'Battlefield 2042' Zombie Mode Removal Explained—Why DICE Pulled the Game Type

Battlefield 2042's brand-new "Zombie Survival" mode was removed from the online shooter recently, just a day after it went live in the first place.

The game type was featured on the Battlefield "Portal" hub homepage on Thursday, January 20. This addition coincided with the version 3.2 update.

Developed by the community, it tasked a quartet of human players with fighting against a relentless throng of zombies and surviving a full in-game hour. There were only ever 60 of the creatures for you to slay at any given time, but the ranks were constantly being replenished throughout, meaning that you could never fully exhaust the army of the undead. With that in mind, you had the opportunity to just keep killing the reanimated corpses on a loop.

Survival matches like this have existed in shooters for a long time, with early examples including Gears of War 2's horde mode and Call of Duty's co-operative "Zombies" experience. As such, you might be wondering why the Battlefield 2042 iteration proved to be so controversial that it had to be taken out.

Why Was Zombie Survival Removed?

It turns out that the answer is entirely related to progression, as Zombie Survival allowed players to level up at a vastly accelerated rate.

Taking out the unarmed infected here was considerably easier than eliminating a rival player in your standard Conquest or Hazard Zone matches. Yet you were still rewarded with generous amounts of experience points (XP) for doing it all the same.

The awkward thing about this was that any rewards you earned in Zombie Survival carried over into the main game. Fans quickly worked out that they could therefore use Zombie Survival mode as a way of artificially inflating their kill count and "farming" XP (a process by which a gamer repetitiously performs a simple action in order to level up or amass extra resources).

In turn, this disrupted the balance of Battlefield 2042, given that Zombie Survival mode was essentially now an unofficial shortcut for unlocking better weapons and gear in the rest of EA's shooter. For this reason, DICE elected to remove the match type from rotation on Friday, January 21.

'Battlefield 2042' Developer Admits That Zombie Survival Needed More Work

Justin Wiebe, the senior design director at Ripple Effects Studios (one of the many development teams that assisted DICE in making Battlefield 2042) has confirmed that this is why Zombie Survival was so unceremoniously scrapped.

Known for openly engaging with fans on Twitter, he wrote: "I'm not going to lie, this one shouldn't have gotten through our review process. I think our desire to create a fun zombies mode clouded our ability to see such a simple thing like the impact it would have on progression. I'm very sorry for the hardship this has caused."

In a separate post, he also acknowledged that the situation highlighted a wider problem with Battlefield 2042's progression, and how it integrates with the sandbox Portal hub.

On this subject, Wiebe wrote: "I think there was potential for the mode but needs to go back into the workshop for a bit. Regardless, we need to be focusing on more important issues like improving core XP progression for BF Portal."

Judging by Wiebe's tweets, it seems that Zombie Survival could be featured in the Battlefield Portal again some time in the future, once the kinks have all been ironed out. Until then, it has been replaced with another mode called "Gun Master 2042."

In general, Battlefield 2042 has not been faring well lately and has yet to overcome its turbulent launch. The active player count is dropping precipitously on a weekly basis and the situation has become so dire that the game's five-year-old predecessor, Battlefield V, has now overtaken it in the Steam charts.

Battlefield 2042 Zombie Survival Artwork
Image shows the official promotional art for "Battlefield 2042's" Zombie Survival mode. The game type was very briefly featured in the "Battlefield Hub", before the developers removed it. EA Games