Battlefield 2042 aims to reimagine the series just as Battlefield 2142, Bad Company, and its predecessors had, but this time, going bigger and badder than ever before. The question that must be answered is simple: Does it do it?
+Extremely beautiful graphics that set Battlefield 2042 ahead of its predecessors
+Hero-based elements change up how the game itself is presented with each operator
+Multiplayer is absolutely massive with Portals being one of its major elements
+Cross-play brings lobbies to life faster than ever before
–Framerate dips and minor bugs still affect the overall experience
–Limited time modes such as 64-player Breakthrough should remain permanent
For the longest time, I remember Battlefield being the series I anticipated, one where each release ushered in something I hadn’t seen before. With Battlefield Bad Company, we saw Destruction 1.0, an element that brought combat further to life, watching buildings topple in response to explosions going off, and vehicles running them through.
In Battlefield 3, we saw the introduction of fighter jets, paving the way for bigger, better, and more realistic battles. The dynamic of how each match unfolded would never be the same based on the skills of each pilot nor would they find themselves able to go back from the very elements that had been added.
Shortly after, we saw Battlefield 4 introduce night operations, gigantic buildings that would collapse and change the entire map, which forever made those highly anticipated moments all the more exciting once they began to happen. We can’t forget Battlefield 2142. You may be wondering why, which is why we’re about to mention it: Futuristic combat with robots, bipedal tanks, and the need for strategic placement of your fellow players.
While that may not sound like much, it did change how the game works, which in itself, is absolutely astounding and set itself apart from the rest. Some of these elements, Battlefield 2042 has attempted to bring back so that fans could feel the game has changed and it in itself, is an entirely new beast.
The battlefield has changed in Battlefield 2042
When I started reviewing Battlefield 2042 back in November 2021, I’ll be honest, I didn’t have a lot of good to say about the game outside of a few new dynamics the title had to offer. I loved how it introduced itself, that its presentation was clean, welcoming, and that jumping into a match after choosing what game mode I wanted was as easy as saying my ABC’s.
However, my experience wasn’t exactly the best back then, nor did it improve entirely in December either, which to me, was a damned shame. However, back then, I still had to admit that seeing tornadoes slam on the ground was an exquisite experience. It was insane watching both friend and foe get sucked up into the EMP-riddled twister, watching it devour any destructible building it could in its path while hurdling my fellow gamers around the map as it saw fit.
It was almost as much as a spectacle seeing a giant sandstorm sweep through the map Hourglass, changing the desert map that’s riddled with dunes, and making the visibility within it drop to nearly zero. You never knew where your enemy players were, you didn’t know if one would be right around the corner or if someone was just lying in wait right in front of you, prepared to take you out with a stealth melee if they could.
However, while the storm-based elements overtook each map and added new dynamics – flashbacks to Paracel Storm anyone? – I couldn’t help but wonder how I felt like I’d experienced this all before. I couldn’t shake this feeling that while Battlefield 2042 was indeed bigger, why something felt off, which it still does to this day.
Cross-play and cross-progression are major selling points, but they come at a cost to the social structure of the game
Now, I’ll admit, one thing that came as a surprise when announced was cross-play and cross-progression. Supposedly, cross-commerce as well, whenever that happens and however that will work is still yet to be announced. We’ll touch on the latter here shortly, especially since there is a Season Pass situation involved and it was stated that the game will feature cross-commerce purchases.
When it comes to modern games, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that cross-play and cross-progression features are becoming the new go-to element. They are how gamers are able to continue where they left off if they played one version of the game with one set of pals and then headed over to the other version to play with their other pals. Party chat, etc, does play a deciding factor in this since consoles have yet to adopt Discord or a feature like it.
Because of how Battlefield 2042 works, it is worth stating this: Don’t expect it to be perfect. It came at a cost, something we haven’t seen happen in other titles, but they also don’t have 128 total people in one single lobby. That’s a lot of latency and that’s also a lot of people talking all at once. However, games like Fortnite, Call of Duty, and a few others who do have battle royale modes don’t see themselves struggling with their voice chat elements.
The drawback to how Battlefield 2042 uses communications is simple: Type it or ping it. That’s it. That’s all there is. Typing is the ONLY way to talk with your pals on other platforms if you are partied up and don’t have a way to jump onto Discord to communicate. It’s a drawback, but it is a step in the right direction for Battlefield 2042 to adopt the cross-progression and cross-play features.
Now one that we are still unsure of is this: Season Pass and Ultimate Edition features. Why? Because of our review touching on this, it was decided to snag a PlayStation 5 version of the game, jump in, and see what it has to offer. The downside? There wasn’t any sign of this cross-commerce feature. At least as far as the Ultimate Edition and Season Pass purchases go (the prior having both) and their unlocks.
Whether this has yet to be implemented is questioned at a later date, with some clarity in regards to it would be nice, as DICE and EA had assured that cross-commerce would be a thing and that players would be able to carry their purchases over, just as they do in other online titles. How much of that is unclear though, let’s make that very clear here, we aren’t expecting them to hand us everything.
As far as gameplay goes, you won’t see a lot of advantage from PC players over console players. Everything feels balanced, equal, and as it should be. It’s balanced well-enough you won’t be able to tell much difference of what platform players on aside from looking at the roster of your squad.
Let’s talk about performance between Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 as this will be the talking point for both new-gen platforms
When talking about Battlefield 2042, I often get asked what the biggest differences are, if there’s anything that splits the two apart, or if they are simply as they should be: Equals. It’s a fair question to ask and it’s not far-fetched to ask for a fair assessment as both consoles are stated to be the best in what they do and have to offer. So let’s discuss them for a moment, shall we?
