The Battlefield franchise finds itself in a very unique position this time around with Battlefield 2042. After getting delayed at (relatively) the last minute, Battlefield 2042 went from being one of the shooters starting off the holiday season to being one sandwiched in between the very mediocre Call of Duty: Vanguard and the literal surprise release of Halo Infinite‘s multiplayer. This meant that Battlefield 2042 needed to come out of the gate swinging to really stand out. While it doesn’t come out swinging extremely well, Battlefield 2042 does enough to keep you coming back wanting to play more…provided the right circumstances play out.
One of the best additions to Battlefield 2042 has to be the Battlefield Portal, which is basically a make your own “best of Battlefield” experience. You’re given the tools to select a timeframe set in the Battlefield universe. This includes Battlefield 1942, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and Battlefield 3 content. What can you create? Essentially anything. In my time playing with Battlefield Portal, I’ve been able to play both re-creations of classic Battlefield 1942 maps (in 2042 graphics) to even an entirely new battle royale mode built within 2042‘s framework. It’s ultimately both the coolest and strangest aspect of Battlefield 2042. It’s amazing what people are able to create within the Portal, and it’s quite remarkable being able to go back to these classic maps and ultimately change everything about them. The only main issue is that the Battlefield 2042 gameplay mechanics don’t always transition back to those original games very well. I found myself playing maps on Battlefield 1942 (using 2042 gameplay mechanics) and finding the experience to be a little jarring. Even with this jarring feeling at times, this is probably my favorite addition to Battlefield 2042 and an extremely fun time with friends.
There are also the large maps and player counts in Battlefield 2042 that are quite impressive. On next gen hardware (PS5, Series S|X and PC), battles can take place versus 128 players. At first you might think, “Okay, neat? Lots of people on the map? Big deal.” That is until you actually join a game on these large maps with 128 players. The insanity starts as soon as the round begins where you are running alongside 63 of your teammates. It’s at that moment that it hits you: “Wow, there’s a lot of us running towards this building/objective.” Then, you meet up with the enemy team, and it genuinely feels like a giant, imposing army is rushing towards you. This makes taking objectives incredibly stressful and chaotic. It genuinely starts to feel like an all-out war that requires great communication, great teamwork, and hopefully, a lot of bullets.
The maps included in Battlefield 2042 mostly do a good job at providing a large-scale environment for these large battles to occur. The one map I feel truly excels is Orbital. It’s a large-scale battle taking place outside of a launching pad, with various large buildings, structures, and underground pathways. It’s the insanity of fighting on top of a giant building with 25 enemies on your tail, parachuting off the building into another building where even more enemies are waiting to fight you, and then rushing down an underground pathway into a close quarters brawl with even more enemies. It’s chaotic, it’s insane, and it truly shows just how fun these large-scale battles can be. However, not every map gets it right, and if you happen to play on one of the, in my opinion, bad maps, then you’re in for a pretty terrible time. More on that in just a moment.
The other great strength Battlefield 2042 has is its support of cross-play. It’s 2021, and I realize we shouldn’t constantly have to celebrate when the game finally gets cross-play. All multiplayer games at this point should have this option of letting people play with their friends no matter what platform they choose to play on. Battlefield 2042 finally brings the game series into cross-play, allowing people the chance to play with their friends no matter the platform. I was playing 2042 on my PS5, with my friend on Series X, and another friend on PC, and it was absolutely wonderful. It’s nice to be able to have another game of this caliber to be able to play cross-play with friends.
