“Nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won.” –Duke of Wellington
With Eleventh Hour and the recent class rework, Battlefield 2042 has reached a state where it finally handles as its predecessors did. The fundamental mechanics behind the game are operational and smooth, with weapons handling very well. Most of the major bugs and errors are now resolved, and the reintroduction of classes means the clear delineation of roles, resulting in increased emphasis on team play as players must focus on their class’ focus. In particular, support players become invaluable for reviving and resupplying allied players, while engineers can concentrate on vehicle-related elements, whether it be repairing friendly vehicles or destroying enemy vehicles. While recon players are typically maligned for running off to the furthest corners of the map and camping with a sniper rifle, a good recon player will have no qualms using drones to spot enemies or finding clever places to drop a spawn beacon and ensure faster return to the frontlines. Assault players are all about pushing forwards onto objectives now, using their speed or durability to initiate a capture. With each class given a specific role, players have more inclination to support their allies, and after returning to Battlefield 2042 following the class rework, the game feels distinctly like its predecessor. In particular, the support class has become especially powerful, and I find myself being revived with a much greater frequency. Looking at how Battlefield 2042 handles, it is fair to say that the current implementation of classes and specialists is what Battlefield V‘s archetype system was likely meant to be – originally, Battlefield V had provided each class with two archetypes. Depending on which archetype one had chosen, one would be given different perks to facilitate a different play-style. Although this was an innovative addition that encouraged players to fulfil a specific role, archetypes were also quite limited, and there had been different incentives to switch between them. On the other hand, Battlefield 2042‘s specialists, once a maligned and questionable change to the game, now make sense: each specialist carries a unique gadget and passive abilities that allow one to fulfil their role in a manner they are most comfortable with. The reintroduction of classes shows that specialists can be made to work with the class system, and while questions of why DICE had initially dispensed with classes remains a valid question, in its current state, adding classes back into Battlefield 2042 is a “better late than never” change – the game now feels properly like a Battlefield game.
The fourth season’s launch brings with it four new weapons, one new gadget and one new map; in keeping with the relatively paltry amount of content, Battlefield 2042‘s limited content continues to remain a point of contention, since older Battlefield titles released up to nine new weapons and four maps with every update. However, there is no denying that the new content remains entertaining, and here in the fourth season, players gain access to Flashpoint, a desert facility set in Richtersveld, South Africa. Early concept art had suggested that the Flashpoint map would be similar to Operation Metro and its successors. Had this been the case, Flashpoint would’ve been a brilliant infantry-only experience of the sort that I’d become very fond of, providing a novel experience in Battlefield 2042. However, the actual product was quite different: the map retains the Battlefield 2042 design in that it features a mixture of open areas and tight interior spaces, so that each weapon type is viable depending on where one is on the map. The balance of narrow passageways and cliffs with excellent vantage points was designed with Battlefield 2042‘s class system in mind; players are most effective when working together, wielding a variety of weapons. The map itself is also visually impressive. Although perhaps not as jaw-dropping as the new maps from previous seasons, Flashpoint is by no means boring – the fuel storage units and generator buildings create an industrial aesthetic that fits in with the themes Battlefield 2042‘s maps strive to convey. There are, however, some design problems and disappointments with flashpoint. The map has three main lanes of travel, with all of the capture points being placed along the centre lane, while the outermost lanes are quite barren. This leaves players fighting for objectives open to vehicles and snipers camping in the side lanes, and similarly, the sheer number of flanking routes mean that one can’t ever be too sure of how secure their position is, as enemy players can readily sneak in, unseen, and eliminate whole squads in seconds. The constant chaos makes it difficult to regain momentum, and on most of the matches I played, once a team gains the upper hand with vehicles, it becomes tricky for the other team to mount a comeback. Similarly, the emphasis on outdoors combat, and the relatively small tunnel area, means that like the existing Battlefield 2042 maps, Flashpoint is vehicle-centred. Introducing an infantry-only map into Battlefield 2042 would’ve increased map variety and provide players with an environment where infantry chaos reigns supreme, offering a novel experience, but leaving the map as being vehicle-friendly limits options for players. These minor gripes notwithstanding, Flashpoint remains a fun map, and the same design constraints that lead me to dying to sneaky foes can be utilised against others, resulting in some memorable gameplay moments.