When you first dive into a match, load times are going to play a key role in how fast you access deployment methods, how fast you can select your loadout, and of course, just how fast you respawn if you die in a match. Ironic, huh? Not really. Now, with the hardware between the consoles not being too decidedly different aside from a few different ways they access their internal hardware, you’ll be surprised to know, you won’t notice any major differences between the two.
We put equally as much time in between the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X builds of the game, the latter being provided to us for the sake of our review, which took a lot longer than intended. However, it was for the best as we noticed that the bugs were equally as bad across both platforms. They were identical actually, which was surprising, sometimes cropping up on PlayStation 5 more than they did on Xbox Series X.
Performance wise, there are no changes in how the game plays, how its visuals work, or how you access anything. They’re identical, which for us, was quite surprising when discussing how clean the game is presented. When you dive into mud, expect your weapon and some of your gear to reflect those elements, expect rain droplets to run down your weapons stock, and your sites to have rain streaks through them while aiming down the sights.
It’s quite a splendid experience and with how each weapon handles differently from another, you’ll notice that both the Xbox Series X controller and PlayStation 5’s DualSense handle the game quite differently from the other. Vibrations come off as a bit more intense through DualSense while the Xbox Series X controller doesn’t feel all that different from its predecessor controller. Lightning strikes nearby can be felt through a part of the DualSense, giving you the feeling as if you are your character, sometimes rumbling harder on the right side than on the left. It’s quite unique to say the least.
Let’s discuss all of Battlefield 2042’s modes before we wrap things up here shortly
One of the best features about Battlefield 2042 isn’t just how smooth the 2042 modes play. Now, I’m often asked just how many modes the game has to offer, which honestly, is actually hard to say. You might be wondering how this is possible, but let me make this clear, it’s always evolving, changing, and adding things in.
For its core modes, however, you have Hazard Zone, Conquest, and Breakthrough. Fans of Rush might feel right at home with Breakthrough, which sees both teams of 64 attempt to push through or defend up to three different zones at a time. One team will attempt to take over each one while the other can push back, take back those zones, and hinder the other team’s progression.
The attackers will find that, just as in Rush and Conquest, there are an assigned amount of tickets, hovering just around 500 at the start, while lost deployment tickets and be regenerated through taking a zone from the defenders. Conquest of course, hasn’t changed, and is much larger this time around. Vehicles, flags, and spawn zones are entirely dependent on a teams progression except for the two assigned areas, which give both teams a “safe area” to deploy from if the enemy team has locked down the map.
Hazard Zone, however, is an entirely different beast that fans of game modes like “Search and Destroy” will absolutely enjoy. This mode will allow them to work tactically, taking each area where a satellite has fallen, and the data drives being the objective to capture, hold, and return. The opposing team, however, can take those that their opponents have captured, using them to win the mode if they are able to eliminate the team and or capture the drives as needed.
In Portals, there’s a lot going on. You’ll see variations of various past modes including Conquest, Rush, Breakthrough, and more, appear. These modes can span a single previous Battlefield title or even pit two different titles against one another. It’s rather exciting and leaves a lot to the imagination as EA and DICE come up with entirely new ways to deliver the ultimate Battlefield experience through Battlefield 2042.
Just remember: Not all the games can use some of Battlefield 2042 features and you’ll have to readjust your playstyle accordingly, which includes control styles, loadouts, and how weapons work. It takes a slight bit of getting used to, but once you do, get ready to strap in and be in for the long haul.
Now, let’s talk about one last important thing known as the “Specialists” players will use
Unlike previous Battlefield titles, you won’t find each class having an operator, rather specialist, set as the class default appearance. Battlefield 2042 has opted to go down the hero-shooter route, which puts it on par with titles such as Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege, Call of Duty, and Overwatch, but with more freedom than the latter.
Each Specialist comes with a unique set of abilities that they can do. For example, as seen above, Mackay is great at maneuverability. He can get from one point to the other in a blink of the eye thanks to his grappling hook. His other perk, Nimble, allows him to move quicker than other specialists, especially while aiming, making him a slightly harder target to hit when he’s deployed.
On the other hand, you have Falck who specializes as a combat medic. Her ability allows her to almost instantly revive fallen teammates and to use a stim gun to heal up her teammates from a distance. Those are just two out of the many available and each one comes with an entirely different playstyle.
You also have “Loadout Types” that you can choose from that are pre-built class setups such as Engineer, Assault, Sniper, and Medic. These, of course, can be modified to fit your playstyle, and the type of gear you wish to have equipped. It’s all a matter of how you wish to set up, what kind of weapon attachments you want, and just how your playstyle actually works.
The new approach is quite different from previous Battlefield titles, but it gives players quite a bit more freedom, options to choose from, and unlocks to enjoy as they master each of the specialists available.
Let me be honest, Battlefield 2042 isn’t a title that I reviewed lightly. It was a title that I had a hard time playing for almost the first month it was out. The bugs made it hard to enjoy, sometimes not allowing me to respawn, putting me in different lobbies than my friends, or even letting me into the servers. It was a bug ridden mess that the team openly discussed that they were working on and had several fixes ready to deploy within the first couple of weeks of the game’s release window.
Platforms: PC, PlayStation, and Xbox
Version(s) Reviewed: Xbox Series X
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: Available Now
Price: $59.99 (Standard) | $119.99 (Ultimate)
With time, Battlefield 2042 has turned into one of the best shooters the series has to offer despite a few drawbacks that still remain such as a lack of bullet drop, a campaign mode, or even Rush being a default mode for fans. However, what it does to make up for its shortcomings is alleviated by the offerings that the Portals mode has to offer, making Battlefield 2042 one of the strongest titles in the franchise, and quite possibly: One of the longest lasting and a must have for next-gen console owners.
Our review is based upon a retail version of the game that was provided to us by the publisher for this review. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native video game reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook today.