The gaming industry doesn’t stop for anyone, and just a week after Activision released Call of Duty: Vanguard, Battlefield 2042 is here to try and eat its lunch. As a filling main course, however, you can hardly be what it has to offer. EA DICE has made an excellent starter – a type of tomato soup that the audience likes – that doesn’t quite have the chops to stand on its own. Extensive post-release support will surely help meet those ambitions, but this content will take months, and possibly even years, to complete. When Battlefield 2042 shows you the bill, it is asking you to invest in what to expect instead of hoping that you will be satisfied with the chef’s first dish.
The main menu features three modes: All-Out Warfare hosts classic conquest battles and the return of Breakthrough from Battlefield 1 and Battlefield V. Hazard Zone is a completely new mode that assigns squads to retrieve data drives and then extract them before other teams can eliminate them You, and Portal are bringing back maps of the past ripe for editing to create custom modes.
Conquest and Breakthrough is probably where you will spend most of your time, and it is at the heart of what a Battlefield title is all about. The popular race of reducing the opposing team’s tickets to zero by capturing points on the map has hardly changed. Up to 128 players on PlayStation 5 will battle it out this time around, which means the cards are bigger than ever.
They span the globe of the near future, from the dusty environments of Qatar and stranded Indian ships to Singapore’s outdoor cargo halls. Everyone has the potential to highlight what our own earth might look like if global warming isn’t thwarted by tornadoes and violent weather, but there’s something else that ties them together: they’re all a little bit even great.
While previous Battlefield games have always had the criticism of simply running for a few minutes to find the action and then dying once you get there, there have always been ways to get around that. Whether you’re jumping in a vehicle, spawning on teammates, or reading the map properly to see where the action is going next. This time around, however, while those options still exist, there is so much sparse space separating the targets that the game feels just as much like a running simulator as a shooting simulator. You simply have to put up with these times of boredom when nothing is nearby to take you to your next destination or to a friend who can pick you up.
You will likely come across the same cards over and over as well, since there aren’t too many of them at start-up. Actually only seven. Of course, you’re at the mercy of matchmaking, but it’s all too easy for the game to load the same map twice in a row. You’ve hammered there before; you don’t want to do it again.
At least shooting is his usual solid self. Battlefield has always been a series where where you put your sights really matters. In the near future, it will be no different, as a wide variety of weapons cater to the needs of assault rifle users, SMG experts in close combat, and long-range masters with a sniper rifle in hand.
They are complimented by gadgets such as the grappling hook, ballistic shield and sentry post to round off your gear. Bound to the specialist you want to play as, Battlefield 2042 moves away from the old class system here. Repair tools, ammunition and medical boxes, and insertion beacons can be fitted by anyone, blurring the lines between the traditional roles that previous titles have subscribed to. Each specialist has its own unique advantage, but they are hardly a substitute for the defined tasks of previous soldiers. While you could argue that this is a more liberating implementation, it also means that these all-important tools could be left behind. Unless you’re communicating in a squad, something like the rocket launcher or armor is likely your first port of call. It’s not a change for the better, we would argue.
It all boils down to a mode of conquest that repeats the same old thing: exciting and intense in phases and launches, but also a little boring at times. Breakthrough is where you go for the action. With only two goals to focus on at the same time, the chaos focuses on specific parts of the map so you are always right in the middle of the action. It’s for fun here; We spent most of our game there.
But that’s still Battlefield. It continues to be a game where getting just one kill feels like success, and taking back a target warrants a medal of war. As rare as it may be, when you burst into tears and eliminate an entire enemy squad to reduce their chances of turning the battle around, you are at the forefront of the world. There’s still so much satisfaction here, even if changes under the hood make it feel less like home. In the heat of the action it feels fantastic to play.
Then there is the danger zone, which must be the weakest part of the package. It has high intensity and few respawns and asks teams of four to search maps from standard multiplayer for data drives and then extract them with them. If your squad is killed, you are out of the game for good.
The mode is intended as a slightly more casual variant Escape from Tarkov, but it’s all so uninteresting. As you play on the gigantic maps of Conquest and Breakthrough, you will encounter the cliché again of a lot of running without a lot of gun violence. However, this time it actually happens in practice, resulting in a boring mode that we will seldom return to in the future. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Hazard Zone looks like Battlefield V’s Firestorm mode and receives very little love after launch.
The portal will excite long-time fans the most and remaster beloved cards from Battlefield 1942, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and Battlefield 3 for an experimental mode where you choose the objectives and physics. The mode absolutely fulfills the fantasy that was cast before its release: visit Arica Harbor, Caspian Border, and Battle of the Bulge, all of which have been completely redesigned for the modern day with fun tweaks and changes. While you will have to visit an external website to bring your creation to life, browsing the in-game server list will always throw up some welcoming prospects with custom rules and regulations.
It is these that turn your nostalgia trip into much more than a short vacation, as entertaining variations create interesting scenarios, such as:
There are limitations, of course, but what is already there makes us come back for more and theorize what might come back next. Operation Metro, anyone? Although we put EA DICE in a slightly tricky position, we had as much fun revisiting those older cards as we had learning the new ones.
A Battlefield release is never without problems, however, and Battlefield 2042 is unfortunately no different. Features like a scoreboard and squad voice chat are missing. Then there is a long list of technical errors, mostly related to graphical errors. Airplanes can float in the air, vehicle parts float in the air when they are destroyed, and seedy killcams fall under the map. Matches get stuck on the map screen and never start, a new deployment in the middle of a match is prevented by bugs and even trophies are not properly unlocked. It is a cardinal sin. The user interface sometimes displays the wrong target and the lack of a statistics screen means there is no way of keeping track of your wins and losses.
Battlefield 2042 lacks the core features that make multiplayer titles what they are today. it shouldn’t have been published without them, and that doesn’t even take into account the long list of breakdowns at launch. They’re not even small distractions: we literally couldn’t participate in games because the game suddenly decided to randomly interrupt us. Going back to the main menu and restarting Matchmaking will fix most of the problems, but that’s not the point: the game shouldn’t be in that position in the first place. It’s been postponed once – maybe the title needed another.
Battlefield 2042 is incoherent and incomplete at launch, but it’s impossible to deny that it still has that magic spark that made previous entries flourish. There aren’t enough maps, and one too many bugs and glitches are hindering the fun. However, with the excellent portal mode to back it up, Battlefield 2042 is just enough to get us on board. While we wish so many things were better, there is nothing like Battlefield.