The launch of Battlefield 2042 should’ve been triumphant, but instead it’s been a myriad of disappointments. The franchise has been in a weird spot for the last few years, but Battlefield 2042 was meant to right the wrongs and bring it back to its former glory. Although that’s not totally off the table, it won’t happen until the game gets significant updates. However, even with updates, there are issues drilled into the core of DICE’s new shooter that are both baffling and likely unfixable without completely overhauling the game. It’s a massive step up from the Battlefield 2042 beta, but the bar was already through the floor and there was nowhere else to go but up.

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Battlefield made a name for itself by being a sandbox shooter. It’s a series with massive player counts, multi-layered maps that inspire creativity in the player, and all-out warfare with vehicles and dynamic destruction. It’s the antithesis to Call of Duty thanks to its lack of linearity. A lot of that is still present (though some of it is noticeably not), but it feels hollow and undercooked. This isn’t the throwback to Battlefield 3 and that it was being hyped up to be – it’s a shell of that.

Battlefield 2042 is a return to the modern setting that the series thrived in. By taking place in the near-future, Battlefield 2042 exudes a familiar feeling with apache helicopters and competent machine guns while advancing the formula further with things like drones and wingsuits. That balance of old and new makes the game feel welcoming to veterans and newcomers alike, but it wears off quite fast. Battlefield 2042 becomes cumbersome quickly, as it’s filled to the brim with bugs and basic design decisions that come off as baffling.

Battlefield 2042’s Multiplayer Isn’t Awful, But It Feels Unfinished

Over the course of several days, Battlefield 2042 presented itself as a buggy mess. The game is plagued with issues like the frequent inability to spawn without restarting the game, being unable to revive/be revived, and so much more. The list of bugs is long, and even though Battlefield 2042 was delayed to allow for an extra month of polish it feels like it should’ve been pushed back until sometime in 2022.

There are even new features that feel like bugs, such as weapon bloom. This is a feature that has been implemented in a lot of shooters over the last few years, much to the dismay of many fans. The idea of bloom is that the game randomly dictates when bullets will or won’t hit a target, even if the player is firing directly at someone, seemingly to present some form of realism, since almost no one has 100% accuracy in real life.

Weapon bloom is the core reason why Battlefield 2042’s guns feel so terrible, namely the assault rifles. Bullets will often not hit their target unless the barrel of the gun is pressed up against the enemy’s body, causing easily preventable deaths. Players in the in-game chat began recommending others use SMGs and LMGs for better results and while this ended up being true, to some extent, this is a game with massive multiplayer maps. ARs provide much better range for those longer engagements in theory, but they might as well be shooting nerf darts because they hardly ever deal damage. Even with the new plus system, a mechanic that allows players to switch weapon attachments on the fly for long-range or close-range battles, it’s not enough to counter Battlefield 2042‘s weapon bloom. At the time of writing, DICE has suggested it will remedy this issue to some extent.

Battlefield’s maps contain its greatest strengths and weaknesses, as there is virtually zero flow in the maps of Battlefield 2042 thanks to their gargantuan size. While the idea of large-scale battles with 128 players is the stuff of dreams for some franchise fans, DICE’s execution is poor. In previous games, there was almost always a central point of conflict to guide players toward amidst the surrounding chaos. Battlefield 4‘s Siege of Shanghai divided the map with a small body of water and a skyscraper with an objective at the top of it. There were two objectives on both sides of the map, meaning players had to cross the center constantly to ensure victory in Conquest.

Unless they had a helicopter or jetski, most players would have to walk through the towering building, which also posed a threat because it could easily collapse. There was always danger, whether it be from the impending doom of a crumbling building or players who would collide in the middle of the map. Battlefield 2042’s maps don’t have that. Orbital has a building that overlooks a majority of the map and is a prominent hotspot for engagements, but there is no reason to really go there because there are so many other objectives around the map which are easier to take. There’s also almost no reason to go to the rocket pad because it’s so isolated from every other prominent location. Other maps revolve around big frozen tundras or soulless deserts that could make for imaginative sandboxes, but just like a lot of the other concepts in this game, are utterly bland in their execution.

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Ultimately, Battlefield 2042 feels too big, and as a result players spend a lot of time jogging in the vast amount of dead space between objectives. Buildings are sparse, cover is sporadic yet not strategically placed, and vehicles are often non-existent. Players can use a system that allows them to call-in land vehicles at will, but since others are usually using them there are rarely any available to quickly move out of these barren areas. Most of the time, it ends with an enemy who is equally as misguided and lost as the player shooting them in the back before going back to aimlessly wandering.

There are not enough unique landmarks where the player can quickly identify where they are or places that organically attract conflict. Some of these map issues are fixed in Breakthrough, the game’s only other mode in standard multiplayer besides Battlefield 2042‘s version of Conquest. The map is sectioned off and rapidly expands into a larger battlefield as the offense captures objectives. It’s more contained and focused, but maps like these shouldn’t work well in just one mode.

Battlefield 2042 having just two modes in its standard multiplayer is a whole other issue in of itself. Despite having three big pillars with things like Hazard Zone and Portal, DICE has stripped this game down to the barest of bones. There is no scoreboard for people to see how they stack up with players in the rest of the game, and it’s not possible to switch teams or even squads mid-match. The most absurd omission revolves around Battlefield 2042 having no voice chat. It will be added later, but in a game with cross-play, this makes it impossible to communicate with squadmates on other platforms without opening up a third-party app like Discord.

As a result, Battlefield 2042‘s multiplayer feels rushed. DICE has repeatedly asked players to standby while it fixes its games months after release, but Battlefield 2042 is a painfully insulting instance of this due to how unpleasant it is to play long-term and how little meat it has on its bones.

