The futuristic shooter title we have been waiting for, Battlefield 2042, is just around the corner - below we take a look at all aspects of gameplay.
It seems as though the announcement of Battlefield 2042 was now many moons ago – and by this rate it’ll be 2042 by the time we can play the game - but in the past few weeks we got a taste of what the game brings to the table in the Battlefield 2042 Beta. The game sees release on Xbox and PlayStation consoles come the 19th of November and to get in the spirit we had a blast getting our controllers out and having a little gander around the Battlefield Beta, but the material doesn’t end there. DICE and Xbox have since released two incredible trailers titled ‘What A Time To Be Alive’ and ‘Xbox 2042’, sparking further fascination into the game. To stimulate your senses of anticipation we are going to delve into exactly what details converge to create Battlefield 2042.
The Battlefield series to date
I am a huge Battlefield V fanboy - it has historically been one of my stronger shooter performances. Shameless plug there. Although the prequel to Battlefield 2042 had begun its journey somewhat tremulously, I was absolutely obsessed with the game, particularly the Provence, Solomon Islands, Arras and Twisted Steel maps. As a result of my spirited praise for Battlefield, I had some cavernous expectations circulating my headspace as I booted up the Beta, and I can safely say that I was impressed with the game; it was not yet up to scratch, but on the whole Battlefield 2042 looks excellent. DICE do a fantastic job at the subtle details of Battlefield games, the transition into scope view and the blurred surroundings that ensue, for example. Battlefield 2042 is no anomaly to the series’ trend, availing itself of many of the finer details. Of course, not everyone was satisfied; many a complaint permeated the various forums and channels relating to visibility issues in amidst dynamic weather conditions, but isn’t that the point? To shake up the feel of gameplay? To add nuance to each and every game? In this way, Battlefield 2042 is never going to be every man's game, but it could come close. We have high hopes that DICE will respond to the feedback consensus and avoid another shaky launch.
What does gameplay involve?
Let’s start off with the not-so-good; I like the HUD aesthetic, but the game’s interface does need slightly more refinement and delineation. Particularly during enthralling gunfights does HUD notifications get in the way either because they are glaring or ambiguous, a simple design flaw but enough to become irksome over time. I was also taken surprised to learn of the absence of a scoreboard which if permanent takes away that element of fierce competition that feeds into the addictive allure of the game. It’s unconceivable that a shooter game of this ilk wouldn’t have a scoreboard, so we’re hoping it is merely missing rather than AWOL. Regardless, these are surface issues that can be resolved within the time-frame DICE have remaining – that’s the better news. The truly good news is that Battlefield 2042 has captured futuristic lightning in a bottle, all fundamental features look and feel as they should - I can see myself getting lost in this game for weeks at a time. A crucial facet of the quintessential Battlefield experience DICE had to get right was vehicular play; I think they aced it. Airborne travel in particular, Helicopters, Wingsuits, and Jets, proves agile and responsive, with multiple alterations in camera angles, lock on features, cannon variety and a heat-map style Forward Gunner view too in Helicopters too. Being fired at by attack Helicopters is a less amiable experience I’ll admit; what goes up must come down!
How does gunplay feel?
The first-person shooter mechanics in Battlefield 2042 are lovely; hit markers are neat and guns felt just as we might conceive they should in the 2040’s; powerful, rigid and reliable. Firing at enemies both near and far is a stable, satisfying process, hit markers were clean and kill alerts were unequivocal: a red cross marks termination. It took some getting used to the Battlefield mechanic with guns a century advanced in comparison to Battlefield V, yet the tactile efficiency of weaponry made the acclimatisation a smooth affair. The end-product was certainly there in the Beta but I did have a few grievances about the in-game ammo system, specifically the dearth of the ammo and the superfluousness in ammo types. On plenty of occasions have we just needed to get used to a novel mechanic in a game, but I am not convinced that this alteration is for the best. Part of me says ammo preservation is par for the course of tactical shooters, but another part of me reaffirms that in the blur of battle, constructing a load-out is my last priority – survival comes first. The better news is that the ‘Plus Holster’ in Battlefield 2042 is versatile and ergonomic, conferring a convenient way to diversify gameplay. You win some, you lose some - I think we could learn to put our hand to utilising different ammo types should DICE correct the ammunition siege currently going on.
