The best Battlefield games offer something different. Where so many of the best FPS games are all about twitchy action, Battlefield is at its best when movement is steady and considered. While a lot of the best shooters are now set across shrinking maps, the best Battlefield games are all about massive scale environments and all-out warfare. When developer DICE gets Battlefield right, there’s nothing quite like it.
This series has had its ups and downs over the years – which is why you won’t find Battlefield 2042 here for the time being – but this list of the best Battlefield games shows what it is capable of when firing on all cylinders. Bigger, louder, and more destructive than any other FPS on the market, set across some of the most stunning multiplayer battlefields ever created. So, let’s get into it: Here are the 10 best Battlefield games of all-time.
Best Battlefield games, ranked
10. Battlefield 2: Modern Combat
Platform(s): PS2, Xbox, Xbox 360,
Release year: 2005
While PC players were enjoying the delights of 64-player all-out-warfare, console players were treated to something a little smaller. It may seem quaint now, but in 2006 Battlefield 2: Modern Combat was a truly spectacular experience. In the earliest days of online play for console, this Battlefield 2 spin-off was unlike anything else on PS2 or original Xbox – and the polished-up version that landed on Xbox 360 in 2006 wasn’t so bad either.
While many of you may remember the gimmicky solo campaign, which allowed you to hotswap between soldiers across the battlefield, it was the 24-player online rounds of Conquest and Capture the Flag that delighted. It’s a scaled down experienced compared to what PC players were dealing with, but it was a solid conversion for the comparatively underpowered consoles, letting those of us with early PlayStation Network and Xbox Live accounts dream of bigger, bolder multiplayer experiences. It was a good time.
9. Battlefield 1943
Platform(s): PS3, Xbox 360
Release year: 2009
In terms of content alone, Battlefield 1943 is very, very small. It features just a handful of multiplayer maps, vehicles, and weapons, with no single player experience to speak of whatsoever. But that didn’t matter, because what was there was one of the most enjoyable multiplayer FPS experiences that you could hope for, and one of the first games to exemplify the benefits of a digital market.
1943 is the classic Battlefield experience distilled into its purest form. 24 players, three classes, one game mode, and three excellent maps – battles waged on Wake Island, Guadalcanal, and Iwo Jima have become legendary for the players who were connected to Xbox Live and PlayStation Network at the time. Battlefield 1943 makes up for its lack of content with finely-tuned balance, memorable maps, and impossibly tight skirmishes that have been lost in DICE’s efforts to increase the player count in the years since.
8. Battlefield 4
Platform(s): PC, PS3, PS4 Xbox 360, Xbox One
Release year: 2013
With the foundation for a new era of Battlefield outlined by Battlefield 3, DICE’s follow-up is essentially more of the same. While the campaign is an improvement, it still had plenty of room for improvement – not that you cared all much once you were knees deep into Battlefield 4’s upgraded multiplayer options.
While DICE clearly struggled as it worked to release Battlefield 4 on PC and across two console generations, there was a lot to love here. PlayStation and Xbox owners could finally appreciate the joyous chaos of 64-player matches, while the Levolution system – in which huge parts of each map could be drastically changed by weather and player activity – is still an impressive addition. Sadly, launch day troubles soured public opinion on the game for quite some time, its best qualities blighted by crippled servers and bugs aplenty. Battlefield 4 has come a long way since then, but we can’t ignore the shadow of its false promises, hence its somewhat diminished position on this list.
7. Battlefield 5
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One
Release year: 2018
There’s a lot to love about Battlefield 5. It’s systematic, meticulous approach to subtly reworking multiplayer leads to some of the finest gunplay experienced in an online shooter to date, while the presentation has never been better thanks to detailed animations, state of the art technology, and a rousing, monumental original soundtrack.
But this isn’t a Battlefield for everyone. By widening the skill gap and dialling down the spectacle, Battlefield 5 obfuscates the primordial craze of its predecessors for something a little more muted and a little less distinctive against the range of other shooters on the market. Your conclusions about Battlefield 5 will ultimately depend on what you want from a Battlefield game, but it’s hard to deny this instalment lacks that special X factor compared to the higher ranking entries on this list.
6. Battlefield: Bad Company
Platform(s): PS3, Xbox 360
Release year: 2008
Many fondly remember Bad Company 2, but few talk about the original with quite the same enthusiasm. Shame, because it was the prototype for most things that made the sequel so brilliant. It was one of the first Battlefield games with a proper story, characters who you enjoy spending time with, and it represents the first use of the now legendary Frostbite engine in the Battlefield series.
