Review: Battlefield 2042 – Back to Class

Battlefield 2042 is here. It is the first Battlefield without the classic class system and the first game in the 128-player series on PC and Next-Gen. With a view to renewal and innovation, Battlefield forgets its own DNA in 2042.

With 128 players on PC, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S, Battlefield 2042 has the largest maps, the most vehicles and... the fewest weapons. DICE is trying out a lot of new things with Battlefield 2042, which I personally question. After a whole week of playing, with fun and less fun moments, I honestly don't know what to do with this game. It doesn't feel like a Battlefield game. It feels like a game that wants to be like Battlefield, but in the process of ambitious approach trying to surpass what Battlefield has done in the past, forget what exactly Battlefield stands for. Fortunately, there's a Portal mode, which gives us a little glimpse of 20 years of Battlefield in classic modes, with classic setups and rules, but this mode doesn't come without its problems.

All Out Warfare

The big mode that is all about in Battlefield 2042 is the All-Out Warfare mode. This is the evolution of Battlefield in the eyes of DICE. We play with 128 players in huge maps in Conquest or Breakthrough modes. If you play on PC or Next-Gen these are always servers for 128 players. You can't choose to play with 64 players in smaller maps, then you have to choose Portal mode. There is also no server browser for the All-Out Warfare modes. At the moment this isn't a big problem, because almost every round you come in is full of players, but this can become problematic over time.

The evolution of Battlefield has some changes and some of these changes and additions are very good. Every weapon now has a 'Plus' system. You can set three scopes, three ammunition types or magazine sizes, three barrels and three handle options per weapon. You can then change these on the fly while playing in the Battlefield . For example, you can make a set-up for one weapon for short-range and longer-range battles. For example, by swapping a red-dot for a 4x ACOG and putting a bipod on it instead of a grip. Maybe you're going to infiltrate an enemy point via a detour and want to quickly adjust the barrel by putting a damper on your weapon so you don't appear on the mini-map while firing. The Plus system makes this possible and this is a very welcome feature. There are also a number of new features that are more in the way or are simply missing.

So there is no more scoreboard? No stats page to track your own progress and achievements? No indicator of medics around when you're down? The most simple features that are so obvious are missing and nobody knows why. Also no one knows why the UI is still so atrocious. I just can't get used to it.

Back to class, please?

Battlefield 2042 cleans up the traditional Class system for a revamped Specialist system. This system is very close to a Hero shooter like Overwatch, or the Operators from Rainbow Six Siege. Every specialist has a unique appearance, but also unique gadgets. Unlike previous Battlefield titles, in which you could choose between two gadgets within your Class, you now have the choice of a specialist with a unique gadget and also a free choice of an extra gadget from a pool of free gadgets. In this free pool you will find the rocket launcher, heat seeker, first aid kits, ammunition boxes, blowtorch and C5 (C4). The Specialist-specific gadgets include a turret, grenade belt, stim pistol, proximity sensor, grappling hook, and ballistic shield. There are more and more are being added. The idea is that during the Battlefield 2042 runtime, DICE will introduce new Specialists with unique gadgets.

The disadvantage of this system is that the roles are not really clearly divided. All Specialists are divided into some sort of category. For example, Sundance is an Assault Type, but she can also carry a rocket launcher with her, or a first-aid kit. You cannot read this from a player while playing. If you run out of ammo while playing (and this has happened to me many times), good luck. You can't take ammo from their character from players who happen to have an ammo box with them like the take-from feature from Battlefield V. It's a shame that DICE doesn't see how problematic this is, because at the moment hardly anyone plays the medical Specialists because they simply feel too weak compared to gadgets from other Specialists. Maria Falck's stim-pistol is way too slow and her defibs bring back other players with 100% HP, but compared to the many other Specialists, she feels way below par.

And this is the problem of the Specialist system. Many specialist feel much better than the other, which means that some are not played at all. As a result, certain roles are not filled. There is almost no form of Squad-Play anymore. Best Squad says nothing at all in Battlefield 2042, because everyone plays for themselves and no one plays together anymore. I tracked how many times I've been revived by a team member in 20 hours of play time: 8 times. 8! As a result, the contrast between the two teams is suddenly much greater. If there is one team that does play together, the game suddenly feels very unbalanced. Out of misery I only played a few rounds as Maria Falck (The healer) and I immediately noticed that our team did much better. We were able to continue a push longer and in the end win a point much easier. I do hope and expect that this system will continue to undergo a number of changes during the coming year. It doesn't play well this way. At times when there is good cooperation, it feels good and very 'Battlefield'. These moments are too rare.

Pick your favorite weapon, as long as it's the PP-29

Battlefield 2042 suffers from another big problem and that is the gunplay. It feels off. There's no other word for it than it just doesn't feel right. Something is wrong. Far too often when firing at enemies, with the cross-hair clearly aimed at the enemy, I miss. By the way, I'm not the only one and this problem was reported quite often during the BETA. There seems to be a major problem with hit registration in this game. As a result, no weapon actually feels nice to play with. Out of the 22 weapons to choose from, only 2 are really common. These are the PP-29 and the SVK (and until you unlock it the DM7). The PP-29 is an SMG with standard 54 bullets in a magazine. This weapon has almost no recoil and almost no bullet spread. Everyone in Battlefield 2042 uses this gun and it's not because it's overpowered, it actually feels well-balanced. It's just that every other weapon is very jerky. You see with the other weapons that they have an insane bullet spread and I really wonder why this was chosen. The SVK is a 2-shot kill DMR and therefore has virtually no bullet spread. That's why these two weapons are so good and you don't actually see many other weapons passing by. DICE please. Fix the gun play.

