I spawn near my teammate late into the match, unsure of the flow of battle. Based on the location of my teammates, we seemed to have a trench or some kind of defensible position, so I came with an M5A3 and a red dot optic for close to medium range engagements. I surveyed an open field, being picked clean by an enemy tank a few hundred yards away, and a gaggle of enemy sniper scopes 30 degrees to my left. My squad and a few others were threading the needle of safety behind two large boulders, trying to dodge both high-explosive tank rounds and potshots from the assorted enemy snipers. After a ten minute battle with multiple revives, respawns, and a few successful air support runs, my team eventually lost the battle of the rocks and had to retreat to the other side of the field.
These are the vignettes that make the Battlefield franchise so unique. Some of my best first person shooter memories, and longest lasting friends, have come from Battlefield. While I dabbled with Battlefield 2, my PC was woefully inadequate and I quickly walked away. But the core mechanics intrigued me, so when Battlefield 3 launched I hopped right in with my shiny new Xbox 360. 1200 hours later, I was the 7th in the world to reach max rank on Xbox, and officially a Battlefield fanboy.
Queue DICE’s latest installment, Battlefield 2042. After a number of World War I and World War II entries, Battlefield is making a return to the modern era, and I was excited to revisit some of the combined arms combat and settings that I grew up on. Previous titles ventured into historical conflicts, with all of the iron sights and primitive vehicles that accompany that timeline. In the near future of Battlefield 2042, I was thrust into a dystopia, fighting between the remains of nation states and refugees of climate change for what little parts of the Earth were left.
Image source: Gamesplanet
I was delighted to find that some of the key pillars of Battlefield remained, even ten years after I put my Battlefield career on pause for other games. Vehicles are abundant. The roar of jet afterburners and the dull thump of high explosive rounds repeat so constantly they feel like the heartbeat of the fight. Jumping into a modernized tank feels familiar like a warm blanket, and it can easily act as a force projection for your team. With a second gunner, I can make space for my team in ways that I can only dream of as an infantryman.
Image source: Gamesplanet
Now firmly a PC gamer, I was greeted by a new feature for Battlefield 2042: 128-player matches. Placed on sprawling maps, 64 players battle 64 enemies for control of the land and sky. Controlling both is key, as air support can quickly turn the battle for a control point. I’ve come to fear the thwap thwap of a scout helicopter’s rotors all over again, as they swiftly bring death in the hands of an ace pilot. Larger maps also serve to make the operation area feel more like an active warzone, with a squad able to be highly productive without moving much at all. Back in my glory days with Battlefield 3, the player count was limited to 12 vs 12, meaning that one squad not making moves was effectively sidelining 30% of your team's total forces. With 64 total players, locking down strategic locations and leaving the offense to other squads is a much more valid strategy, and allowed me to build a loadout for a slower paced battle.
Image source: Gamesplanet
When I did need to make a move, several new quality of life improvements were ready to help me take the fight to the enemy. In Battlefield 2042, an intuitive menu lets me call all sizes of ground vehicles as airdrops no matter where I am, quickly turning a miles long march across a death field into a much safer armored ride to the next control point. While I will always have a soft spot in my heart for the mighty main battle tank, the brand new hovercraft is quickly proving to be a great addition to the vehicle roster.
One of the other new features to this multiplayer only title is the Portal mode. Essentially a custom game editor, DICE has lovingly recreated key maps, weapons and character models from Battlefield 1942, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, and Battlefield 3 while utilizing the bones and new graphics engine of Battlefield 2042. This nostalgic blast from the past plays like a remaster of these classic games, and I quite enjoyed my time rolling through the sand dunes of Arica Harbor and the grassy knolls of Caspian Border with classic loadouts and abilities. Squad teamwork was excellent despite the format changes across the years, and all of the guns felt accurate with their original recoil mechanics and sounds. If you’ve been wanting to revisit some of the most iconic experiences in the franchise's history, don’t miss out on Portal.
As always with Battlefield, I recommend playing 2042 with your friends. In a squad on voice comms, I make much more of an impact than I can as a solo player. Revives are more common, we can coordinate weapon and gear loadouts, and rolling together in a vehicle just feels fantastic. If you’re looking for frenetic but rewarding combined arms action, Battlefield 2042 delivers.