Battlefield 2042 Review (Post Update 3.1)
The Battlefield series is one of the biggest franchises in gaming history. It’s sprawling maps, destructible environments and massive multilayer battles have proven a successful formula with a large and passionate player base. Battlefield 2042 is the latest version so how does it stack up?
Disclosure: EA provided Blog of Dad with a copy of Battlefield 2042 for the purpose of review and ongoing use. Any thoughts expressed about field 2042 in this article are based on my own experiences. For more information, visit my disclosure statement.
Battlefield 2042 Visuals and Maps
“Stunning” may not do enough justice when describing the vast open play areas of Battlefield 2042. Designed to cater for a massive 128 players, each environment takes real-world locations and re-imagines them for a not-too-distant future in which climate change and war have had devastating effect.
These maps truly look impressive, especially spread across the Ultrawide QHD 34″ Prism+ XQ340 Pro of my test setup. There is loads of detail in the environments, and plenty of things exploding constantly around you to enjoy. The recommended specs are reasonably demanding, but not absurd, and my PNY XLR8 2070 Super paired with Ryzen 5 5600X is more than capable of delivering a stunning and consistent visual performance to the UWQHD monitor.
These huge maps can appear intimidating for first-time players and there is definitely a learning curve to figuring out how to take advantage of all they offer. On more than one occasion I found myself wandering alone for minutes through desolate spaces, as a “short cut” that I had taken turned out to be not so short. Teamwork has always been at the core of Battlefield success, so wandering too far from squad members or other team mates is not often a winning strategy.
Once familiar with maps, crafty players can, however, take advantage of the intricacies of each environment. For example, I came across one clever tank driver who had used the flowing sand dunes perfectly to his advantage. His vehicle was perched high and well protected over an objective that my team was trying to take. He rained down volley upon volley of destruction while we were powerless to inflict any damage in return.
Skyscrapers and other multi-level buildings make the chaos of war truly three dimensional – as does the array of airborne vehicles that provide support from above.
There are plenty of nooks and crannies in each level for those who favour the sniper style of play, but also lots of opportunity for cover, for players who prefer the guns blazing approach.
As is a hallmark of Battlefield games, the environment crumbles and deteriorates as intense warfare is waged throughout the game. Advantage points that once provided helpful coverage for defensive play can be ripped apart by enthusiastic tank operators, forcing a change of tactics along the way. There is also the added element of weather events, which can have a significant impact on visibility and/or player safety at key points throughout a battle. Well-timed dust storms, for example, can help ground troops launch an all-out assault on an objective that was previously well defended by camping snipers. I really like this ever-changing nature of the Battlefield 2042 environments, as it rewards those who quickly adapt to evolving situations over players who attempt to exploit a single strategy throughout the game.
Battlefield 2042 Specialists
Large-scale destructible maps may be familiar territory for Battlefield fans, but there are also some significant changes to the Battlefield formula that have been met with mixed reactions from long-time fans. The most controversial of these is the change to the class system, and in these early days of online battles this certainly seems to be having an impact.
I’ll happily put my hand up and admit that I was a little bamboozled when I first started playing, with the traditional roles of Assault, Medic, Support and Recon nowhere to be seen in the deploy screen. In its place are “Specialists” who each fit within the broad classes of old, but also pack their own unique qualities that, when used effectively, can have a significant impact on the result of the game.
Having now played the game for a few weeks I am happy to say that I like this change. Initially I feared that these changes would damage one of the most fundamental components of Battlefield success – teamwork. But, in my observations these changes have enabled players to go deeper into developing strategies for success. This change has enabled players to tweak their loadouts and take advantage of individual character strengths and unique abilities depending on the situation at each stage of the battle.
