The Battlefield franchise has been notorious for its buggy launches ever since the infamous “long neck” glitch from Battlefield 3 went viral nearly a decade ago. As an outsider looking in, it’s always been entertaining to see clips of off-the-wall, crazy stuff happening in the game. Arguably, these incidents are what makes Battlefield, well, Battlefield—at least according to some members of the fan community.
So when I was given the opportunity to experience early access Battlefield 2042 first-hand, I jumped at the chance. Admittedly, I hadn’t played a Battlefield game since BF4, but I had extensive experience in other FPS series like Call of Duty and Apex Legends. I knew Battlefield focused more on team play and playing the objective, and I had no qualms about learning the ropes. What could possibly go wrong? I thought.
Battlefield 2042, in its current state, is not finished. Not only is it unfinished, but it is also borderline unplayable. Voice chat is missing, weapon attachments are either broken or do the exact opposite of what they say, a majority of guns suffer from absolutely ridiculous levels of bullet deviation, and the list goes on. That doesn’t even begin to touch on the abysmal graphics performance on the PlayStation 4 and some baffling gameplay choices such as forced spawning at the beginning of a match.
There are a total of three game modes in Battlefield 2042: All-Out Warfare, Hazard Zone, and Portal. Within All-Out Warfare are two game types—Conquest and Breakthrough—both with two teams of 32 players each (64 on next-gen consoles and PC). The new game mode, Hazard Zone, drops you in with six other teams of four players and tasks you with competing to find and extract intel. Portal allows players to play on various maps from past Battlefield games, including Bad Company 2, Battlefield 3, and Battlefield 1942.
Most of your time will likely be spent in All-Out Warfare, considering DICE recently capped the XP rewards for Portal due to servers farming XP. Hazard Zone is arguably the least interesting of the bunch, as it only rewards you with currency to spend in your next match. And while All-Out Warfare can be fun on occasion, I’ll be going over why exactly it’s so difficult to enjoy the modes in the paragraphs below.
It’s important to note that I played Battlefield 2042 on the PS4, and did not play with friends or pre-made squads. Therefore, my experience may not line up with those who have groups of friends using voice chat software, or on other platforms that support 128 player servers.
Battlefield 2042 Review – A Fine Mess
It’s no question that Battlefield is half-baked; just look at the official list of known issues on the EA website. That is to say, there’s no such thing as a perfect game launch. Bugs are almost guaranteed to pop up with extensive playtesting. However, the sheer severity of some of these bugs calls into question what plans DICE and EA had when launching the game. The most notable examples affect Battlefield 2042‘s new Plus weapon attachment system.
Weapon attachments come in various types, from suppressors that prevent you from showing up on the minimap when firing, or underbarrel grips that decrease recoil. The problem is that some of these weapon attachments don’t actually do what they say. Worse yet, sometimes they do the exact opposite of what’s described. The VCAR Marksman Rifle, for example, has a close combat magazine with more rounds than its drum magazine counterpart, even though drum mags are supposed to have the highest round count. It goes without saying that if players can’t rely on weapon attachment descriptions to tell them what they do, then it is a major issue that needs to be resolved.
There also seems to be a major bug with reviving, where players are unable to revive teammates if they are downed too close to a wall. First Match of the Day XP rewards also do not show up correctly. Server performance is incredibly lackluster, with rubberbanding an all-too-common occurrence during early access. Sometimes, players can’t even get into matches due to a “Persistence Data” error. While EA has addressed these issues through a pre-launch fix, players are still reporting issues with matchmaking and connection. You get the picture.
If past launches are any indication, DICE and Electronic Arts will likely fix these issues within the next few months. But as it stands, there is no way to determine what features are intentional and what are bugs. At best, these bugs severely hampered my enjoyment of the game. At worst, they made Battlefield 2042 borderline unplayable.
Battlefield 2042 – Where Are My Bullets?
Aside from bugs, there are two major issues that I have with Battlefield 2042‘s gameplay.
The first is to do with the game’s gunplay. As it stands, a majority of the weapons in Battlefield 2042 are absolutely, hopelessly inaccurate after the first few shots. The main culprit for this inaccuracy is a mechanic called bloom, also known as bullet deviation. This feature causes the rounds you fire to stray slightly from where you’re aiming in a cone or “bloom out”, and the cone gets wider as you fire continuously or move around. The mechanic is intended to add an element of randomness to combat and make sure players can’t beam each other from across the map.
