Battlefield 2042 was announced just before E3, and I waited until there was more info on it before writing this up. This isn’t just because I’m a gamer at heart, but also the fact that one of the maps is based on a real-life location in the Middle East. And that’s Doha, Qatar.
How do I know this? Because I’ve lived in the city and easily recognized the skyline and landmarks. There’s even one of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 stadia featured in it (scrub to the 2:11 mark on the video you’ll see it for a few seconds near the left side). I can’t forget about the iconic arches that are north of the West Bay area.
Bringing Qatar digitally to the world
Forget about the fact that the Qatar-based ‘Hourglass’ map is set within a post-apocalyptic scenario of a popular first-person shooter franchise competing head-to-head against Activision’s Call of Duty. Look at it with positivity that EA’s DICE (studios both in Stockholm, Sweden and Los Angeles, USA) invested to recreate a city from the Middle East unlike the standard ones from the likes of New York City, London, Los Angeles, and more.
While the game was officially announced before the annual E3 event, EA even released a pre-alpha level gameplay look which contains a major portion of gameplay featuring the ‘Hourglass’ map alone.
If you ever think desert, then you know sandstorms are a normal occurrence. That will easily change the gameplay as the weather shifts dynamically, accompanied by destructible environments that will see buildings collapse when destroyed (I’m assuming that EA hasn’t enabled it for some of the key landmarks to avoid upsetting the government officials).
How big is the Hourglass map? The below tweet has done a comparison with maps from prior Battlefield games. That places Qatar-based Hourglass as the second-largest map in Battlefield 2042, which could be a sign of it becoming a popular map.
Is there any way gamers can experience Hourglass? Leave that to the Open Beta of the game, which will take place when EA announces the date and will cover all platforms where the game will be released. Since they did have Hourglass as a showcase for the gameplay, my guess is that the Open Beta will feature this map as well.
Not the end for Middle East to be featured in video games
Many games have included detailed recreation of actual cities, which gives an element of realism but with fictional elements. It’s also a great opportunity to promote a destination as well. Of course, there was a game that did feature Dubai (i.e. Spec Ops: The Line); it did face potential censorship or ban from release in the UAE (turns out the game was banned for sale in the country).
Even Tourism Ireland has partnered with Ubisoft for the upcoming expansion Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, with the story set in Ireland that helps to showcase the country’s history and key landmarks that people can visit.
I hope that this isn’t the only time that a Middle East city is featured in a video game Governments should just set aside the negative portrayal of a city; people of Dubai had mixed reactions when Spec Ops: The Line featured Dubai as the location for the single-player campaign.. That is such an archaic view with the changing digital landscape.
The next time anyone will see Doha, it’ll definitely be in the FIFA World Cup add-on next year paired with the next FIFA game. Till then, you can get a visual sample up of Doha in Battlefield 2042.
Battlefield 2042 is due to be released on October 22 on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One S/X, Xbox Series S/X, and PC. The major difference is that the next-gen consoles will allow up to 128 players to join in on the battles and leaves the previous-gen with a limit of 64 players.
On an additional note, DICE’s Design Director shares more insight into the Hourglass map from a recent behind the scenes livestream. Watch it below.
Image Credit: Battlefield website