Review – Battlefield 2042
Battlefield used to be the king of the squad based first-person shooter games. Back in the days of Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Battlefield 3, and Battlefield 4, I would put way too many hours into these squad-based shooters, but the franchise hasn’t been relevant in the eyes of the mainstream audience for a while, all thanks to some underwhelming titles and DICE’s inability to release a stable game at launch. Is it time for Battlefield to reclaim its position at the top with its latest entry, Battlefield 2042, or will the streak of duds continue?
Battlefield 2042 is split into three major sections. Hazard Zone provides a Battle Royale styled mode, All-Out Warfare is your traditional big scale battlefield experience, and Portal which adds something completely new to the mix. There’s no campaign to play here, but each section offers a vastly different multiplayer experience. Let’s cover each one individually, shall we?
First is the more traditional Battlefield game mode: All-Out Warfare. This is a 64v64 Player Warfare split across the two traditional Battlefield modes: Conquest and a new variation of Rush. Conquest takes place across an entire map with teams fighting over a number of points, the difference now to gain the objective you need to capture multiple points. Breakthrough takes all that action to one particular point of the map as defenders and attackers battle over two points. If the attackers capture them it moves further and further into the map. Breakthrough differs from the classic Rush mode by replacing the MCOMs with standard Conquest style capture points. It’s chaotic fun and completely broken, so don’t expect much balance here as you run straight into a huge scale battle.
The gameplay is exactly what you would expect from a Battlefield game: shoot enemies and they die. The guns feel solid enough with some truly beefy weapons. It’s nothing spectacular or innovative, but it is fun and that’s what matters. Time-to-Kill feels really solid. You won’t be shooting at anyone for too long before they drop dead, whilst also giving you enough time to react and turn a gunfight around. Unfortunately, Battlefield 2042 has launched with an unusually low amount of weapons. There’s only a small handful per weapon type.
One of the problems that exists with every game mode, but is amplified with the larger scale of All-Out Warfare, is how unfinished and buggy it feels. This is due to servers that stop working at random, poor performance, and tons of bugs that significantly impact the gameplay experience. Then you got the revive bug. For some reason if you go down there’s no way to respawn or revive, leaving you just doing nothing. Then there’s bullets occasionally not registering, or any number of countless annoyances and server issues that will send you rubberbanding even with a solid connection. It’s basically impossible to go an entire match without something going wrong somehow. I expect some of these bigger issues to be patched soon, but the state this launched in is inexcusable.
Battlefield 2042 also makes some changes to the core of Battlefield. You can now equip weapon attachments on-the-go with the new cross feature, allowing you to swap out scopes, barrel attachments, and more. It’s a neat system that adds flexibility to your playstyle, although I feel like it allows you to bring a little too much into the game. However, the introduction of sliding I am not a fan of, but double sprint is something that works really well here. Despite some mixed changes to the formula, it still plays like a Battlefield game. Then we have the Specialists…
Specialists are the most controversial aspect of Battlefield 2042. Even before the game entered beta, their existence was hotly debated. They replaced the traditional four class system that has been a part of Battlefield‘s identity for the longest time. Now do I think that they are as bad as anticipated? Not even close, as they don’t break the game. But for me personally, I just don’t think they’re a great fit for Battlefield. They are supposed to improve team play, but they happen to do the opposite. The team play dynamic simply feels gone, as I end up picking Sundance purely for the wingsuit and call it a day. There’s no real gameplay reason to pick someone other than your favourite. Each Specialist has access to every weapon and gadget.
You’ve got Specialists that have grappling hooks and wingsuits which are…. fine, I guess. They simply add some mobility options that aren’t really game changing and could have easily been rebalanced as gadgets. But then you go into the more unique Specialists that place automated turrets, drones, and even literal wall hacks built into the game, and it becomes clear that Battlefield wasn’t built to be a hero shooter. These sort of things work in Overwatch and Rainbow Six Siege, but not so much here. What makes it weirder is that every Specialist is supposed to be a character with their own personalities, and you just have clones of them running around on both sides. It feels a bit out of place, but at least they can be fun.
As for the maps, All-Out War launched with seven huge maps to support the 128-Player battles. Map design is inconsistent with some great well designed sections, separated with sheer amounts of nothing, leaving an open field where vehicles can dominate if you are caught moving between points. Helicopters in particular remain dominant, and looking up at the sky for long periods to deal with them just isn’t fun. A lot of the time in All-Out Warfare; you will be sprinting around these vast open areas only to be destroyed by a vehicle. Thankfully, with the ability to call in vehicles through air drops, you can get back to the more action packed areas quicker. Plus, if you are playing Sundance, just climb to higher ground and wingsuit across the map.
As a whole, there is some fun to be had in All-Out Warfare. The thrilling large scale battles are what Battlefield has always done best. For the most part it does a solid enough job here, but not quite on the level of its predecessors. While it is fun, it’s also a frustrating mess with countless numbers of bugs and questionable design decisions regarding the maps and Specialists.
