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It's no secret that the Battlefield franchise has struggled for form in the last few years. Direct rival Call Of Duty has become the superior experience for many, with both Modern Warfare and Warzone cementing it as many people's go-to FPS experience. Even accounting for the general lukewarm reception of Black Ops Cold War, it's clear that Battlefield (alongside developers DICE and publisher EA) needs a big win with Battlefield 2042.
The game's full announcement and reveal has been met enthusiastically by fans, who have been in awe of the first trailer which you can watch right here. The idea of 128-player maps on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and PC has people seriously excited, despite the fact that there will be no single-player campaign for the game - its story instead being told through the use of seasons.
So what about the actual gameplay? Let's take a look at the newest trailer, released today:
The use of seasons, battle passes, weapon loadouts, specialist operators and massive sandbox maps all sound very much like the Battle Royale experience. Games like Call of Duty: Warzone, Fortnite and Apex Legends all incorporate some, or all, of these ideas into their DNA. But, during a behind-closed-doors preview of the above trailer we attended, EA and DICE were very keen to imprint on us that this is not a Battle Royale experience. So, what is it?
In short, it is a hybrid. A mixture of the formula perfected by the above games, with a big slug of classic Battlefield bourbon stirred through. Battlefield 2042 will eventually have three distinct modes. All-Out Warfare will include classic Conquest games, as well as Breakthrough which is described as a tug-of-war style mode. Hazard Zone will focus mostly on squad gameplay, while a third mode will be announced during EA Play on July 22. All of these, it's expected, will play mostly the same, from a gameplay perspective.
Gone are the classes (recon, support, assault and medic) that players will be familiar with, and in their place will be Specialists. These Specialists will each have a unique ability and secondary gadget for players to utilise, such as quicker movement speed, a pistol that can heal teammates, or a scanner drone. But players will be able to choose their own primary weapons to suit their play style.
In theory, this would create a plethora of unique classes, each with distinct strengths and weaknesses against each other. In practice, it will be interesting to see if there are any meta-breaking builds that pop up, effectively nullifying all different styles of play. If EA and DICE get the balance right, we could very well see some of the most satisfying character class ownership in the FPS genre.
What's perhaps more exciting, though, is the way weapon attachments work. In other games, you set up your loadout before the game starts, depending on how you think you want to play. Sniper rifles, assault rifles and sub-machine guns all work very differently with different attachments on them, which can drastically change the way you approach a combat situation. But what if there was another way?
The real game-changer, for me, is in how Battlefield 2042 is handling these attachments. Instead of sorting your loadout before a game and then being locked to it, or swapping to a different loadout when you die, you'll be able to change weapon attachments in the field. Say you're using an assault rifle geared toward long range encounters, but your squad is currently ambushing another team holed up in a building. You'll be able to swap to a more useful set up with a few presses of buttons, changing things like barrel length, sights and magazine sizes to better suit your needs.
This has the potential to completely change the way we readily approach a combat situation. It means neither attackers nor defenders are ever truly safe (or as safe as you can be in the middle of a 128-player battle) because anybody could use any weapon configuration to overcome you.
The potential for Battlefield 2042 is obvious, but at the moment success stands on something of a knife's edge. It will rely on DICE and EA being reactive to how people are playing the game. If they can stay on top of this, while keeping players engaged throughout its planned seasonal updates, we could be looking at, in my opinion, the new way to play FPS games. Battlefield 2042 will release 22nd October 2021 on PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One and PC.
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