Screenshots and Commentary
- Since I last wrote about Battlefield 2042, DICE added thermal optics to the game. These optics cut right through smoke and render players as clear as day, giving players an effective counter against smoke grenades. Although thermal optics have limited utility in most games owing to how bright environments are, and weapon attachments are fixed, forcing one to choose carefully, the +-system in Battlefield 2042 means it’s easy to swap between optics depending on the situation. Beyond thermal optics, the updates have also brought back marksman bonuses that provide one with a visual indicator of how distant their best headshots were.
- These details have meant that at the time of writing, Battlefield 2042 finally feels like an almost-complete, enjoyable Battlefield experience. The only thing that’s missing from the game now is a server browser. I’ve heard that the lack of a server browser in modern multiplayer titles stems from a multitude of factors: between forcing skill-based match-making on players and attempting to appeal to a non-PC demographic (console players generally prefer matchmaking over server browsers on virtue of lacking a comfortable UX for looking through long lists of servers), most studios omit this feature nowadays: Modern Warfare II also lacks a dedicated server browser.
- For me, the main advantage about the server browser is simply being able to play on the maps I’d wish to play on, versus being matched into a map I may not be particularly fond of. Every Battlefield game has its share of maps I’m less keen on (Fao Fortress, Fjell 652 and Aerodrome come to mind), and a server browser lets me to spend less time on the maps I don’t like. In Battlefield 2042, the lack of a server browser means I’ve not been able to try some of the newly reworked maps, but every season opens with dedicated matchmaking for the new map, allowing me to focus purely on the new experiences as they become available, and here, I manage to land a two-in-one with the DRX-1.
- As the new map, Flashpoint is a desert map set in South Africa, and the in-game lore states that here in Richtersveld, the aim is to capture a rocket fuel processing facility and a special bit of hardware within. Flashpoint consists of fractioning towers and warehouses in a rocky environment, with a central tunnel leading into a vast silo at the heart of the map. When promotional imagery for the map first released, people had been hopeful that an Operation Metro-like experience would be the result, dealing with a vast underground mining tunnel under construction or similar.
- Infantry-only maps in Battlefield have always been enjoyable for offering unparalleled chaos, so it was a bit of a disappointment to see that Flashpoint doesn’t have the same intentions as Operation Metro-like maps. With this being said, Flashpoint is aesthetically pleasing, which is a lot more than can be said of most desert maps. Longtime readers may be familiar with my distaste for desert maps, and this can be attributed to the overuse of desert environments in works of science fiction. George Lucas is notorious for favouring desert maps – although literary critics have helpfully explained that deserts were meant to symbolise dead-end, lifeless environments devoid of hope, so a hero’s ascension is all the more inspirational and Christ-like, it doesn’t stop deserts from being any less exciting.
- From a filming perspective, it makes sense to pick deserts simply for ease of production, but the need for all deserts to include large, carnivorous worms and spice grows old quickly. This is why in a given Battlefield game, I tend to avoid playing on desert maps that are too Saharan or Arabian in aesthetic. On the other hand, deserts like the Kalahari are fine. I did not finding myself growing bored of Flashpoint’s environment because the number of fuel processing facilities and warehouses kept the map fresh. Despite the wide open spaces, there’s room for everything from submachine guns to sniper rifles on Flashpoint.
- Accompanying the class update is the fact that every class now has weapon proficiencies. Assault players gain extra magazines when equipping assault rifles, while support players can swap weapons faster if they’re running a submachine gun. Engineers have improved weapon stability if crouched or prone with a light machine gun, and recon players have superior weapon stability with sniper rifles. Bonuses notwithstanding, all classes can equip all weapons, with the obvious difference being that the weapon proficiency bonuses aren’t applied if one picks weapons their class typically won’t run with. This ensures players keep the options they’ve become accustomed to, while at the same time, encouraging players to stick with their proficiencies if they want maximum efficacy in a team setting.
