We take a look at the final version of Battlefield 2042, the latest installment in the EA DICE franchise, coming November 19 to PS5, PS4, Xbox, and PC.
Battlefield 2042 comes to the end of the journey. After a few months where it gradually shed its main pillars, the title of EA DICE has already allowed us to fight in its long-awaited final version. During our open beta impressions we said it: “Glimpses of a great delivery.” At times it is exceptional. When the pieces fit together, you feel like you’re in the franchise that stole so many hours from you in the last couple of decades. However, some shadows remain . Shadows that darken too much what we asked of a saga that required a great hit on the table.
Hazard Zone and Battlefield Portal keep a competitive multiplayer afloat that requires several decisions: balance, greater content and measure. Battlefield has always lived with chaos, a double-edged sword that allows for those unique moments, but mishandled can have the opposite effect. 2042 falls into uncontrolled chaos, especially in Advance. Sometimes because of the funnel effect; in others, due to the lack of impact of your performance in battle. It is difficult for a squad to make a difference, both in terms of the number of players and the size of the playable area.
Conquest and Advancement, how have they evolved in 2042?
To speak of Conquest mode is to speak of Battlefield in capital letters. Since Battlefield 1942 it has served as a battlefield for millions and millions of games. Within the community is the heart, a main ingredient for players who remain attached to the brand. The objective is simple: capture flags and hold them longer than the rival. That easy. Given the expansion of the maps and users per game, which amounts to 128 on PS5, Xbox Series X | S and PC (64 remain in the last generation), the team has made important decisions when addressing a departure.
The maps are now divided by sectors, thematic places that revolve around a point of interest , which depending on their size can house between one and three capture points. In practice they function as small independent maps where all the action converge. During the crossings between points, however, the combat is diluted. For a team to control a sector, it must take control of all the zones of influence within it.
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The feelings are positive when the situation is favorable. For example, the Hourglass skyscraper area is bustling . Attacking or defending on rooftops almost always maintains a very high pace, but it does not stay that way on the rest of the map. Sectors where only one capture point is found is almost always empty. The same scenario shows the opposite example. The town in the center of the map and the northern highway are barely moving. And when there is combat it is only at long distance, grass for snipers or some tank lost in the dunes.
This is where one of the problems we found in Battlefield 2042 arises. As we said at the beginning, a well-communicated squad that performs well does not make a difference. There are so many platoons that the only thing you can do is find the least crowded place and pray that a colleague will come to your aid. The franchise has always lived in some form of visual language. With 64 players the combat was better measured. You lost a flag and you already had at least two patrols fighting to get it back under control. With 128 players and the current size it is unsustainable in most of the 7 launch maps. Players look for the places where the fun is, where the encounters are best designed around one point. Loss and capture warnings are constantly coming in, so many that it breaks coordination.Losing a position is not as painful as it used to be .
Something similar happens in Advance, although we are not convinced by the position of the reappearance of both teams with respect to the capture areas. Maps like Hourglass or Renewal make the attacker much easier. In a matter of seconds you can see the arrival of rival tanks to your position without being able to do anything to stop it. They are too close . Nor did we expect to suffer deaths so soon since the reappearance of the defenders’ headquarters. There have been few occasions that we have found, literally, a squad of snipers just 100 meters away, without any cover to protect us. This is especially evident in Discarded, the map set in India. A large horizontal esplanade with hardly any interiors and vegetation.
We are clear about the maps that stand out above the rest. Rupture and Kaleidoscope are the strongest in both modes. They offer vertical combats, with very varied and differentiated areas. Refineries, camps, tall buildings, crossings between them… They are really good. Renewal works best in Conquest, while Hourglass offers too many contrasts. Orbital is average, it allows good combat at the cost of an irregular tuning between the capture zones. Discard and Manifest are pretty poor. Maps too horizontal, especially the first one. Only the central area, where the ship is located, offers some crumb. In general, vehicle combat is satisfactory, given the number of battleships per session. Of course, we do not find much sense to the request by air. We have never been able to order a tank there due to lack of availability. Only the robot dog is the only one that is more commonly found.
The dynamic changes of the weather are not the gamechanger that was assumed. The tornado occupies a not too large area that is moving around the map. It is very easy to avoid it, in our games we have had to run towards them on purpose to know its effects. The interface starts to flash, as a foot soldier it picks you up and takes some damage off you while you stay in it, and then shoots off in any direction. Its appearance is anecdotal in the playable, despite being a visual effect that gives packaging to the game . Because the muscle of the new version of Frostbite is present. It is not a generational leap, but it is a pleasant game to look at, especially when a multitude of effects appear on the screen.
