“If you so choose, even the unexpected setbacks can bring new and positive possibilities. If you so choose, you can find value and fulfillment in every circumstance.” –Ralph Marston
After a solid first season of content, DICE has appeared to have righted the ship – their new map has proven to be a hit in accommodating all play-styles, and the new weapons were fun. While content has come at a glacial pace, what has arrived has been enjoyable, and DICE’s has several updates announced. With plans for returning the specialists into class-based roles based on their gadget choices, along with to rework the existing maps so they have more extensive cover, Battlefield 2042 is slowly inching back to a state that players had been expecting since the game’s launch almost a year ago. While the hour is late for DICE, since Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II is releasing in October, the improvements made to the game so far and those that are on the horizon has meant that, together with the seasonal unlocks, Battlefield 2042 has offered players with the incentive of returning again. I had not expected to put any time into Battlefield 2042‘s multiplayer proper, but over the past few months, I’ve found myself returning; although my reflexes aren’t what they used to be, and my map and weapon knowledge nowhere near what it’d be if I play with the same frequency I did a few years earlier, I am finding that I am having fun in the matches I join. The latest map to join the Battlefield 2042 rotation is Stranded. Set in the Panama Canal, this map consists of plains and hilly ground surrounding a derelict cargo ship whose cavernous interior is open for exploration. The map’s design is such that there are areas to accommodate all play styles. Inside the container ship, the narrow quarters mean that submachine guns and shotguns dominate, whereas outside, sniper rifles and marksman rifles are effective. Vehicles and zip-lines allow players to traverse the map easily, and the variety of environments mean that combat is varied and ever-changing, demanding that players be familiar with both close quarters and long range tactics in order to be successful. The variety of combat options available to players on Stranded has proven to be remarkably entertaining, and like Exposure, provided hours of enjoyment. Overall, Battlefield 2042 is gradually returning to a state where it is fun again, and with the multiplayer enticing me to return to the game, I’ve now amassed about ninety-two hours of time in the game. I had not expected to partake in PvP again, but one element in Battlefield 2042 has made this experience significantly more enjoyable – the fact that I am able to unlock attachments for weapons in the solo mode.
While Battlefield 2042 may have altered the core mechanics behind its class system, suffered from performance issues and started players with poorly-designed maps, the one aspect that Battlefield 2042 has been a front-runner in is its solo mode. In this area, Battlefield 2042 has demonstrated exemplary innovation, providing a full-scale environment for one to test new weapons and attachments. Previously, Battlefield had only given players a firing range to test recoil patterns on weapons one had already unlocked, and so, when one decided to make the switch from their preferred weapons to try something new, they would always start with the base weapon and no attachments. This left one out of their element, and at a distinct disadvantage in a firefight, especially if one were going against players who were using weapons that were customised precisely to their liking. This makes it difficult to find the motivation to use newly unlocked weapons and get a feel for them. Conversely, here in Battlefield 2042, the fact that one can play full matches against AI bots on maps means having the chance to learn how a weapon handles in a practical situation against foes that offer a reasonable idea of how said weapons might perform against live foes in PvP. Moreover, because one can actually unlock attachments for their weapons in solo mode, it is possible to kit one’s weapon out and determine what attachments best suits one’s style well before one ever sets foot in a live match. In this way, I was able to unlock enough of a given weapon’s attachments and learn about them before ever going against human players. The end result of this was that, when I did end up returning to Battlefield 2042 for Exposure and Stranded, I already had a loadout I was comfortable with using. As such, when playing against people on a live server, I never once felt as though my loadout was putting me on the backfoot, and ultimately, irrespective of whether or not I won a match, I ended up having fun exploring the map and blasting foes with the tools available to me. This has contributed greatly to my enjoyment of Battlefield 2042, and looking ahead, I am of the mind that the solo mode in Battlefield 2042 should be a feature that future titles incorporate into things.
Screenshots and Commentary
- Before going any further, I will stop to mention here that this is my 1500th post, speaking to the amount of time I’ve been writing for. If memory serves, the last time I hit a milestone would’ve been when I hit 1000 posts back in October 2018. The last time I wrote about Battlefield 2042, it would’ve been late June. Back then, Season One was getting started, and I remember having a fantastic time on the map. The biggest reason I was able to suddenly jump into a PvP environment was because by then, I’d already had all the weapons unlocked, along with a sizeable collection of attachments.
