Battlefield 2042 Review
For FPS fans, 2021 is supposed to be heaven on earth due to a trifecta of offerings duking it out for Q4 supremacy. Call of Duty released Vanguard to a relatively lukewarm reception, playing it safe when it needed to go in strong. Halo Infinite released its free multiplayer offering earlier than expected, stunning players with polished and fun gameplay despite progression problems that are already being addressed.
And then we have Battlefield 2042, trying to make a comeback in the space after a brief absence. Fans of the series have long been looking for a return to form from the franchise and this latest installment looked to be promising, showing a glimpse of greatness.
I’ve been playing the game for the past couple of weeks (since early access) and as someone who has primarily been a COD type of guy, Battlefield 2042 was certainly a paradigm shift. Despite being similar games, playing it requires a totally different approach with a lot more factors to consider than just running and gunning.
For the uninitiated, Battlefield 2042 introduces mayhem on a much grander scale. The maps are bigger, the sandbox crazier, and the playstyle fundamentally different from something that most may be used to. There’s also no single-player campaign mode here unlike in previous entries, so the full attention is directed towards the multiplayer offerings.
Battlefield 2042 offers its trademark brand of chaos in All-Out Warfare, dressed up in a shiny new package the looks visually appealing. Players will most likely spend most of their time here, taking in the sights and sounds across a number of maps over 2 modes – Conquest and Breakthrough.
Conquest, as the name suggests, will see up to 128 players (for PS5, Xbox Series, and PC) fight for control over strategic points on the map all while gunning the enemy down with various weapons (and vehicles) of destruction.
Breakthrough plays a bit similar, but a bit more structured as well, with attackers and defenders being funneled into specific sectors and objectives which concentrates the action into a certain area instead of spreading it out as Conquest does.
As you can imagine, it can get crazy in Battlefield 2042. And it does! But it also gets quiet, sometimes too quiet even, especially in Conquest.
There will be times you will find yourself running huge plots of land with nothing in between you and the next objective, which becomes frustrating if you find yourself getting picked off by stray fire that forces you to respawn and run again. There was one time that I can remember vividly where I went 2 or 3 minutes without firing a bullet while running from point to point.
This becomes especially evident when you choose to spawn on a location that your side just captured, which will leave you running (again) to the next objective that’s maybe a couple of hundred meters away. At least you and 30 other people will be running with you.
It might be weird to say, but the maps feel a little bit too big, even with a 128 player lobby, none of which are particularly well designed to make the trips worth it because you can easily get picked off due to the lack of cover in between points.
Probably an unpopular opinion, but I enjoyed the structured chaos (is there even such a thing) that Breakthrough provided because everybody is funneled into attacking/defending an area that things really start to get fun and chaotic. There will be some games where some semblance of strategy will be formed, with a group flanking the enemy position and another trying to sneak in and it feels exhilarating when it actually works out.
Players used to the workings of a Battlefield game may welcome this with open arms, but newbies looking to see what the fuss is all about may be overwhelmed with the number of things happening at the same time.
There’s a new mode called Hazard Zone, which figures as EA’s take on the battle royale gimmick. The objective is simple, as players are grouped into squads that have to secure as many drives as you can before extraction from the map. There’s a mix of AI and actual players (32 players in total) and, as you may have guessed, will rely on tactics and communication to survive. This is a sore point due to the lack of in-game voice chat (also mentioned later), so the mode doesn’t really take off as much especially given the fact that I’ve had a really hard time finding an actual game to join into. It’s fun for the number of times I’ve played it, but I’m not fully convinced that it’ll make me want to play it again repeatedly.
The last of the modes for Battlefield 2042 is Portal and is easily the most promising. Portal is basically what you would get when you’re given control of the ability to create custom matches, allowing for some very creative modes and even experience farming games to unlock multiplayer levels. Right now, there are options to go back to some of the Battlefield games of old, which you can even mix up with aspects from 2042, making for some fun times.
Battlefield 2042 looks and sounds like a lot of fun, but the game clearly has quite the long list of bugs that will be needing updates over the next few weeks and months. EA has indeed acknowledged this and will be rolling out fixes soon, but let’s talk about some of the most glaring and bothersome items that can ruin gameplay experience, at least from what I’ve personally witnessed.
At the time of writing, Hovercrafts are insanely broken. They can zip in and out of skirmishes and can even climb up building walls (they’re not supposed to), leaving the opposition scratching their heads about how to neutralize such a threat.
I’m fairly decent when it comes to FPS games, but I’ve somehow found myself to be really bad in Battlefield 2042 as I seemingly cannot hit certain individuals even if they were standing still. Sometimes I’d be lucky, but more often than not, hit registry and bullet spread seems to be way off in the current build of the game especially if you’re ‘spraying’ and not pulling off controlled bursts.
I have also heard of a number of crash and disconnection instances from a few reviewers I’ve talked to but I know that mileage may vary with these types of bugs. In my case, I have yet to experience a crash but I have been disconnected a couple of times, not as bad as others make it out to be.
While not exactly a bug and more of a missing feature, there’s currently no way to activate voice chat and even look at the scoreboard for how well (or how bad) you performed during a match in Battlefield 2042. These may sound like very odd choices to leave out of the game, especially for something that’s seemingly standard fare across first-person shooters.
Specialists also come to mind when talking about questionable decisions in Battlefield 2042. You’ll get to choose from a variety of these specialists, each with certain abilities that are unique to them, but the game literally allows you to equip any weapon of your choice in your loadout, essentially blurring the lines of having an actual specialty and role to just being another character in the map.
One could say that the freedom to equip anything in Battlefield 2042 is great, and while that indeed has its merits, it does tend to dilute the team-based aspect of the game rather than improve on it. Add to the fact that there is a very limited selection of weapons and it eventually does feel like you’re against the same person over and over again throughout the actual match, especially when it is quite hard to distinguish friend from foe.
What we liked:
- It’s great to see Battlefield back again after a brief absence
- Portal is very promising, given a bit more time and tools to use
What we didn’t like:
- Maps have the tendency to be ‘too big’ even with 128 player lobbies
- Map design can be improved – too many wide open spaces and too little cover in-between
- Plethora of bugs that may or may not be fixed over time
- Lacking content
Verdict: Wait for it.
Battlefield 2042 feels like a game that could have used another delay to position itself as something ready for the spotlight. Instead, it released with a number of annoying bugs that compounded into problems that led the community to really rail on the game. Despite these bugs being something that can be fixed by a number of patches, Battlefield 2042 really needed to make a strong first impression seeing the tight Q4 FPS landscape. Sadly, it also launched with a number of questionable decisions and a lack of content that really hurt its value.
The value discrepancy becomes more evident seeing as Battlefield 2042 is a purely multiplayer affair, with no single-player campaign to speak of, unlike its previous entries.
Make no mistake, Battlefield 2042 shows glimpses of something that can bring the franchise back to its former glory, but it’ll take a bit of time to get there. How long is the big question to be asked, and can it maintain its player base especially through this crowded season with other FPS titles in contention?
*Battlefield 2042 was reviewed on a PlayStation 5 with a review code provided by the publishers.