‘Battlefield 2042’ Doesn’t Land All Of Its Shots: Game Review


*Disclaimer: Battlefield 2042 review code was provided by EA for the purposes of this review. That being said, all opinions expressed in this review are entirely that of the author.

It’s been a while since a Battlefield game made its mark on the gaming landscape. While some fans loved the change of pace that was Battlefield 1 (me being one of them), many remarked that it was too much of a departure from beloved series staples. And then Battlefield V came out and… well we all know how that went. In comes Battlefield 2042, claiming to be the return to classic formula that fans have wanted all along. And it definitely is that. But that return journey includes quite a few stumbles along the way.

A Glorified Network Test

Battlefield 2042, in its current state, is not a finished game. At the time of writing, I’m on day six of the early access period and I’m still encountering some pretty heinous bugs (more on that later). During the first night of early access, players received a “Persistence Error” every time they tried to join a match; “Persistent” being the operative word. My first three hours with 2042 was spent waiting in lobbies and being kicked back to the title screen. In those three hours, I managed to get into two Conquest matches, two ending Conquest matches. Since then, they’ve had to remove one or two specialists’ features and various gadgets due to them being wildly imbalanced.

While my copy was provided by EA, the vast majority of the player-base during early access had paid money for this glorified network test. A lot of money. In the UK, the PS5 Gold Edition of the game (needed for early access) is currently on the PlayStation Store for £89.99. While it may just be a fact of the industry now that games release in unfinished conditions and get patched later, using your paying player-base as bug-finding guinea pigs is not really acceptable. C’mon EA, I thought we all agreed that you were past this.

Cathartic Chaos

Despite the current state of the game as a whole, this is still a solid Battlefield experience, with plenty of features to keep both old fans and new happy. Something that bugs can’t take away from 2042 is its engrossingly chaotic atmosphere. Take all of those outlandish and uniquely Battlefield moments you’ve experienced in the past and turn it up to 11 and you’ve got yourself Battlefield 2042.

During any given match, you’ll be rushing between objectives while gunfire rains down around you from snipers, helicopters boom above you, and hovercraft zip past you. In the words of Ska legends ‘Madness’, “there’s always something happening and it’s usually quite loud”. The new weather and disaster effects really elevate this chaos to the next level, giving players new obstacles to overcome mid-battle like a red sandstorm that obscures your vision or a twister that hurls surrounding players and vehicles into the air. This is the perfect next step in Battlefield‘s trademark “Stage Evolution”, providing key moments of unpredictability and excitement each match on a map-wide scale.

Talking of map-wide scales, the size of 2042‘s 128-player Conquest maps are gigantic. While there might not be too many of them, the variety inside of the maps themselves can be pretty impressive. For instance, in the map “Manifest”, set in a Singapore harbour, players can pick their fights in a wide variety of locations ranging from cramped cargo ship hallways to hillside bases to a labyrinth of cargo containers. So while you may be playing the same seven maps on repeat, there’s enough variety in each of these stages to keep you coming back.

Battlefield 2042 has some gigantic, quite varied maps

When it all comes together, a match in 2042 can feel like a chaotically beautiful symphony of jet engines and bullets that sweeps you up in its frenzy and gives you a surprisingly varied amount of agency. Whether you’re engaging in aerial dogfights, sniping from a rooftop, or charging down a corridor, there’ll be a million different fights on a million different fronts, all happening at once, and that’s both a blessing and a curse.

Equal Parts Hit, Equal Parts Miss

Just as Battlefield 2042 may offer the best atmosphere in the series to date, it may also cause the most frustration and intimidation, especially for new players. With around 15 hours with the game, my enjoyment with it has varied wildly between play sessions.

When it’s at its best, 2042 can give you some of the best Battlefield experiences you’ll have had in a long time. I played quite a few matches where I was engrossed the entire length of the game (which is a rather lengthy 30+ minutes for a Conquest match). A highlight for me was the verticality of some of the maps, in particular “Kaleidoscope”, which features a series of skyscrapers encircling a park. I thoroughly enjoyed fighting my way up a building, battling to secure the objective on the rooftop, sniping enemies from literal miles away, and then using my wingsuit to glide down to an objective on the ground. This level of fluidity between the variety of areas and environments often creates some of the best gameplay experiences in the game.

Similarly, the agency you are given as a player is something this game has over its competition. As has been the case with quite a few of 2042‘s predecessors, it is up to the player on how they approach objectives. But 2042 improves upon that groundwork by giving you some stellar tools for the job. The aforementioned wingsuit and the grappling hook allows players to use the map’s verticality to their advantage. Players can also swap their attachments on the fly with an incredibly intuitive attachment wheel system, giving you the opportunity to switch between three types of ammo, sight, underbarrel, and barrel. I used this quite a bit with my marksman rifle, switching it between a close-range and long-range variation depending on the situation.