- Prior to the first season, my older machine struggled to run Battlefield 2042, so I mostly spent my time on the solo servers. While experience here is capped, and ribbons can’t be earned, every kill still contribute to a weapon’s usage. Stranded allows for medium and long range combat outdoors, but inside the derelict cargo ship, narrow corridors and chokepoints make it an excellent place for folks running close quarters weapons. At this point in time, DICE still hasn’t applied any updates towards how specialists work yet, so for the time being, it’s still possible for players to customise their loadouts completely. I typically go with Angel because of his ability to drop loadout crates, which allow me to change roles at will.
- Updates in the future are supposed to constrain gadgets to specific specialists, although at present, I’ve not heard of any plans to constrain weapon types to certain specialists. While the current situation in Battlefield 2042 doesn’t affect my ability to contribute to my team, I have noticed that running Angel means I can operate fairly independently of other players, which defeats the purpose of teamwork. Similarly, if I can switch out my weapons at will, I’m much less reliant on teammates and therefore won’t rely on them as much. This has resulted in players opting to play the game without a thought for teamwork: revives, resupplies, repairs and heals are much rarer than they’d been in earlier titles.
- Limiting certain specialists to specific gadgets and weapon types is, on paper, all that’s needed to bring Battlefield 2042‘s class system back: specialists are simply a more evolved version of the archetypes Battlefield V introduced, and since every specialist has a dedicated ability, one could make the case that with gadget and weapon constraints, specialists would actually increase team play, since players now are limited to only one gadget that lets them to fulfil a team role, and therefore must depend on other players for support.
- Battlefield 2042‘s latest updates introduces statistics to the game, and while I’m a little disappointed that the more interesting measures, like longest headshot, no longer appear, the game does give some insight into how one is doing. At the time of writing, I’ve got a 53 percent win rate and a KDR of 0.76 – I’m certainly not a skillful player by any means, as I only play for fun. In Battlefield V and Battlefield 1, I put in a little more effort towards improving because I had significantly more time to play, but I also remember how things were more stressful in the earlier titles because time-limited unlocks could only be done in live multiplayer matches.
- Conversely, here in Battlefield 2042, I’m not particularly worried about staying alive long enough to complete my assignments because, if I should miss them, there will be a chance to re-attempt things in a solo server. In this way, I’m able to focus purely on having fun whenever I come online for a match of Battlefield 2042 and not worry too much about my individual performance in a game. KDR to me matters less than helping my teammates out, and I frequently top the scoreboards because I make liberal use the tools available to me beyond my primary weapon.
- Rather than focusing on kills alone, I do my best to ensure my teammates have enough health and ammo to survive firefights, know where their foes are and bring them back into a fight when safe to do so. This approach has helped my team to victory on several occasions and allowed me to complete assignments asking players to win a certain number of matches. However, I am able to hold my own in firefights where appropriate: playing solo mode has allowed me to learn all of the weapons well enough to choose what works best for me, in addition to providing access to enough attachments to make life easier.
- Now that I’ve got a GPU capable of real-time ray-tracing, I’ve elected to max all of my settings out and turn ray-tracing on for Battlefield 2042: serious players will set everything to low and disable all of the fancy features to get as many frames as possible, but for me, playing on full settings means getting the best immersion into the game. Here, I notice the reflection of the red cargo containers on my weapon: the K30 is the Kriss Vector, and it’s the fastest firing submachine gun in Battlefield 2042. It was fun to watch the reflections change in response to where I was on the map.
- As a submachine gun, the K30 excels in mowing down opponents at close range and in exchange, is ineffective at longer ranges. Of the submachine guns in Battlefield 2042, I’m most comfortable with the K30 and MP9: they’re reliable weapons for short-range battles and maintain high accuracy when hip-fired. The deck of the cargo container is an excellent place to use submachine guns, and in live matches, this is a hotly-contested location because the deck offers unparalleled vantage points of the entire map.