Here’s where the problem arises: the bullet deviation in Battlefield 2042 is simply too severe. While intended to level the playing field between experienced players and casual gamers, more often than not the mechanic makes firefights feel like a coin toss. Assault rifles, which should have been a core component in Battlefield 2042‘s large maps, are near useless unless used in single-fire mode. Even former professional Counter-Strike player Shroud criticized the game’s excessive bloom.
One Redditor also outlined that there are a few bugs in the way damage drop-off distances are handled. This has resulted in the PP-29—a submachine gun—becoming the best gun in the game at mid-range. Compounding on this issue are some pretty egregious hitboxes on player models, which will either register hits that obviously aren’t landing, or not register hits that obviously are. This problem also extends to buildings and terrain. The result is that Battlefield 2042‘s gunplay feels unrewarding and cheap at any distance, be it close quarters or long-range.
The second issue is with the game’s maps. A majority of the maps featured in the All Out Warfare game mode are large. Too large. From what I can gather, the reason behind this design choice was to incentivize players to use vehicles. DICE succeeded in that regard but ended up sacrificing infantry gameplay in the process. If you were unable to nab a vehicle at the start of a match, you either have to hitch a ride on someone else’s or trek your way to the nearest capture point. Worse yet, you can’t even choose to spawn into a vehicle at the beginning of a match — even though you can do so after your first death.
Most maps also feature little to no cover or structures that infantry can utilize. Arguably the worst offender is Kaleidoscope, a majority of which is taken up by one large, flat park with a few tall buildings surrounding it. This may be great for those piloting vehicles but is a massive pain for infantry who have to hoof it to the nearest capture point, taking fire from opportunist snipers or zooming hovercraft equipped with miniguns. Even if you spawn in on a capture point, half the time it feels like the game haphazardly throws you in the middle of a firefight and in the enemy’s direct line of sight.
Long-range firefights boil down to coin toss sniping matches, while mid-range combat is ruined by a single dead-shot submachine gun or vehicles, with assault rifles rendered useless. What’s left of close-quarters combat can be described as a poor man’s rendition of Call of Duty. The only saving grace is the game’s new weather system, which adds an element of surprise by throwing tornados and hurricanes into the mix. While the weather itself isn’t actually that dangerous it clouds your vision and disables the minimap. And honestly, it just looks really cool.
Battlefield 2042 Review – We’ve Lost Visual
Somewhat lower on my list of priorities—and apparently on DICE’s too is Battlefield 2042‘s graphics. I’ve seen some pretty beautiful footage of the game on next-gen consoles and PC, albeit still a bit stuttery. Graphics on the PS4, however, don’t even come close. The game is marred by texture pop-in and low-poly character models every single time you load into a new match. On some occasions it takes upwards of five minutes for the environment and character graphics to load in, resulting in some admittedly hilarious scenes.
Personally, I took more of an issue with Battlefield 2042‘s handling of serious subject matter. The game’s entire premise revolves around a world torn apart by the effects of global climate catastrophe, with players put in the shoes of nationless mercenaries known as “No-Pats.” The world’s two remaining superpowers—surprise, it’s the United States and Russia—fight over resources and territory. To what end? We don’t know. But it’s a distinctly political statement, regardless of whether DICE intended to or not.
Yet, as some have pointed out on social media, the game does absolutely nothing to add to this atmosphere. Worse, it actively attempts to sabotage it with characters and lines that do not fit the tone of the game whatsoever. Keep in mind, these specialists are people who have lost their homes and countries, left adrift, and used as disposable soldiers in proxy wars because of global warming. Does it make any sense for these characters to be reveling in the glory of war? What is there left to be proud of, to be patriotic about?
Design Director Daniel Berlin said the premise was chosen “so [the devs] could create a narrative with this world that [the devs] could create through the eyes of the No-Pats,” but there’s little to no talk about any of the characters’ backgrounds. Compared to hero shooters like Apex Legends or even specialist shooters like Rainbow Six Siege, none of the specialist characters in Battlefield 2042 have any personality to speak of. In fact, it’s almost as if DICE didn’t actually care about their own game’s premise or characters.
If you’re looking to enjoy the next Battlefield title, turn back now. With the next patch not slated to arrive for another month, and the next content update to release some time after that, it’s going to be a while before 2042 can earn the right to be called a true Battlefield game. It’s best to wait until the smoke clears and DICE fixes any major bugs (maybe even wait for it to go on discount) before spending $70 on this game.
Battlefield 2042 review code provided by publisher. Reviewed on PS4. For more information, please read our Review Policy.