It’s hard to know where to start with Battlefield 2042, so I’ll just begin with my first solid, initial thought when I started reflecting on the game in its current state: it’s generic and consistently unstable. I’m not a seasoned veteran when it comes to first person shooters, but I’ve played enough to know when something works and where it fails, and Battlefield 2042 felt like it was throwing up red flares left and right throughout my playthrough. On the flip side, my partner is a seasoned veteran when it comes to first person shooters and the Battlefield series in its entirety and had the misfortune of dragging me through map after map while we tried to find our footing in this war-torn future.
Unfortunately, before we could start our journey, we had to deal with an increasingly frustrating error that kept kicking us out of our match lobby. Upon doing some further research, we discovered that this is entirely on the server side, and there was nothing we could do but restart over and over again until we pushed through. On the third try, we finally got into Battlefield 2042, but I was starting to wonder if it was going to live up to the hype. The server issues weren’t exactly giving me much confidence.
So, what’s new and unique in this iteration of Battlefield? For starters, we don’t have a single-player story-driven campaign mode even though the game goes out of its way to give you a story-heavy tutorial and introduce you to this new future where “no-pats” keep the peace of the world. “No-pats” are exiles and refugees from the societal collapse that have banded together with no loyalty to any country in order to protect civilians. Personally, I loved this concept for a story and though it had a ton of potential. It’s just unfortunate that we didn’t get to see it play out in a dedicated story. For a lot of players, the campaign might have been the only thing they touched because they didn’t want to deal with the toxicity of voice chat and large-scale maps, but they’re in luck because voice chat is missing from Battlefield 2042 as well. DICE has leaned towards the omission of a single-player campaign because the series is known more for its online multiplayer experience.
In the same vein, Battlefield 2042 was launched with no way for those online players to communicate with each other than through text. Let’s be honest, no one has time to type while they’re being gunned down, and the only time you do type is when you’re cursing or griefing your own teammates. What we’re left with is essentially a supped-up run and gun shooter, where there is zero strategy, zero communication, and zero fun.
The maps are an enigma in their own right, because it feels like a developer let their toddler draw elevation lines on a piece of scratch paper and turned it upside down to follow as a guide. One team always clearly has an advantage. For example, the Orbital map is an absolute sniper hell, where the attacking team spends 75% of their time just trying to get across the map and to the bottom of the tower so they can even engage the other team.
Meanwhile, the defenders get to sit on the top of a skyscraper with hot chocolate and fuzzy slippers, and their teammates bombard the ants below with a constant display of helicopter missiles. I don’t know about you, but that’s just not my idea of fun. The maps are all uninspired, huge, and open. This change in map design is even more apparent when you go into Portal mode and play through some of the previous maps that had been available in the series.
The constant onslaught of aerial vehicles made my playthrough feel even more underwhelming. Aerial vehicles are typically sights that are feared because of their power and height advantage, but in Battlefield 2042 they just felt like hornets that kept buzzing by your ear. They’re still dangerous, but no one can pilot them, so they don’t stay airborne long. In addition to that, you can just call down vehicles as a “drop down” now. No worries though, because as soon as they crash another will replace them in a heartbeat.
However, those who can pilot them make maps a living nightmare for no-pats trying to set up defenses or getting into a tactical position. Why even bother when someone across the street from you can just drop in a helicopter at will? Don’t even get me started on the hovercraft. I witnessed it in every map that we had a tower to tackle: a march of hovercrafts slowly climbing up the side of a skyscraper to devastate the opposite team. Truly, a worthy opponent of the “no-pats” of the future.
Speaking of “no-pats”, specialists felt a little strange in Battlefield 2042. I get the concept and idea behind it, but I personally don’t like having all of your customization and how you want to play relegated to just one specific character. Instead of being able to pick up your kit and choose what you want to do, you must choose one specialist and are stuck with whichever special skills they come equipped with. There aren’t many weapons or gadgets to pick up and play with either, which added to that generic run and gun feeling.
The support specialists feel especially useless because the resurrection timer is far too long. Most players just released soon as they died so that they could get back into the action sooner, rather than hope and pray that a support will come along to help them up. As a support specialist, this left me twiddling my thumbs and like I would be more of a benefit to my team if I played a raw damage class or one that could scout the area for enemies.
I’m not going to sugarcoat it, at its core, Battlefield 2024 just wasn’t an enjoyable experience. I wanted to love it and was extremely excited to play this game, but Battlefield 2042 felt like a step back from all of its previous iterations both I and my partner had previously played. Even the graphics for this newest version just felt “okay”. In my opinion, especially with all of the bugs, you should save your money on this one or wait until a heavily discounted sale. Maybe in a year or so they’ll iron out some of the issues that plagued its release and work on the “fun factor”, but it just isn’t there right now for this reviewer to feel comfortable recommending it to our readers or friends.
A copy of Battlefield 2042 was provided for this review.