One of the best detective titles you’ll play and its story and voice-acting is a pure joy
Sherlock Holmes Chapter One Review... Elementary
As powerful as their desktop counterparts, we chat with Ian Tan, Gaming Lead, Lenovo Asia Pacific to talk about portable gaming’s rise.
We Speak to Lenovo’s About the Rise of Gaming Laptops
Where go in-depth on the new wired EPOS H6PRO Open Acoustic Gaming Headset from EPOS, whilst breaking down the difference between Open and Closed.
EPOS H6PRO Open Acoustic Gaming Headset Review
Tavern Master is a stress-free management game where you run the only medieval inn in town.
We Run a Fantasy Inn... Our Tavern Master Review
Battlefield 2042 Review In Progress
Post by nachosjustice @ 10:00pm 11/11/21 | Comments
A disparate offering of three core game modes makes for the most confusing Battlefield experience since Battlefield Hardline. Read on to learn why...


It’s that time again, when AusGamers recruits me out of review retirement to tackle another Battlefield game. Being the “Battlefield guy” is an interesting mantra: it’s seen me barred from Call of Duty events in the past by Activision because of a perceived anti-CoD bias, and it’s led me to reflect on whether I have a blind spot when it comes to my love for pretty much all things Battlefield.

After all, I did give 9+ scores to Battlefield 4 and Battlefield V at launch. Hell, I even liked Battlefield Hardline… well, the campaign at least. After multiple preview sessions and about an hour of multiplayer, it was clear that Hardline wasn’t the class-based, all-out-war experience I’ve come to love from a game with Battlefield in the title.

Still, you might reasonably call me a Battlefield apologist; where some have tinnitus, my ears ring with the Battlefield theme. But Battlefield Hardline and Battlefield 2142 aside, I’ve sunk countless hours into Battlefield games, from the Wake Island demo for Battlefield 1942 -- a begrudging console-only detour with the original Bad Company -- to the many thousands of hours from Bad Company 2 onwards.

There’ve been times that I’ve walked away. Sometimes for a new Battlefield game or for a couple of Battlefront detours. Or other times temporarily because of a prevalence of cheaters, technical issues or time-to-kill (TTK) shenanigans.

But, I’ve always come back.


All of the above is to contextualise how utterly disappointed I was by the Battlefield 2042 beta, and not because of the bugs I assumed would be (and mostly have been) fixed for launch, but because of a combination of odd anti-Battlefield design logic (no classes; WTF?) and the dreaded return of the seemingly baked-in repair systems and wealth of countermeasures for contemporary war vehicles.


All of the above is to contextualise how utterly disappointed I was by the Battlefield 2042 beta, and not because of the bugs I assumed would be (and mostly have been) fixed for launch, but because of a combination of odd anti-Battlefield design logic.




For the controlled review event, EA and DICE felt everyone who attended should be able to share their thoughts, experiences, and scores after what was supposed to be three four-hour sessions. Ultimately it turned out to be around 10 hours. What follows is reflective of that time. It’s also a rather large review in progress, and a tale of heartbreak. As much as my current negative feelings towards Battlefield 2042 make me want to score it based on the limited time given, there’s still more that I need to see. The review sessions were separated by mode, starting with All-Out War, before moving onto Hazard Zone and Portal.

So then, what’s changed between the open beta and release? And what’s Battlefield 2042 all about?

Part One: The Death of Class


On Battlefield 2042’s Specialists, and All-Out War Mode


Look at how they massacred my boy.

Battlefield 2042’s All-Out War mode is a hot mess. For some reason, EA decided it’d be a great idea to start with the incredibly lopsided Breakthrough mode before kicking off with old-faithful Conquest.

When did Breakthrough become a staple? Like my faux pas at the Battlefield 4 review event when I said that nobody plays Battlefield for the campaign in front of the Battlefield single-player producer (whoops), nobody really plays Battlefield for its modes outside of Conquest. Okay, okay, I’ll entertain a bit of Rush here (especially in Bad Company days), Frontlines was solid while it lasted, and I will never not be dirty about Firestorm being sent out to die, but Battlefield games live and die on their Conquest mode. Just look at Hardline and its player count on Steam Charts compared to Battlefield 4, Battlefield 1, and Battlefield V.


