The gameplay in Battlefield 2042 is breathtaking — but a bit too safe.
Inverse previewed four minutes of gameplay and a short presentation on Battlefield 2042 ahead of E3 2021. It aims to be a gaming experience that hopes to generate viral clips where players scream, “I cannot believe that happened!” It’s the perfect game to excitedly share in a conversation at dinner, but the minute-to-minute gameplay seems bogged down by trends and a need to play it safe.
Battlefield 2042 certainly checks all the boxes of a Battlefield game, but the gameplay is worrisome. One scene showed off an in-game disaster, which can change depending on the map that you’re playing on. In this case, it was a tornado. Tanks were being flung left and right, landing in front of players, making an absolute mess. The scene was breathtaking in terms of scale. How long will that feeling last? The twister is an uncontrollable disaster, but it also seems to be a scripted event that’s bound to happen every match.
A disaster seems to happen in every match, randomly. Placing the bulk of Battlefield 2042’s appeal on these randomized events is worrisome. Each map seems to have its own unique scripted disaster. While they look great, what happens a month after the game goes live and the novelty wears off? Once everyone knows that a disaster will come at some point in the match, how will they not grow numb to it?
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Battlefield 2042’s other gameplay elements have increased customization. Using the new Plus System, you can change your weapon attachments on the fly. This means you can add a scope to your gun as the situation calls for it or switch that out for a silencer. Again, this likely is done to help create iconic moments that can be discussed over a steak dinner. It would be so cool to say how you went through three attachments to take out a squad of enemies.
Being cinematic is all well and good, but Battlefield 2042 feels like it’s forcing the “Only in Battlefield” moments to happen. Perhaps by placing an ATV in a specific area or by allowing players to summon tanks, Battlefield 2042 feels like EA DICE’s impression of what people want from the series, but it doesn’t feel especially true to the series itself.
Ironically, the cinematic moments make Battlefield 2042 feel more generic. Every shooter has the potential to be cinematic and destructive. Battlefield 2042 just has a larger budget, and developers seem to have confused scale with quality.
Battlefield 2042 should be fun to play, but it might not feel like Battlefield.
What made previous Battlefield games appealing was the adherence to an interesting environment above all else and putting players into settings you couldn’t find in other shooters. There was a strategy to your actions. The rampant destruction around the map was a direct result of player choice rather than something that happened on a schedule. There was satisfaction in setting C4 charges beneath the base of a building and detonating them to wipe out an enemy squad.
Battlefield 2042 is going to be a massive game, but it lacks choice where it matters and provides too much choice where it’s unnecessary. While customization is great, I don’t need to change my weapon on the fly. A scheduled disaster shaking up the game looks incredible in a screenshot, but it might wind up feeling boring and tedious before long.
Battlefield 2042 will make for fantastic wallpapers, but might not gain the same affections that its predecessors did. Things could always change depending on the final product, but that remains to be seen.