I think this new dynamic has taken some time to get used to. In the first couple of days it felt like players were mostly running about like headless chickens – without a clear sense of purpose or direction. However, as players have become familiar with the new maps and new character dynamics, gameplay has shifted to include better tactical play. For example, in my first week of game play with Battlefield 2042 I was revived twice. That is in stark contrast to Battlefield 2042, where medics reviving fallen soldiers was a key part of every game. However, I now find that I am helped with my health at least a couple of times throughout most games.
I have been steadily working on understanding the new Specialist dynamics and finding a system that works for me. As a player who tends to prefer long-distance engagement over up-close-and-personal action, I have spent much of my time getting to know Wikus “Casper” Van Deale. He is a recon soldier and comes equipped with one of my favourite Battlefield 2042 gadgets – the OV-P recon drone.
Playing as a sniper is often lonely work, in fact, finding the ultimate vantage point with good coverage of the action is one of the great thrills of the role. The OV-P recon drone, however, is the difference between playing as a lone wolf sniper and an invaluable member of a team.
The is particularly true in my favourite mode – Breakthrough, where using teamwork to capture or defend objectives is the only way to succeed. Sure, there is something incredibly satisfying about landing a headshot on an unsuspecting opponent from the other side of a battle, but for me, ultimate satisfaction comes from using the drone to spot enemy positions during a fierce raid on an objective. Knowing exactly where enemies are located can make all the difference in this scenario, which makes the recon drone such a valuable tool. And, frankly, most of my teammates are better at actually landing a shot than I am, so it’s nice to be a productive member of a team! That being said, the CORSAIR SABRE RGB PRO WIRELESS gaming mouse arrived on my desk at the perfect time. The customisable Sniper mode has definitely helped me to control my aim with the sniper rifle and my percentage of satisfying headshots is definitely improving!
As I mentioned before, the scale of Battlefield 2042 maps is quite enormous and there are plenty of points at which sticking to sniper is not the best policy. It pays to react to the nature of the fight at and given time and to redeploy with a Specialist best suited to the occasion. Because of this I have been exploring Pyotr “Boris” Guskovsky, who is an engineer that can deploy an automatized turret sentry system. This can be extremely handy in the right scenario, although placing the turret for maximum impact is a fine artform.
Then there is “Dozer” – a massive dude with a SOB-8 Ballistic Shield who is built for all-out assault scenarios. He is a lot of fun to use, although again the key to success is again deploying into the right environment to take advantage of his skills.
Each of the Specialists comes with their own unique ability and there are too many to delve into here. What I will say is that it is worth exploring each of these when you first begin playing the game, in order to find the Specialists who are best suited to your preferred style of play. It can make all the difference to the way in which you experience the game!
I get why the reaction to this change from classes to specialists has been so strong. Battlefield is a much loved series and long-term players may feel that such a huge change fundamentally alters the fabric of the game. However, the alternative would be deploying the same systems, and then I would have to ask, what’s the point? It takes time to get used to new things, but the alternative is stagnation and I’m backing DICE on this one.
Battlefield 2042 Game Modes
Battlefield 2042 brings back familiar gameplay in the form of classic Conquest and the already mentioned Breakthrough. These can be found in the All-Out Warfare menu. Despite the changes to character dynamics, the gameplay in both these modes hasn’t changed all that much. Conquest is still an incredible mess of lone-wolf soldiers blowing stuff up, enjoying the (sometimes slightly ridiculous) vehicle physics and the occasional well-organised squad that dominates the map. There are plenty of interesting ways to die in Conquest, where the action comes from all angles.
Breakthrough is my preferred form of play, mainly because it brings some kind of order to the chaos. There are clear objectives, and well organised teams with a range of Specialist types can quickly take control of a map. There is also a greater tendency for the game to ebb and flow, with a seemingly dominant attacking force stopped in their tracks at particular points when the defence manages to pull everything together. I have played in some blowouts, but also participated in some incredibly close contests that get the heart racing. In one particular game, a single opposing life was all that stood between my team’s victory and our defeat.
