Battlefield 2042 is all tricks but no treats. It tries to do plenty of new things but fails disappointingly with most of its features.
What you need to know
- What is it? A large-scale, first-person, multiplayer shooter set in the near future.
- Reviewed on: PC - Ryzen 5 3600, Radeon RX 6800, 16 GB of RAM
- Developer: DICE
- Publisher: EA
- Release date: November 19, 2021
- Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
I've been a fan of the Battlefield franchise since Battlefield 2 and my early high-school days. Back then, when Counter-Strike 1.6 was the most popular shooter among the kids, Battlefield 2 introduced something that we've never seen before in a shooter game. Battlefield 2 had large scale military combat with choppers, tanks, naval vehicles, plenty of weapons and most importantly, a finely tuned gameplay for hundreds of hours of fun.
Sixteen years since the release of Battlefield 2, EA and DICE have launched their first next-gen shooter in Battlefield 2042, promising plenty of groundbreaking features and a true Battlefield, all-out-war, experience that fans of the series have learned to love over the last decade.
So, does Battlefield 2042 scratch that Battlefield itch? Did DICE manage to create a truly memorable title after the disappointing Battlefield V? Will Battlefield 2042 go down as the best Battlefield title of all time? The simple and short answer is a resounding no. And it hurts me, as a Battlefield fan to say it so firmly.
Let's start with the premise. The world has gone to shit due to climate change, collapsing economies, global shortages and a shadow war between the US and Russia. Cities are being ravaged by natural disasters like tornadoes, hurricanes and sandstorms.
These catastrophic events left millions of people without their homes, painting a grim picture for the future of the human species. That's where the Specialists jump in. They are ordinary people who band together to survive and ultimately become an important factor in economic, military and social policies.
On paper, this sounds incredibly interesting and sets the stage for an immersive experience within the game with a strong potential for a cinematic and faithful atmosphere that could even match Battlefield 1's deception of WW1.
Sadly, the bleakness of Battlefield 2042's background story does not reflect at all the actual game and that's mainly due to the snarky Specialities who don't look, sound or feel authentic and are completely out of place in such a grim setting. Every match you'll see dozes of the same characters, running around the map without any colour code that would help you distinguish between an ally and enemy team.
I found their end-game taunts so annoying and cringy that it's almost impossible to connect and love any of them. They are simply unlikeable to their core and act like war is a fun game of paintball or hide and seek.
In terms of gameplay, I find that the inclusion of Specialists complete ruins the Battlefield experience since the traditional classes don't exist anymore. DICE have introduced "loadouts" where you can pick Assault, Engineer, Medic and Recon packages that don't act as true classes, instead, I would call them just a simple makeover that allows players to mix the traditional roles of Battlefield games with the newly introduced Specialists.
For example, you can pick the medic package but you won't be able to revive fallen allies if you don't play as Falck or Angel, the only two Specialists that have the ability to revive. Or you can revive players with the Assault package if you play as Falck or Angel.
Specialists do feel like just another way to monetize an already full-price game though, I did find some of their Specialities to be fun. Items like Webster Mackay's Grappling Hook and Emma Rosier's Wingsuit can be both helpful and enjoyable. However, a lot of these are unbalanced, especially the Wingsuit, which works more like a jetpack, allowing you to fly unrealistically large distances.
All show and no go
EA and DICE talked a lot about Battlefield 2042's dynamic weather events such as tornadoes and sandstorms. These visual spectacles are truly breathtaking sights but that's where the praise ends basically. Other than looking amazing, these offer absolutely nothing substantial to the gameplay.
Yes, you can ride the tornado to launch yourself across the map and sandstorms lower the visibility, protecting you from long-range sniper fire but we had similar features in previous Battlefield games and the community never really liked these anyway.
Another aspect of Battlefield 2042 that has all the looks but feels completely bland are the maps. Lifeless, boring, empty, repetitive - there's nothing and I mean nothing memorable and iconic within these new battlegrounds.
They are large, unbalanced, open fields that will have you running for minutes to reach the next objective only to get sniped by campers or, elegantly run over by the most annoying thing Battlefield has ever seen - Hovercrafts.
Speaking about vehicles, it's safe to say that vehicles dominate the experience at the moment. The ability to call-in vehicles should not be in a Battlefield game. Period.
