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Battlefield 2042 struggles on both fronts, familiar and new. Its changes to its established formula are farcical, and it foray into something new is derivative.

In the near future, extreme weather events and environmental disasters from climate change destabilize countries across the planet, causing more than a billion fleeing refugees to coalesce into a new class of nationless exiles called No Patriots or “No-Pats” for short. These no-pats now act as  mercenaries for different superpowers in their proxy wars as they try to control tactical advantage in various weather torn now abandoned cities/locations in the world.

Seems like a game you would love to play right. A cocktail of Metal Gear Solid and World War Z (the book, not the game). Well what if I told you this was the premise of Battlefield 2042. What if I told you, Battlefield 2042 doesn’t come with a single player mode along with that premise. Does the multiple chaotic, crazy almost open-world multiplayer modes of the game even need a premise or a stake? Let’s find out.

Battlefield 2042 is a first-person shooter video game developed by DICE and published by Electronic Arts. The game was released on November 19, 2021, for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X and Series S.

Why the setup?

Going into Battlefield 2042, I knew this game did not have a campaign, or any single player mode for that matter. So when I was treated to cutscenes setting up this lawless No-Pats world, I was kind of taken by surprise. Had I missed something, had Battlefield shadow launched a campaign. For a game which doesn’t have a single-player mode, it sure does have a lot of cut-scenes. There are tutorial videos explaining the different modes, there are introductory videos about every operator/soldier that you have at your disposal, and of course there is the cinematic opening sequence which sets up the world of Battlefield 2042.

But for what? That is the question I am left with, as I queue for my nth Quick Match, transporting me and my load-out into another sprawling metro half buried in a desert, alongside 64 others, ready to take on 64 on the other side with extreme prejudice. There are no stakes here, no motivation for me to kill the other guys apart from the fact that he is on the other team. I don’t care if represent US in one game, and Russia in the other. I don’t care if the sand-storm coming in my direction is an extreme weather condition not seen before. All of this just feel forced, to make it feel like something new.

Under The Cutscenes

Battlefield 2042 tries to serve up content and options on multiple fronts, but much like an army it loses its focus and intensity on doing so. This time, Battlefield 2042 boasts of an increased player count on current/next gen consoles (depending upon whether you own one), and promises weather events like Dust-storms and tornado which would affect gameplay. They also try to offer more customizable load-outs this time, all in an effort to mix up the classic Battelfield formula. In most instances though the gameplay changes very little, even degraded in some.

All Out Warfare, the mode that players would be most familiar with, has 2 sub-modes, Conquest and Breakthrough. Out of these Conquest is the most recognizable mode. Deployed into a sprawling maps, teams take control of different points on the map, scoring points for everything under the multiplayer sun, kills, assists, defends until one of the team scores enough points for the win. While Battlefield huge war-zones have always been a differentiating factor, I think this time it has grown too big for its own good.

To accommodate 128 player, the control points are so far away from each other, that any initiative eventually splinters up into smaller area skirmishes rather than a co-ordinated effort to gain or defend ground. Plus the lack of voice-chat at launch means that there is no real way to co-ordinate efforts which is already chaotic because of the huge numbers involved. Then there is the lack of role clarity; with Battlefield 2042 going for 10 COD style operators instead of their standard more restrictive 4 soldier types. Each No-Pat comes with his/her own special abilities, but their standard load-out (the one that you will use for majority of the game) can be a mix and match of everything. So a medic class can equip itself with assault weapons, a support can opt for a sniper load-out, and so on. What this means is that people tend to generally pick self sufficient load-outs, and which means that you would see some abilities and weapons being cornered off, while others left to be ignored entirely. Not to mention, no medic listening to you as you bleed out 10 metres away from them, and everyone around you grapple hooking onto the nearest flat surface as soon you respawn.

