It’s been a long time since DICE felt they understood what makes Battlefield so special. The series has always focused on massive battles on huge maps, but since the release of. in 2011 Battlefield 3, it feels like Battlefield is chasing the skirts of every other popular shooter franchise, from Call of Duty to Payday. But after nearly a decade in the wild, DICE has finally started to rediscover the series’ roots with Battlefield 2042. It may not like the highs of previous entries. achieved Battlefield Bad Company 2 or Battlefield 3, but it’s the most distinctive and interesting the series has felt in years – at least if it doesn’t get in its own way.
Battlefield 2042, developed by DICE Interactive and Ripple Effect, is technically more like three games (or at least game concepts) in one package. The game is only multiplayer, but has three main modes: All-out War, Hazard Zone and Portal.
While the latter two modes are new to the series, All-out War feels like the classic Battlefield experience. It includes Conquest, a type of game in which teams must capture and hold certain areas, and Breakthrough, in which a team attacks successive capture points and the opponents defend them. In both modes, up to 128 players (on PC, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, with only 64 players on last generation consoles) compete on sprawling maps with all kinds of vehicle support from jets, helicopters, tanks and armored personnel carriers.
In terms of staging epic battles between huge teams in sprawling environments, Battlefield 2042 comes close to some of the series’ highest watermarks – some of the most recent entries and even less so other franchises can boast. The fights are exciting, with dozens of players shooting at the same time and dozens of little skirmishes blending into each other. It’s messy and dazzling in a way that few other Sagittarius can be.
It doesn’t hurt that the game is absolutely great. There are a few random weather effects like rainstorms, sandstorms, and even tornadoes, all of which add to the visual chaos of the firefights. The effects can be a little confusing at times, but it’s always nice as the players are pretty easy to spot – thanks to some clever visual tricks like cutting out noticeable particles and removing non-essential bushes.
An unfortunate side effect of Battlefield 2042Huge maps that feel a lot bigger than their counterparts from previous games are that they can take a little too long to cross on foot. There have been a couple of Conquest matches, particularly on the Hourglass desert map, that made me feel like I was playing a battle royale game after chasing distant shots and distant players, only to find the action moving through time , when I arrived. A certain amount of downtime can do wonders for the pace of a Battlefield match, but here it often resulted in downright boredom.
Speaking of battle royales: 2042‘s new fastening system feels like it could have been ripped straight out of PUBG, and it’s one of the highlights of this entry. It allows players to customize their weapons with multiple attachments in each slot – different visors or silencers to name a few – and then customize them on the fly as you play. This means you can use a long range rifle scope for your rifle while hiking through the mountains, but switch to a red dot sight if you come across a few buildings that need clearing. It’s a simple feature, but it makes you feel like you have an inventory of tricks at your fingertips without complicating the game. So every single life feels like an adventure.
The biggest problem with 2042‘s traditional Battlefield modes was how many frustrating technical glitches would pop up during my time playing the game.
All of these impressions of the game come from a three-day remote review event hosted by EA and DICE. The event was divided into certain blocks in which we played certain modes. However, the matchmaking had multiple issues and more than a few players (myself included) had multiple crashes. In addition, there were issues with enemy players disappearing in the middle of battle, accidentally sliding dozens of meters above the ground, or dying in running animations and being frozen, and littering the war zone with dozens of fake corpses making it undesirable to find real enemies additional challenge.
It’s entirely possible that all of these bugs were issues with our early build of the game – DICE said it would release another patch between our version and the Early Access version that will be released on November 12th, those issues weren’t necessarily groundbreaking. But they often created frustration as at least one of them showed up in every game.
The event also left the game’s progression unclear. There are 22 guns in Battlefield 2042, with dozens of attachments for everyone, as well as vehicle unlocks, equipment for every single specialist, and more. But our review accounts had access to all of these things from the get-go, so it was difficult to get a feel for how long it will actually take to unlock new items.
As for the new Battlefield modes, the event left even more questions unanswered. In Hazard Zone, multiple squads are dropped onto a small portion of the game’s regular maps to retrieve data drives and earn credits that can be used to temporarily purchase better Hazard Zone equipment in future games. These drives are guarded by AI squads, and players earn credits for killing them. Extracting gives you the greatest possible credits, but only two squads can extract each game, and the extractions themselves take several minutes. This is supposed to make any game risky, but the credits seem to pile up pretty quickly.
Here’s the thing though: Battlefield 2042 doesn’t have its own voice chat – at least not yet. During the event, EA and DICE divided the players into ready-made squads and offered them Discord channels. According to DICE, there are plans to add voice chat after launch, but at this point no one has confirmed to me when this could happen.
While this isn’t great for the regular modes, it makes Hazard Zone, an otherwise exciting mode that focuses on communication and teamwork, extremely frustrating for solo players and duos. While the game includes a ping system, it’s too complicated to be ineffective and requires multiple sub-menus to select anything that is actually informative to your allies. So for now, Hazard Zone seems like a mode that is only fun with pre-built squads.
The third main mode of the game, Portal, acts more like a “Battlefield Medley”. DICE set up matches for us that included a VIP mode (which consisted of a team with weapons Battlefield Bad Company 2 and the other with guns Battlefield 1942) and two free-for-all modes (one that was supposed to be extra fast and another that gave rocket launcher to everyone, but we had to jump five times to reload). While they’re sturdy in their own right, none of these options felt right for Battlefield or were particularly fun.
Portal also offers simpler matches that directly import the rule sets from the older games. This way you can play with on cards like Caspian Border Battlefield 3‘s exact weapons and rules. All of these classic modes, along with some custom matches created by the community and DICE (hopefully some more interesting than what we played), will be available for standard matchmaking on the portal at launch, along with a server browser if you want to look for something a little more eclectic. While I still can’t exactly call Portal fun, it serves as a historical reminder of where the series came from and how great it can be.
There’s still nothing quite like being in the middle of a massive gun battle with dozens of players as jets bombard the ground around you and a tank rumbling over a hill just 15 meters away. DICE has been in search of that ancient Battlefield magic for more than a decade Battlefield 2042 comes very close. but 2042He rarely manages much more, at least so far. It doesn’t feel like a real step forward for the franchise or a meaningful update to a 20 year old formula. Now I’m still waiting for the next big jump.
Battlefield 2042 will be released in Early Access on November 12th and fully released on November 19th on Windows PC, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X and Xbox One. The game was reviewed on PC during a press event hosted by Electronic Arts. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not affect the editorial content, although Vox Media can earn commissions on products purchased through affiliate links. you find more information on Polygon’s ethics policy here.