- The team that controls the Charlie capture point can actually get to the ship’s upper decks and gain a considerable advantage as a sniper. I’ve enjoyed control of this position on several occasions, enough to make use of the DXR-1 to pick off foes from the control points below. This is the best long-range rifle in the game bar none at the time of writing, and I’ve unlocked the 10x optic for it, allowing me to place my shots with confidence. Since Battlefield 2042‘s bolt-action rifles all have straight-pull bolts by default, it makes it easy to see how much I need to adjust my aim by if I miss my first shot.
- Making use of the proximity sensor by chucking one into a heavily populated area will automatically spot everyone, and any teammates will also be able to see them. If teammates then score a kill against a spotted foe, one will receive experience points equivalent to getting a kill. This is a trick I picked up off Battlefield YouTubers: while I’m ambivalent about streamers, there are a handful of people I greatly respect. MrProWestie, LevelCap, JackFrags and TheRadBrad are my favourite gaming personalities, offering a balance of useful and informative content that is simultaneously humourous.
- The main thing about these YouTubers is that their videos are genuinely helpful. Whether it’s the points of feedback MrProWestie provides for Battlefield, loadout suggestions from JackFrags, general news from LevelCap, or TheRadBrad’s approach for levels I may get stuck in, watching their videos aids me in improving my game. This is what I look for in online streamers; anyone who consistently provide useful information is worth my while. I don’t watch YouTubers or streamers for their personalities alone, but rather, how well they can deliver what I came for.
- While I typically don’t watch streamers, the reason why TheRadBrad, LevelCap, MrProWestie and JackFrags are engaging enough for me to make an exception because, after watching their videos, there’s an incentive to try out something they’ve suggested, and I’ve done several things during my time in Battlefield that were directly inspired by some of their videos. My favourite two include camping at the end of Hamada with dynamite and a panzerfaust from JackFrags’ “How to have fun in Battlefield 5” video, and LevelCap’s “I BOMBED a Bomber!” (also in Battlefield V).
- The relative lack of content in Battlefield 2042 means that my favourite YouTubers have gone on to play other games like Call of Duty: Warzone, and it is in part for this reason that I’m now following developments on Modern Warfare II – while I have no intention of playing Warzone II, Modern Warfare II itself looks exceptional, and I’m quite excited to see how this one unfolds. If the launch is solid, I do see myself picking up and playing Modern Warfare II shortly after. Hardware is no longer a challenge, so whether or not I’ll pull the trigger on Modern Warfare II is going to be dictated by how engaging the campaign looks, and how stable the game is.
- Back in Battlefield 2042, the benefit of throwing a proximity sensor and collecting assists is apparent to me, giving me a chance to contribute to my team’s efforts. When I first began the Master of Arms season, I was losing every match I played. I’ve never been a deft hand in getting kills, but my enjoyment of Battlefield 2042 comes from utilising every tool in the arsenal to score points. In many matches, I end up in the top quartile of players simply by reviving, resupplying, healing and spotting for teammates, and even if my KDR is negative for that match, I’ll have a good time anyways.
- With this in mind, I do get the occasional kill here and there: here, I pick off a foe shortly after my team’s captured the second sector during a round of Breakthrough. Of the two biggest modes in Battlefield 2042, Breakthrough is one I especially enjoy because of how it clusters players together into small areas. In the chaos, it can be a great place for reviving, healing and resupplying entire squads, as well as spotting groups of enemies. On the flipside, Conquest is better for vehicle-oriented goals and sandbox moments. I enjoy both modes, as both offer a different way to play.
- When it comes to sniping, being a defender on Breakthrough offers one of the most action-packed environments for sniping. By this point in time, I’ve unlocked the 10x scope for the DXR-1, and its reticule is among the cleanest of the high-magnification optics, making it easy to keep track of one’s target even as they’re moving. While I do have a holographic sight and an 8x scope as well, I’ve found that, at least for the sniper rifles, I rarely need to utilise the + system in order to change out the attachments because they’re so specialised that I’ll stay far away from the frontlines.