Next up is Battlefield Portal, which is one of the more surprising additions to the Battlefield experience and also one of the most exciting. Using a web portal, players are able to customise just about every single aspect of the core of Battlefield 2042 and host custom games online. Don’t like Specialists? Just find a server that has them disabled and return to the old days of four distinctive classes. Want to see old maps brought to life with 128-Player combat? Go for it.
Throughout the Portal mode, I jumped back and played the BFBC2 rules on rush and entered Battlefield 3‘s Caspian Border. It’s a nostalgic bomb going back playing these rulesets and core mechanics with the new visual makeup. Some servers even keep the Battlefield 2042 core mechanics, which puts an interesting spin on the whole thing.
Portal isn’t just used to modify game modes to bring back those classic modes and maps. It can also be used to create something truly unique and chaotic. You can go for something simple as Battlefield 2042 gameplay vs BF, to things like a Halo style infection mode, rocket launcher deathmatch, and more. Some massive changes can be made and just about every modifier can be altered in some way. If you can think of a game mode, you can probably do it.
Battlefield Portal is a portal to tons of new and old modes. Even if All-Out War fails, Portal will absolutely be a thrilling and thriving addition to the game. It’s an impressive mode that gives the community a huge amount of flexibility to creating a perfect Battlefield experience. Much like Master Chief Collection getting a custom game server browser, this will be a dream. I just hope this mode gets some major support with more maps like Damavand Peak as well as support for Battlefield 4 content. Though riding on the series past shouldn’t be Battlefield 2042’s selling point.
The final mode in Battlefield 2042 is the most experimental and unique mode. In Hazard Zone you play in a squad of four, in a massive free-for-all against other squads and bots that roam the map. The goal is to go to crashed satellites and grab the data drives. Manage to extract the data and you gain credits that can be used to help you in the next Hazard Zone. The closest I can think to compare this mode to is Hunt Showdown, but this doesn’t have the same level of depth that game has.
When you drop into the Hazard Zone, you can use a drive scanner to locate drive. Your first goal should be to go to these and start collecting drives. The issue is when you and your team pick up the drive, the enemies will actually be able to locate you. At certain intervals a Condor will come in at set points as an extraction. Do you stay behind and collect as many drives as possible becoming a bigger target to other players? Or play it safe and extract a couple for smaller yet safer rewards?
My first game of Hazard Zone didn’t end well at all. Within two minutes of dropping in, we got wiped out. My second game, however, was a thrilling ride right up until the last second. Although, not all games are like this and if you don’t play with a premade squad, expect some seriously mixed results. Sometimes you get matched with people who know what they are doing and communicate to some degree, but other times they will just run around. Communication is key, and I was surprised at the fact I enjoyed the Specialist system here.
Normally in All-Out War I would just pick Sundance and call it a day because Wingsuit is fun, but here I had much more careful deliberation over my loadout and how it could impact my team. Taking the drone Specialist allows us to scout the surrounding area and mark out the AI soldiers and other players that might be around. The Specialists really have a place here. As for the credit system, it’s solid enough that allows you to buy weapons, attachments, and other gadgets to bring into your next battle. Although, if you die you will lose them.
Hazard Zone is an interesting idea and in a world ruled by the endless Battle Royale clones, it’s nice to see a mainstream game take a slightly different approach. Whilst I did occasionally enjoy moments within this mode, it’s just not for me. It can get really boring really fast with the sheer lack of variety or interesting objectives. Most of the time it’s just sprinting around a fairly empty map hoping for something exciting to happen. Even though it’s not my personal favorite, it has a solid foundation that desperately needs to be built upon for it to have lasting appeal.
Visually, this is the most baffling Battlefield game to date. I’m not entirely sure if it looks good or not. At times this game can look absolutely stunning, with a tornado tearing through the map or running head first into a sandstorm engulfing an entire city. Then at other times it just looks dull and uninspired, with some of the weakest attention of detail in the environments I’ve seen in a while.
Sound design is also baffling. It can be hard to get a feel of direction, especially when the directional audio does not seem to be working as it should. Often times you won’t hear someone nearby, whilst in other times you can hear people running around from a distance. However, when it does work like intended, Battlefield 2042 can sound phenomenal.
Battlefield 2042 provides a surprisingly complete multiplayer experience with a game mode for everybody. Although, with it’s countless number of bugs, mediocre map design and balance issues it also makes it a very difficult game to recommend especially at the current price. There is a fair amount of fun to be had with the game that might be improved in the next year or so.
It somehow looks both impressive with some stunning effects, and dulll and uninspired at the same time.
The core of Battlefield remains largely the same with some mixed changes. And by “largely the same”, I do mean glitches.
There’s some glaring issues with the sound design that can make it difficult to navigate.
Battlefield 2042 is fun, but difficult to recommend in its current state, thanks to numerous bugs and an underwhelming amount of content.
Final Verdict: 6.5
Battlefield 2042 is available now on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series S/X.
Reviewed on PC with and RTX 2060, Ryzen 5 3600X and 16GB RAM. Installed on SSD.