The Battlefield 2042 beta has come and gone, with players having to wait until it launches this November to get a taste of DICE’s latest first-person shooter. The pressing question now is: was the beta fun? There’s a lot to chew on here, and it isn’t something that’s easily answerable. However, we try our best to answer that in our Battlefield 2042 beta review (yes, it’s more of a hands-on impressions piece, but reviewed the beta experience as a whole).
For the beta, MP1st Editor-in-Chief Alex Co, and Managing Editor James Lara shares both their thoughts on the overall experience of the beta.
“It’s a Beta”
First things first, people need to remember that what we played was a beta, and one that’s a few months old at that according to DICE. However, even so, this isn’t our first time playing a game’s beta, and we’re also realistic enough that we don’t believe every technical issues and whatnot will be fixed come November 19.
My experience with DICE’s betas and launch titles might be part of the reason why I’m kind of forgiving of some of the beta experience’s quirks. That said, if the majority of these major bugs aren’t fixed by launch, that’s a different story, as some are downright dangerous (the flashing screen bug happening on PS5 can literally make you dizzy).
As far as beta goes, this is kind of par for the course for DICE, as the studio has been known to release beta clients with quite a number of bugs in ’em. Remember the Bad Company 2 beta? The Battlefield 3 beta? Yeah, take out out the rose-tinted glasses, and you’ll remember meme-worthy bugs such as this:
For long-time Battlefield fans, it’s not startling to see a Battlefield game get released out into the wild, and have it riddled with bugs. Mind, I’m referring to the actual launch, and not the beta. More often than not, DICE’s games do have quite some bugs in them, and are patched out.
Not giving DICE an excuse for bungling the beta, but it is something that I anticipated. Time will tell if the final product is way better than the beta, but for now, it is what it is.
Bugs aside, the more I played of the beta, the more I liked it. It might be because it’s been quite some time since we had a modern setting Battlefield game, or perhaps because it reminds me of Battlefield 4, but by the end of it, I was on board the Battlefield 2042 train. That said, I did have quite a number of concerns — ones that will be echoed by James in his section as well, given how much they sullied the gameplay experience.
While I am not overly concerned on how many rockets it takes to take down a chopper, lack of recoil and other stuff that can be patched relatively quickly, I am concerned about the Specialists, and how it not only confuses each squad composition, but even promotes less teamwork, which is something the franchise doesn’t need.
Now, you don’t even know what your squadmate or teammate can do outside of their Specialist skill. So if you’re with a character like Falck, you don’t even know whether they have a med pack, an ammo pack, or something else. Of course, given how the commorose was unavailable in the beta, it made telling teammates what you needed all the more harder (or nigh impossible).
During the beta period, I wasn’t revived as often as I did in past Battlefield games, and I wasn’t resupplied much, either. Usually, players ran with a rocket launcher, body armor, or something that will help them directly. I understand that players should be able to play the way they want, but the system now is heavily skewed to, well, just being selfish. Why equip an ammo box when you can just equip an RPG to go alongside your hook? Also, the proper Engineer class is gone now given there was no way to equip both a repair tool and any anti-vehicle weapon at the same time.
Fun but Concerned
I already wrote quite a few things on what I liked and didn’t like about the beta in our “Battlefield 2042 Beta: 5 Things That Need to Change, and 5 Things That Worked” feature, so I’ll spare from repeating myself. While I did have fun with the beta overall, I am a bit concerned about the product we’ll be getting come November 19. I am really, really hoping that a lot of the bugs are ironed out, and that DICE listens to player feedback — especially when it comes to the factions thing where players can’t even tell if a character is their friend or foe, which is just absurd when you think about it.
Overall, the beta managed to win me over, which isn’t saying much given I was looking forward to a new Battlefield game for the longest time. I’m cautiously optimistic that DICE will release changes based on beta feedback article, and we’ll get a lot of good news from it.
- Related Reading: Battlefield 2042: DICE Explains Beta Build Process; Hostility Mentioned as Part of Why Devs Don’t Interact More
Attack of the Clones
The new specialist system that DICE has introduced in Battlefield 2042 takes front and center when it comes to my gripes. While the beta only had four Specialists available, the final release promises a total of ten Specialists to choose from, regardless of which team you are on. With 128 players on a given map, 64 between each team, even with an additional six others to choose from there isn’t going to be a lot to tell them apart. I mean, they have that small enemy/teammate icons overhead, but just looking at them, down to their physical appearance, you won’t be able to tell which Specialist belongs to which side of the war.
This is because DICE has done away with faction-locked characters, and instead throws a pool of hired guns in one massive all-out war. The result? A Battlefield game that doesn’t have quite the same narrative impact as past ones. And I know, this is a online multiplayer, why does the narrative even matter, especially in a game that won’t have a single-player. To that I say, does that really need to be explained? Well, I guess so.
I won’t sugarcoat things by saying Battlefield is an authentic realistic war game, because it isn’t — far from it. However, there has always been some level of it that players have come to appreciate in past Battlefield games. There has always been this idea of a power struggle between factions, and playing on one side over the other added a level of immersion. Maybe you are with the Russians in one match, or the Americans in the other, but regardless whichever team you ended up being on you could always tell who the enemy was.
BF2042 just blurs that line up with a bunch of Webster Mackay killing each other on a map. I mean, who am I? Jet Li from the 2001 film, The One? Am I supposed to find all my clones so that I can become the strongest one in all the timelines? It sure feels that way when I really don’t understand who I’m fighting.