The result was levels of destruction we simply hadn’t seen before, and that makes it a landmark game. Sadly, DICE’s lack of experience in crafting a solo campaign was exposed too, with occasionally poor AI and some strange control options marking an otherwise excellent experience. Multiplayer was a sticking point too, as the game only shipped with a mode called Gold Rush (a prototype of the new classic Rush mode). Fan requests saw Conquest added afterwards, but the real strength of Bad Company always remained the single player.
5. Battlefield 1942
Release year: 2002
The first, the original and, for many, one of the best. Battlefield 1942 is a formative piece of gaming history, in which DICE first took the concept of the hardcore military sim and marketed it to a wider audience. Not just valued for its historical importance, Battlefield 1942 is a fantastic first person shooter in its own right. For its time, the open map design and record breaking 64-player limits were a jaw dropping feat of technical power that let PC players value every penny they’d invested into their gaming machine, and even today, the authenticity of the gameplay stands up well.
All the DNA of Battlefield is here – class-based gameplay, vehicular, all-terrain combat, team-focused multiplayer modes – proving that DICE had struck gold with a formula that has maintained its appeal in the shooter genre all these years later. Oh, and it was the game which blessed us with Wake Island, a near perfect multiplayer map, which justifies its position in this list alone.
4. Battlefield 1
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One
Release year: 2016
The biggest, wildest Battlefield game to date, Battlefield 1 turned the clock back after years of modern combat to offer a ferocious presentation of World War 1, in all its unhinged desolation. Coming off of a slew of forgettable, modern day campaigns, Battlefield 1’s War Stories took a different approach via a series of isolated vignettes, spotlighting the individuals on each side of the conflict, and paying off greatly in terms of both pace and pathos.
As for the new multiplayer features, Behemoths were a game-changing, earth-shattering alternative to Levelution, so unfettered in their seismic power that we’re willing to forgive the tremendous competitive imbalances that they brought to almost every match. Battlefield 1 is up there not just as a definitive high point for the series, but for the FPS genre at large.
3. Battlefield 2
Release year: 2005
Modern Battlefield games began with Battlefield 2… and I don’t just say that because Battlefield 2 was literally the first one with a modern setting (and the first to totally disregard proper numbering conventions). It was here that the series began to move away from the mindset of players swarming around static capture points in miniature wars of attrition.
Players were encouraged to join up with one of their team’s squads, giving them both a mobile spawn point in the form of their squad leader and a way to receive more specific objectives than ‘get all the flags’. Adding the soldier-reviving defibrillator to the medic class and ammo bags to the support class also promoted a more mobile, dynamic game. Battlefield 1942 established the broad concept that all the following games would pursue, but Battlefield 2 refined and focused it in many ways that persist today.
2. Battlefield 3
Platform(s): PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Release year: 2011
EA positioned Battlefield 3 as true contender to Call of Duty’s throne in 2011. Developer DICE worked to go back to Battlefield’s roots, all as it positioned this massive sequel as a simultaneous release across PC and console. While the campaign suffered through to its linearity, lacklustre AI, and drag missions, the multiplayer side to play was truly world-class.
What it lacked in Bad Company 2-levels of destruction and carnage, Battlefield 3 made up for with a deep multiplayer offering – a true showcase of the series’ all-out-warfare mantra with beautiful environments, great variety in vehicles and weapons, and solid rewards for team-play. Battlefield 3 set a new standard for the series in the modern era, one that DICE has struggled to match in the years since its release.
1. Battlefield: Bad Company 2
Platform(s): PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Release year: 2010
For all its steely eyed militarism, it turns out that Battlefield has a real personality on its off hours. Battlefield Bad Company 2 features the best campaign of the franchise to date, with funny writing, unique mission scenarios, and a cast of characters who are actually a laugh to be around. There are cliches aplenty, but the snappy pace and expert mission design were just two bonus reasons to spend more time with the titular company of vagabond heroes, and that final, completely bonkers mission is still a total hoot.
Bad Company 2’s multiplayer was equally carefree and chaotic, with varied maps and a whole suite of impressive physics, destruction, and sound effects for experimenting with. Plus, the tragically underrated Vietnam expansion nails the historiography of its setting better than most full Battlefield games, extending the shelf life of Bad Company 2’s multiplayer with a more ferocious, claustrophobic variant on the game’s irresistible slashings of PvP. This is Battlefield unshackled, tongue firmly in its cheek, surprising all of us to still stand tall as the best Battlefield game of all time.