After hearing and seeing what the beta for Battlefield was like, I was expecting some jank when I finally got hands-on. But there are more issues than just poor optimisation and bugs with Battlefield 2042. The game is currently in a really weird state and I’m not sure it knows what it’s trying to do.
Same sh*t differnet day
Connection issues were inevitable. These days it’s a rare thing for games not to have them. With Battlefields history I fully expected them again and was not let down (well, I was, but you get what I mean). Having access to the game via gamepass and the 10-hour trial it’s not a huge deal. Yes, it’s annoying to have your time wasted just trying to get the game working. However, imagine spending £80 or £100 on the special editions of the game for early access to be met with connection problems. It’s not good enough.
Special Editions are meant to be that, special. But nowadays they feel like an additional beta test weekend. Their lure of early access gets people to pre-order. But come opening weekend you’re met with constant frustration. It’s not a fun experience or something you should expect from spending more money. The reality is, is we should just stop pre-ordering games. That being said, I’m not here to tell people what to do with their money.
Battlefield has always been a game about huge battles lots of vehicles and carnage. Explosions are all over the place. Planes and helicopters routinely smash into the ground right in front of you and buildings collapse from all the rockets. That’s Battlefield, and it’s great fun. When looking on the surface, you could say that all of that good stuff is here in 2042. But it all just feels unbalanced and unfinished at the moment.
When on the defending team in Breakthrough it feels like you’re being relentlessly assaulted by vehicle combat, whilst your teammates scramble around on foot diving for cover. Not in a good way. Hovercrafts, tanks, helicopters, jets. They’re all in play all of the time. It’s mad.
Couple that with the increased size of the maps, it’s hard not to feel like if you don’t get in a vehicle you’re already dead when trying to move from objective to objective. The maps are so spread out that it’s tough to be effective. You defend one objective and see another being taken. There’s no time have time to react. The maps are too big for you to get anywhere near without them already being taken.
Conquest is similar. Trying to move from one objective to another across open space is a death trap. I can’t help but feel like they started with 64 player maps and then just spaced out the objectives more without consideration for what happens in between. It creates a lot of dead air where all you’re doing is running.
What about teamwork you might ask? Well, there’s no voice chat, so you can’t do that. Even if there was, there’s no real leaderboard so it’s almost impossible to tell who is who and where they are. It’s a mess.
One of the big changes to this year’s Battlefield is the inclusion of Specialists. These are characters that each have their own unique items and abilities to help you on whilst fighting. However, there are still the four roles to pick from – Assault, Recon, Support, and Engineer. Any Specialist can pick any role (from what I’ve seen). This makes me wonder why even have Specialists in the first place – apart from monetary reasons, which I’m no doubt we will see.
They just feel a little at odds with each other. They seem like two different systems for ‘heroes’ mushed together in a slightly haphazard way. It’s as is the Specialists were the original plan. Then they quickly added back the more traditional roles to keep series fans on-side or happy. It doesn’t feel like a finished system and the fact that any Specialist can play any role seems a bit odd. I don’t hate it, but I just don’t get it at the moment. Just go with one or the other…
What’s the game’s identity?
When you look across the game modes, the new Specialists system, the increase in the player count for maps. It’s a little hard to see where the game is going. I can’t help but get the feeling that 2042 was initially going to be something very different. The ‘Tarkov’ style Hazard Zone with the Specialists that seem created to cater for that mode is a clear indication of a direction. However, it doesn’t sit well alongside the ‘standard’ game. They’re both very different game modes and to try and sit them in the same game is no doubt a tricky balancing act. One that feels lopsided in its current state.
Then you have a jump from 64 players to 128 and the inclusion of Bots. From what I’ve seen, the Bots are pretty mindless and don’t add a lot. If you’re going to end up packing a server with more and more Bots, why not just make the maps smaller. Bigger maps don’t mean better maps. Every map I’ve played feels like it has a lot of wasted space. Objectives are left completely uncontested whilst hordes of people flood one or two. The flow to fights isn’t working. The fact that you have to run 600 meters or more to get from one place to another with nothing happening in between isn’t fun. They obviously won’t change now, so I’m not sure what the answer is.
Battlefield 2042 seems to be a little confused about what it’s trying to do.
It’s still pretty fun
Despite the issues and the bugs – oh the bugs are hilarious. The game is still pretty good fun, especially if you can get into games with your friends. You can still have those classic Battlefield moments. There’s nothing stopping you from playing in silly ways, trying dumb things to see if they work. That has always been part of the charm of Battlefield. It doesn’t discourage you from thinking outside the box a little. That being said, perhaps they’re just a little too far away from the box at the moment.
It’s a classic case of “this will probably be great in six months”. Once some patches have hit that stablise the game, create some better performance and a few balancing patches have landed. It will no doubt be a great game. But why do we always have to keep waiting 6 months for it to get to that state? If your game isn’t ready, don’t release it.
The question is, is will it be a game I buy when it fully launches this week. In its current state, I’d have to say no. However, I can certainly see myself playing it on gamepass or EA’s version for a little while. With the sudden release of Halo Infinite multiplayer which is free and runs almost flawlessly with no connection issues as of yet. I feel more inclined to play that.
With both Call of Duty Vanguard and Battlefield 2042 seemingly missing the mark this fall. Is the covert drop of Halo going to save the day for multiplayer gaming? I certainly think it can.