Battlefield 2042 Review

Dan Webb

I’ve always found a few things in life to be certain. You’re either a cat person or a dog person. You’re either a tea person or a coffee person. You were either on the side of Blur or Oasis during the Britpop era. And of course, you’re either Call of Duty or Battlefield. Believe it or not, I'm a Battlefield person, (who also likes dogs, tea, and Oasis, thanks for asking). I’ve always been a Battlefield person, and always will be, thanks to the open-world nature of its combat and rampant chaos – there’s nothing quite like dropping someone with a headshot from 100m while riding on top of a tank, for instance. But what Battlefield has come to exemplify over the years has changed dramatically, and I’m not sure any of it is for the better.


Right, where's the shooty bangs at?

For me, personally, everything I associate with Battlefield has been pushed to one side or barely exists in any form in Battlefield 2042. Rush (a favourite mode among fans), almost takes a backseat and is only available on the old maps in Battlefield Portal, with no love for 2042's core modes. Instead, it's been replaced by Breakthrough, which is effectively a more linear Conquest mode which doesn't work with 128-players, due to the aforementioned linearity of its maps. And then there’s the destruction, or should I say: lack thereof. Battlefield used to be about decimating buildings, rolling through a town leaving nothing but smouldering rubble in your wake. Those days are clearly gone. Battlefield 2042 seems more like a large-scale Call of Duty these days, and as such, it’s clearly lost its identity – the key aspects that made it unique.

Enough about what’s missing from BF 2042 - what’s actually under the hood? Well, Battlefield 2042 effectively comes in three flavours: All-Out Warfare, which comprises Conquest and Breakthrough; Hazard Zone, which is developer DICE’s PVE/PVP take on the Escape From Tarkov formula; and Battlefield Portal, a playground for the game's fancy new user-generated content (UGC), where players can create their own experiences using a host of assets from previous Battlefield titles.

What Battlefield has as a package is both delightful and disappointing at the same time. On the one-hand, Conquest is still brilliant fun; and while the potential of Battlefield Portal will truly be felt in the months post-launch, it’s a wonderful and truly innovative addition to the franchise. Being able to mix-and-match Battlefield 3, Battlefield 1942, and Battlefield: Bad Company 2 content, with stuff from Battlefield 2042 to create your own modes is sheer genius. Ultimately, it'll hinge on the ingenuity of the community to make it work, though, and only time will tell how that goes. On top of that, Hazard Zone is actually a pretty solid idea, well-executed by DICE, so credit must go to the studio for that.

However, the crux of Battlefield 2042, is All-Out Warfare, and this is where the overall experience is severely lacking. I’ve already bemoaned the absence of Rush, but the truth is, when you discount Breakthrough, (because honestly, it simply doesn’t work in terms of balance), all you’re left with is Conquest. And while Conquest does have its moments, it’s not enough for BF 2042 to hang its cap on.


While we’re talking Conquest, let’s touch on the new-gen version for a moment, and the implications that the new 128-player games have. Essentially, it drastically alters the dynamics of the game, and not necessarily for the better. When it works, it really works, and the adrenaline that comes with everything going off at the same time can make it a truly unforgettable experience. But when it doesn’t work, you’ll either be overwhelmed or overwhelming an opposing squad, or running miles to get into the action, only to be sniped or spawn-camped when you get there – and it’s not like there’s an abundance of cover present in Battlefield’s maps.

The truth is, in creating larger maps, DICE has also made the on-foot jaunt to and fro so much more interminable when you don’t have a vehicle. To be honest, Battlefield 2042 is often a lonely affair, and on more than one occasion, I’ve resorted to killing my chosen specialist, in order to respawn and get back into the action quicker. I'm not sure that’s quite what DICE had in mind.

All of these concerns don't even take into account Battlefield 2042's more glaring issues, like being unable to choose a squad to spawn onto, the lack of a decent scoreboard, and the fact that all the good gear (like attachments and such) is locked behind levelling – which means any veterans of the game have a considerable advantage over new players. Sure, it’s hard to balance the latter, but, frankly, we had expected more.

Meanwhile, a smattering of bugs also conspire to further mar the experience. Some bugs are proper game-breakers, too, like getting stuck in a crouch position, not being able to be revived or respawned, laggy servers (and the game is only in early access too, imagine what it’ll be like at full release) – but for me, the biggest issues has to be the frequent crashes. I lost count of how many hard console crashes that occurred while playing Battlefield 2042. The game as a whole is also remarkably rough around the edges, and that’s me being polite.


Well, I'm not going out there first.

 

The main thing with Battlefield 2042, is that despite all of its issues (and there are a lot), and that fact that it's perhaps the least 'pure' Battlefield game that DICE has ever made, the core shooting mechanics remain enormously fun and immensely satisfying. And there's no other game quite like it, as far as replicating the grand, all-encompassing scale of war is concerned. Throw in the chaos that comes with 128-players and military vehicles riding roughshod around BF 2042's massive maps, and things can get pretty intense. And yet, there's not nearly enough destruction for a Battlefield game, there are far too many times you'll be stuck sprinting alone across the wilderness, and there aren't enough traditional BF modes on offer. Put it all together and it equates to probably the worst Battlefield game released in quite some time. That’s not to say that Battlefield 2042 is bad; it’s just not reflective of DICE at the top of its game, unfortunately.

Battlefield 2042

Battlefield 2042 is DICE’s most average Battlefield yet, one that despite boasting two new modes to discover in Hazard Zone and Battlefield Portal, clearly forgot about the core of the experience. With some weird design decisions, plenty of bugs, and more crashes than a destruction derby; the future of Battlefield, this is not. It’s still fun, but we hoped for so much more.

Form widget
65%
Audio
75%

The audio design isn’t as good as it has been in previous Battlefield games, and the spatial audio feels very 'off' at times. It’s still pretty good, just not excellent.

Visuals
80%

Battlefield 2042 is still a pretty great looking game in the grand scheme of things, it’s just not going to blow you away like it perhaps should. No new big next-generation wow-ness on show here.

Playability
75%

Battlefield still handles as well as it ever has, even if the console controls do need a lot of fine-tuning before they really work properly.

Delivery
55%

Portal and Hazard Zone are clearly the best new additions, and while Conquest can be brilliant, there’s not a lot of substance at the heart of the game, otherwise.

Trophies
60%

Some of the trophies are downright tough, which isn’t a bad thing, but they scream pure grind. It’s probably going to take 1,000 hours for this one, in truth, and some are very situational, which is less than ideal.

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