2042’s later seasons and “beyond,” according to Byron Beede, another new Battlefield leader at EA who spent almost two decades at Activision, most recently overseeing all of Call of Duty.

It sounds like Lehto’s studio will start by fleshing out Battlefield 2042’s loose narrative about stateless mercenaries, but something bigger—a new game or a campaign for the next DICE Battlefield game—is almost definitely in the plans for the Seattle developer. Lehto is too big of a name to bring on for, say, Battlefield 2042 cinematic trailers and nothing else. His previous game, Disintegration, failed to take off, but he was a principal member of Halo’s creative team from the first game through Halo: Reach, for which he served as creative director.

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Whatever follows Battlefield 2042 in the main Battlefield series will presumably still come from Swedish studio DICE, at least in part, but with a new leader. Outgoing GM Gabrielson has been working on the series since Battlefield 3.

“There have just been so many great memories working with our teams,” said Gabrielson in a tweet. “But I have now made one of the hardest decisions of my life, to leave DICE and Electronic Arts.”

The positioning of Zampella as the new Battlefield overseer and Gabrielson’s departure don’t appear to have anything to do with the adversity Battlefield 2042 is currently facing in the Steam user reviews section, where its rating remains “mostly negative.” Zampella had already been overseeing Ripple Effect, so while it’s surprising that he’s taking on so much responsibility on top of his duties as CEO of Apex: Legends and Jedi: Fallen Order developer Respawn, it was foreshadowed.

Meanwhile, Gabrielson’s decision to move on couldn’t have been made suddenly, as his successor was immediately named. New DICE GM Rebecka Coutaz previously managed Ubisoft studios responsible for The Division games, Steep, and several Assassin’s Creeds, and before that worked on a number of Atari games. Gabrielson is staying at DICE for now to help with the transition.

“We’re excited for the future and remained focused on supporting Battlefield 2042 in the years ahead,” tweeted the studio.

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Battlefield 2042 got a big patch today with hundreds of tweaks and fixes, as well as some new options to mess with in Battlefield Portal. (For some PC players, the update broke their mouse input—oops. Evan has helpfully explained how to manually fix the issue until DICE patches the patch’s problem.)

I continue to enjoy Battlefield 2042, which refocuses the series on scale while reducing its complexity in some ways, but it’s been a contentious one, to say the least. Many players consider it a total failure, finding nothing redeeming in the new specialist characters, the larger but less dense maps, and the choice to drop certain Battlefield 1 and Battlefield 5 features. The omission of a singleplayer campaign has also been cited as a disappointment.

My first experience with the Battlefield series came nearly two decades ago with Battlefield 1942, which also had no singleplayer campaign, so I’ve always viewed them as unnecessary accessories. Storytelling is clearly an important part of the series for lots of people, though, and that seems to be the job of Lehto’s studio now.

Much of the other news relayed by GameSpot is vague: EA COO Laura Miele says the company is “all in” on Battlefield and wants to “unlock its enormous potential,” which of course it does. But the departure of Gabrielson and appointment of new overseers—Zampella, Coutaz, Lehto, and Beede—does mark the present as a clear turning point for the series, which hasn’t gone nearly as wild with spin-offs and expanded universe stuff as it could have over the past 19 years. 

The most notable contribution from a non-DICE studio was Battlefield Hardline, the weird cops-‘n-robbers Battlefield that was led by Dead Space studio Visceral Games before it was shut down. Battlefield Heroes and Battlefield Play4Free are a couple of other series offshoots, and certainly one possibility is that EA puts out another free-to-play Battlefield game at some point. Zampella has experience in that regard, and Beede comes from Call of Duty, whose free-to-play Warzone battle royale game has eclipsed the main series in popularity.

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