- Here, I’ve unlocked the AM40: this assault rifle is based off the Avtomat Malogabaritnyj Model 17, which was unveiled by Kalashnikov Concern in 2017 and is intended to replace the AKS-74U as a close-quarters rifle. Five years since its introduction, the AM-17 has seen limited use and isn’t quite ready for widespread service yet. Battlefields 2042‘s implementation of the AM-17 places the AM40 as a cross between an assault rifle and submachine gun, giving it a high rate of fire best suited for closer-range engagements.
- Initially, the base AM40 is is stymied by its small magazine size: players begin their journey with a twenty-one round high powered magazine, which allows the weapon to reach out a little further than if standard rounds were used. To gain a feel for the weapon, I ended up playing a few rounds in solo mode and became comfortable with using the AM40 to take on a small number of foes before ducking behind cover to reload. The iron sights on the AM40 are reasonably clear, but since the K8 holographic sight is unlocked after a mere five kills, I swapped over to that immediately.
- The AM40’s presence in Battlefield 2042 is in keeping with how the other weapons handle: the + system means that most assault rifles can be tuned for longer range or shorter range combat, and while the other rifles can be changed into a makeshift marksman rifle, the AM40 can be transformed into a makeshift submachine gun in a pinch. The idea of being able to change one’s roles on such short notice actually was probably meant to mirror how specialists can equip any gadget of their choosing and maximise versatility. While this is a great idea for single-player games, the whole point of multiplayer is to work as a team. As such, I would argue that making gadgets and weapons class-specific, but then retaining the + system would strike a balance between flexibility and encouraging specific roles for team play.
- One unusual behaviour I noticed since Master of Arms began was the fact that attachments would sometimes “freeze” for the AM40. For instance, if I reached 120 kills and unlocked the TV 2x optic, that optic would actually be unavailable for selection and still show as locked. It would then become unlocked after I left my current game and then hit the next unlock tier, after which all of the previously locked attachments would unlock. If this is a bug, one hopes that DICE would rectify this: it’s not a game-breaker, but it is a bit of a nuisance.
- While the NTW-50 is the last weapon unlocked in Battlefield 2042, it is highly situational and only really useful in certain scenarios. Originally, the weapon had been quite effective at damaging vehicles (three shots could destroy hovercrafts and the LATV4 Recon), but DICE quickly made a patch to reduce its power. Being an anti-materiel weapon, the NTW-50 remains somewhat effective at damaging vehicle parts and can one-shot soldiers at close range, but its slow rate of fire and low muzzle velocity makes it ill-suited for most combat encounters.
- Here, I rush capture point echo, located on the eastern edge of the map near the Russian deployment, with the PKP-BP. Until the Avancys was introduced, this was the only other light machine gun available to players besides the LCMG, and I’ve found the PKP-BP to be my preferred LMG of choice when locking down control points owing to its higher firing rate and starting capacity. This weapon is powerful enough so that a single player with one can lock down a choke point on their own, and its recoil is manageable, allowing it to be useful in a range of situations.
- I still recall how the K30 was the last unlock in Battlefield 2042‘s open beta, and here, I managed to get the jump on two players who were camping on the tower south of the ship. I had enough ammunition to deal with two of the three players, but the last player caught on, and as I fumbled with the revolver, said player sent me back to the spawn screen.
- Here, I defend capture point bravo in the final few moments of a losing match: an uncivilised and unskilled player on my team, Peskoly, spent the entire match spamming the text chats with complaints about how my team wasn’t doing enough to keep him alive while he flew. I therefore found it unsurprising that Peskoly didn’t even make it onto the scoreboard, whereas I ended up in the top ten by the time the match ended (despite joining later). When the match ended, the remainder of my teammates laid the blame on Peskoly for single-handedly costing everyone the match.
- It does feel strange that Battlefield 2042‘s team chat only allows one to communicate with their team, whereas in previous titles, one could also message players on the other team. While this does make sense from a team perspective, one of my strategies in older Battlefield titles was to call out anyone who had killed me via camping as cheater, and this always would rile that player up so much they’d abandon the objective and team play to go after me. In a given match, if I could do this to two or three of their players, it actually created enough of a distraction so my team could make a comeback. I consider camping the height of dishonour, and have never felt guilty about using such a tactic to even things out.
