My Battlefield history is filled with moments where I dive into incoming fire to revive a fallen comrade, typically to just end up dying myself. I love the Battlefield games, but I’d never count myself as even being in the top 50% of players when it comes to metrics like the overblown K:D ratio or score per minute. What matters to me is teamwork with all that entails with the revives, throwing around health packs and capturing control points. Having played the Battlefield 2042 open beta over the last couple of days, I’m pleased that these elements of action still exist, but am left wondering whether they’ll be recognised in the broader meta of the game.
Before I get into that in any further detail, hit the break for my first impressions of EA and DICE’s upcoming title.
This is a good looking game, of that there can be no doubt. I was running at 1440p with high settings across the board and was very impressed. With the game being set in the near future, the visual stylings are much more in keeping with Battlefield 3 and 4 than the last two historic World War titles. Compared with the earlier titles, this has that je ne sais quoi that is “next gen”. Performance was rock solid on my Razer laptop running the mobile nVidia 3070 chip. I wasn’t keeping track of frame rates, but it generally felt consistent which is always a good sign. I didn’t have any crashes, although getting connected to the DICE servers on launching the beta was a bit hit and miss, but retrying a couple of times got that sorted.
The beta offered one map, Orbital which features the range of combat areas that you would expect from a Battlefield game. Despite several rounds of action, seeing the bright sunshine turn into a rain soaked quagmire, I didn’t get to see the tornado that others have reported. Levolution is there, but I need to play more to see it truly impact on proceedings. With conquest mode in 2042 the map is split into zones of control, with each zone potentially having multiple capture points. This change to the usual conquest formula adds a whole new layer to the action whereby zones will be contested when control points are split between the two sides. It looks set to put well organised squads in a better position to change the course of battle.
I do wonder whether the teamwork and squad play that has long defined Battlefield will be embraced by players in the same way here as in the past. The scoreboard, which so many people care about, is focused on kills and kill assists while supporting functions such as revives and flag captures seem to be side-barred from the overall scoreboard and only contribute to your progression through the ranks. This is a beta, and some elements might be subject to change before release, and I can’t pass judgement until the full scope of player progression and unlocks is fully revealed. But at the moment, I fear the community will leave wins, losses and teamwork to the backburner in favour of racking up the kills. I hope to be proven wrong on that front.
Pulling back from those elements, the action on the ground, in vehicles or in the air feels as good as ever when it comes to Battlefield. The return to a contemporary timesetting allows for action which feels more naturally paced. While I enjoyed the previous two titles in the series, the multiplayer action often felt like it had been injected with speed, and didn’t always fit the time period. With 2042 there are no such issues with classes (or specialists), weapons and vehicles all feeling like they are combining well. As time goes on, some class and weapon combinations will undoubtedly be deemed overpowered, but I was happy enough not to be sniped at every step I took.
I was especially impressed with two features. The first sees you press the B button to bring up an iPad equivalent from where you can easily request a vehicle to be dropped at your location. Time will tell whether this will be abused, but the ability to call a transport vehicle to the field when you’re stuck miles from the action is welcomed. The other cool feature was tied to the T button, and this allows you to customise your primary weapon on the fly. I could enter the action with a bog-standard assault rifle, and at the press of a button choose my sights and other gizmos to meet my favoured playstyle. It serves to get you into the action and away from the deployment screen, and hopefully will lead to a game where you aren’t inundated with thousands of unlocks each round.
All things considered, I’m very much a fan of the boots on the ground action in 2042, but have reservations around whether some of the scoring changes will detract from the focus on teamwork.