New Battlefield modes are a novelty but, at least in Oceania, Conquest is the mode that truly delivers the multi-frontline, frantic back-capping, for real all-out war experience. Breakthrough falls apart immediately by separating teams into attackers and defenders with a single defined frontline. Sectors are captured when the attacking team controls up to three points, but they have to control them simultaneously as defenders can recap. On paper, recapping isn’t bad, but considering how woefully balanced Breakthrough is in favour of defenders, the worst place to start in Battlefield 2042 is as an attacker in this mode.


Battlefield 2042’s All-Out War mode is a hot mess.



But, let's backtrack a bit. DICE has added preamble before matches kick off that offer some weak-sauce narrative context, which then awkwardly transitions into an attempted stylish drop-off for your squad. While this does buy time for slower machines to load before the round starts, it stops you from being able to tinker with your loadout. Which you’ll be doing a lot given how hard it is to find a decent primary weapon, let alone the right gear.

The class system is no more. That once-honed thing that went from too many to almost the right amount—Recon is still entirely optional in a series that’s pushed deeper and deeper into rewarding not just playing the objective, but playing on the objective—four classes made sense for a four-stack squad (stay out of it, Battlefield 1). That’s not to say that you needed to have one player per class, but you could, especially when Recon had a more defined team-supporting role to play in Battlefield V (despite my earlier dig).


Instead of classes, you now have Specialists, each of whom has a unique active ability and a passive ability. DICE calls this an evolution of class-based gameplay, but removing a core component of the teamwork pillar of the series feels like a massive misstep.

The rumours claim these Specialists were inspired by Call of Duty, but it feels more like they were inspired by Rainbow Six Siege. Siege’s current thrust away from realistic Operators notwithstanding, the trick that DICE has missed with its Specialists is that Siege Operators are built on core gameplay roles. For instance, there are multiple options for hard breachers and entry fraggers just as there are multiple choices for anchors and roamers. Battlefield 2042’s Specialists feel best when they conform to the core roles of the series: Assault, Medic, Support and Recon.

At launch, there are 10 Specialists in Battlefield 2042, and the better ones are those that logically fit into these roles. Falck revives friendlies to full health, can revive outside the squad and has pinched Doc’s health-granting gadget from Siege, so she’s the obvious Medic. Angel is a Medic/Support hybrid who revives faster (giving revived players armour). He also has a loadout-switching crate, which is a godsend if you have properly customised loadouts to take on threats around you (and when it actually works), but it’s mainly a blessing because players can now only pick one gadget to use. More on this soon.


After these Specialists, easy class categorisation gets murkier. Casper will be a fave with Recon players, but exchanging the enemy-spotting flares of Battlefield 1 and V with a drone you have to manually control feels like both a step backwards and a step closer to validating Recon players who camp waaaaay off the objective. Boris has a sentry gun which, coupled with the gun-toting dog drones that any player can call in during a round, adds to a momentum-shattering indirect-fire trend that’s as awkward as artillery’s role in Hell Let Loose.


Instead of classes, you now have Specialists, each of whom has a unique active ability and a passive ability. DICE calls this an evolution of class-based gameplay, but removing a core component of the teamwork pillar of the series feels like a massive misstep.



Irish has a wide deployable shield that stops bullets and nullifies explosives, so his class is… camper? Speaking of campers, I’d take a team of Irish players over one of the other new camper roles (thanks so much for creating a role that didn’t need to exist, DICE). Dozer has a shield that can seemingly block everything from basic bullets to tank rounds. This wouldn’t be so bad if it didn’t also reflect bullets. From experience, a Dozer in a corner is impossible to kill—more so because the destructibility has been toned down to what feels like below Battlefield 3 levels, so there are now indestructible corners—so your best strat is to just ignore them. Great. Look forward to that being abused in pub matches.

Rao can hack enemies who, if killed, reveal nearby enemies, but this is a clunky system whose reward was never worth the risk of the unarmed hacking phase in my time with him. More useful, at least, is his ability to hack items in the world, but Rao’s role still doesn’t slot into one of the main four classes. Worse is Paik who automatically tags any enemy who damages her and has a literal wall-hack ability, which has no place in any shooter let alone a Battlefield game.