- With the text chat now limited to my team only, such a method is no longer viable. With this being said, Battlefield 2042 has been much better in that I’ve not encountered any cheats in the PvP matches I’ve played. Having said this, I retain an enjoyment of getting back at people who get lucky kills on me through camping, and here, I land a headshot on one ItsPandaMan within seconds of respawning after they’d gotten me earlier by camping: although “hackusations” are funny to sling around, there’s no substitute for headshotting a camper.
- During the course of Master of Arms, I became much more comfortable with operating the bolt action rifles, and during my time on Stranded, I became moderately proficient with the DXR-1 to the point where I was able to score a headshots from around 330 metres away here on one Amniesa. It is a shame that Battlefield 2042 doesn’t keep track of one’s best headshot distance: while I’m not a fantastic marksman by any stretch, it is fun to see if I can score long-distance shots in a given title. In Battlefield V, my record was 356 metres, and in Battlefield 1, I managed to get a headshot from 383 metres on Sinai Desert towards the end of my time there.
- A 330 metre headshot is not close to my old records, but this does show that I’m slowly getting used to the mechanics of Battlefield 2042. To estimate headshot distance, I used the spotting marker: I roughly know where my foes were located and where I placed my shot, so making the estimate wasn’t too tricky. By this point in time, I’ve become quite at home with using Battlefield 2042‘s bolt-action rifles and would hope that a few more are added to the game in the future, along with some FLIR optics so players can see through the smoke – since smoke grenades were added to the game, players have used them liberally to cover their position and make it difficult to aim, so adding a countermeasure for this would help with strategy.
- I’ll round this post off with a moment of me using the PF51, a machine-pistol modelled after the Kel-Tec P50 and is designed to use the same magazines as the FN P90. With a fifty round magazine, this weapon is the perfect secondary weapon for marksmen, as it provides an automatic option for situations where one gets into a close-quarters confrontation. At the time of writing, I’ve yet to unlock the Avancys, but three weeks into the second season, I’ve made reasonable progress and more importantly, I’m having fun in Battlefield 2042.
Battlefield 2042‘s implementation of solo modes and AI bots, as well as how the unlocks earned here carry over into the PvP modes, allow players to approach the game at their own pace. Unlocks are no longer dependent on spending a large amount of time in PvP, making this ideal for folks who don’t have a considerable amount of time to spend on keeping up-to-date with their gaming. Multiplayer games are typically designed for folks whose schedules do not include housework and other day-to-day tasks to tend to – they involve a nontrivial time commitment, making it trickier to keep up with weekly assignments and unlocks. For instance, last season, I ended up missing out on the Ghostmaker R10. However, Battlefield 2042‘s implementation of unlocks allows me to earn the crossbow by means of completing an assignment. Earning twenty-five headshots and three takedown kills is what this assignment entails. While takedown kills are rather difficult to perform, any takedowns carried out in solo mode do count towards the total. This means that I am able to earn the crossbow even though I’d missed the original window. This approach is excellent for people like myself, and while Battlefield 2042 may have noticeable shortcomings, its approach towards unlocks is exemplary. In fact, besides suggesting that future Battlefield games would benefit from such a system, I argue that Call of Duty would also find this approach viable. Call of Duty games have always excelled in providing AI bots, but here, all of the weapons are already unlocked for players to experiment with. Unlocks for use in PvP can only be earned in live matches, and this can make it tricky to rank up new weapons, especially if one is playing against skilled players. This is why feel little incentive to play Modern Warfare‘s multiplayer mode in PvP even though the AI bots have proven fun – I only have the starting weapons available to me, and the competitive atmosphere means playing against humans can be quite stressful. Conversely, if the upcoming Modern Warfare II allows players to rank up weapons families in both PvP modes and against AI bots, it would offer busier players with more flexibility in how they wish to play the game. Call of Duty presently has the upper hand over Battlefield, but Battlefield hasn’t struck out completely – while Battlefield 2042 may have its limitations, allowing progress to be shared between private matches and PvP is the one area where Activision would do well to take a leaf from DICE’s book.