When I nail an MV-38 Condor transport floating in the lens-filled sky with my rocket launcher, Battlefield 2042 is cool. When my team bursts onto the climate-prevalent scene in a massive tank, crashes through garbage and blows up abandoned office buildings, it’s a thrill to return to DICE’s militarized playground. When a game of All-Out Warfare starts up and 63 other internet aliens rush towards the first target while explosions rain down over their heads, it feels as if what’s unfolding next time will be something surprising, brave and especially. Instead, it’s a train wreck.
The chaos that arises has a somewhat predictable quality in it. The teams split. Players try to run fast to where the action is, only to be picked up by snipers or ripped to pieces by flankers. They then rush to revive because they know no one is coming to revive them. Vehicles smash into walls or whip violently around while shooters try to aim without getting nauseous. Eventually a match ends and you win or lose, but this result will probably only feel tangentially related to the larger match that happened.
One of the core issues stems from the fact that Battlefield‘s traditional roles have been remixed to hell. Heroes have replaced the attack, doctor, engineer, and scout archetype types, and you can now mix and match perks like wing suits and grab hooks with sniper rifles and rocket launchers. It’s liberating and fun to mess with, but it also amplifies the existing chaos to a great extent, especially when it’s not easy to quickly identify the specific abilities and constructions of your surrounding teammates.
Then there is the errors, glitches, framerate drops, rubber bands and texture pop-in. By far the biggest problem is that the most central thing you can do in the game – aiming at an opponent and shooting – feels far inconsistent, at least on the console. Sometimes it can feel as if it takes twice as long to kill someone as it should, especially when shooting at even a moderate distance. Some reviews have mentioned this, and it is already a meme on subreddit. Whatever the reason, it’s a shame. Six hours inside the early launch version (the game will not be officially released until November 19), the low levels have already been far greater than the high ones.
Battlefield 2042 sometimes it looks good, even on my Xbox Series S, but it also very often seems unfinished. The series is currently somewhat notorious for getting to the top, but despite major improvements from the previous and much-maligned beta, the game feels rushed and disorganized, and not in the way I’m excited to keep going and see it finished cooking. It will no doubt improve a lot over the next few months. Next summer, it might even feel like a whole other game. Unfortunately, it will be released in the fall of 2021 in an already crowded field of shooters and live service games that are getting more packed with each passing day.
Most notably, Microsoft decided to launch Halo infinite‘s multiplayer almost a month ahead of schedule. The first new one glory multiplayer in six years, it’s also free to play and has already started mapping on Steam. It did not take long before people online jokingly started digging one early burial to Battlefield.
I enjoyed what I was playing glory‘s previous beta, which lives in my memory as a handful of cool moments and exciting rallies rather than a morass of chaos. This is not yet a review of Battlefield 2042, and I will not begin to compare and contrast them point by point here. But there is a part of me that is smaller than small that is already ready to jump from one to the other. Consider it Battlefield 2042 is $ 70 on the latest consoles, it’s not hard to see some people jump straight to the latter.
Maybe EA knew it, and that’s why it originally wanted to get it Battlefield out in October (these plans were thwarted by the pandemic). Even without competition from glory and the annual Call of Duty (Vanguard also seems to stall), the rest of the room is a minefield with live service. When Battlefield V came out in 2018, it faced a battle royale frenzy thanks to PUBG and Fortnite. Now online shooters also have to contend with people like Apex Legends, Appreciate, Call of Duty: Warzone and others, all of which are free to play. It’s harder than ever to find time to give games a first chance, let alone a second or third.
That said, I have by no means given up Battlefield 2042 just yet. I will have to love its expansive All-Out Warfare mode, though so far it feels more like a messy experiment than the series’ future. Much more promising is the game’s Hazard Zone, a theft competition between teams to collect data and safely extract among hordes of AI-controlled enemies. It’s more focused and has more effort (and apparently borrows a lot from another modern rival, Escape from Tarkov), but is the mode I’ve spent the least time on so far, in part because it works best with friends and the game does not currently have built-in team chat.
If there is a reason to keep going Battlefield 2042 in the long run right now it’s the third mode: Portal. Remix of maps and modes from previous games in the series, it lets players create a list of best hits that highlight the strengths of Battlefield 3 or Bad company 2 while adding new twists. The funniest thing I’ve had in the last game was to play a game of Breakthrough Battlefield 1942‘s Battle of the Bulge map, except that this time the environments were completely devastating, with over a hundred players battling for ground on the snow-covered fields.
It’s easy to see the portal expand with new maps and opportunities for an evergreen spin-off in a lot of ways War zone has, but in the meantime there is a lot that stands in the way of it becoming the focus. Battlefield 2042 feels like it’s currently trying to do too much, and ironically, it may still end up not being enough.