Well, it’s finally here. The latest instalment of the Battlefield series has come to life with Battlefield 2042. Despite the new venue for vehicular and infantry combat, the Battlefield games are known for, it has been met with some harsh criticism from long-time fans of the series. Some feel that DICE has made poor development decisions with some of its changes to the game. Others believe that DICE took Battlefield 2042 out of the oven too soon due to deadlines set by publisher Electronic Arts. Regardless, Battlefield 2042 is currently available for purchase on PC via Steam, Origin, and Epic as well as Xbox Series X/S/One and PlayStation 5/4.
Much like my bullets, Battlefield 2042 misses the mark
I have been a fan of the Battlefield series since I built my first PC in college and picked up Battlefield 1942 to try. Battlefield 2 came out shortly after that and I was in for the long haul. When I first heard that Battlefield 2042 was going to be coming out this year I couldn’t be more stoked to add it to my library. Between then and now I put in a great number of hours in the series. Especially on Battlefield 4 and Battlefield 1 with 690 and 756 hours respectively with less in Battlefield V (303 hours). I expect that my time in BF2042 will be up there as well. What is the go-to series that you’ve spent many long days and nights on? Let me know below after you take a few minutes to see how this latest rendition is shaping up.
Battlefield 2042 turns the series back toward the modern era. Unlike focusing on epic battles of the past as in Battlefield 1 and Battlefield V, it is set in a near-future scenario that locks the forces of Russia and the US in conflict. It boasts an ambitious 128-player “All-Out Warfare” on current-gen platforms with the familiar conquest and breakthrough modes. There is also a squad-based “Hazard Zone” as well as the new Battlefield Portal. It features full cross-play capability which can be enabled or disabled from the options menu. Astray from previous renditions of the Battlefield series, Battlefield 2042 features no single-player campaign mode of any kind.
Conquest has always been my favourite mode in the series, and Battlefield 2042 is no different. On these new 128-player maps the chaos becomes two-fold with some sectors having multiple capture points. Controlling the most sectors drains the enemy teams tickets faster in addition to kills. With the larger number of players per map (sometimes with AI bots) there always seems to be a fight no matter where you go. Breakthrough mode, where one team presses the attack to capture moving sectors and the other defends, is also pretty amped up with the increase in player count. Apparently, last-gen consoles are capped at 64-player maps though and there is currently the talk of 64-player maps for a limited time coming soon to current platforms. One of the biggest gripes right now with these modes is that you can only join via matchmaking – there is no server browser as in prior games.
Hazard Zone seems to be Battlefield 2042’s take on the popular battleground theme running rampant these days. I personally haven’t given it much attention yet, as it seems like something best suited for going into with friends. The gameplay in this mode is more focused on how you handle yourselves as a squad. The Battlefield Portal however seems to be BF2042’s diamond in the rough. Portal is all about creating servers/maps with a combination of modes, gear, classes, etc. from across the series. As of this writing, one of the popular creations is BF2042 Rush, which is basically the new maps but with the rush game type. Battlefield Portal does have a server browser so you can more easily find what you’re looking for among the custom games.
Aside from the larger player maps and the two additional modes, there are two main “features” of Battlefield 2042 that have been met with a lot of criticism. These include the “Plus” system as well as the introduction of specialists. The Plus system is a new way to modify your weapons on the fly, during a match. Previously you could only modify your weapon attachments while not actively in a map. Now players are able to change up the attachments they are using from a limited selection while in-game based on the kind of encounter they are going into. You are also able to change up which selection you have available on each weapon during the match too. The new system is kind of quirky and excessive to some. I personally have found it to be a boon to my gameplay. This is especially true for switching sights depending on the range of encounters.
Lastly, in regard to gameplay, we need to talk about the new specialist system. Instead of class-based loadouts in Battlefield 2042, you choose from different specialists that each has unique passive and active perks suited to different types of situations. For example, one specialist has a passive reduction to explosive damage and a ballistic shield for equipment. Whereas another is able to revive allies to full health and a med-dart type of equipment to heal at a distance. All specialists become unlocked by the time you hit player rank 25. There are no barriers to obtaining them other than time spent playing. The specialist system has been a very high point of contention due to the elimination of the previous class system. Assault, Medic, Engineer, and Recon are there to select but they only act as custom loadout slots. These can be changed mid-game too. Each slot also has access to all weapons and gear in conjunction with any of the specialists.
Graphics & Audio
I have been playing Battlefield 2042 on PC with an Nvidia RTX 2060 card. This card falls between the minimum and recommended hardware specifications. Given that my graphics card is not particularly old, I was expecting to have at least a tolerable graphics experience. However, thus far this has not been the case. I have yet to find that sweet spot in my settings that is both fluid and doesn’t look like a game from 20 years ago. This has been a particularly sore point for me as well. At times I can’t tell if I’m missing targets because of poor hit registration, lag, or because my frames are so out of sync that my target simply isn’t there when I’m firing at them.
I’ve seen screenshots and gameplay of the game playing beautifully – but these seem to mostly be on new consoles. I’ve found a few different guides trying to help. I even re-installed GeForce Experience to see what it gave me for settings. For now, I seem to have found a fairly stable group of settings for the time being. However, it is far from optimal.
The audio in Battlefield 2042 is just as you’d expect from any game in the series as well. Guns fire, things explode, etc. etc. The default voiceovers for English settings just have the Russians speaking with an accent. Something that I did notice they thankfully appear to have set right since beta is the ominous music toward the end of a match. Previously it started playing with a long while left to go and was quite loud. Now it doesn’t seem to kick in until defeat is near certainty.
A major issue I personally have with the audio is there is an overwhelming ambient electronic sound in the background. This occurs in the menus but also while playing. Futuristic or not, I really don’t need to hear an electrical current at all times. I tend to notice it more though when I have my headphones on than just playing with my speakers. I’m sure there is probably a setting to reduce the noise somewhere. I just haven’t done much looking into it yet.
Battlefield 2042 is certainly off to a rough start. However, as much as there is complaining about the game, there are plenty of people playing it. It’s not like this isn’t DICE’s first rodeo. Just mention the word “Netcode” to any BF4 veteran and watch them cringe. The Battlefield Portal will likely keep players tiring from the All-Out Warfare mode from straying too far from the game. Hopefully, we will see some additional maps in rotation soon and not just a bunch of cosmetics. I know one of the main drives I had for playing BF4 was unlocking as many attachments as I could for each weapon so I don’t see this being any different.
As you can see, my love for the Battlefield series runs deep. I could go on and on about various other aspects of the game that are working well or not. There simply isn’t time. I am truly hoping for the best for Battlefield 2042 and I know DICE is already working on updates for balance and optimization issues. Even simple things – like showing how near someone is that can revive you – should have been in the game on release but wasn’t put in until a patch or two later. And maybe it is just me having the major graphical latency issues, but it sure doesn’t seem that way.
There is some light at the end of the tunnel though. DICE pulled Battlefield 4 out of what could be called a horrendous launch as well and it became a shining example of the series. Hopefully, they will be able to do the same for BF2042. But for now, with all the issues plaguing the game, I can’t give it more than Thumb Culture’s Bronze Award.
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.