Sure, taking to battle in a fast-paced shooter is fun and all, but have you ever weaponized a tornado? The answer is probably no, but with Battlefield 2042 you can get your inner Shia LaBeouf on and not let your dreams be dreams. The next step for the Battlefield franchise uses cutting-edge technology and new generational hardware to push the sky to the limit. While many games boast that, Battlefield 2042 looks to truly live up to that promise. From a way higher player count to a perfect blend of new and familiar, the upcoming FPS is ready to take back the crown within the multiplayer space.
Battlefield 2042 sets the stage in the near future, in a world ravaged by the most profound refugee crisis known to man. Within this shooter, players will become something called Non-Patriated, or Non-Pats for short. Non-Pats are farmers, engineers, soldiers - they are the survivors, they are the fighters that don’t fight for a flag. They fight for the future of the known world.
The latest Battlefield does things a little bit differently this time around, eschewing the usual single-player vs. multiplayer component, and instead offers players a hybrid experience. When I first learned that there was no single-player, I felt disappointed, but the more I learned about 2042, the more I understood what the vision was going into this new game. On the online side of the equation, DICE is pushing this shooter to the limit by upping the player count to 128 on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, and PC. PS4 and Xbox One players are downsized to 64 to preserve the experience, though the studio promises that the lower player count will not impact the game’s overall style and feel.
With more of a focus on multiplayer, there are three core experiences at the heart of Battlefield 2042. There’s All-Out Warfare, the next generation of fan favorites Conquest and Breakthrough. Paired with the largest maps in the history of the Battlefield franchise, All-Out Warfare is designed to be freeing, intense, and pure chaos. That chaos is ramped up to 11 by dynamic weather changes, evolving world events, and … oh yeah, freaking tornadoes.
Tornados, dust storms, and more ravage the maps while players battle it out. DICE tells us that players can choose to either stay out of a tornado’s path or harness its power to gain the advantage. No matter which way you spin it, taking out a sniper by using a giant natural disaster? Sounds pretty epic, if you ask me.
The second multiplayer experience is Hazard Zone. This aspect is all about high-stakes and communicating with your squad. This is a more modernized take on the Battlefield experience and stands on its own, completely different than that of All-Out Warfare.
The final aspect of the multiplayer experience is still a secret, something DICE will reveal more about this July. That being said, the studio did give us a cheeky smile when saying that longtime lovers of this particular shooter series will feel “right at home.”
With the largest maps to date, I couldn’t wait to learn more about the different locations we’ll be able to tackle. There’s Kaleidoscope in North Korea where the objective centers around a disinformation hub. There’s Manifest, which is set in Singapore. This location will challenge even the most strategic of players when supply lines are threatened. Orbital is set within French Guiana with a controversial rocket launch site taking center stage. Discarded is in India with nuclear assets on the line. Renewal is in Egypt where players must survive dangerous dust storms and each other. Hourglass is set in Qatar with a focus on a rogue shipping convoy. And finally, Breakaway. This map is set in Antarctica that pits nature versus military when a conflict over oil and gas reaches a breaking point.
Each map is bigger than anything players have seen before, both in terms of linear scope and verticality. With more ways to conquer the terrain of Battlefield 2042 both with gear, vehicles, and updated classes, there is no shortage of experiences to be had for those looking for the ultimate FPS challenge.
For those that are worried about playing with others with the faded single-player experience, don’t be. DICE has set up a way for those that want to take part in the latest Battlefield to do just that without having to team up with strangers. Any game mode, any map is available to play but instead of live opponents, players can opt into competing against AI instead. Dealer’s choice, you decide.
With new maps comes new Specialists to tackle them. Battlefield 2042 offers a new type of playable soldier inspired by the more traditional classes this series is known to have. Each one has its own special Trait and Speciality, as well as fully customizable loadouts. The best part? While the Traits are locked, there is no loadout cutoff. Play who you want with the gear you want, with no limits.
Battlefield 2042 will offer 10 Specialists at launch with more added later. What has me the most excited, however, is the special attention to detail that the studio paid the Support class. Players can now shoot allies to heal and even revive them, allowing for more strategic heals when under fire. Go Maria Falck to use this healing gun as a Combat Surgeon, or go Pyotr Guskowvsky to get sentry-happy when using that engineer background to dominate the battlefield. Or, say to heck with the both of them and go Casper with a handy dandy drone. Whatever you choose, there is a benefit to each pick. Each class, each Specialist, has something unique to offer. Unique traits, unique skills, and unique looks to make the world of 2042 all the more immersive.
The evolution of playable characters paired with the new wheel of customization that allows players to completely modify their loadout while mid-firefight makes for a tailored multiplayer experience unlike anything Battlefield has ever done before. Prefer sniper but you’ve found yourself in close-quarters pinned down? Toggle on that customization wheel and choose a different weapon, different attachments, and then resume gunning to take that W. This is called the Plus System and it’s every bit as epic as it sounds.
With great weapons and classes come awesome new vehicles. Battlefield is no stranger to causing some serious mayhem via vehicular destruction, and 2042 continues on that tradition better than ever. This sandbox experience is completely modernized, and that applies to the various wheelage players can utilize to their advantage. Use a call-in tablet to call a vehicle to you while collaborating with your team to maximize each type’s usage. Gunner vehicles, mine drops - you name it. Why just mow somebody down when you can drop a line of mines on the way instead?
This is an online game and it is live-service. Unlike Call of Duty, however, DICE isn’t interested in locking playable content behind paywalls and it certainly isn’t interested in restricting maps due to the player’s platform of choice. While there is a free and premium version of the Battle Pass that will be available, the premium version is purely for cosmetics. No operators, no maps, and no modes will be locked behind the purchasable version of this particular player option. If you’re like me and like having nifty-looking Specialists, then premium might be the way to go. However, it won’t be required to enjoy the game as it’s meant to be enjoyed, which is an issue with other online titles like Call of Duty and Destiny 2.
Battlefield 2042 truly feels like the natural next step for this franchise and a beautiful comeback for the DICE shooter. Set in the future - but not the distant future - 2042 feels exciting and forward-thinking. It feels intuitive, massive, and new. This new experience favors strategy and while the loss of single-player is disappointing, that decision has challenged the team to be creative in how to supplement that story. With lore drops and Specialists that have an actual tale to tell, this hybrid experience doesn’t offer half of an experience, it offers a new experience. And let’s be real, after Battlefield 5? This series needed a revamp.
Where it goes next from here remains to be seen, but everything I’ve seen thus far has me more than just a little excited to parachute my way in and cause some serious chaos.
Battlefield 2042 arrives on October 22 on all platforms.