Battlefield 2042, coming this fall, will offer the series’ largest skirmishes yet; its “All-Out Warfare” modes can fit 128 simultaneous players in a single match on PS5, Xbox Series X and PC. But you won’t always have 128 humans in each match — EA will be backfilling those servers with bots to keep games populated, the company confirms to The Verge, and there’s currently no plan to let you turn that off.
Humans will take priority, so you might never encounter an AI soldier at peak playtimes — and if you truly hate bots, you’ll be able to play other modes. But the main event allows up to 64 “AI soldiers” to help fill a game, depending on your region, platform, and how many real-life humans are available to join up. That applies to both the Conquest and Breakthrough modes.
It’s sure to be a polarizing decision, but I think it might be a smart one, considering the alternatives. It’s risky to build a game around 128 simultaneous players (64 players on PS4 and Xbox One), when you never know how long your multiplayer game might be able to keep users around. I wish EA had competent bots in 2014 when it released the original Titanfall, a 6v6 game that died far too soon because of all the ways it divided its playerbase (across Xbox and PC, across game modes, and with iffy matchmaking), and it wasn’t long before my buddies and I couldn’t find a decent match on PC at all.
MAG, a PS3 game that supported 256-player battles way back in 2010, actually inspired a petition to add bots to the game. And EA’s Star Wars Battlefront reboots used bots alongside players to enhance particular modes.
(I also wonder whether Battlefield in particular might be a better game with particularly smart and loyal bots? Played properly as a team, it’s one of my favorite gaming experiences, but I’ve seen so many matches derailed by players who seem to enjoy repeatedly crashing jets into the ground.)
We don’t yet know whether Battlefield 2042’s bots will be any good, of course, and everything will hinge on that. I certainly couldn’t tolerate the ones that appeared in PUBG, which have reportedly since been toned down. EA’s bots might be a work in progress too: “The game is still in development and the use of AI will be tuned as player data comes in,” the company notes.
EA says it should have more info soon on how the new bots will work. If you like them, you’ll be able to see more of them if you want: while Battlefield 2042 won’t have a single-player campaign, you’ll be able to play any map and any game mode solo against a team of bots, or bring along your friends to battle in a co-op mode.