Star Rating:

Battlefield 2042

Platforms: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series XS, PS4, PS5

Release Date: Friday 19th November 2021

Play Modes: Online Multiplayer

Genre(s): War

Who would want to be a game developer in the wake of 'Fortnite'? It's not merely enough to release a FPS with a decent campaign and a selection of memorable maps, players now demand and expect more to be added to a game.

It seems not even the riches of EA can answer this problem, and in their latest attempt to make their 'Battlefield' franchise the next smash hit shooter franchise it eroded the identity of its venerable FPS series for the sake of catching up to rivals.

Previous games in the 'Battlefield' series can be characterised by its chaotic sweeping battles, and with modern console technology having 63 other teammates rush into the fray as the music swells is one of those great gaming moments designed to hit the endorphin receptors.

The most substantial change to the 'Battlefield' formula is the addition of unscripted weather events that change the map.

Every so often, a massive tornado will spawn on the map - it usually gives players enough advance notice to get out of the way, but for unsavvy players, the map will darken and suddenly find themselves facing down a tornado that takes up the length of the screen.

In the unscripted moments like that, where players do their best Tom Cruise impression to try outrun a force of nature, the game truly shines.

Some players may decide to drive their vehicle directly into the storm to give them a boost and transport them to another area of the map, or other players may take advantage of the worsening weather conditions to disguise themselves.

Brave players can use the weather effects to their advantage to traverse the maps

It is organic, unscripted gameplay at its very best and the one area of the game that's an unambiguous hit.

The series' trademark destruction is also in full display, with one map featuring an exploding rocket that dwarves explosions seen in the films of Michael Bay.

'Battlefield' games are at their best in those improvised, organic moments and the latest entry provides plenty of those thrills and spills.

The Hazard Mode also puts a bit of life in the games cheeks and is a novel addition to the genre, but will probably be lost in the shadow of the traditional Conquest mode.

Where the game falls apart is in pretty much every other department.

Class Division

'Battlefield 2042' commits a cardinal sin of the franchise; don't mess with the classes.

Previous games in the franchise had a wide range of classes but to chase after 'Call Of Duty' and 'Rainbow Six' players now choose from different "specialists".

There are 10 specialists to choose from and are variations of the traditional Assault, Support, Recon and Medic classes, but thereupon lies the major problem with the game; it's trying to be something it's not.

EA and Dice certainly hope that players pick a favourite specialist for sweet revenue and word-of-mouth marketing purposes, but in the process, the game loses a major part of its identity.

If you happen to pick Boris, your teammate picks Boris, and 3 other players on the other side pick Boris, the difference between friend and foe becomes wafer-thin.

Get used to seeing a lot of Boris

In the heat of battle, you don't have that extra half-second to tell one team from the other leading to needless countless death and the game becomes an exercise in frustration in the process.

The initial epic 64 player rush at the start of matches is rarely replicated in moment-to-moment gameplay.

If there is one thing we would recommend picking up 'Battlefield 2042' for, it's Portal mode.

The mode allows 128 players to play on old series maps from the likes of 'Bad Company 2' or 'Battlefield 3' and tearing up small maps with 2021 graphics and technology is in a word, an absolute joy.

Loading up Noshahr Canals from 'Battlefield 3' and letting it rip with a full server is as fun as shooters get, with the added player count on a small map cultivating an experience halfway between 'Squid Game' and 'Uncut Gems'.

The Portal mode will be the games saving grace and we'd recommend the game based on the strength of that mode alone.

EA would do well to put their eggs into the Portal mode basket.

Maps in 'Battlefield' are sweeping and require vehicle traversal and for long stretches of gameplay, the player is by themselves.

Previous games in the series encourage team play and cooperation, but at present, the game encourages solo play and showboating which feels at odds with the rest of the series.

When a 'Battlefield' game feels more like 'Call Of Duty' something has gone wrong somewhere.

Ironically for a game that favours solo play, the lack of a single-player campaign sticks out like a sore thumb.

The premise is an interesting spin on the typical military shooter; the world has become engulfed in climate and economic disaster, leading to a rise of 'No-Pats', soldiers left without a country after natural disasters.

These 'No-Pats' fight on behalf of the United States and Russia as proxies in a global war and an opportunity to explore the nature of warfare or the moral grey areas of sending people to fight under a flag that isn't their own is missed.

This map set in South Korea features plenty of opportunities for classic 'Battlefield' moments

The menus try to fill in the gaps with some flavour text that build out the world, but the lack of a narrative campaign is a massive missed opportunity.

There are two camps when it comes to narratives in first-person shooters; you can either try to tell a deep and engaging story like the recent 'Wolfenstein' games or have a rudimentary nuts and bolts story that serves as a training ground for the multiplayer.

'Battlefield 2042' does neither.

Granted, previous games in the series weren't exactly 'Disco Elysium' when it came to previous campaigns, but with such an intriguing and interesting premise in play here, it's a massive shame.

If there is one major criticism to be levelled at the game, it's the unfinished nature of it.

EA has already stated that developers DICE produced the vast majority, if not all, of the game from home owing to Covid-19 restrictions so we are willing to meet the developers halfway (producing a big-budget game from home is no doubt tricky) but by the same token, the game could have done with an extra 6 months in the oven so let the game truly shine.

'Battlefield 2042' is very much a game in progress and will have a live service component - and we know this for a fact, our review copy has a Store section on the menu that isn't populated - and readers with a long memory may remember 'Battlefield 4' improving exponentially after a disastrous launch.

As it stands, the game doesn't feel finished.

As consumers and critics, we've grown accustomed to and outright accept the fact that games aren't finished on launch anymore, but EA charging consumers €100 for the 'Ultimate Edition' is basically an IOU to consumers telling them "the game will be great one day, honestly."

Any criticisms mentioned in this review may be rendered moot in 6 months time, but when a review copy is sent out, it damn well better be ready for primetime.

'Battlefield 2042' is frustrating because in the unscripted and organic moments mentioned above the game is in a class apart from its contemporaries.

The illusion is then shattered because a corpse is ragdolling after being caught in the door of a lift, a players parachute fails to despawn or in some cases, the spawn simply does not work leaving players trapped on menus.

The bones of a great game are in there somewhere, but in the present state, it's simply not worth paying full price for.