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First and foremost, Battlefield 2042 looks great. It looks stunning, there is no way of downplaying how visually interesting a lot of the new maps are. Breakaway is my personal favourite, a map set in Antarctica - you can almost feel the crisp and biting air around you as you fight your way across a snowy tundra. Inevitably, depending on your preferences - sand or grass, closed or open space, and general map verticality - everyone will have differing opinions on the original maps coming to 2042, especially when it comes down to which modes you prefer.
Here is the trailer for Battlefield 2042...
Depending on the mode you’re playing, you can go from having the time of your life to being bored, getting spawn camped, and ultimately incredibly frustrated with your situation. The first game-type present during Battlefield 2042’s carefully managed multiplayer review event was Breakthrough - a point-to-point capture mode where one side attacks and the other defends. Attackers have a limited number of troops while defenders’ ranks are unlimited - take the map and the attackers win, deplete enemy reinforcements and the defenders win. Simple enough. And also good fun. There are good choke points, plenty of close calls, and just the right amount of frustration or relief as you get stuck into a long firefight.
Conquest also comes under the game’s All-Out Warfare umbrella, and is another mode that is basically what it says on the tin. Fight for points, deplete your enemy’s reinforcements, shoot and aim your gun, fire. Simple enough, and although this mode is inevitably where a lot of the sillier content in Battlefield 2042 will go on, it feels less focused and fun than Breakthrough.
Then there is Hazard Zone. This squad-based mode is best described as an alternative to Crytek's Hunt: Showdown. Teams of four deploy onto the map with the objective of finding data drives. All teams can see the location of these drives with the right gadget, which means you’re going head to head to compete for them. That’s actually the simple part - the hard part is extraction. Two extractions will happen during the course of the game, and you need to be on one or you fail. It doesn’t matter how many kills you have, or if you’ve collected every piece of data on the map - what’s important is being on the chopper that’s getting you out. This is the sweatiest and most focused mode in Battlefield 2042. It feels less like Battlefield and a little more like a Tom Clancy game, but if you’re up for the challenge, this mode could be good fun for the right group.
And then there is Battlefield Portal. Portal is like EA and DICE dumping the history of Battlefield in one place for you to mess around with. It’s where the new tech and visuals of 2042 meet the classic mechanics, maps, and weaponry of the series’ past. And it’s safe to say that this is the best part of Battlefield 2042.
If you’re looking for the game to remind you of how it felt to fight on Battle of the Bulge or Caspian Border, why not just play those maps again? Battlefield 1942, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, and Battlefield 3 Classic are all included in Portal’s experience and they’re all excellent. Playing them feels almost exactly like the old Battlefield games, just reborn with hyper-crisp visuals and a new UI.
Portal is also where other custom games can be created and curated. I can’t say too much about how this works, as we didn’t get a go at making our own modes, we just played EA’s during the review period. But players will be able to make all sorts of game modes here, and it’s really up to each fan to utilise these elements to their heart’s content.
Battlefield 2042 will succeed, and feel good, because of its players - that’s you. The history of the franchise is about seeing a guy jump out of a jet to fire a rocket launcher to take down a helicopter before landing back in a jet. That’s Battlefield. It’s about all your mates hopping in a tank and laughing as you relentlessly run over your enemies. The most fun I had during the review period was in a custom game EA handed us, and asked us to jump five times to fire a rocket. Instead, my group decided that it was time to kill enemies with defibrillators and repair tools. It’s the stupid, nonsensicle, downright silly things that will make this game good - and the custom modes fans will make are certain to drive that side of its appeal.
Battlefield 2042 will split opinion. Some will love the new stuff, others will hate it. Some will use it as a gateway to get the biggest nostalgia hit they can. The game EA and DICE have created here is more like a toolset to make your own fun than a great game in its own right. Does that make it a good game if it relies so much on community involvement? We’ll find out when it launches to Xbox Game Pass and EA Play members on November 12, and onto PlayStation and PC on 19 November 2021.
Pros: customisable options for maps and modes, visually stunning
Cons: longevity will only be guaranteed by the game’s community, which is impossible to determine at review, not every new mode is a winner
For fans of: Battlefields of old, Call of Duty, Hunt: Showdown
Battlefield 2042 was tested on PC in set multiplayer sessions arranged by the publisher.
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