Come You, Masters Of War
HIGH Portal seems like a game-changer in user-generated content.
LOW I kind of want to play something else now.
WTF This will probably be my favorite game of mid-2022.
It’s hard to put a finger on where competitive shooters are these days. While the variety out there is interesting, there’s just no way to know what’s going to stick. The rise of the battle royale subgenre with titles like Fortnite and Call of Duty: Warzone have been prominent lately, generating the most revenue and attention. This year, however, has seen the return of smaller-scale arena shooters harkening back to the PC’s earlier days with releases like Splitgate and the Halo Infinite. This then begs the question, does a large-scale experience like Battlefield 2042 have a place among these distinctly different styles of shooters?
The answer is a resounding yes, though there are a few caveats…
The latest in EA and DICE’s first-person shooter series comes off the lukewarm reception of 2018’s Battlefield V. Ditching the World War II trappings of that entry, 2042 takes players to the near future. Despite not having a single-player campaign, bits of story and lore about a conflict between the US and Russia make themselves present through gameplay. It’s all cliché and certainly feels like past Battlefield entries, meaning that I was never that invested in what the script was trying to say, and the attempts at storytelling fall flat.
However, I ultimately don’t mind the lack of a strong campaign. To me, Battlefield is first and foremost about gameplay and multiplayer, so seeing DICE focus on those strengths was a great thing.
Gameplay-wise, BF 2042 takes place across large maps where players engage in one of two main modes — Breakthrough and Conquest. Breakthrough involves one team trying to take over the other’s control points on a map. The defending team must try to maintain supremacy. Conquest has players from both teams trying to take over every control point on the map at the same time, competing with each other for entire sections.
These modes are nothing new, but the moment-to-moment gameplay is still exciting. Shooting and mobility feel drastically improved as the devs have opted for a lighter feel that makes moving around much easier. In a way, it feels more accessible than past iterations, opting for something akin to modern arena shooters rather than a full-blown military simulator. I liked these changes, as it made navigating the gargantuan maps a bit more palatable. Sure, I’m not the best at most multiplayer games, but the shooting feeling as good as it did made it seem like I had a fighting chance.
Every map is gargantuan, feeling dense and as 120 players populate them. The lush vegetation in jungle-themed areas looks incredible, as do smaller details like the sand on a highway in the Middle East. Each location also has a different weather event, like an elaborate sandstorm that can completely obscure most of the action or a tornado that can sweep almost everything up in its path. While I do miss the amount of destruction present in a game like Battlefield 4 (in which players could level skyscrapers) I understand wanting to focus on something new and exciting like natural disasters, or even the spectacle of a giant rocket blasting off in the middle of a match.
While these elements are cool, they get old fast. They seem to follow a pattern every match and become less of a spectacle and more of an annoyance. I kept thinking to myself “Oh great, another tornado” as the warnings would pop up on the screen. I would have liked more variety in how these events played out and more ways they could incorporate into the gameplay.
Thankfully, the maps are large enough to avoid any undesirable elements. Players can drive tanks, jeeps, hovercrafts, jets and even regular civilian pickup trucks to get around. While the driving feels a bit floatier than I would like, it offers options for interesting strategies. Players can also summon them after earning enough points in a match, so being able to summon a tank while on the roof of a skyscraper becomes a viable strategy in the heat of battle.
However, the most meaningful change in the formula comes from the “specialist” system. Building upon the class system from past games, players select a character with a customizable loadout and special abilities. My personal favorite, codenamed “Sundance,” has a grappling hook and a glider that allows her to catch some air if she needs to bail from a helicopter or from the top of a building. Weapons can be customized either in the menu or in the middle of the match. Arguably my favorite feature, players are given a cross-shaped HUD that lets them completely change gun attachments whenever they want. It offers a large degree of freedom, which I like.
I enjoy playing Battlefield 2042. Several late nights were lost to playing with friends, wrecking tanks, losing matches, and cracking the absolute worst jokes ever to grace a headset. Unfortunately, the amount of enjoyment is undermined but how incomplete the package feels. There aren’t a lot of maps included and the matches soon start to feel the same.
BF‘s saving grace comes in the form of the Portal, a new mode that has more potential than the mainstays. Here, players can use elements from past DICE games like Battlefield 1942, Battlefield Bad Company 2, and Battlefield 3 to create their own maps and modes. It’s like a sandbox of sorts and completely shakes things up, not only for the series, but for large-scale shooters in general. I’m excited to see what players can come up with, and just being able to mix-and-match modern weapons and World War II-era vehicles is way more exciting than any other shooter out these days.
While the repetition and lack of content cooled my enthusiasm a bit, I am excited to see where DICE can take Battlefield 2042 from here — if current industry trends hold, I’m confident this will be a strong addition to my already-full shooter rotation after a few months of additions and updates.
Disclosures: This game is published by Electronic Arts and developed by DICE. It is available on PS4/5, XBO/X/S and PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PS5. Approximately 35 hours were spent in the multiplayer. There is no single-player
Parents: According to the ESRB this game is rated M for Blood, Strong Language, Violence. The official description reads as follows: This is a first-person shooter in which players command a military squad caught in a fictional war between the US and Russia. Players engage in military missions and skirmishes against enemy forces. Players use pistols, machine guns, sniper rifles, and explosives to kill enemy soldiers in frenetic combat. Battle sequences are highlighted by blood-splatter effects, realistic gunfire, cries of pain, and explosions. During the course of the game, players can perform finishing attacks, using knives to stab and/or slit enemies’ throats at close range. The words “f**k” and “sh*t” are heard in the dialogue.
Colorblind Modes: There are colorblind modes available.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: Subtitles are available for certain cutscenes but not during actual gameplay. The minimap that is displayed during gameplay will show things like vehicles on the map, player movement if they are firing weapons and other large-scale events. However, even with those indicators, it’s not that helpful if players can’t hear what’s going on. This game is not fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: No the controls are not remappable but there are presets.