Over the past couple of Battlefield releases, before Battlefield 2042, the franchise has taken a new approach to gameplay. Players were thrown into World Wars where infantry combat was favored in close quarters and intense action. Battlefield 1 and Battlefield V brought new experiences to the table, but many classic fans seemed to tap out by the end of their cycle.
Battlefield 2042 brings the action back to the gameplay philosophy found in Battlefield 4 and those entries like it. More modern combat with a methodical approach across vast maps is at the core of the gameplay experience. However, the best aspects of infantry-based warfare in Battlefield V have moved over to this new iteration.
What players will experience with Battlefield 2042 is a mix of Battlefield 4's map philosophy and the crisp weapon mechanics of the last two entries, which DICE has made incredibly rewarding. The gameplay feels as good as it ever has in the series, but Battlefield is also defined by sandbox gameplay.
All-out Warfare in Battlefield 2042
The base game experience in Battlefield 2042 is labeled as All-out Warfare, and it contains classic modes such as Conquest and newer modes such as Breakthrough. Regardless of the chosen mode, this is the standard experience in Battlefield 2042.
While players may feel right at home in these modes, the scale alone can make Battlefield 2042 feel like a new experience. In the past, Conquest matches have had 64 players in a game, with maps that also accommodate that player size. Battlefield 2042 doubles that player count to 128 on a single map. Battles are more epic than they've ever been, and firefights can be had at nearly any angle on the map.
Having maps with so much scale allows for each section to offer different experiences. Massive buildings stuck within a sandstorm offer verticality and tight corners ripe for close-quarter fighting. But on that same map, half-covered homes that the weather has destroyed offer ample opportunity to pick players off with snipers and marksman rifles.
On top of the usual destruction and change in pace on any given map, weather effects such as massive tornadoes can change the entire flow of a game. There's nothing quite like getting sucked up into a gigantic storm only to glide away and land on another major point to turn the tide of war.
Each of the seven base game maps offers a ton of variety that rivals the map quality of games in the past. Players will likely find themselves enthralled in these new map additions for a long time until new ones are inevitably added.
Gameplay and Specialists in a new era of Battlefield
The core experience of Battlefield 2042 is solid at this point. Not only are the maps a blast to play on, but the gameplay itself is clean. Tactical sprints allow for faster moving speeds, the slide mechanics are smoother than ever, and all of the weapons have true weight to their shots.
Most of the time, the gameplay reflected that smoothness in real-time, but there were some performance dips that were noted. It wasn't the frame drops from time to time that were the true problem, however. There appear to be some issues with the bullet collision physics against railing or vehicles in Battlefield 2042. This popped up in all three major modes within the game.
While there were certainly issues that popped up, they don't appear to affect the majority of a given match. That doesn't mean those issues aren't frustrating in the heat of an intense push on an objective. DICE is aware of some of the performance issues, though, and nothing was game-breaking in my experience. As those issues are ironed out, new mechanics and dynamics will remain in the experience.
Specialists also add a new dynamic to Battlefield 2042 that will define many squads. Each Specialist will offer players certain equipment and perks that set them apart from other players. Some provide additional armor and the ability to place mobile cover when there's nowhere to hide in the open. Others offer grappling hooks for mobility or even the chance to spot enemies upon taking damage.
Classic classes have effectively been replaced by Specialists, of which there are ten for players to choose from at launch in Battlefield 2042. In this case, there seems to be an effort to salvage the old look of loadouts in Battlefield, and in doing so, the UI has become more clunky. Loadouts and classes are now glorified create-a-class slots. That concept works well for Battlefield 2042, especially with how well the Specialists were implemented in the experience.
However, the name change is sure to confuse former players at first—the main reason being that players can equip any standard equipment and any weapon together. Freedom of choice is more available than ever in Battlefield 2042, and even on the battlefield, players have the option to swap out their attachments to meet the current situation. But issues arise when options don't necessarily meet how much freedom is given within the sandbox.
Weapons and equipment in Battlefield 2042: Is there enough to go around?
How many weapons are available to use has always been a staple of Battlefield. Seeing handfuls of assault rifles, snipers, light-machine guns, or any other weapon types is one of the best aspects of the franchise.
In Battlefield 2042, options are noticeably scarce for weapons, and even the attachments seem a bit insignificant. In total, there are 23 weapons, including secondaries. Battlefield V itself was bashed for a small weapons pool, and that game had 30 weapons.
