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5. Battlefield 3PS3, 360, PC – 2011
After alienating some of its PC faithful with the Bad Company spinoffs, DICE worked to win them back over with Battlefield 3. To appease the longtime fans, the Swedish studio brought back several fan-requested features, including fighter jets, the prone position, and 64-player battles (on PC only). Outside of the forgettable campaign and buggy first iteration of the Battlelog system, the series was generally well received, bringing in many new players and featuring some great maps like Caspian Border. More importantly, with Battlefield 3 EA finally figured out a good post-release content strategy, keeping its dedicated soldiers busy with a steady stream of new maps, weapons, and game modes over the course of five expansions.
4. Battlefield: Bad CompanyPS3, 360 – 2008
After the mixed reviews of Battlefield 2: Modern Combat, DICE took a different approach to invading the console space with this spin-off series. Bad Company introduced us to the best characters the series has ever produced in Sarge, Marlowe, Sweetwater, and Haggard. Rather than drench gamers with another super-serious tale of the world being on the brink of elimination thanks to a rogue nation, Bad Company offered a Three Kings inspired lighthearted military romp of a group gone AWOL in pursuit of a giant payday. The humorous tone won over fans, as did the introduction of destructible environments and the new Rush multiplayer mode (then called Gold Rush). Now a series stable for the main entries, Rush creates a natural frontline where an attacking team tries to capture two points as the defenders repel their advances. As the attackers take the positions, the defenders retreat to another position. The game only shipped with this multiplayer mode, which allowed DICE to hone each map for this specific purpose. This resulted in some of the best regarded maps, like Harvest Day and Oasis. DICE eventually added conquest mode per fans' requests.
3. Battlefield 1942PC – 2002
The granddaddy that started it all, Battlefield 1942 introduced the class-based gameplay, conquest mode, 64-player air/land/sea battles that still define the series to this day. By forcing players to hold positions across the maps, the game encouraged teamplay more than most of the multiplayer shooters of its time. So did the variety of play offered by the larger scale of warfare. Being able dogfight in a jet, parachute to capture a control point, and then hop into a tank all within one life was a revolutionary experience for many players. Every map was based on a real battle from World War II, and each challenged players to master different roles. For instance, while El Alamein demanded strong tank play, Battle of Midway required good pilots to pull off a win. The best maps of all, like the classic Wake Island, combined all of these elements into a thrilling tug of war. The game won several game of the year awards, and its legacy was so strong that EA didn't turn off its official servers until just last year.
2. Battlefield: Bad Company 2 PS3, 360, PC – 2010
Building off the success of Bad Company, DICE released its best console game in 2010 with the direct sequel. Bad Company 2 features the best single-player campaign the series has ever produced. The lovable cast of the first game returned to a more streamlined experience, and DICE expanded the multiplayer offerings while still keeping each mode centered on teamwork. That focus paid off with a great collection of maps (the best of which is Arica Harbor) that were aided greatly by how must destructibility played into the firefights. Players could level entire buildings, eliminating defensive strongholds and changing the tactical options available. Destruction has since been toned down in the series, which we think is a questionable decision. The introduction of spotting and a UAV gave players more tools to aid their teammates, and the hardcore mode introduced a stripped down affair that removed the controversial killcam and demanded more awareness and precision to stay alive. We hope DICE returns to this more streamlined, concentrated spin-off series in the near future.
1. Battlefield 2PC – 2005
The one Battlefield to rule them all, Battlefield 2 is the most critically acclaimed entry in the series and arguably one of the best mutiplayer shooters of all time. Bringing the series into the modern era introduced a whole new array of high powered weapons and vehicles for players to experiment with like fighter jets, grenade launchers, and APCs. The game within the game between commanders and the special forces class was also an interesting diversion; rather than fight on the frontline you could either issue orders to the team or work to destroy the communication tools of the opposing team's commander. The new squad functionality allowed up to six players to group together and spawn directly on the squad leader, and introducing a progression system that unlocked new weaponry over time, the game gave players long-term incentive to keep playing. A multiplayer game is only as good as its maps, and Battlefield 2 has the deepest collection of classics, each of which was scalable dependent upon player population. Fan favorites like Strike at Karkand, Gulf of Oman, and Sharqi Peninsula have reappeared in subsequent Battlefield games. This installment also introduced the popular Battle Recorder so players could share their over-the-top moments and triumphs, a forward-looking feature we wish would have never left the game.
That's our list. What are your favorites? Share your memories in the comments below.
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