But at the same time, it was an incredibly experience, and one that really sums up all that Battlefield 2042 has to offer!
Hazard Zone is a new mode, and it is quite different to the other modes on offer. Here a squad of four enter a map, capture specific objectives (hard drives), then attempt an extraction. While I have found this mode to be fun, and quite intense at times, I can confidently say that I have a long way to go in mastering the concept. Communication has definitely been an issue here, as I think teams that can talk to each other and coordinate attacks have a definite advantage over randomly grouped strangers.
The final mode on offer is Portal – a place where you can engage in customised game modes. There are certainly some interesting options in Portal, but to be honest it hasn’t engaged me as much as the official games. I did particularly enjoy a reasonably standard game in which the damage per shot was ramped up, partly because I found the perfect little nest to hide in with my sniper rifle and pick of enemies one by one. I don’t think I’ll ever get a better KD ratio than in that game! Still, a high ratio isn’t everything (at least for me) and I definitely prefer the satisfaction of achieving an objective that comes with Breakthrough.
Issues and Updates
Let’s directly address the elephant in the room. Anyone who was paying any attention at all around the release of Battlefield 2042 will undoubtedly have seen the flood of negativity regarding certain aspects of the game. Some of that negativity was directed at the changes to the game dynamics outlined above. As the days have gone on and players have become more accustomed to the new setup, this has diminished significantly.
Other criticism was directed at bugs and other issues that appeared in the launch version of the game. This included some rather odd vehicle physics, some unbalanced elements of gameplay and a particularly frustrating issue with bullet dispersion.
Thankfully, the Battlefield Team have been actively working to address these issues and deliver a game experience that is truly worthy of the Battlefield name. The game has just received Update #3.1 – the latest of a series of updates designed to directly address community concerns and other issues that were not identified before release.
Each of the updates has served to tighten up what is frankly, an already thoroughly enjoyable game. And I genuinely think that is a point worth making. Battlefield 2042 has been fun to play since the day it launched, even with a couple of strange issues lurking around.
In addition, EA have delivered a Known Issues page for Battlefield 2042, where players can keep track of known issues, report new ones as they arise and receive updates on when fixes should arrive. This kind of proactive approach is a positive move from EA, and one that should provide players with confidence in their resolve to deliver the best possible Battlefield experience from this latest game.
Battlefield 2042 Final Thoughts
There are plenty of good reasons why the Battlefield series has been a dominant force in the First Person Shooter landscape for nearly 20 years. The series has built an envious reputation for delivering large-scale battles in dynamic environments that are incredibly engaging, and the latest iteration is no exception. Thanks to a dedicated and responsive development team, Battlefield 2042 gets better and better as each day passes and new updates are released. The large-scale battles are there (larger than ever) and the new systems make for thoroughly enjoyable games – especially in the Breakthrough mode of play.
Blog of Dad Test Setup
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 5600X
- Cooling: be quiet! Dark Rock Pro 4
- Motherboard: MSI B550 TOMAHAWK
- Memory: 32GB (2x16GB) XLR8 DDR4 3200MHz
- Graphics: PNY GeForce RTX 2070 Super 8GB XLR8 Gaming Overclocked Edition
- System Drive: 250GB Samsung 980 PRO PCle 4.0 NVMe M.2 SSD
- Game Drive: Samsung 980 1TB M.2 NVMe SSD
- Case: be quiet! Silent Base 801
- Keyboard: Logitech G915 LIGHTSPEED Mechanical
- Mouse: CORSAIR SABRE RGB PRO WIRELESS
- Optical Switch Gaming Keypad: Razer Tartarus Pro
- Gamepad: GameSir G4 Pro
- Monitor: PRISM+ XQ340 PRO 34″ UWQHD Monitor
- Touchscreen Monitor: espresso Display 15″
- Sound: EPOS SENNHEISER GSP 601 Gaming Series headset and EPOS GSX 300 External Soundcard