How well-designed are the maps?
DICE’s decision to take on 128-man warfare was an audacious one, but one they have successfully seen through. Battles as boundless as this are as rewarding as they sound, each predilection to warfare is satisfied; if you are a sniper looking for an undisturbed lair to pick out enemies from, or if you like to go on close-quarter shotgun rampages, Battlefield 2042 has your back. Maps have a range of topography and biomes, concrete jungles, sand dunes and green hills; any shooter-style has a habitat. The sheer scale of the map sizes this game involves certainly necessitates 128 men to attain an all-out warfare feel. As it should be, every corner of the battle arena as bullets soaring through it, the game certainly puts the battle in Battlefield. Traversing the map is enjoyable; a myriad of vehicles and gadgets, like the physically accurate grapple hook, prove useful, needed and feed directly into the rapid state of play the game adopts. Alongside the frenzied depiction of warfare, Battlefield 2042 brings back the series’ quintessential skyscrapers and Levelution elements, giving the game a large slice of Battlefield's trademark dynamic landscapes. The Beta ended before I had a chance to delve into the map I had wanted to explore the most: Hourglass, the sand-storm stricken desert cityscape, but what content I did see has certainly left me itching for more. Better still, six maps with the likes of Caspian Border and Battle of the Bulge return remastered, ready for players to delve back into them using next-generation technology.
Who are the Specialists?
Achievements aside, Battlefield 2042 has work to do before it can go without the scrutiny given to Battlefield V upon launch. My biggest gripe was the expansion of classes and into the presence of specialists; the distinction between weaponry classes seemed to be obscure, ostensibly giving everyone the ability to carry ammo, health packs and specific guns. A specialist isn’t a specialist if their abilities can be accessed by everyone, perhaps the nomenclature needs a little devising. More, our friends and foes look exactly the same! The selection of eight specialists donned the same standard (but modifiable) outfit regardless of their side or nationality, it was like two opposing football teams wearing the same kit. Once user comment I saw pertaining to a battle between friendly and foe versions of the same character, Boris, even went as far to re-brand the game to ‘Borisfield’ – I liked that a lot. Fortunately, DICE have announced further differentiation in specialist appearances since the Beta, notably explosive-expert and wingsuit-wearing Sundance, one of the game’s 10 specialist roster, who identifies as non-binary and uses they/them pronounces; it is good to see inclusivity feature in EA’s developmental approach. The wingsuits are pretty neat too. Other Specialists include Navin Rao, a Recon class soldier who can hack machinery and in-world objects, Santiago ‘Dozer’, an assault class, shield-donning battering ram, Ji-Soo Paik, anther recon specialist who can detect and scan for enemy presences using electromagnetic waves. The traits of each specialist (provided they are centred around each individual soldier) really broaden the horizons of gameplay, providing a broad range of abilities and traits… even robot dogs.
Battlefield 2042 looks really promising; it has room for improvement, but the base of the game is brilliant, the peak of the pyramid just needs carving out a touch. EA claimed that the Beta version of the game we played was already several months old, and if true we could expect many of the game’s bugs and limitations to find their solutions long before the finalised incarnation of Battlefield 2042 is released. DICE has no scarcity of feedback to work with; we can only hope that they augment the brilliant world created with the stipulations of long-time Battlefield players. All things aside, I had a whale of a time getting to grips with the game being dubbed the future of first-person shooter, I am enthused by what I saw rather than critical of shortcomings. All in all, should the conditions be favourable, DICE have the opportunity to create one of the prosperous shooters yet seen – I cannot wait for the 19th of November. What a time to be alive!