Battlefield 2042

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Battlefield 2042 review
Thomas Mikkelsen


Hitting the battlefield again

Sometimes it just works

I had the privilege of working in the games industry as a developer for a few years and it's funny how often you hear: "you never know what's going to work." Those who make it are as surprised by their success as those who don't about their failure.

When discussing our projects, we came to the conclusion that for a game to be successful, especially indie games, you need to pour your heart into it and make a game you want to play. And if you're lucky when you launch your game, the world will be aching for exactly what you've just made. Millions of players will be looking for the same kind of game you were when you started making it, whether or not they know it.

I've been complaining about the Battlefield series for years. To me, it went off a cliff with Battlefield 3 and has been in freefall since. Why? Because it's alienated the core fanbase of the original Battlefield: 1942 and Battlefield 2. Through progression rewards that fundamentally tip the scales in favour of players who can afford to spend more time with the game, it turns those of us who can't (many of us who waited in line outside stores to buy Battlefield: 1942 on launch day are grey-bearded dads now) are little more than cannon fodder to 14-year-olds.

But totally by accident, and probably without intending to, the game gives you something absolutely brilliant. Something I've been looking for for years and I bet many of you have, too. As an afterthought, Battlefield 2042 gives you the purest multiplayer shooter experience since BF: 1942... as a free extra bonus.

Battlefield 2042 actually tries to do things differently. It adds 128-player epic battles, epic scale maps, and a plethora of new gadgets to liven up the game, but it's all just a bit too much. It reeks of the same problems I listed above. Player progression is rewarded in a way that the ones who spend the most time with the game become so overpowered, we busy dads with careers stand no chance. Of course, I know I won't be able to consistently beat someone when they've played 50 hours and I've only done 10. That's fair. But when that difference is compiled on top of abilities, weapons, gadgets, and features a lot more powerful than what I have access to... it becomes infuriating.

Set in a hypothetical near-future, Battlefield 2042 sees the world in chaos. Smaller, more fragile democracies have tumbled, leaving the great powers bickering over strategic resources. You play as a non-patriated specialist soldier serving as a mercenary for either the US or Russian governments. These No-Pats come equipped with neat gadgets like a robotic dog, a wingsuit, turrets, and a healing pistol, to name just a few. Add to this the ability to call in vehicle air-drops, and you have what sounds like an awesome, liberating, empowering experience.

But sometimes it doesn't

The trouble is... when you have 128 players on a map - each a fully decked-out supersoldier able to drop automatic turrets and release bullet-spewing hounds or wingsuit themselves across the map in a few seconds - you'll die a lot. And most of the time, you'll have no idea why. The frustration that follows is born out of a sense of randomness. 'Cause when you're bested by someone, a part of you respects them. Even if you're pissed, gamer recognises gamer. But when you're operating in a cloud of bullets, chances are one's going to pass through your location. And when the reason you die is 'chance,' you can't learn from it. You can't use it to better your strategy. All it does is piss you off.

In addition to this, the game was virtually unplayable at launch. Glitches made HUD elements disappear (try shooting a tank with no crosshairs), a car wouldn't stick to the ground, attachments didn't get applied to my weapons, and the UI, in general, was an indecipherable maze. Not to mention that the game was so poorly optimised, my relatively OK machine armed with a GTX 1650 played like a slideshow. The only part of the game I could play, and even that was after halving the resolution and turning all visual enhancements off, was the Battlefield Portal. Turns out, that's the best part of the whole game.

The Battlefield Portal is a feature that allows players to create custom experiences and share them with the community. This includes the maps and armaments of Battlefield: 1942, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, and Battlefield 3. Some of the most popular servers are dedicated to the pure Battlefield: 1942 experience and Bad Company 2 vs. Battlefield 3. After giving the pure 2042 experience a deserved try, I've stopped playing it completely. 1942 had one gun per class and while I don't have time to be the best, I get kills. And when I get killed, I know how I messed up. After about 30 minutes of play, I'm no longer embarrassing myself. The same goes for Bad Company 2 and BF: 3. They're pure, unpolluted by add-ons, unlockables, and features designed to give those who can play more or pay more an unfair edge. They're what Battlefield once was and what I've been looking for for years.

Stick with what does work

I love Battlefield 2042 for giving me that feeling again. I love it for giving me the nostalgia of flying my Spitfire across El Alamein and jumping out of the plane behind enemy lines. I love Battlefield 2042 for everything it gives me other than Battlefield 2042. The score above would probably have been higher if 2042 wasn't wasting space on my hard drive right now.

Please note that this review may be more favourable than most as it's written based on Update #3. The update fixed many glitches and provided a smoother experience for low-mid tier PCs.


fun score


Portal allows you to play classic Battlefield 1942, Bad Company 2, and Battlefield 3 matches on a new engine.


Pretty much everything else