I think for me, and a lot of other Battlefield players out there, you just feel removed from the game. Having to see the same face, some friendly some foes, and hearing the exact same dialogue and voice as your teammates coming from an enemy fighting for a different nation. It just doesn’t work in my opinion. Not only are they in dire need of customizations, but I think the Specialists need better distinctions between what team they are on. Perhaps a recoloring? Different uniforms? I’m not sure, but some form of improvement is needed. I feel like it is like this for the sole purpose to sell players skin, but I guess we will see in the final release.
And that’s just the start of the issues with the Specialist system. Let’s talk about the “class” system, or rather the lack of it. Battlefield 2042 does not feature a class system such as the ones seen in basically all the Battlefield games before it. It’s a puzzling decision made by DICE because it’s one of those mechanics that makes you think “well, if it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it.” And the class system, albeit has it some balancing issues, never was a broken one to begin with.
So the reasoning behind getting rid of it is an absolute headscratcher, but I’ll give the studio the benefit of the doubt for wanting to try something different. The thing is, that new way isn’t all that engaging, if at least for the promotion of squad play. I would say how Specialists feel are the same way that operators feel in Call of Duty Warzone. They’re there, but they don’t really do anything outside of being skins that players can use.
Battlefield 2042 does give some unique, hero-like abilities to Specialists, such as McKay with the grappling hook, Casper with a recon drone, Boris’ sentry turret, and Falck with the S21 Syrette Pistol. On paper, it does appear that these Specialists would fall into respective classes, but in reality that just isn’t the case.
Take the medic role. You would assume that Falck would fill that, however with how gadgets work, she may instead be rocking some anti-air rockets, ammo crates, armor plates, or anything else that isn’t a med kit. It’s counterproductive to the whole squad playstyle that we have all grown to love about the Battlefield franchise, and if anything, enforces more of a solo, lone wolf game style.
Don’t get me wrong, I do like the idea that I can use any primary and secondary weapon, rather than be restricted to using just one type. However, I don’t like that there are essentially zero roles to be filled, and it doesn’t help either that we can’t see what our squad mates are using. Maybe not a problem playing with a squad of friends with mics, but going into matches with random players I would have to sit there and guess what they were using, which to be frank, is a waste of time.
BF2042 doesn’t feel like a squad-based game at all, and that to me is the biggest problem with how the Specialist system is being handled. I don’t think it’s a bad one, its just one that needs more refining. Make gadgets the Specialist traits, that way we know who is playing a medic, a recon, ect. It’s fine being able to use any gun you want, because to me that was one of the many reasons why I never played as a medic in past Battlefield titles, but now that I can use any weapon I choose, that sounds like a killer idea to me.
An F12 Twister That Hurts Like a Fly
Then there’s the destruction and general physics of BF2042. I brought this up with Alex a few times saying that DICE really shouldn’t have focused on the numbers games, but instead double down on everything they had scaled back previously. I mean, the glory days of full scale destruction that Bad Company 2 gave us are long gone, however, since the release of Battlefield 3, up to even BFV, there has been some considerable amount of it here and there. Sadly, based on the beta, BF2042 features the smallest amount of it, at least based off the one available map.
I’m not surprised by this at all, because when DICE first announced that Battlefield 2042 would feature a total 128 players on a single map, I instantly assumed this meant that most of the destruction was going away. The beta just proved that to me. Yes, you can drive around in a tank and demolish some of the walls here and there, and there are some terrain deformations, as well as noticeable structure damage, but for the most these are all just visuals changes, rather than gameplay changes from past BF games.
I’m not saying some buildings can’t have all their walls completely demolished, but compared to past Battlefields it just feels lacking. I personally think it’s due to the increased player count and map size. The more players you have, the less resources you can actually pool in for other cool features, least so I’ve been told from others.
Even the tornado that spawns randomly in matches doesn’t hold a lot in terms of destructive force. Its certainly is cool to look at, but when you’ve actually lived through a tornado before, or seen the aftermath, you really can’t help but think “that’s it?!” Like, where is the scarring it leaves as it moves around the map, and the buildings it’s supposed to rip apart as it flies past them? It’s disappointing, especially compared to say, Battlefield 4’s Levolution mechanics where large portions of the map change after a catastrophic event.
For what is considered to be the next-generation of Battlefield, I don’t think it does a very good job at showing that. I’m hoping that’s different in the final release, but I wouldn’t hold my breath — at least for the large scale maps. Hopefully, smaller variations could potentially have a higher level of destruction due to less players. Doubtful, but one can hope.
Now, there are a number of other problems I did have with the beta, such as the lack of a leaderboard, leaning mechanics, all the different prone options, being able to tell enemies apart from allies, and so much more. Despite some of my big issues, and the huge technical ones that I didn’t talk because, it is a beta, I will say, with it over, I just can’t wait to jump back in. There was so much dumb stuff I was able to do during the beta, and I think 2042 shines the most when it comes to its sandbox experience.
Flying around in a jet from one end of the map to the other was a blast, as was seeing all the crazy action in-between, both on foot and by vehicle.
It may be focusing on the idea of creating those only in Battlefield moments, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all. Those moments, though random in past Battlefield games, open up for everyone to experience them anywhere and at any time.
I have my complaints, but I really did love the overall feel of the beta. Yes, it lacks polish, and it has some core issues, but I can’t just help feel hyped up by what I played. DICE just needs to get the pieces together properly and they could potentially have the best Battlefield released thus far. I know that’s big to say after the above complaints and general impression from the community, but I do think they can pull this off. I guess time will tell, and hopefully they listen.
What did you think of the Battlefield 2042 beta? Sound off down in the comments below and let us know!
Battlefield 2042 will be released this November 19 on the PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.