Most of the vehicles are way too powerful, starting with Hovercrafts that are fast, deadly and have an insane amount of armour and HP. Additionally, it seems that they stick to all kinds of surfaces in the game - from climbing skyscrapers to jumping from hundred feet tall glaciers - Hovercrafts are indestructible.
Tanks are unbalanced too since there are only a few weapons that players can use to deal damage to these armoured vehicles. As for choppers, they'll start to wreak havoc at bases even before you get going.
This is a major issue in the game that seemingly appears when some players load faster than others, which allows them to use the choppers and travel to the enemy base where they can gun down the players before they can react.
I find your lack of weapons...disturbing
Battlefield 2042 has a total of 23 weapons which is abysmally low for a large-scale shooter. For comparison, Battlefield 4, the last modern-day Battlefield game had 83 weapons at launch.
Believe it or not, Battlefield 2042 launched with two LMGs and both are completely useless due to terrible balancing issues, which make most of the weapons weaker than they should be.
At the moment, everyone is running around using PP-19 Bizon since this SMG is basically the only weapon in the game that seems to work as intended. It doesn't have the ridiculous bloom as other weapons, it doesn't kick as crazy and has decent damage.
As for weapon attachments, this is another segment of the game where Battlefield 2042 lacks when compared to Battlefield 4. A total of 60 attachments are available to unlock but sometimes I wondered if each of these even passed the quality control since you'll find that the same attachments offer different stats on different weapons.
Additionally, I found the weapon customisation to be quite confusing. The game does not allow you to customise your weapons in the menus or pre-match like in previous games, instead, you can choose three attachments of each category (barrel, ammo, sights etc) and swap these on the go during matches.
Again, allowing players to swap attachments on the go sounds great on paper but the execution is confusing and far from perfect due to terrible UI design, which is unnecessarily complex and fails to make menus clear and understandable. Most of the time I simply wanted the old system back since the new one just feels like too much of a hassle.
Hit registration in Battlefield 2042 seems to be another major issue. Players have been sharing in-game clips that show ridiculous inconsistency during gunfights. I can also confirm that this issue was present several times during my time with the game. Battlefield 2042 will often make you question your own skill with its random bullet spread, terrible hit detection and server lag.
When I first heard about Hazard Zone mode in Battlefield 2042, I was pretty excited, to say the least. First, I expected this mode to be free-to-play and EA's and DICE's competitor to Warzone. Second, I expected realistic gameplay with low TTK, a meaningful loot system and tense, unpredictable matches with high risk/reward endings. Third, I expected something that would be very easy to separate from the traditional Battlefield.
Hazard Zone has failed to meet my expectations in every single way. It is boring, lifeless and so out of place and there's no way that someone who regularly plays Warzone, Escape From Tarkov or Hunt: Showdown would switch to Hazard Zone in its current shape.
The game is basically ruined with the option to extract early. You'll spawn in, use the radar to locate data drives, loot the drives and you can extract. Two minutes into the game and you can extract your loot and even get solid credits for it.
In order to survive, this mode needs to become a standalone, free-to-play experience. Otherwise, it will end up like Battlefield V's Firestorm in just a couple of months.
Someday it will be ok
It's incredible how Battlefield 2042 seems to have it all figured out before you actually start to play it. Then you'll realise that this game, in its current state is far from being complete and worth $60/$70. I'm not gonna brag about those missing features list that is making rounds on Reddit and social media because this review would never end but I am going to say what I've said after the beta.
This game needed a delay. It needed it so bad, it's obvious. Many of its implemented features are half baked, everything seems unbalanced and not properly tested. The Specialists are shallow, cartoony characters that should have no place in this game. The maps are way too similar and below par when compared to the iconic map in the series.
Yet, in certain, very rare moments, Battlefield 2042 manages to capture that Battlefield magic. It finds that balance between fun and absolute chaotic encounters, even though most of the time it's simply chaotic.
I would lie if I said I did not have some short moments of fun in the game. When I switched to Battlefield Portal though, that's when the real fun started. Everything seemed to gel together perfectly.
The maps were smaller, offered a lot more combat flow, weapons felt great and I had a feeling of actually fighting for something meaningful in these matches. Too bad the mode is barebones right now with only two maps for each Battlefield title.
While Battlefield 2042 disappointed me in various ways, I still think there's hope. With many, many and I mean MANY updates, this game can become an enjoyable experience since there are true "only in Battlefield" moments here and there.
The questions are though, why did we get this game in such a shape in the first place and can DICE actually turn it around?