10 years is a long time in gaming. It’s a long time in life in general, but in gaming, entire console generations can come and go, beloved game series can disappear and be forgotten and what was once all the rage can become a over saturated mess that nobody wants to be involved in. That’ll be you soon Battle Royale!
In terms of Battlefield, the past 10 years has seen the series go from strength to strength, and whilst there will be many who would argue that the hit and miss adventures of Battlefield: Hardline didn’t quite live up to the excitement that the series is so well known for, each and every entry has at least provided plenty to shout about. Should you look back far enough and manage to take your mind away from Battlefield: Bad Company 2, what you may well remember is a small, online-only multiplayer adventure that lit up the Xbox Live Arcade – Battlefield 1943.
Despite arriving at a similar time as the fan favourite Bad Company 2, Battlefield 1943 still somehow managed to bring the excitement that fans were looking for within its spinoff experience. Instead of bringing a story that resonates or engages, Battlefield 1943 focused on the core aspects of what has now become the go to mode within Battlefield titles; multiplayer.
Originally Battlefield 1943 consisted of only one mode, which was accessed through Quick Match and quickly threw players into the one and only Conquest mode – the series staple mode for multiplayer. Later on Air Superiority would become available after players had amassed a combined 43 million kills within the Conquest. But it was still the Conquest option which remained the favoured fight.
The game takes place during the Pacific Theater of Operations in 1943, during the midst of World War II. Throughout each game, players take up the role of either the United States Marine Core (USMC) or the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN). Up to 24 players would jump into battle across three, now iconic, maps; Wake Island, Iwo Jima, and Guadalcanal. A fourth map, Coral Sea, was later made available but once more this was tied to players having collectively passed 43 million kills within the Conquest mode. By this point however, Iwo Jima and Wake Island in particular had already made their name as some of the best Battlefield maps to ever grace the series, a statement that will still ring true today amongst many fans of the series.
Unlike most Battlefield games, Battlefield 1943 kept to just three classes for players to choose from. Infantryman came packing a SMG and anti-tank rockets, Rifleman brought players a Semi-Automatic rifle and a rifle-fired grenade and Scout brought a Scoped Rifle, a pistol and Dynamite. Again, unlike most Battlefield titles, Battlefield 1943 did away with limited ammunition, and instead gave each class an unlimited supply, although explosives needed time to replenish to avoid player griefing and it worked well.
Vehicles were present across the iconic island locales and each team had access to two aircraft at any one time – either the A6M2 Zeros for the Imperial Navy or the F4U Corsairs for the USMC. Each map also had a unique flag that was home to a third aircraft for whichever team held the particular location. There were also tanks and cars available however it was the planes that caused the most damage, even with their awkward handling – something that was addressed in later games.
If you were to go back to Battlefield 1943 today, something I did very recently to check on the state of things, you’d probably be pleasantly surprised to find jumping into a quick match is still as quick as it has always been. Naturally the visual side of things hasn’t aged well at all, and with movement now feeling slightly clunky, and weapon accuracy feeling quite off compared to other titles in the series, Battlefield 1943 isn’t likely to be seen as the masterpiece it once was. Jumping in does however provide the perfect opportunity to see what all the fuss was about, even if it’s just to admire the incredible destructive aspect as entire walls fall down, and buildings are blown to pieces.
What has helped keep the game alive is the fact that it is now available on Xbox One via Xbox Backwards Compatibility, but even before it arrived on Xbox One, Battlefield 1943 was already a popular title. Back when it launched on July 8th 2009, not only did it become the fastest selling download-only game after just one week, but it also became the top selling Xbox Live Arcade game of 2009. With plenty of players still getting involved, it doesn’t look to be dying any time soon.
So, what’s happened to the series since?
Well after the immediate success of Battlefield 1943, DICE returned with an expansion to Battlefield: Bad Company 2 that rang the similar tune of Battlefield 1943 with the Vietnam expansion. This was equally well received before seeing everything progress onto more modern ventures with Battlefield 3 and 4, as well as a full return to the World War settings with Battlefield 1 and Battlefield V.
Now though, with Dice taking up a bi-yearly development cycle between Battlefield and Star Wars, the Battlefield series still has plenty to bring. Of course, for Battlefield 1943, the player base will begin to dwindle, but in terms of quality, it was certainly one of the best titles in the series. With a world of remasters and remakes constantly appearing, it would be nice to see this iconic title return in some form or another. Even if it is just in terms of the maps.
DICE! Please, the maps!