Something that is really overpowered, on the other hand, are the vehicles. again. Because we are playing with 128 players, there are also many, many more vehicles this time. And especially the damn Hovercraft. This thing is lightning fast, can take a lot of damage and has 2 extra seats for gunners with cannons that can reduce you to a heap of human flesh through a tiny slot. There are also a lot of them. A round of Breakthrough was completely dominated by 4 attacking Hovercrafts who crouched through the map too fast to capture points, kill everyone and were too fast to take explosives. It's just way too frustrating to deal with right now, because explosives do way too little damage and Sundance's anti-armor grenade belt looks for a random target, even though you're obviously throwing the anti-armor grenade in the direction of ( or even almost against) the Hovercraft.

Still a lot of mistakes

I actually saw it coming. A classic Battlefield release is accompanied by many problems in terms of balance, but also technical defects are never lacking. Still, I feel like this is the most broken release I've experienced from Battlefield to date. At least on console.

I still regularly encounter errors such as rubberbanding, frozen players, dying from random circumstances, weapons that won't fire, stuck in a down state where the counter is at 0, but I can't return. Sometimes I start a round and can't choose a loadout or weapon. Every time I spawn with an M5 and I can't switch. In a round of Breakthrough, the defenders as well as the attackers had infinite lives. Even the Infinity symbol was present on both sides. This was actually quite hilarious.

The sound in this game is 100% broken. In every Battlefield game up to 2042, the sound was always top notch. Explosions, footsteps, the chatter of tanks and the indentation of metal plating. Everything sounded so horrifying and even the music was always on-point. It enhanced the effect at the end of a round and it brought atmosphere to the start of the round. The interaction of soldiers on the battlefield was always very cool. Sanitizer! Scheisse, hilf mir! It boosts immersion to an unprecedented level, and DICE thought with Battlefield 2042: Let's do none of that.

The sound is bad. The entire game will sound muted or unlit. It is a battlefield of 128 men, but you hear almost nothing. it is so very silent. You hear no rockets whizzing, no vehicles roaring and footsteps sound soft and all over the place. They cannot be placed. There is something seriously wrong with the sound in this game. The music is by far the least interesting of all the titles and there is hardly any interaction between the Specialists and if there is, it is not of the caliber we are used to.

The savior? Somewhat

Thank God for the Portal Mode. This is arguably the best mode Battlefield 2042 has to offer. In Portal we dive into classic Battlefield maps with the classic classes and weapons. In Portal we have a lot more weapons to play with and the maps, even though old, are much more fun and also much more beautiful. We can play Rush on Arika Harbor! Check this post if you want to know exactly how Portal works .

Portal actually shows exactly what's wrong with Battlefield 2042. If we'd rather go back to the maps, classes, weapons and rules of years ago instead of playing the revamped version in All-Out Warfare, DICE has to get behind. scratch the ears. For some reason, the weapons in Portal also play much nicer than the weapons in All-Out Warfare.

It's really a joy to see how old classic levels look like in 2021. Especially Battle of the Bulge is by far my favorite this time around. In fact, this map is graphically very similar to Battlefield V. The level of detail is really high in this map and due to the smaller scope of these older maps, they are also much better and more beautifully finished than the actually much too large maps in the 128 All-out warfare mode. Unfortunately, the offer in Portal is still on the meager side. I expect we'll see a lot more maps in this in the future. Given the new direction DICE is taking with the franchise, Portal may also be the last opportunity to play classic Battlefield games on the most recent hardware. So I sincerely hope that this mode will have many classic maps from previous titles in the coming years. Operation Metro, please?

Unfortunately, Portal also has some problems. Some issues from the main game, but mostly weapon customization. The plus system can be turned off so you can only equip your weapon with attachments in the traditional way, but the menu to do that still uses the plus system as the base. So you have to put your desired attachments in the plus configuration menu in the first slot of each category to be able to use your attachments in Portal. This is super cumbersome and you just have to know it, because I accidentally found out that it works that way.

Verdict

DICE still has a long way to go to make Battlefield 2042 a good product and DICE has a long way to go to make this game a good Battlefield. There are still a lot of errors, problems and things that don't work properly or are missing. What Battlefield 2042 can offer at the moment is meager and I haven't even mentioned the Hazard Zone mode. This is simply not a fun twist on a CSGO-Battle Royale-Dark Zone Extraction a la The Division combination. The Specialist system needs an overhaul to make it more like Battlefield as well. At the moment every round suffers from the lack of the Class system and the obvious advantages that the old system offers. If there is one thing DICE should focus on in the coming six months, it is team play (How Specialists and Squads interact and help each other) and gun play. I can't imagine that the Battlefield fans will stick around for long.

Fortunately, there is the Portal Mode which is much better than the mode that this new game is all about. I therefore hope that this Portal Mode will be richly supplemented with many more classic Battlefield maps and titles, because playing in this Portal Mode remains the most fun so far. Conquest on Caspian Border as I remember it, or Conquest in Battle of Bulge but much better than it was, is a breath of fresh air from the experience so far in All-Out Warfare mode. Fortunately, the Sundance wingsuit is really cool. Very cool to fly through the air with this.

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