On top of the low pool of weapons and attachments, many of the extensions seem insignificant. Some were even marked with the same stat changes and descriptions. Picking at least some attachments is important, but there doesn't feel like a lot of choices. The gameplay in Battlefield 2042 offers freedom and a fantastic sandbox bolstered by some of the best gameplay in the series.
Having a low pool of weapons and attachments that feel like filler harms that sandbox. It's likely that as the game's lifecycle progresses, there will be plenty more weapons. What may carry that lack of weapons in the meantime is the other modes available for the first time in the Battlefield franchise.
Hazard Zone offers a new experience that borrows from the battle royale space in Battlefield 2042
There are two new modes in Battlefield 2042 that have entire sections within the game. One is Hazard Zone and the other is Portal. Hazard Zone itself seems inspired by a battle royale, but their similarities end with a large map and teams pitted against each other.
This new mode takes place in the same seven maps from the base game, but players are tasked with finding and collecting Data Drives. Players need to manage these and extract them from the area in one of two condor transports. Successfully leaving the site with kills and Data Drives net players Dark Market Credits.
Players use these credits to purchase new weapons and equipment when they jump into a new match. Considering weapons need to be repurchased in every game, collecting Dark Market credits is crucial. Collecting currency is a challenge in which players will need to face off against AI Occupying Forces and a total of 32 players on the map.
Hazard Zone has a ton of great potential, and firefights are intense. The intensity has the same feeling of a battle royale without the long playtime of a match or the sense of permanence in death. Instead, games are far more objective-based and meant as fast-paced incursions for rewards.
In the current state of the mode, there are simply too many AI units that attack. At almost every corner, there seems to be AI that shoot at inopportune times or merely gives away the position of the player. While this adds challenge, it gets old fast, especially because it detracts from the actual fights with enemy players. It makes more sense to add a few more enemy teams and tone down the AI.
Longevity of the mode is also a concern because there is no way to 'win' the game. Extracting is essentially winning, but it doesn't end the game, it's individual, and it's not a true win. The goal is to collect Dark Market Credits so that players have more gear in the next round to collect more credits. Only time will tell how long players will continue to queue without more of a carrot on the stick.
Portal offers more customized modes than Battlefield players have ever experienced
Any fans of Battlefield, old and new, are going to love Portal. This mode is a fantastic concept, and it offers so many gameplay opportunities. It even has more weapons and equipment than the base game provides.
Portal allows players to jump into maps from Battlefield 1942, Battlefield Bad Company 2, and Battlefield 3. Each of those titles also brings along characters, weapons, and equipment from those respective games. Moreover, the assets in Battlefield 2042 are available, bringing the map count to 13 and the weapon count above 75.
Using the portal app on the Battlefield website, players have the opportunity to create entirely new game modes with all of the listed assets. Free-for-all with weapons from 1942 on a Battlefield 3 map is altogether possible. In our play test, a game mode where players only had rockets and needed to jump five times to reload was made possible.
Core programming tools are entirely available to create smaller-scale modes in Portal. There's no doubt that the community will have tons of modes ready to go in the first month of the launch. With links, players can even collaborate on modes that the community can later use.
Modes like Conquest and Breakthrough will remain untouched in terms of rules, but players can absolutely still use the modes in their Portal maps. In the Portal menu, those modes will be available to matchmake on a larger scale so anyone can jump into a match. Of course, there will be plenty of game modes that can be searched or used, but they won't be part of matchmaking.
One of the best parts of all the new modes is the shared experience. Players can progress their rank and weapons in any mode they decide to play in Battlefield 2042. Opportunities are truly wide open, and Portal encapsulates what players love about the Battlefield franchise.
The developers at DICE have clearly taken great passion in this new era of Battlefield. There are plenty of new mechanics and concepts to experience in Battlefield 2042, but the game also stays true to what makes the franchise so special.
It may take some time to iron out performance, and more weapons are integral to the longevity of the base game experience, but the game is absolutely a blast to jump into within the current state. As time goes on in the very near future, Battlefield 2042 can easily make a name as a top shooter in such a crowded space.
Battlefield 2042 is clearly full of potential, and there are really no other games like it with the same scale. Whether it's on launch day or a couple of months down the line, any shooter fan will want to experience the new Battlefield.
Reviewed on: PC (Event invite and code provided by Electronic Arts)
Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5
Publisher: Electronic Arts