The game uses a new server architecture to support online battles with up to 256 players, with users divided into eight-player squads, with four squads forming a platoon, and four platoons forming a company.[12][13] Each squad is led by a player who has advanced through the game's ranking system. Character statistics and development also increase with frequent gameplay. The players assigned leadership positions are able to simultaneously direct the battle and participate directly in combat.

Version 2.0 introduced a new skill tree and also a supply depot for purchasing weapons. Now, in the skill tree there are individual classes in which you can spend your skill points, Including Assault, Marksman, Close Quarters, Special Ops, Medical, Engineering, Athleticism, Vehicles, and Resistances, which then branches off into its own skill tree. Now in the supply depot you have a balance in which is money that you earn every match. So instead of getting the weapons/attachments in the skill tree you can now purchase them separately. After you buy an item you have the choice of selling that item for half the price you bought it for. Patch v1.05 introduced a modified leadership selection algorithm that relies on using leadership points that are earned by winning battles while being at least a squad leader and whether the player has a Bluetooth headset or not.

Basic battles take place within ongoing, faction-based campaigns to encourage the player to actively play.The game's E3 unveiling trailer featured large landscapes, tactics such as air strikes and parachuting, and a variety of vehicles, from tanks and armored personnel carriers (APCs) to airplanes.

Players are able to customize the face, voice, and armor of their characters, as well as what weapons and kit they carry into battle. In game, the player can level up to 70 on any faction. After achieving level 70, players may enter the Veteran mode and select a new faction (or, if a player chooses so, Veteran in the same faction as before). Veteran mode wipes out the current progress and makes the player start from scratch, although the medals, ribbons, statistics and the leadership points player has earned in the past remain intact. Player also receives a +10% XP bonus which increases the leveling speed. Veteran bonuses do not stack, which means that the +10% remains no matter how many times player has used this mode. Aside from that, player receives a star insignia under his current rank which is used so the experienced players are not confused with newcomers. The number of the stars indicate how many times the player has reached level 70.

Gameplay consists of six separate modes (two of which--Interdiction and Escalation--are DLC) and an additional training mode. The smallest gameplay mode in terms of scale, is Suppression, which is the only mode that does not influence the Shadow War. Suppression is a team deathmatch mode that pits 32 players of one faction against 32 players of another. Provided they meet the qualification requirements, players can be assigned leadership positions in this game mode, although they have no leadership abilities. There are 4 Squad Leaders (SL) and 1 Platoon Leader (PL) per faction in this game type. Suppression makes use of modified maps from the Sabotage game mode.

Sabotage is the smallest mode of those with Shadow War influence. It is played by 64 players from two of the game's three factions, 32 players to a side. In Sabotage, the attacking team must work to secure two enemy satellite uplink centers--objectives A and B. Once both centers have been secured and simultaneously held, objective C is unlocked--the defending team's base. The attackers then need to plant an explosive charge at C and defend it until it explodes to win. As in Suppression, there are 4 SLs and 1 PL per faction in this game type. Again, they have no leadership abilities yet, but communication and organization is the leadership key to victory in this mode. The game runs on a 20 minute timer, countdown of which is paused while a charge is active at C. If the time expires before the attackers have destroyed C, the defenders win.