There are other effects that have an impact on the gameplay, such as a sandstorm that progressively hides the entire Hourglass. There it does seriously affect the visibility of the players, the sound of the sand hitting and the movements of the camera force you to look for the capture areas where they have interiors. Even from the respawn view you can see the arena arriving in real time. The surprising thing is that the storm barely lasts a few minutes of departure . It disappears like nothing.
Weapons of the (near) future
We are direct: 22 throwing weapons seem too few to us . From day one we will see only 4 assault rifles, 4 submachine guns, 2 light machine guns, 3 scout rifles, 3 sniper rifles, 3 shotguns and 3 belt guns. It could be argued that if they have large differences between them, few are better than many similar ones. The problem is that this is not the case. Without going any further, the M5A3 assault rifle is the best weapon of its bunch by far. And as happened in Battlefield 3 with the M16A3, it will be the first you have in your hands. It is followed by the SFAR-M GL, a curious variant of the Scar-H that has remained in much of the modern deliveries. It has attached a grenade launcher that allows you to shoot smoke, fire or fragmentation grenades.
During games it is not appreciated that the entire arsenal is especially useful. Battlefield 2042 shootouts are essentially medium to long range, between low-static targets. Shotguns make little sense in both modes, not even in Advance, where more fit is assumed. Scout Rifles lag behind in damage to a Semi-Auto Assault Rifle or Sniper Rifle . Some submachine guns are seen, such as the K30 (which acts as Véctor) and PP-29 (Bizon), but less than the other two mentioned and the light machine guns.
The number of accessories varies depending on which weapon we choose. The study has incorporated a function that did not appear in the beta, and is the possibility of customizing them before reappearing. Both there and in the main menu we can select with which accessories we want to mold its basic version, as well as fill the remaining gaps of the gaps of the ingame quick change function. This addition drastically changes the perception we have of the construction of a weapon. Added in versatility , it works in an agile and fast way, without transitions that suppose the break with the action.
We take the AK-24 assault rifle as an example. This has 14 sights, 6 magazines, 12 lower accessories and 8 barrels. Among the magazines are ballistic modifications that change the power of the bullets. Maybe you want to turn it into an anti-vehicle weapon, penetrating its armor and light materials in exchange for losing damage to the infantry. On the one hand, the modifications are extensive, somewhat deeper than in previous installments, but less significant than in direct competition. On the other, it doesn’t always stay that way. We sometimes find cannons or silencers doubled in performance ; they only allow aesthetic changes. We wish all modifications had unique advantages and disadvantages.
The specialists, an obvious problem
The arrival of the specialist system is an obvious blow to the formula at all levels. We say goodbye to traditional classes to control unique operators, with identifying features that “evolve”, according to the study, the structure that we all know. The reality is that their arrival does not have the desired effect. They do not come to expand team collaboration, but instead create a deeper gap between individuality and collective play .
It was one of the points that we already noticed in our impressions of the open beta. Users by nature play with the character whose abilities offer better advantages than others. Webster Mackay and his hook, Ji-Soo Paik and his threat scanner, Santiago Mendoza and his ballistic shield … Already in the trailer where the last specialists were presented we saw that the Korean threat detector gave too much advantage. Playing it confirmed the fears.
Few embody Falck, perhaps the only specialist who plays the role of physician firmly. In some way each of these characters is derived from one of the classes of all life, but not having gadgets tied to their role makes them excessively free . Any of them can access not only all the utensils, but the entire weapon groups. This decision further influences the arrival of this new system.
The engineering and support classes are completely gone. The number of health and ammo boxes that are seen during the games is significantly lower than the rest of the deliveries . Repair tools? Zero. The highest percentage of players prefer to equip themselves with a rocket launcher. Very few claim to help their peers because they seek to improve their individual possibilities.
The error of the concept is obvious with an example. Those who want to play as a sniper do not use the characters linked to reconnaissance, like Casper. A nearby threat detector is useless for someone who is away from shootings. Its utility is residual. Players prefer to use the assault character, Webster Mackay, to reach heights only possible with the hook. In this way they achieve a panoramic view of the sniper rifle battle at the ready. The logic of Battlefield is broken everywhere. The most mobile character ends up playing the most static role . Seeing is believing.
During our games to Battlefield Portal, the place where remastering of a selection of installments converge, we have found more collaboration than in the entire multiplayer of 2042. Reliving in Battlefield 3 is a pleasure . You charge your defibrillator and raise your partner instantly, without weird animations. Even in Bad Company 2 you use the tool for its true purpose, repairing vehicles! It is, again, evident that when you force people to use the marked utensils of a role, they act in favor of the team.
