Battlefield has always been the biggest and loudest multiplayer experience in the industry. It’s the video game equivalent of Texas, and its bombast cannot be overstated. Battlefield 2042 offers several ways to participate in simulated warfare in the near future. Whether you prefer to fight by land or air, you can experience dizzying on-screen explosions, tense firefights and more vehicles than teammates who know how to drive them. Unfortunately, Battlefield 2042 is riddled with nearly as many bugs as bad pilots, dragging down an otherwise solid online shooter.
If nothing else, Battlefield 2042 is known. It continues the series’ trend of delivering multiplayer maps with the largest number of players possible and a range of reliable character archetypes that have become standard in first-person shooters. The latest addition to Battlefield’s long-standing formula is a weather system that lets you control deadly tornadoes alongside the vehicles and debris they pick up on their route across the map. These storms are a nice touch and add a sense of panic to the already tense combat, but their inclusion feels inconsistent in the grand scheme of things. The 128-player, big-map matches guarantee dramatic moments, but there’s a fine line between spectacle and chaos, and 2042 often turns into the latter.
No Battlefield game has ever been released without Conquest, the signature mode in which two opposing teams are tasked with capturing and defending objective zones on the map. Each side has a limited number of reinforcements that slowly deplete depending on how many sectors the team controls. The popular format is alive and well in 2042, but unfortunately it’s my least favorite way to play. Hosting Battlefield for the first time too many players in every game. Without the presence of commanders to take on attacks, Conquest sometimes feels disorganized and disjointed, as there is no proper way for all 64 players in each team to interact and focus their attacks. Also, respawns often place you in the middle of a contested area only to be immediately killed by an enemy from somewhere off-screen.
Even if the bigger picture is blurry at times, the gameplay loop is fun from moment to moment. Gunfights are solid, even if hits don’t always seem to register when they should, and the wide range of vehicles is equally entertaining to drive when running on foot gets tiresome. I was disappointed by the lack of naval warfare, which is remarkable given its importance in the series and the fact that several maps are surrounded by large bodies of water.
Breakthrough is the second mode in the game’s multiplayer suite and offers more focused commands by splitting cards into multiple segments, each containing two checkpoints. If the attacking team successfully captures all targets in a zone, they can force the defending team to retreat to the next area. While Breakthrough is still enoughWith an inflated number of players, this is arguably the best way to take part in a traditional Battlefield experience.
Hazard Zone, a brand new multiplayer format introduced in 2042, pits eight squads of four against each other and instructs them to retrieve data drives from satellite crash locations scattered across the map. Each location is guarded by enemy AI troops that attack your team on sight. hazard Zone has no respawning unless your teammates have a Redeploy Uplink. The only way to win these matches is to take out a highly controversial Helicarrier, which only visits the map twice during the game. If you miss the flight or die before boarding, it’s game over and you lose the credits you spent in the pre-match ammo shop. However, if you extract successfully, you’ll be rewarded with Dark Market Credits, a meta-currency that persists between games, which you can spend to buy better gear for your next match. Hazard Zone is tense and strategic, and the heart-pounding gunfights at the end of each game make it my favorite way to play Battlefield 2042.
Another new addition to the series is Battlefield Portal, a community-driven platform that players can use to create custom games or play other people’s strange creations. For example, there’s a free-for-all-missiles mode where the only way to reload your launcher is to jump five times. It’s hilarious to see missiles flying across the screen in such a ridiculous scenario, but like most games in Portal, the fun fades after a few matches.
In theory, Portal is an opportunity for players to create inventive spins on Battlefield, especially since the Battlefield Builder is easy to understand and accessible through a web browser† Portal lets you customize game mode, card rotation, arsenal restrictions, and you can program advanced rule sets with visual scripting in the Logic Editor; however, the latter is less approachable for beginners. As a fan of past creative suites like Halo Forge and Fortnite Creative, I’m not forced to interact with Portal’s tools as they are designed to modify existing game settings and don’t allow you to design your own original levels. .
Portal also includes remastered versions of classic cards, and you can expand their rule sets or play them in their original form in a developer feature playlist. I love this addition and am very happy to have a convenient way to return to beloved locations such as Valparaiso, Caspian Border or the Battle of The Bulge. These are basically remastered versions of the series’ best cards, and I’m excited to see which DICE adds next.
Whether battling as Spider-Man above the competition, flying a wingsuit through a deadly tornado, or sniping enemies behind mobile barricades, each Battlefield Specialist offers a unique way to join the fray. The title was launched with ten specialists and each of them falls into one of four classes: Assault, Engineer, Support and Recon. You can refine these characters in countless ways (including being able to use each weapon). Still, my favorite customization feature is the option to swap weapon attachments mid-fight without having to respawn. My favorite sniper lens is the 6X scope, but I found it useful to instantly switch to another optic at the touch of a button. This new feature greatly improves the multiplayer experience and should be adopted by other first-person shooters.
Battlefield 2042 will contain seven maps at launch. Hourglass is an isolated town reclaimed by the neighboring desert, Discarded is home to colossal shipyards along India’s western coast, and Breakaway is nestled amid the icy mountains of Antarctica. The other maps – Manifest, Kaleidoscope, Orbital, and Renewal – are standard, but still feature landscapes worth exploring. Each map is affected by violent weather systems that are exciting to navigate, but I wish more maps had unique elements such as Orbital’s rocket launch and Breakaway’s explosive silos that permanently enhance the map during the match. Anyway, there are no bad cards, and I like to play any of them.
Unfortunately, Battlefield 2042 feels unsatisfactory right now due to a plethora of bugs. While most of the bugs I encountered are minor, each diminishes the fun I have while playing. For example the grappling zipline clipping through the front of the device during the animation or not being able to engage air support on a map like Hourglass due to a problem with the sand navmesh. More serious glitches can negatively affect gameplay, such as when sniperscopes lose their magnification after interacting with gadgets such as Irish mobile barricades. While playing on PC the game also crashed once during a week I was playing on my desktop. One of my friends was less fortunate and experienced several crashes during one of our play sessions. Because of these crashes I was especially disadvantaged in Hazard Zone.
Don’t get me wrong, Battlefield 2042 is playable, packed with content and often a lot of fun. The title’s seven maps are different from each other, the many customization options make it easy to play however you want, and I love the extreme weather systems and the quick-fit weapon feature. Portal hasn’t reached its full potential yet, but it introduces a convenient way to access six beloved experiences from Battlefield 3, Battlefield 1942, and Bad Company 2. Battlefield 2042 is an easy recommendation for existing fans or players looking for a modern war game, but I struggle to fully endorse it due to its current lack of brilliance. As long as DICE continues to release hotfixes and patches, Battlefield 2042 could eventually become a popular online shooter, but it’s a shame it was released this way.
Battlefield 2042 was rated on PC using a code provided by the publisher for rating purposes.