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Battlefield 2042’s Battlefield Portal Mode Is A Saving Grace Even With Its Flaws

On the other hand, Battlefield Portal, while not perfect, offers at least one good reason to play Battlefield 2042. The Battlefield Portal is a hub for classic Battlefield games like Bad Company 2 and Battlefield 3, allowing players to revisit select maps from these old-school titles with all of their respective weaponry, rule sets, and more. Ironically, Portal has more modes than standard multiplayer, as it includes Conquest, Rush, TDM, and free-for-all. It somehow feels more complete and is bolstered up by player-created game types.

While some players used Portal to create XP farms, some others have used it for more creative means. To test out what Portal is capable of, a small group of players simply created an AI vs player battle, resulting in roughly 60 bots against a small group of 5 players or so. The battle took place on Battlefield 1942‘s El Alamein map on Rush which starts players out in an almost D-Day situation. There’s a long stretch of desert with a hill at the end of it, that hill is stacked with every enemy soldier who is equipped to rain hellfire down on anyone who comes close to it.

It actually ended up being virtually impossible to break their defenses, but it provided a fun and absurd challenge. Players can also create their own simple-yet-fun private matches with custom rule sets like no sliding, no vehicles, and other miscellaneous tweaks that allow the creator full creative control. That level of freedom opens the door to a lot of really exciting possibilities, especially as Battlefield 2042 gets updated with new Portal content.

There are some issues here, such as the weapon bloom still being present. The attachment system doesn’t feel like it was thought out whatsoever as it still uses the plus system, despite that feature being disabled in official DICE servers. Players must slowly drag and drop the attachment they want to use to the slot closest to the gun, but the game never tells the player this, so they will have to experiment until they eventually figure it out. Nonetheless, this is fixable and is a minor problem when compared to the other issues plaguing the rest of Battlefield 2042.

One of the most frustrating blemishes in Battlefield Portal is once again a carry-over from the main game. Dynamic destruction in Battlefield 2042 feels far more minimal than previous titles, especially given the increase in scope and scale. One of the signature selling points of Bad Company 2 was the destruction. Players could use grenade launchers to blow open walls with ease and even tumble over small buildings, but grenade launchers in the Bad Company 2‘s Portal maps leave a small dent in the wall after an underwhelming explosion. Do not expect to use this as a strategic, multi-purpose tool. Maybe don’t use it at all, because it’s weak and highlights just many of the steps back that Battlefield 2042 has taken.

Battlefield 2042’s Hazard Zone Is Fun, But Lacks Depth

Battlefield 2042‘s Hazard Zone feels like a strange identity crisis for the game’s third mode. Battlefield 5 tried to do a battle royale, but failed miserably. Hazard Zone is not a battle royale; eight squads of four are tasked with entering one of the game’s multiplayer maps to recover data drives from satellites that have crashed on Earth. Prior to deployment, they can stock up with weapons and equipment to aptly prepare for the imminent slaughter.

Once players have landed on the map, all bets are off. Death is permanent – unless the player’s teammates can find a redeploy beacon – and there are only two extraction points. Unlike Warzone where the objective is to be the last team standing, Hazard Zone separates itself from battle royales by asking that players only kill if they need to, but it’s not the objective. Surviving is key, but there’s a strategy in letting others do the fighting while the player sneaks around and steals drives. That said, combat is unavoidable by the time the escape chopper arrives.

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Every player is in a rush to get on board, leading to a frenetic battle clouded by explosions and thundering gunfire. It’s exhilarating, but it’s ultimately a novelty that lacks the depth of its competitors. Warzone has kept players engaged by adding different challenges on top of the all-mighty win. There are bounties, supply runs, and other metas that keep the gameplay fresh. On top of that, there’s also loot to gather to help strengthen and reward the player as they survive.

It was heavily rumored that Hazard Zone is inspired by Escape from Tarkov, but that game instills a sense of loss and risk when playing. As players gather loot, they not only gamble with the idea of losing what they’ve acquired, but also everything they came in with. None of this can be found in Battlefield 2042‘s Hazard Zone, the mode is purely about gathering up the same data drives and extracting. There’s no variety or additional loot to be found here, making it difficult to want to invest a lot of time in the mode.

Hazard Zone feels like the foundation for something larger. It highlights Battlefield 2042‘s intense combat when it’s at its best, but it lacks substance. With updates, this could evolve into something wonderful, but this is part of a larger premium package that is available now and only echoes the larger problem with the game.

Battlefield 2042 should be the ultimate entry in the series, but it misses almost all of its most important marks. It has three massive modes, 128 players, is debuting on a new generation of consoles, and is a return to the era that the series thrives in. All of this falls flat and, somehow, it actively takes the series multiple steps back. Classic entries like Bad Company 2 have even been retroactively worsened thanks to essentially being remastered in Battlefield 2042‘s flawed engine.

It’s not as unsalvageable as Battlefield 5, but it’s still hard to imagine this evolving into the definitive Battlefield game that DICE wants it to be. There is fleeting fun to be had here, but it’s often spoiled by the game’s blatant shortcomings. The maps are a slog, gunplay is bogged down by puzzling design choices, and there’s no shortage of bugs that actively require the player to restart the entire game. It’s a far cry from the 10-year-old Battlefield 3 and as it continues to age, the series strays further away from those glory days with no road to redemption in sight.

Battlefield 2042 releases worldwide on November 19, 2021 for Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, PS5, and PC. An Xbox Series X copy was provided by EA for the purpose of this review.

Our Rating:

2 out of 5 (Okay)
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