Battlefield has always held a strange place in my heart. I adore Battlefield 3 for its campaign, I enjoyed but didn’t love Battlefield 4, and anything after that is ultimately forgettable in my eyes. Part of this is my young brain having a difficult time appreciating older periods, but the last two mainline entries just seemed unexciting in my eyes beyond the spectacle. For that reason, I’ve been excited about what Battlefield 2042 has to offer. The concept of returning to its modern-day glory is a fever dream for me, let alone all the improvements that are being made. Now that I’ve given the beta a good run though, does it make a comeback in full force? Find out in my impressions of the Battlefield 2042 beta!
A Return to Glory, With a Few Added Benefits
Like said, this edition of Battlefield does away with the classic World War setting and brings back the semi-modern day combat, and it’s arguably its strongest asset. Bringing us back to where the series shined the strongest is a great way to get people excited, but it’s not quite that easy. Making Battlefield 3 again was never going to be good enough, as many would just, you know, play Battlefield 3 again. With Battlefield 2042’s beta, I’m happy to say from my impressions that this isn’t a simple rehash of previous ideas. While some of that crown jewel’s unique aspects are surely here, plenty has been redone.
The idea behind combat itself has been properly overhauled to be much more up to par and customizable to one’s liking. From the character select screen alone, the old class system has been scrapped in favor of specialists, unique characters who hold roles in battle similar to that of the class system. From the brand new grappling hook of the Assault class to the healing dart of the Medic (glad to see Rainbow Six Siege is making a cameo), each class has been redefined but still holds remnants of its older self. Not to mention the increased customizability in weapons and gadgets, letting you tailor a class exactly how you want it.
Speaking of weapons in fact, this system has been overhauled as well. No more sitting in menus for three years customizing a weapon to your exact preference. Now, you simply spawn in with the weapon that you want, then hold a button and pick from a plus menu to fine-tune your attachments. And yes, you can do this wherever or whenever you’d like. While there were plenty of bugs thanks to the beta that hindered this, Battlefield 2042’s innovation in this system is one of its strong suits. I don’t think I know of many other games that have used this (don’t worry Crysis, I see you), and arguably it should be the new standard going forward. Sure, you wouldn’t catch your average soldier switching between 2x and 4x scopes in the heat of battle in real life, but in a game where you casually bail out of helicopters and planes on a whim, I don’t think anyone’s batting an eye.
Which reminds me, I haven’t even mentioned the vehicles much. While these haven’t changed a ton from what you’ve already come to know, what has changed is the power felt by them. While assault aircraft are your most valuable asset for offensive strikes, transport aircraft have been given a worthy upgrade offensively. As a good example, an Osprey (or Condor, as the game aptly names them) isn’t much on its own. But with two side gunners and a forward gunner, this vehicle is a force to be reckoned with on key capture points. While events like sandstorms will likely nullify the effects of air vehicles entirely, from the sample in Orbital, this is a bird to be feared by both air and ground targets.
Which reminds me, it’s time we talk about the elephant in the room: maps and natural disasters. Orbital is, to no one’s surprise, your standard Battlefield fare. Sheer beauty aside (more on that soon), there isn’t anything particularly standout to talk about beyond the rocket in the center. As per usual, the Levolution technology does most of the heavy lifting with constantly changing landscapes and evolving maps throughout the match. Beyond that though, nothing particularly noteworthy to talk about.
What was game-changing though was the natural disasters. I’ve played few games that have so strongly brought equal fear and excitement in me as the tornado on Orbital, and it’s easily walking away as one of the most memorable parts of my time with the Battlefield 2042 beta. Watching it tear through the map and send me or my friends flying is endless entertainment, the type that you’re sure to find nowhere else. Even beyond entertainment, listening to it whizz or tear apart various areas of the map is easily fear-inducing. The team behind ensuring its visual and audio quality wanted it to be threatening, and I’d say they did a bang-up job.
Beauty in the Eyes of the Beholder
Battlefield games (let alone betas) have always looked beautiful and sounded great, and to no one’s surprise, my Battlefield 2042 impressions say no different. Again, the team has shown through the Frostbite engine that they’re capable of making a stunning game that rivals the look of most modern titles. Everything from distant islands and storms to individual textures is hand-crafted with care and finesse. The same goes for audio with again, each weapon and explosion holding a powerful punch that makes those kills oh so satisfying.
What worries me more is the level of polish. This is something I wouldn’t traditionally mention with betas as that’s sort of the point, but with the team’s track record between beta and launch of previous titles, it’s a tad concerning. Most glitches are thankfully more hilarious than game-breaking, and the optimization of the Frostbite engine is still a gold standard, but a few issues such as crashes, elevator doors being broken, or default buttons not working as they should detract from the experience. These may be fixed upon release (this is also apparently a two-month-old build), but it’s cause for concern regardless.
My impressions of the Battlefield 2042 beta are much stronger than what I expected. I’ve always enjoyed multiplayer portions of Battlefield games for what they are, but haven’t sunken more than a few dozen hours into each before becoming bored. With 10 hours into this beta, I don’t feel the same way here. There’s just so much that it does right, from weapons, vehicles, specialists, the Levolution system, and more. It isn’t perfect, but I’d be damned if it didn’t feel good. This is likely seen as a bold claim by many, but from what I’ve played, I could easily see Battlefield 2042 as the strongest Battlefield game to release in years.