As a game designer and avid fan of the franchise (been playing since 2002 and wouldn't doubt if I have more hours across all the Battlefield titles than any other game or franchise) I really wanted to enjoy this game. I was especially hoping it would be their redemption from Battlefield 5. Unfortunately, I feel like this series is continuing its rapid decline as the mechanics, core philosophies, goals, and spirit of the franchise seem to have been abandoned in recent years. Every aspect of the game seems to have been dumbed down to be as casual as possible and there's surprisingly almost ZERO immersion. Overall, BF2042 feels hollow and detached while many of the gameplay mechanics lack depth compared to the likes of BF3 or 4.
This is the MOST disappointing aspect of BF2042. It's surprising to consider this game is in the same series as Battlefield 2-4, or even 1. How they've somehow pulled the mechanics of BF3 and 4 down to this mediocre level is impressive and just…saddening. Following the trajectory of Battlefield 5 this is a nearly full abandonment of the core design paradigm of that has defined the franchise. A game always having been about being "just a grunt on the battlefield" now folding in 'Hero Shooter-esque' "Specialists", oversimplified mechanics, and general abandonment of tactical gameplay. It feels as though it was too heavily influenced by producers/publisher looking to make it as "easy and approachable as possible."
- Movement speed is more of the insanely fast, "gliding across the ground" BF5 movement.
- 'Specialists' don't make for defined classes their gadgets are mostly useless to the battle at large while everyone can just swap one piece of equipment to fill any class role, further pushing the gameplay and teamwork into a tactless hodgepodge.
- Teamwork, specifically among squads, is somehow more non-existent than ever. Between the movement speed and sheer number of spawns even just using your squad as mobile spawn points isn't much of an appeal.
- Hit markers are cranked to 11…
- Merely looking in the direction of an enemy reveals them, even through smoke and foliage. Concealment isn't even much of a thing anymore.
- With a marksman rifle getting a headshot still seems to require two additional shots to kill but three shots to center mass seems to kill too, no real incentive for precision shots or establishing tactical advantage.
- "Press E to revive"…don't even have to think tactically about disarming yourself to revive. This is one that's been an issue since BF5 but it continues.
- Overall too much "on rails" gameplay. Ex: Would have preferred to be able to remotely control the specialists turret rather than "stand in this little circle so it targets faster".
- Seriously seems like everyone has AA launcher.
- Gatling gun on armored scout vehicle does practically no damage to air. But don't worry, you probably already have AA launcher equipped.
- All players drop ammo you can pickup regardless of if it's even the same caliber, freeing up more people to pick AA over ammo resupply and reducing tactical teamwork.
- Flyable area feels incredibly small for the scale of the game/map. Stall out at 900ft, exit bounds make lining up jet strafing runs annoying.
- No joystick/HOTAS support (my throttle rolls, can't pitch, etc) with no means to rebind.
- No text chat?! (may have been disabled for the beta…no idea why)
Whereas every previous Battlefield has been a graphical evolution this feels to have not only stagnated but even regressed in some ways. Mostly in terms of environment art but overall doesn't impress like past DICE titles.
- Looks to have similar auto-LOD as seen in Warzone with jarring pop-in (not even from the asset draw distance, but the decimation of LOD being so starkly different in form causing noticeable jumps in shape/silhouette).
- Overall the environment has more foliage but the quality from even moderate distance is lack-luster. As if a decade old game with some modern post-processing.
Sound design is a mixed bag, the sounds they have are nice…but there's a clear lack of "grounding" sounds to physicalize you in the world.
- Sprinting footsteps vs BF3 or 4, for example, are non-existent. That impact of a boot slapping the ground is just gone. Hell, mostly seems QUIETER to sprint as you get a sense you're floating across the ground.
- Intense 'near miss' snaps/cracks are all but gone.
- Voice lines are weak, heard one where the character refers to the battlefield as a "map". Which doesn't make sense within the fiction.
- Feedback of Battlefield happenings seems poorly communicated compared to past titles.
- Overall general lack of immersion.
Just…wtf were they thinking? A good HUD should provide pertinent information in an unobtrusive way so that the player doesn't even realize they are utilizing it…2042 makes sure you don't forget there's a HUD.
- Oversized in nearly every aspect
- Utterly obnoxious colors to the point of distracting
- Option setting toggle buttons invert on hover making it unclear what the setting is
- Utilizing peripheral vision for HUD status is nearly impossible with so much visual noise across every element
DICE once used to not only accept the fact that there's multifaceted learning curves to a game, they embraced it. Each mode, map, vehicle, class, weapon, and tactic was a layered learning experience, but one you could eventually master and contribute as an influential piece of a team. Now — as has been the trend of AAA titles in recent years — gameplay is simplified so every game can be picked-up and played for 15 minutes with little or no skill building, challenge, or learning curve. It's the game design equivalent of participation trophies; "Games must be 15 min or less", "key binds must be on the HUD at all times", "needs to be explicitly clear if a bullet hit someone especially if it's a headshot".
All-in-all Battlefield 2042 (if this beta is anything to go by), like Battlefield 5, feels like an over-produced disappointment to the franchise. Tailored for the largest market and lowest common denominator. If I didn't know better I'd think it was Infinity Ward's attempt at making a Battlefield game. Like getting your hands on a new version of a physical product you've loved in the past that turns out to now be made out of cheap plastic.
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More about Battlefield 5Post: "Unsolicited criticisms from a game designer & franchise fan" specifically for the game Battlefield 5. Other useful information about this game:
- “We heard your concerns about specialists, but we missed the part where that our problem” – DICE
- (opinion) EA/Dice got the response from the only community they wanted with 2042
- Explaining And Visualizing The Strange Scaling in BF2042: It’s More Than Just The Player Models.
- BF2042: Thoughts after 10 hours of gameplay
- My Thoughts About the Beta (Very Long)
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