Battlefield 2042 is a celebration of sorts that can have battles the way you want. A world of No-Pats, both sides fighting for vital resources in the near future. Spanning back to 2002, Battlefield has had a consistent track record of proven games.
This year is a return to form of sorts, with the controversial decision to exclude a single player campaign. An online only game featuring a series-first with 128 players in a single match. The last game to exclude a traditional single player campaign in the franchise was Battlefield 2142, which allowed players to fight alongside AI.
After the lackluster open beta, DICE has been hard at work making sure things like animations and gun balance worked. It paid off with great results, except for the server performance. Incorporating new game modes like Hazard Zone and Battlefield Portal, there is plenty of content.
Competing directly with the likes of two other shooters, Halo Infinite and Call of Duty Vanguard, this has to carve out an identity of it’s own. Battlefield 2042 is the next installment to continue the franchise.
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platforms: Windows PC (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Release Date: November 19, 2021
Price: $59.99 USD
Since 2024, natural disasters and global warming have caused irreversible damage; including raising sea levels around the world. As the world started to collapse, mass migration left people with nowhere to call home.
Over 1 billion non-patriated soldiers fight for their survival with the remaining super powers, the US and Russia. Resources have become invaluable and are the point of contention, relevant to becoming sustainable on their own. That’s at most what the story is about, before the next Ice Age happens in another 100 years.
The story is negligible and forgettable when you actually begin the game. There is no focus on story other than for context of the setting, locations, and technologies. While it’s not an important thing to have in a multiplayer only game, it does benefit the near future landscape.
Multiplayer is the only focus for this installment, and with it comes three specific modes. All-Out Warfare are huge maps with up to 128 players featuring infantry and vehicles. Two modes can be selected, Conquest and Breakthrough, and can be played solo or co-op with the rest of the teams being AI bots.
Maps are huge, which may be an understatement in some regard, since you can run for 5 minutes and still never reach the other capture points. Additionally, each encounter at capture points can feel like a whole new game-inside-of-a-game. Every sector feels self contained, and like a different experience in a team deathmatch situation.
Most times the map is empty, which almost requires you to drop a vehicle to your location to get a quick trip in. In classic Battlefield fair, you can run for a while, get sniped, and then redo the entire process; which can deter most from sticking around. It’s one of the downsides in an otherwise good game mode, except for the omission of TDM and Rush.
Hazard Zone doesn’t present itself as a battle royale, but instead as a squad based co-op retrieval mission. It features a 32 player count, with up to 8 squads all retrieving data drives and intel by extracting them at specific locations. While this doesn’t serve as a battle royale, it does play very similar to one, in the regards of down-but-not-out states and the importance of squads.
Credits are earned through extraction and killing other no-pats, which can be used to change your loadout a bit more. Starting cheap may mean that you can’t effectively defend yourself from enemies gathering data drives. Spending a little more, you’re well equipped to take on any opposition.
Hazard Zone maps are the same that are in the main multiplayer mode, but are in certain sectors instead of the full space. It’s a fun mode that really brings out the best in squad play, and makes the choices a little more important. A small addition to the overall package, but lacking in engaging gameplay with random squadmates.
Battlefield Portal is an all encompassing mode of three different previous games (as of this time of writing). DICE has promised more Portal content each season, whether that be more games or maps. Battlefield 1942, Battlefield Bad Company 2, and Battlefield 3 along with their operators, weapons, and playstyle are included.
All of the current games included have 2 maps each, and can be played in various modes like Rush, Conquest, Team Deathmatch, and Free-For-All. Modifiers help set up how the game plays and feels; meaning you can make headshots do more damage, toggle weather effects, and so on. However you want your Battlefield game to play, you can make it play exactly that way.
It’s easily one of the best modes in the package, but can play very different from “modern” shooters. Hit detection was very spotty, where you could shoot someone directly, and they will get hit once out of ten bullets. A huge gripe that effects the game is the lack of an anti-cheat system, which I’ll touch on a little later.
One of the biggest, most noticeable features for gameplay tweaks is the on-the-fly weapon customization while your boots are on the ground. This means you can change your weapon’s attachments such as it’s barrel, magazine, under barrel, and optics. In addition, soldiers can now spawn in Rangers (metal dogs), light vehicles, and heavy vehicles like tanks.
Operators are another huge part of the game that adds new styles of play. Each operator comes equipped different with armor and barriers over something like a wingsuit or a grappling hook gun. This gives 2042 a “hero shooter” vibe and, for better or worse, it doesn’t play an entirely huge role in who you choose for the most part.
Every game included in Battlefield Portal, by default, plays like their original counterparts. In Battlefield Bad Company 2, you cannot go prone, and you can only be revived by assault class players; unlike the main game of 2042. Portal gives returning players a place to play their favorites in new upgraded graphics and gameplay elements if they so choose.
While this game packs in a lot of content, there is a glaring problem that makes it tough to enjoy. Anti-cheat seems to not be implemented as of the writing of this. DICE has claimed to implement a ban system that will disconnect players mid-match and potentially ban them across all platforms with IP and hardware bans.
Compared to the open beta over a month ago, the graphics and performance is much, much better. One struggle on the PC version previously was performance stability on the middle range, now been ironed out and able to be played without major FPS drops. Graphics have been improved, with character models looking more realistic with great levels of detail.
Terrain including plants, bushes, and trees are no longer like blocky, Google Maps-esque shapes; but have good levels of detail. Weather effects distort view, even from the deployment screen with cloud cover or debris to make for something a bit more immersive. The world at large that you will run, drive, and fly through is very well detailed and polished.
There are some broken running animations however, which could be chalked up to server performance, but still worth mentioning since it can be immersion breaking. Very rarely did I experience something graphic-wise that needed to be brought up. On the other hand, when dying you may fall through the map because of rag doll animations.
As a long standing Battlefield player, one thing the series is known for is the audio mixing and the accuracy of how weapons sound when being shot either close or far. A major piece of the puzzle is the music selection, and how it’s vastly different from what one could almost consider music. Audio is the strongest point of the game, and deserves some praise.
Music sounds like previous entries such as Battlefield 3 and 4, which had distorted sounds instead of “music.” Battlefield Portal, yet again, retains music from their respective games. Fanfare from Mikael Karlsson was brought back for Bad Company 2‘s portion, which is a great nostalgic moment. Obviously, I much preferred the sounds from prior games than that of 2042, mainly because they’re actually songs.
Besides great sounding weapons, one thing to note is the voice over work; not just for new operators, but old ones as well. Voice clips were brought from their respective games with some additions of new quips for 2042‘s changes. Personally, some quips are cheesy, but there’s not much to do about it.
While I’m not entirely blinded by nostalgia, I’m very much excited to see what Battlefield 2042 brings to the table in the near future. However, with this being an online only game in current year, hackers are free to do as they please.
In one match on Battlefield Portal, an enemy had 150 kills; 125 more than the next person. Things like this mainly make me a bit skeptical, with the inclusion of sometimes empty open maps and lack of team play cause by over-the-top customization.
Whispers I heard, and I felt as well, was the customization being bad. Players much preferred a class based system to have someone throw health kits and ammo packs. Those fears are very much valid here, and cause a bit of an unsupported feeling when playing.
I wanted more for Battlefield 2042, and I wanted more for this new live service game. But with other glaring issues, I feel this might need to be somewhat avoided.
Battlefield 2042 was reviewed on Microsoft Windows using a copy provided by Electronic Arts. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.