Acquisition pits one faction against another, 128 players per game, 64-player factions, and is MAG's variant on the Capture the Flag game type. The maps are essentially split into two sides, facing one platoon (4 squads) from each faction against another, as the attacking team attempts to capture 2 of the defending team's "prototype" Escort Vehicles (APC). These vehicles are placed deep within the defending team's territory on each side of the map and a row of 4 bunkers, which the attackers can destroy, stand in the way. This is the first mode with Leadership Abilities. In addition to bunkers, the defenders have other assets which the attackers may destroy. They are: the Anti-Aircraft Artillery (AAA), Mortar Battery, Sensor Array, and Motor Pools. These, along with the bunkers, are optional destruction targets. The Mortar Battery allows Squad Leaders (SL) and Platoon Leaders (PL) to call in artillery strikes, such as mortar barrages and poison gas. Destruction of this asset takes away these abilities until the defenders repair the asset. The Sensor Array allows the PL to call in a sensor sweep, which reveals enemy locations on the mini-map--its destruction takes away that ability. The AAA serves two purposes: blocking the attacking team's SLs and PL abilities (aerial strikes and UAV recon) and prevents forward spawning. Destruction of the AAA allows the attackers to use their leadership abilities, and also to spawn into battle behind the defenders' bunker line either in an immovable helicopter or by parachuting. The Motor Pools give no leadership abilities, but they spawn APCs which the defenders can use to get to the front lines quicker and to defend funneling points with its turret. The attackers must make their way to the back of the map, open the Escort Vehicle's containers (by hacking a control panel), and drive the vehicle to their own container at the other end of the map. If the attackers get hold of an escort vehicle, the defenders must destroy it. In the vehicle's way stands roadblocks and a gate, which must be destroyed to drive the APC by. If the bunkers are not destroyed, the defenders way spawn in them making it easier for them to destroy the stolen APC on its way by. The bunkers also have a very dangerous turret, which can be destroyed independently of the bunker. Attackers win by capturing 2 vehicles; defenders win by preventing them to do so before the 25 minute timer expires.

The Interdiction is available via downloadable content (DLC). In this mode 128 players 64 vs. 64 must capture and hold three neutral bases. In addition each 8-man squad has an APC. The maps for the Interdiction mode are themed after the 3 PMCs but are neutral, meaning Valor could face Raven on the S.V.E.R. themed map and any other combination.

The largest game mode is Domination. It supports 256 players, 128 to a side in a single game. Maps are split into 4 sides that meet in the middle, facing one platoon (4 squads) of attackers against another of defenders on each side. The objective of the attackers is to unlock and hold the lettered objectives, A through H, two to a platoon, located at the center of the map where it crosses, to fill a damage bar before the game timer expires. In order to unlock their objectives, each attacking platoon must capture and simultaneously hold both of the defending platoon's burnoff towers. Once that is accomplished, the platoons must then hold both cooling towers, and then the objectives are unlocked. Between the burnoff towers and the cooling towers stands a row of 4 bunkers (one for each defending squad). Destruction of the bunkers changes that defending squad's spawn to the back spawn, behind the lettered objectives, in the middle of the map where the sides meet. As in Acquisition, the defenders have assets which the attackers may destroy to take away their SL and PL abilities until they are repaired. These assets are located between the cooling towers and the lettered objectives. Taking down the AAA will again allow the attacking SLs and PLs to call in their abilities, and will unlock the forward spawns located between the defenders' bunkers and the cooling towers. In addition to Squad Leaders (16 per faction, per domination game) and Platoon Leaders (4 per faction), Domination introduces the Officer In Charge (OIC) leadership position. This is the highest ranking leadership position in the game, and each is assigned to lead his 128 players to Domination victory. OICs have very powerful abilities that can affect spawning rates of the defenders and replenish or block the abilities of SLs and PLs. These abilities are not affected by the AAA or assets, and they can be used at any time (provided the other OIC hasn't blocked his ability). Holding the lettered objectives until the damage bar is filled wins the game for the attackers; preventing them to do so by the time the 30 minute timer expires wins the game for the defenders.

In addition there is an option entitled Multiqueue in which the player can be queued for multiple game modes that they choose, this mode can only be accessed once the player reaches level 8. This mode gives a stackable +20% bonus for each game mode the player queues for, this does not however apply if the player only queues for one game mode.

Escalation (DLC) is the first mode to feature all three PMCs fighting on the same map. Up to 96 players, 32 per PMC can play. The idea of Escalation is for one team to capture two of three letters on the map A, B, or C. When two of the letters are successfully obtained and defended, the letter "D" will be unlocked. At this point the team who captured the two points will have to make their way to D and defend it. The other letters will become locked during this time. The other two PMCs will attempt to secure D. If one of the attackers obtains D the other letters will be opened again and all three PMCs will have to do the same thing again in order to unlock D. Every time D is unlocked by a certain team the bar will increase for that PMC. The team who fills the bar the most wins the game. No strikes can be called in by the platoon and squad leaders.