2021 might be the year of the gaming wingsuits

But for every enjoyable match I had with Battlefield 2042, another two frustrating matches would follow. It’d often be the case that I’d be trapped in a constant 15-minute loop of spawning, running to an objective, and getting sniped from an unknown location. And while the spawning is a bit more forgiving than in prior entries, with spawning locations being fairly close to objectives meaning that you avoid that classic mile-long Battlefield run to the point, dying repeatedly due to a source beyond your control is just frustrating. This is only exacerbated by the fact that the game is hell bent on asking you if you want to be revived; upon death you’ll be given two options, either to request a revive or redeploy, with the redeploy option requiring a few-second button hold. It might be a slight nit-pick, but having to hold this button and wait every time you die starts to grate, especially when I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve actually been revived in this game.

Battlefield has always focused around deliberate tactics and smart shooting, but with 2042‘s huge maps and the short time to kill but long time to respawn/get back in action there seems to be a gameplay disconnect that will likely frustrate more than satisfy.

A Portal To Nowhere

A new addition to the Battlefield series is the game mode called “Portal”. This sees players creating their own servers, using assets from various prior Battlefield properties. At launch, you’ll have access to Battlefield 1942, Battlefield Bad Company 2, and Battlefield 3 assets, including 2 maps from each game, the old classes, weapons and music. The surprisingly engaging gameplay of these modes along with the inherent nostalgia might be enough to keep some series veterans satiated, even despite some of 2042‘s shortcomings.

On the other hand though, if my experience is indicative of other players’, the low player counts in these game modes can lead to some empty, dull and overly long matches that you’ll probably end up leaving halfway through. Unfortunately, no amount of nostalgia can stave off half an hour of boredom.

Battlefield Portal sees the return of WW2-era vehicles

A Technical Misfire

On a technical level, Battlefield 2042 is kind of all over the place. Let’s get a minor nit-pick out of the way first; the lack of adaptive trigger support for the PS5’s DualSense is very disappointing. I’ve expressed in my last few reviews just how much I adore the adaptive trigger support in other contemporary games and how I genuinely believe that it elevates the gameplay experience, so the lack of adaptive trigger functionality in this proposedly “Next-Gen” shooter is a bit of a let down. I think it could have made the weapons feel a little weightier than they are, which is an issue I’ve always found with the series.

The sound design, on the other hand, is nothing short of spectacular. Sniper rifles deliver a powerful crack, pistols make a light but definite punch, and weather/disaster effects sound suitably devastating and dynamic, with your proximity to an event triggering different layers of audio (the closer you are to a twister, the louder and more aggressive it sounds).

The visuals are also generally quite impressive, with character, weapon and vehicle models all looking just as crisp as you’d expect. A particular visual standout is the draw distance. It is often the case that you can see the length of an entire map if you are high enough. The tower in “Breakaway” is a good example of this, giving you full sight over the ice canyons in front of you as well as the oil rig right at the back of the map, with individual players all being visible regardless of distance.

Controls are generally quite intuitive across the board, except from aerial vehicles. Flying a jet or helicopter in 2042 is confusing, disorientating, and maddening. Flying used to be my favourite aspect of the Battlefield series, but I just couldn’t wrap my head around the weightless and arcade-y controls in this one. This is a bit of a shame considering Battlefield‘s vehicles used to be the main draw of the series.

Battlefield 2042 does have some technical wonders

Here it is, as promised earlier, all of the bugs I encountered in Battlefield 2042. Up first is a classic staple of the franchise, but again, turned up to 11: lag. I have not played a single game of 2042 that has not featured severe latency issues. I played on a PS5 and my internet is pretty good, so I’m confident in saying that it’s the game’s fault. To be fair, there are 128 players on the map, and many technical aspects of the game are of a high standard, but a newly released AAA game from EA shouldn’t have lag as a standard in each match.

I also came across bugs where I couldn’t stand up from a crouch, one where I couldn’t use any buttons but the trigger, one where I could use any button but the trigger, one where I couldn’t select a loadout or weapon, and one where I couldn’t redeploy, so I just had to lay there on the ground helplessly while the enemy team stood around perplexed, until I finally got kicked for inactivity. Sure, some of these bugs are pretty minor, but the price tag attached to the game isn’t.

Battlefield 2042, at its core, is not a bad game. In fact, it might just be the return to form that fans were looking for. But in its current state, and with some technical and mechanical aspects that work against it, Battlefield 2042 is likely to let down a lot of people. But, if you’re willing to look past some pretty glaring faults, you might just find yourself enjoying the moment-to-moment gameplay. Just make sure you take some breaks to avoid the impending frustration.

Final Verdict: 7/10

Words By Cameron Swan


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