Battlefield has always prioritized some level of multiplayer madness, but nothing on the series so far has prepared me for a mega-cyclone racing across the map, destroying cars, uprooting trees, and sucking up any poor souls who’ve got too close to them Parachutes. Between the bullets, the gunships and the artillery, do we have to pay attention too? Battlefield 2042 is set to take us into the near future, with a world on the brink and a cascading series of environmental disasters that spill over the petty squabbles of humanity. After a couple of hours with the beta about to open, it’s clear that DICE has become absolutely dizzy with excess – and has completely overcome the mess it experimented with in its earlier historical veneers. The Battle of the Bulge was hellish, but at least there weren’t any tornadoes.
Battlefield 2042 will be the first entry in the franchise released with the PS5 and Xbox Series X in mind, and so of course DICE has juiced out all the specs. The maximum number of players in the matches has risen to a galactic 128 players, all scattered across dense, multi-pronged maps. We played Orbital, set in French Guiana, where I found space shuttle launch sites, flooded coastal villages, and dizzying skyscrapers that had all collapsed in an erratic war front. The sheer size rivaled the average Battle Royale island, and I quickly realized that my tried and tested Battlefield strategy of rushing from one battle to the next on foot was unsustainable on this scale. Fortunately, with the tap of the “B” button, I was able to throw a fresh set of wheels out of the air like it came straight from Metal Gear Solids “Mother Base”. Suddenly the scope of 2042 became a lot less overwhelming.
Battlefield 2042: Specialist screenshots
The environmental apocalypse aside, Battlefield Insiders will be home in 2042. Once again, EA has created a Chaos Generation machine where more things happen in each firefight than a single person could possibly handle. In one particularly memorable sequence, I found myself at eye level with a whirring helicopter on top of a building, like an impromptu boss encounter. (I got my way with a shot from my rocket launcher.) The gunplay also feels in line with the pace and mechanics of Battlefield V and Battlefield 1. You will spend a lot of time shooting microscopic targets in the area. and have to constantly watch your flanks.
However, the most useful addition to 2042 is the ability to customize your arsenal on the fly. Do you have a clean shot and need something more precise than the sight of your assault rifle? No problem, grab a scope and hit a few laps. Battlefield has long made us feel like grunts in a war effort; But in the apocalypse we all have a little more tactical flexibility.
The same philosophy carries over to the revised class system of 2042. You are no longer bound by the rigid roles that were first introduced in 1942. Now you choose a specific specialist – complete with your own name, personality, and trait – and customize the rest of your gear from there. The end result is similar to the Rainbow Six Operators: Siege. I’ve spent most of the time with Mackay and his wonderfully versatile grappling hook who has a knack for getting you to an optimal vantage point. I haven’t tried hooking it up to a helicopter but this will be my first stop on live servers.
All in all, EA warned me that I was playing on an old build, and in fact, I got a number of noticeable bugs. I was unable to open my full map, and the bodies of the blown-apart vehicles frozen in the air and flickered to the ground at single-digit frame rates in the distance. Most popularly, I lit each of my matches with an invisible weapon – just my soldier’s hand, floating out there in the ether, holding a snout that just didn’t exist. So the eternal question is, will these rough spots be ironed out before the start? DICE has gotten really good at making Battlefield games over the years, but the move of the left panel from October 22nd to November 19th makes me a little concerned.
Screens – Battlefield 2042
Of course, that delay bought some fine-tuning time, and if DICE is successful enough at fixing the bug, Battlefield 2042 has the potential to become the first great shooter of the new generation. Finally a chance to snatch your friends from the heart of a super storm. The end of the world has never looked so bright.