Now to the previously mentioned main issue with Battlefield 2042, which is that its large-scale modes work well on certain maps, but if you happen to play on one of the poorer maps, it’s a broken, deserted mess. The worst offender of this, in my opinion, is the map Hourglass. It’s essentially a section of a city in a sandstorm that’s supposed to see battles play out across the wide, varied the map. The problem is that fighting in a sandstorm city sounds more fun on paper than it actually is in reality. Everyone basically stays at two points on the map: the stadium overrun with sand or the skyscraper overrun with sand. The rest of the map is a pretty barren, empty wasteland where you’ll be lucky if you run into anybody. This makes the map incredibly boring because if you choose to leave the two objectives everyone’s waiting in, there’s essentially nothing you’ll be able to do. Maybe a far-off helicopter will fly over and shoot you, but you’re not going to have the same all-out battles as you do on other maps. The issue here isn’t the player count, it’s the fact that some of the maps are just designed poorly.
Another issue I’ve had with the maps has to do with matchmaking. Unless you purposely go in and look for a specific map, simply choosing to join, say, a conquest mode game doesn’t mean you’re actually going to play every map that mode has on offer. It’s insane to say this, but there are two maps in Battlefield 2042 I have never played, and I’ve played the game for over 40 hours for this review. The only reason I know that I missed those maps was the fact that it was pointed out to me by another friend who was custom choosing maps. So, simply jumping into a conquest game through the main menu puts you in default map selections? I can’t truly confirm this, and maybe it’s just my experience with the game, but I was kind of blown away that in all my time with the game, I didn’t play all the maps. It’s not even like Battlefield 2042 has so many maps that this might happen. It just seems to be an issue with how the matchmaking works because, let me tell you, I have played the Hourglass map so many times that I never wanna’ play on it again.
My final issue with Battlefield 2042 has to be the choice of specialists. Essentially, you can choose from a variety of characters who have special abilities. This can range from being able to sense when enemies are around you or special grenades that you can throw, etc. The issue is that when you’re playing in a squad, you typically want to have a balanced squad. You want someone to play as a medic so that they can heal you when you take damage. It’s good to have a recon person to spot enemies before you run into trouble, and it’s great to have a support and/or assault player providing those roles to the battle.
The issue in Battlefield 2042 is that no one has to play in a certain role, which means that your squad can be horribly imbalanced. If you want to just jump into the game without friends, there’s a great chance you will play on a squad that will never have a medic, meaning you will just die in a battle and never get revived. Ever. Or in one funny instance when I decided I’d play as a medic, I joined a squad where everyone was a medic. The issue seems to stem not just from the ability to choose specialists but the fact that the game never tells your other squadmates what role you are or vice versa. So, if I choose someone who, let’s say, can sense enemies around them, my teammates have no idea that I chose that character with that ability. This means there’s a great chance that they’ll just simply pick the same type of character, and the squad will be imbalanced. I understand what they were trying to do in switching up how specialists worked in Battlefield 2042 ,yet it ultimately doesn’t work very well.
The only other thing that I want to point out isn’t something specific to Battlefield 2042 but with games in general these days. It doesn’t feel like there’s enough content in the game. Don’t get me wrong, Battlefield Portal has the potential to keep you playing for hours on end with the unique customization options. Yet, the base game of Battlefield 2042 feels like it’s still missing a couple of modes and a couple of additional maps from being a complete experience. Yes, I realize the developers have said they will be adding more content throughout the year, and they’ve promised more maps and modes to the game. But, it feels like if you’re not interested in trying out the Portal customization aspects of the game, you’re gonna’ run out of things to do fairly quickly. You’ll end up playing the same conquest mode on the same maps over and over and over again. It just feels like the game launched content light, and this will probably affect how you view the game.
All in all, my experience with Battlefield 2042 is positive. While there are certain maps that ruin the experience, and the game is lacking content, there’s enough here in 2042 for me to recommend the game to people. The large-scale battles truly make each match chaotic and fun. Of course, this depends on the map you get. Battlefield Portal is an awesome addition that I can truly see creative people going wild and making unbelievably fun experiences with. There’s just enough in Battlefield 2042 right now to justify the purchase. Just make sure you’re not playing the game by yourself, get your friends to pick it up with you.
Platforms: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X, PC
Release Date: 12th November 2021