The final two launch Specialists also don’t have a defined Battlefield class role to play, but they do painfully tease at new infantry mobility options that would be better served as permanent inclusions to the Battlefield 2042 gameplay loop. Mackay has a grappling hook which, when it works, equally boosts vertical movement, horizontal escapability and classy frag clip-sharing potential. Sundance has a wingsuit, which should also be a permanent fixture, and it ditches the need to use a parachute entirely. It also comes into its own in one of those rare instances when the map is torn up by a tornado (you can travel pretty much anywhere from the top of those).

But as touched on above, paradoxically, DICE has ditched the two-gadget logic of recent Battlefield games and relegated the second gadget to your Specialist ability. In practical terms, this means DICE has decided that a repair tool is just as important as a rocket launcher or, more importantly, that you either have to specialise in anti-air or anti-armour just as much as you have to choose between dropping a med crate or ammo. Health regenerates fast enough and the prevalence of Falck players somewhat nullifies the need for a med crate, but even if you take one for the team and run with an ammo crate, you’ll be disappointed. You’re quite literally better off redeploying when you’re out of explosives to come back with full ammo rather than waiting to painfully get a single rocket back after a slow cooldown.


It doesn’t help that vehicles take too many explosives to destroy, either, which is made all the more frustrating with a frustrating lack of meaningful damage feedback and the ugly, ugly presence of what appears to be regular dusting. While the damage info from Battlefield 1 and V was an inelegant solution for conveying how well or poorly players were damaging a vehicle, it at least acted as a training tool. In Battlefield 2042, it’ll tell you that you damaged a part but there’s no visual feedback on that damage nor does there appear to be any change in that vehicle’s behaviour.


It doesn’t help that vehicles take too many explosives to destroy, either, which is made all the more frustrating with a frustrating lack of meaningful damage feedback.



My biggest concern when the contemporary setting for Battlefield 2042 was announced was how DICE would handle tanks, choppers and jets. Battlefield 4 borders on unplayable nowadays when you’re being harassed by pilots and tankers whose vehicles are upgraded to the point where your destructive tools feel ineffective, plus they can just dip out of a fight and be back to full health in no time.

The good news for those who love ‘NO JETS’ servers for Battlefield 4 is the jets in Battlefield 2042 are basically useless, to the point where you don’t even waste a missile on them. Even the aces at the review event said as much after the first day. Choppers, though, are utterly painful. They’re too fast, too manoeuvrable and can get too many rounds/rockets down range before you’re aware of them (consistent vehicle sound is an issue). They also seemingly have a hack ability that lets them disable the movement and weapon functions of other vehicles as if they didn’t already have it easy enough. How fun!


Conquest at least offers a more positive view of the new maps, even if there’s too much open space between points. I do like that certain sectors now have multiple capture points, all of which must be capped for a team to control that sector and impact ticket bleed. But none of the seven launch maps feels particularly amazing or iconic. By upping the player count to 128 (on PC and next-gen consoles; it’s 64 for last-gen consoles), it led to bigger maps which, for an infantry main, meant more time moving between points.

Tactical sprint is a welcome inclusion, even if it’s better used in short bursts to dodge incoming fire, but the better way to address this is by calling in a vehicle. When it works. Unlike Battlefield V, which relegated such things to the squad leader, Battlefield 2042 lets anyone in the squad call in a vehicle. This is a nice pro-pub-server-player idea on paper but given the team restrictions to vehicle numbers, it means you have to be lucky with timing to call in a ride. Couple this with how painful vehicles can be to place and how exposed you are while doing it, and it’s often not worth the risk. You just wait for a dead squaddie to bring in a ride and blitz on out of there while you run at a speed that feels closer to jogging.

Speaking of dead squaddies, DICE has completely trashed the user interface. Not only is it cluttered to the point of distraction, it’s also unhelpful. Because of the lack of factions and easily identifiable uniforms, telling friend from foe when you’re down is nigh impossible. I still can’t tell whether you can ping while you’re waiting for a res. More frustratingly, you can’t tell which of your squadmates is dead until you’re dead, and there’s seemingly no on-screen warning when you’re the last squaddie alive.