Hazard Zone: risking has its reward
One of the pillars of the offer is in Hazard Zone, of which we learned its details in depth just a few weeks ago. This mode allows 32 players (24 on PS4 and Xbox One) to fight in squads to obtain a series of data scattered around the map, to later complete the extraction safely. The playable contrast with the multiplayer All-Out Warfare is total : here we find more controlled shootings and the need to collaborate for the good of the squad .
The loop of the game is clear from the first moment. You arrive at a random area on a map riddled with crashed satellites. Your duty is to secure the data pads that are on them. The more you extract, the greater rewards you will get . In the initial phase, these places are usually defended by artificial intelligence agents, who protect the rubble of your squad and the rest of the squads.
There is a palpable tension from the moment you step off the helicopter. You must bear in mind that threats are just around the corner. An area with a higher number of satellites will be a treat for the other players, who will not hesitate for a second to pull the trigger. It is a serious mode, unforgiving even from the combat against the AI. They are precise enemies. They detect you from quite a distance. Their behavior leaves a little to be desired when making decisions around them, but if you are careless they can easily knock you over.
One of the two main events begins around the halfway point of the game. The first extraction will begin so that those who wish to can leave with the data obtained. There is only one shuttle at a time, so squads must fight to stay inside it at the end of time. Those who want to (or cannot make a hole) can continue playing in search of more data. When this flight is completed, other satellites will begin to crash with the most valuable pads so far . Being virgins the AI ??has not yet compromised them. When they hit, a race against time begins between squads, CPU invaders and your teammates.
We live it in our own flesh. We located red smoke coming from one of these satellites. At that time we started looking for a vehicle request by air. A few minutes later we managed to get one; after getting on we headed to the place. However, while we were traveling, we witnessed the passing of a plane that left at least 12 figures parachuted around. We followed the marked course thinking that we would be faster than the invaders. Big mistake. While we got the data at the time, their weaponry was considerably more advanced than ours. Little by little we fell until the last one stopped breathing.
Because equipping yourself before the mission is essential to facilitate success. By mining data or taking down enemies, you will earn a specified number of Black Market Credits at the end of the game , the exclusive currency of Hazard Zone. With it you can buy equipment before embarking again. Weapons, tools, advantages … If you die, you lose them, but the remaining credits will remain safe. It should be noted that a platoon cannot repeat a specialist, and that at least one of them must have the data scanner equipped, which is vital to identify their locations.
In our experience we believe that the metagame is somewhat out of balance. It is very easy to get credits as soon as you are skilled in the game, even just by killing AI invaders. You see your amount of credits skyrocket, and the only way to spend them is by securing another team for the next game. There is no incentive to continue playing , something that hooks and motivates to continue. There is enormous potential in this mode. The concept is clear, it works well. Here the team offers a vision of Battlefield different from the rest of the pillars. Collaboration, communication and teamwork are encouraged for the common good.
A portal to nostalgia
But where this installment shines with its own light is in Battlefield Portal. If you are a fan of the franchise you will play with a smile when you discover the work remastering Battlefield 1942, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and Battlefield 3 . It is the experience most faithful to the roots of the saga, a celebration of the past that feels more current than ever. The deep mode editor is even in the background to the excellent transfer of such disparate deliveries to today.
Conquest at El Alamein is exactly how you remembered it, only now you play it with Frostbite’s graphical boost and certain quality of life improvements. It is pure Battlefield. You capture a flag fighting face to face with the rest of the opposing team, while watching the reinforcements rush through the dunes behind the mobile covers offered by the tanks. Or an Assault session in Puerto de Arica, from Bad Company 2, where even those responsible have respected the playable style so characteristic of the original.. That respect for the work is transferred to the other two, even in sound effects. We would like all the weaponry to be available, but the current selection is quite generous. Six classic maps will be available from day one, two for each game: The Battle of the Ardennes, Valparaiso, Caspian Frontier, Noshahr Channels and the two previously mentioned, El Alamein and Puerto de Arica.
But this pillar goes beyond a meeting point between fans. Its powerful editor , including the logic part, allows you to design custom modes of all kinds between any of the contents of the four Battlefields that participate in the delivery. One of the modes to which we had access was the classic defends the VIP, only this time the twist was in a combat between the weapons of World War II against the modern Bad Company 2. In another, instead, he faced 32 players in a free-for-all match.
We are clear that the community will find in Battlefield Portal a place of communion, where everyone agrees that the content they play is at a very high level. With more classic maps and other deliveries that may arrive as the seasons go by, Electronic Arts has a golden opportunity to make this pillar have its own identity , to gain weight as a meeting point between games, among those products that hooked us for so many hours.