I’m not usually one to declare myself a fan of one camp over another, but when it came to my (perceived) competition between Call of Duty and Battlefield, I was a Battlefield fan. It’s not like I didn’t play the Call of Duty games, but I preferred the often vehicular based mayhem that was only possible in Battlefield’s large scale conflicts. While I enjoyed Battlefield V more than my contemporaries, my favorite Battlefield recently has been Battlefield 1, though I’ve been hankering to return to a more modern setting to recapture the magic of Battlefield IV. While it certainly gives the formula a good try, Battlefield 2042 suffers from one of the worst Battlefield launches I can remember.
Battlefield 2042 is a first person shooter with large scale, all-out war gameplay. It features a near-future conflict which sees the US once again battling Russia. The “why” isn’t so important here—the gist is you’re fighting a near-future war, so that means familiar weaponry with a few fancy gadgets thrown in. But for a war that takes twenty years into the future, it doesn’t seem as futuristic as I’d hoped. Sure there are drones, EMPs to disable vehicles, and even healing darts, but I just don’t think its vision of future warfare goes far enough. But it doesn’t matter as long as it’s fun, right? Well, sure, but Battlefield 2042 has a bit of an uphill climb before it can be declared “fun.” Its rough start has already made the game break into the top ten worst reviewed games on Steam of all time, and I can understand the frustrations of the playerbase.
That’s not to say everything about Battlefield 2042 is bad. In fact, there are some aspects I quite like, and I wanted to tell you what I liked before I talked about what I didn’t, since plenty of people have already been having that conversation over the last week or so. Unsurprisingly, my favorite part of Battlefield 2042 is the recreation of a few games inside of the game, namely Battlefield 1942 and Battlefield 3 style conquest, and a personal favorite, a revisit of Battlefield Bad Company 2’s Rush mode. I spent so many damn hours on Battlefield Bad Company 2 at release, I felt like I was coming home. These modes looked like updated versions of the classics, and performed great. Sometimes these game modes would be a little underpopulated, but they were always a good time.
A more controversial opinion I have about Battlefield 2042 is in regards to its Specialist characters. Instead of choosing from a set of classes, Battlefield 2042 features a set of specialists that give a good amount of variety. I actually really like this switch from generic soldiers to more “hero” type specialists, even if it does feel like Battlefront stuffed into Battlefield (or any other “hero” shooter). These specialists have their own abilities, but you can also switch out their loadouts to make them work in interesting ways. It lets you play Battlefield 2042 in the way you truly want to. There are some obvious drawbacks to the Specialist system, and one of them is customization—you have limited options to change these characters in your avatar of war, but it’s not enough to set them apart.
An important aspect of any shooting game is its gunplay: does it feel fun; do weapons have the proper amount of oomph? etc. Battlefield 2042’s gunplay is a mixed bag for a number of reasons, but overall I find it fun. There are definitely some balance issues, though, especially when it comes to vehicle weapons. Hitting a soldier dead-on with a 30mm round should end their life, but often it doesn’t. That doesn’t mean that a good vehicle/gunner combo won’t do a good job pushing areas. Infantry weapons don’t feel balanced, either, with some having obvious advantages over others.
Battlefield 2042 has been suffering from a disastrous launch, and it’s no exaggeration: it barely works sometimes. The most egregious of my complaints is one that can’t be ignored: the large scale Conquest and Breakthrough modes have so many problems, they feel broken. My biggest issue is rubber banding and other strange network behavior. Out of all of my hours played, I struggled to get through even one Breakthrough or Conquest map without the game acting like I was on a dial-up connection, even with very low latency. Playing a shooter where your opponent can kill you before you even see them firing at you is not a fun time. For the marquee game modes to perform so poorly is inexcusable.
Another major issue I have with Battlefield 2042 is its maps. I really appreciate the large-scale feeling of Battlefield 4, and Battlefield 2042 feels like it’s trying to recapture that—but fails. High-rise capture points are the bane of my existence, and often lead to turtle style gameplay that rarely gets broken up. No maps really stand out like they have in other titles.
The launch of Battlefield 2042 is probably going to be remembered for quite a while for its failure. The good news is that there might just be a good game lurking in there somewhere—but whether these issues will be fixed, and Battlefield 2042 will meet its full potential feel like, at this point, a distant pipe dream.
A Steam key was provided to us for this review.