|PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, PS5(reviewed)
|November 19th, 2021
For nearly a decade, DICE has had the arduous task of balancing the Star Wars Battlefront series along with their Battlefield franchise. Throughout various missteps over the years, especially the microtransaction controversy, they delivered an experience that still stands out to me today. Battlefield 1 was that experience in which I figured out my role in the large-scale warfare that this series is all about. Fans like myself were disappointed with the follow-up that is Battlefield V, which felt uninspired. With the release of Battlefield 2042, we hope to relive the modern set pieces and experience that came from the likes of Battlefield 3 & 4. While many believe that DICE has yet again missed the mark, I’ve enjoyed my time and look forward to seeing how this battle in the not-so-distant future improves with future updates.
Violence: Battlefield 2042 depicts large-scale battles in the near future. Players choose from several different guns and explosives to subdue enemy soldiers in combat. Tanks, hovercrafts, helicopters, planes, and more give players the option to do the same. During a battle, buildings and other structures will take damage and crumble when affected by gunfire and explosives. Upon death, blood splatter occurs along with cries of pain. Lastly, players have the option of executing finishing moves that involve stabbing enemy players or slitting their throats.
Language: “F**K” and “s**t” are used in the dialogue.
For this review, I played Battlefield 2042 on the Playstation 5. The version I played is worth noting because Battlefield 2042 may be a different experience depending on the console generation you’re playing on. On the Playstation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC, the player count has been doubled to 128 from the 64-count we are accustomed to. The original number of players remains on PS4 and Xbox One, and the maps are smaller. Since these next-gen consoles are still tough to find, some of you may likely want to play on the previous generation—your experience may differ from mine. So, before I dive deeper into my thoughts on the game, I want to make our readers aware of the differences.
First, the setting of Battlefield 2042 may feel a little too close to home. The stage is set when you first boot up the game: the United States and Russia are at war. Alongside the conflict, disastrous weather has increased across the globe. Players take on a role within a group called the No-Paths—mercenaries who have not chosen a side in the war. The backstory sets up some new features to the Battlefield series. The first is weather effects that occur during a battle, and the second is the option of choosing an operative. These new features, while welcome additions, have slightly poor implementation.
The weather effects considerably change the dynamic of an encounter. For instance, I held down a control point inside a building with my squad when a sandstorm blew through. Tension rose as I could hardly see in front of my face as the enemy pushed forward. On another occasion, I witnessed a rainstorm while out in the open, which includes wind and hinders the option of having a long-range gunfight. Sadly, I have yet to fully experience any of the tornadoes that took center stage in the marking for the dynamic weather. However, I appreciate that the effects I have experienced create immersion and turn the tide of war in a fun way.
The operatives are a much more substantial change to the Battlefield formula. In 2042, you can choose an operator when dropping into a map. These are more than skins; these characters have specific tools to build your playstyle around. My favorite was Borus; he has a turret you can place on the ground that helps tag enemies and shoots at them. This tool simultaneously covers my back and aids my vision disability by locating distant enemies. The new system no longer limits players to specific weapons and extra equipment. The downside is that players are no longer forced to fill a role that a squad needs and can build a class that suits their own needs.
A more minor yet excellent addition is changing attachments on the fly. You can change your scope, muzzle, and magazine at the push of a button. I found this feature to be most useful when I wanted to change out my sight. There was no need for me to have a massive scope on my gun when in close quarters, so it allowed me to switch to a more fitting sight for the given situation. This is a feature that prevents the need to spawn out and change your loadout. I still find myself dying a lot, but adding new ways for players to spend more time on the ground instead of overlooking the map is a step in the right direction for improving this series.
Battlefield does not offer many gameplay modes, but what is currently available is a good start. The standard Battlefield experience includes Conquest and Breakthrough—the latter being the more condensed attack/defend version of conquest. One of the new additions is Hardzone, a light version of Escape From Tarkov. While I am both intrigued and too intimidated to give Tarkov a try, I appreciate that Hardzone is aping that instead of being yet Battle Royale mode. The objective is for squads to drop into a map to collect data drives and eventually extract. You can spend any currency you gain from a run on weapons and gear you can bring with you on your next run. I only wish I had spent more time with Hardzone, but I lack a dedicated squad to get the whole experience.
The third and final gameplay mode is Portal. DICE has taken Battlefield 1942, Battlefield 3, Bad Company 2 and rolled them all into one. Not only can you play some of the old-school maps, but this mode is built for creating custom games and having a good time. I was awestruck by the many options and settings that players can tweak. It is possible to have different eras of warfare battle against one another, along with other parameters that shape how you want your custom game to play out. One particular curated playlist I tried had players using inverted controls throughout the match, which I thought I’d be terrible at but surprisingly I got some kills. Another variation that seems to get mentioned frequently has all players use rocket launchers, but jumping a few times is required to reload. Portal targets nostalgia in the best way possible and adds some fun nonsense in a day and age where I believe many take gaming too seriously, especially in the shooter space.
Recently on Reddit, one user created a list of features that did not make it into Battlefield 2042, and it is pretty long. While some aren’t important to me, they are usually part of the core experience for more dedicated players: no persistent lobbies, no server browser, and global leaderboards have been there in every recent release until now. Even the scoring system is hamstrung—a massive oversight. The most obvious missing feature is the lack of voice chat. I understand that such a missing feature is a red flag, but I prefer not to communicate with random players, though it would’ve been helpful in Hardzone. I’d say that lack of communication should only motivate people to gather a group of friends to squad up, but some essential pieces are missing from Battlefield‘s Squad mechanic.
Lastly, the larger player count and bigger maps somehow create dead space as players converge on specific points. I greatly appreciate that DICE has given me the tools to live a longer life, but it can be a while before I get to the next objective to help my squad. Increasing the number of smaller vehicles such as ATVs would greatly help, but 2042 also has a limited variety of vehicles, and I don’t think that the overpowered hovercraft makes up for that either. The only real benefit that trekking on foot provided was that I could get a read on how a particular encounter was going and where I needed to aim my heavy artillery next. However, I feel that this issue mainly occurred on the broader Conquest maps rather than in the more streamlined Breakthrough mode.
To its merit, the heart of the series still lies within Battlefield 2042. This series taught me that not every game is about your kill/death ratio. Like I did in Battlefield 1, I played to my strengths and focused on taking down air and ground vehicles. My loadout consisted of playing as Borus with the sentry turret, watching my back as I carried the AA gun along with some donation charges. I found great fun in taking out helicopters and tossing those charges at unaware vehicles to deal some extensive damage. You won’t find me sniping enemies from 200 yards away, but I’m doing my part in holding those control points. Once I found out how I could best contribute to my team, I got the whole Battlefield experience, and I was able to find that here as well.
The more time I spend with Battlefield 2042, I begin to side with the fans. Some features that have improved the series over the years are now gone. Other parts that have very little reason to be removed are missing. I could understand if DICE was re-imagining the franchise and rebuilding it from the ground up, but this is simply a new iteration. However, I still enjoyed my time with the game and believe the franchise’s heart still beats within it. With future updates and fixes, I think Battlefield 2042 will be the game fans want. If you have EA Play, I recommend checking out the 10 Hour trial before deciding to make the purchase. This is a $70 next-gen title, so many players might be slightly more hesitant to drop the cash.
The Bottom Line
The core Battlefield experience lives, but has many obstacles to overcome.