If you are new to Battlefield, then you’re in for a very different FPS experience. Not because you don’t shoot guns or drive vehicles like other games, but because of the absolutely large-scale spectacle that the franchise focuses on for multiplayer. That doesn’t always mean everything is good, but it’s a unique flavor, and Battlefield 2042 looks to bring things back to the modern era. But are things different this time?
It’s literally token Battlefield…
The answer to that question at its core is simply “not much”. It’s literally token Battlefield, and the large-scale warfare may see newer players easily confused. There is quite a level of insanity to 128 players on the field, and it remains its own unique theater of war. If anything, it’s probably as close to reality as it gets. One core change, though, is that they’ve tightened and sped up the shooting/movement mechanics to feel a little more “CoD”-like. This actually turns out to be good: shooting is now faster and more frenetic, but still rewards trigger discipline. You can play it like Call of Duty, but someone will pick you off and punish you from mid-range distances or further, thus effectively encompassing both the close-quarters twitch shooting of CoD with the longer-range engagements of Battlefield. Then there’s the vehicles, and while completely logical that they provide a major tactical advantage, newer players may find themselves at odds with them and not know how to focus on taking them out. But they are what serve the greater flavor of the game, and they’re as fun as they ever were… except the flying. For some reason, they’ve targeted a controller scheme for piloting which has put me off from piloting on KBM (keyboard-mouse). I’m sure I can get used to it, but it seemed like an odd change to make when piloting on KBM in BF3 was so much easier and intuitive. In summary, it plays like a faster, tighter Battlefield game in which its flavor of chaos remains uniquely its own. For newer players, though, it can take at least 10+ hours to really grasp the chaos, and progression is required to get access to the fun toys to customize your loadouts with.
…they have not fleshed out anything else, yet.
On the topic of time, I put plenty in before making this review: 40+ hours. And here’s the thing: content is the game’s weakest area by far. While I appreciate the obvious potential in Battlefield Portal, it’s currently a side-show novelty. Albeit hopping in and playing BF3 was fun, but the lack of overall maps (where’s my naval map?!) and modes is nerve-wracking considering prior entries focused on custom-game servers. There’s just not a whole lot to play other than their main modes of Conquest and Breakthrough simply because they have not fleshed out anything else, yet. Quite simply, it’s currently worth a fraction of its $60 price tag.
…viewing the spectacle, it’s still impressive…
If you’re on PC, you’ve got to have pretty decent hardware to max things out, and that’s because there are times when you’ve got somewhere around 80 people vying for a single capture point. And while the graphics themselves are not wholly impressive and clearly target current gen consoles, I realize that the headroom was needed once I was in the thick of it. When taking a step back and viewing the spectacle, it’s still impressive along with some of the best weather effects I’ve ever seen in an FPS (and the hilarity of watching hovercrafts get sucked up in the tornados). What holds it back despite its impressive physics (and improved feel of firing a powerful shell from a tank) are its numerous bugs and glitches. It needs quite a bit more polish, and kindly ignoring the server issues that inherently go away over time, it’s 2021 and we should expect our games to come out with a higher degree of polish thanks to modern game development tools. Having said that, I noticed I did suffer a lower number of issues than most, and that leans towards a simple statement: your mileage may vary. Sometimes it’s the game, and other times it’s simply your potato PC.
I feel a sort of pity for this game…
I’m at odds, here. It doesn’t really do much new, but its formula is still unique on its own. I’m not going to get this multiplayer vehicular insanity anywhere else. I still had fun, and there really are “only in Battlefield” moments that put a smile on my face for besmirched reasons. But the absolutely lacking content means it’s going to be awhile before this game even comes close to justifying its price and many players may fall off by then. Furthermore, while I acknowledge that there are definitely bugs and glitches, it’s simply missing an extra layer of polish that, again, may simply come too late for many players. I feel a sort of pity for this game: it’s fun, unique, chaotic, and also wholly missing the mark in its own potential.