When you want to spawn, there’s no POV camera for what your squadmates are looking at, and it all leads to squad wipes without those intense ‘only in Battlefield’ moments where you’re the last one alive, frantically trying to avoid combat so you can get your buddies back in the fight. The scoreboard, too, is a clunky mess that no longer provides a view of both teams and, instead, has an awkward squad-specific breakdown. Why DICE has thrown out so many of the positive and basic changes from Battlefield 1 and V is beyond me.


None of the seven launch maps feels particularly amazing or iconic. By upping the player count to 128 (on PC and next-gen consoles; it’s 64 for last-gen consoles), it led to bigger maps which, for an infantry main, meant more time moving between points.



There were bugs here and there, but nothing on par with the beta and nothing that fully tarnished the experience. Getting a stolen enemy tank stuck on something that it should’ve destroyed turned out to be more entertaining than frustrating, more so when an enemy chopper kindly shot me off my unintended perch. Reload bugs were frequent and terrible, whether I was constantly told to reload when I already had or when the gun seemingly hadn’t reloaded after the animation had finished. It’s underscored because guns reload at an arduous pace, seemingly ignoring the multi-stage reloads of previous Battlefield games that would continue a reload after an interruption rather than completely resetting it.

Bots have been improved from beta to launch but while they’re not the dummy free kills that plagued the beta, they now overcompensate with laser accuracy. One time, I was running out of spawn behind a tank and a lot of visual cover, and I took a pinpoint accurate shot to the chest. Other times, I’d be shot through smoke or that tiny bit of my character model showing would be pinged with by what later turned out to be a bot.


At least the bots know how to use the guns, because recoil is out of control but, strangely, only in All-Out War modes. The AK is unusable beyond point-blank ranges and LMGs basically force you to go prone for sustained controllable fire. Damage drop-off for the assault rifles feels unnecessarily punishing to the point where even mid-range kills become a mess of hit markers and occasional frags.

Speaking of hit markers, Battlefield 2042 now has armour, which is also another gadget option to choose from, and it completely throws out the muscle memory for a time-to-kill that’s all over the place and has moments of inconsistent hit rego. Perhaps mercifully, the limited arsenal size makes it easy to rotate between weapons without feeling overwhelmed, even if it’s tricky to settle on a favourite that feels genuinely good rather than just feeling better than the others. In short, the tight gunplay of Battlefield 1 and V has been abandoned in favour of something that genuinely seems to lean into bad aim.

What also warrants mentioning is how poorly optimised All-Out War is. There’s something horribly, horribly wrong here, in a way that I’ve never had to think about with a DICE game at launch. My PC is comfortably above the recommended settings—an i7-8700K (overclocked to 4.6GHz), 32GB of DDR RAM at 3200MHz and a GeForce RTX 3070 Ti—and it was struggling to consistently get 80fps. Performance degraded throughout the match, too, and it dropped below 60fps but felt like 40fps. Worse still, similar issues were being reported by other players in the session with better specs than my PC. I didn’t have any of these performance issues in the beta.


Dropping the resolution from 1440p to 1080p didn’t seem to result in meaningful gains or consistent fps, nor did dropping the graphical presets from high to low or putting DLSS on Ultra Performance. I also had some heinous issues where neither keyboard or mouse commands would register either for a half-second or at times for a few seconds. It’s also weird to type out loud, but even on high settings at 1440p, Battlefield 2042 is not up to the stunning standard I’ve come to expect from Frostbite games (at least not in this mode).


What also warrants mentioning is how poorly optimised All-Out War is. There’s something horribly, horribly wrong here, in a way that I’ve never had to think about with a DICE game at launch.




Still, there is fun to be had in Conquest under the right conditions. If you have a competent squad and you’re rolling between objectives, taking names, rolling enemy squads and sinking into that glorious momentum of PTFO gameplay, there’s fun to be had. And while even a broken clock gets the time right a couple of times a day, I’ll be testing this more once early access servers go live. I can’t say I’m looking forward to it, but I hope that the potential can shine through with more playtime.



Continue Reading Part Two Of Our Massive Review In Progress


Read more about Battlefield 2042 on the game page - we've got the latest news, screenshots, videos, and more!



Latest Comments
No comments currently exist. Be the first to comment!
You must be logged in to post a comment. Log in now!