The same problem runs in Breakthrough too. However because the structure of the mode is much more streamlined and gameplay is straightforward, that it became my go-to mode. Breakthrough, assigns you either an attacking or defending role, with the battlefield divided into sectors and each sector divided into control points. Capture all the control points of a sector, and the attacking teams controls the sector, rinsing and repeating the act until the entire map is under their control. The attacking team though only has a finite number of respawns unlike the defending team who have unlimited, and if they loose all their reinforcement points before the entire map is captured, the defending team wins. A sector once captured can’t be lost again, and you can’t capture a sector before capturing the one before it. This means that the battle is always moving forward in a clear direction and has a clear sense of momentum so you know where you are needed. Plus focusing the combat in a smaller section of the map allows for more organic co-operation between players.

Outside these modes, a lot has been talked about Portal. Portal mode is basically, a custom match/map editor where a player can mix and match and come up with his own cocktail of rules and fun. For example, if you wanted to, you can take the No-Pats from Battlefield 2042, pit them against a team of soldiers from Bad Company 2 inside one of the maps from Battlefield 3. Why, because you wanted to. Does sound fun. Sure if you can figure out how to make one. On the PS5, as soon as you click into the Portal mode, you will be presented with an option to jump into a tailored mode for Battlefield 3, Bad Company 2, and Battlefield 1942. But try to mix them up as the propaganda machine promised, and you would be left renaming a Custom Match type with farcical options. There is a way to do what you want to though, but for that you would need to go to portal.battlefield.com. There, you would be able to make the changes you desire, down to controlling how much damage a particular operator can do. Once you have created the match of your dreams, you can then import it onto your console using the community marketplace. What baffles me is that this option is not in-built into the PS5, nor does the game inform of you of the same. Sure it’s hard to create editing suite for consoles, but look at Dreams. And if the suite is so rudimentary, atleast provide some edited mode by yourself instead of depending on the community entirely.

Escape From Tundra

Finally Hazard Zone. To attract patrons of Escape From Tarkov, Battlefield 2042 presents this new mode, where a team of 4 players are inserted into a map with the objective of collecting as many data drives scattered across the map. Competing against 8 more teams like you and a bunch of AI controlled enemies, Hazard Zone does not allow for respawn, and points only count if your team is able to successfully extract any drives. With just 2 extraction windows in a single game, and only one 1 location per extraction, Hazard Zone can become really stressful really fast. This is the mode that is best enjoyed with friends, especially competent friends, and I believe might turn out to be the sleeped hit mode this year. While its definitely not as deeply mechanized as The Hunt or even Escape From Tarkov, Hazard Zone still offers a brand new way for Battlefield fans to test their skills.

The Bits And Bobs

I should mention, that I played the game on the PS5, and for most part didn’t run into any graphical issue or technical issues. There were some times, when enemies and allies glitched before me, but that is to be expected with multiplayer games of such scale. And while Battlefield 2042 is an experience made for the mutliplayer, if so desire you can opt to take on Conquest and Breakthrough solo or in co-op with AI taking filling the rest of the shoes. Its not a campaign by any means, but its the closest you can get to one.

Real Talk

See Battlefield 2042 does alright at most of what it strives to do. Today however, a multiplayer only game, coming from a huge publisher, with AAA budget and pricing, it’s just not enough. We have seen it in Far Cry 6, we have seen it with Call Of Duty Vanguard. Just maintaining the status quo isn’t enough any longer. We have to push the envelope, and while on the surface it looks like Battlefield 2042 did take some steps in that uncharted direction, at the end it’s just holding the same front, afraid to venture out and capture new frontiers.


With less time and more wisdom at my disposal, I have decided to create a whole new rating for games that I review. How many times in a week will I stay up after 11 PM, once my family has gone to sleep on a workday and spend 2 hours with it, knowing full well that I need to enter the rat race at 8 AM the next morning. Well on that scale, I give Battlefield 2042:

“Not at all. Half hoping a single player Battlefield 2042 comes out.”

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