- Players aren’t punished if they choose to run with weapons outside of their proficiency, and in this way, I was able to use the BSV-M in conjunction with the support class. Since the class rework, I’ve found that Falck has replaced Angel as my favourite support specialist: her passive ability is instantly healing all revived players, and her special gadget is the S21 Syrette Pistol, which fires darts that heal allied players over time and can be used to instantly bring one back to full health in a pinch. I found that, when combined with the resupply crate, Falck has limitless utility, being able to resupply and heal friendly players alike.
- The BSV-M had seen less utility in previous seasons, but on Flashpoint, the combination of wide open spaces and close quarters confines meant that the BSV-M’s ability to adapt instantly to long and short range combat made it indispensable. Here, I gun down to players with the BSV-M’s automatic mode with back-to-back headshots, including one player calling themselves “AngelaBalzac”, a not-so-oblique reference to the 2014 film, Expelled From Paradise. Admittedly, owing to Battlefield 2042‘s poor reception despite having made considerable strides, player counts in the game remain quite low, and during the start of this fourth season, I had some difficulty in finding populated servers to join.
- More often than not, I ended up joining a match on a server that was awaiting players. However, once the minimum number of players were queued up and the game started, I found that the ability for Battlefield 2042 to populate the remainder of the server with AI bots meant that the individual matches felt quite active, no different than a server fully populated with human opponents and allies. This was probably one of Battlefield 2042‘s best additions – I understand why the game still requires a certain number of human players to start the match, but once this threshold is reached and players are allowed to start, the experience is solid.
- During the previous season, I didn’t get to giving the NVK-P125 pistol or the NVK-S22 shotgun a whirl. The NVK-P125 is a excellent sidearm with improved range and accuracy compared to that of other sidearms. With its futuristic design, the NVK-P125 has a digital display for indicating the number of rounds available to players, reminiscent of Halo‘s iconic assault rifle. It’s an excellent weapon to pair with a submachine gun. On the other hand, I’ve yet to try the NVK-S22 out despite having unlocked it: shotguns don’t really seem to be effective in Battlefield 2042 as far as I can tell.
- During the course of my time spent in Flashpoint, I ended up switching back over to the LCMG – the PKP-BP has a higher rate of fire, and the Avancys is more accurate at range, but since the LCMG occupies a sweet spot between the two, it actually ends up being a remarkably reliable and consistent weapon. Besides Falck, I began using Lis significantly more after the class update. I always found Lis to be a fun character to play owing to her ability to automatically mark vehicles and for being able to utilise the G-84 TGM, a TV-guided missile launcher. This weapon had been quite effective, but in the present, has been tuned so it is harder to fly and deals less damage against vehicles. As a result of her specialisation, Lis is unable to carry the other shoulder-fired anti-vehicle launchers in the game.
- The introduction of a class system ultimately encouraged me to try more of the specialists out – previously, I played as Angel exclusively owing to his ability to call in loadout crates, and by creating well-defined loadouts early on, I could effortlessly change roles multiple times during a match without needing to return to the spawn screen. This made Angel the top means of running solo; although perfect in a game against AI bots, it also meant I had little incentive to use any other specialist while unlocking weapons.
- Thanks to the addition of Zain, the assault class is also a good choice – these players favour speedy insertion and exfiltration from a capture point and possess perks that allow them to push objectives. In Zain’s case, the passive ability to regenerate health after every kill encourages a more aggressive play-style, and I found this to be useful over what the other specialists offer. Here, I’m running with the AC-42, a burst-fire rifle. Although I used it primarily against the AI bots in the solo mode for the purpose of levelling it up, I found it modestly useful against live players at longer ranges: burst fire is reliable at close ranges, but with the right attachments and while in semi-automatic mode, it actually can serve as a makeshift marksman rifle.
- Throughout this post, I focus exclusively on conquest: the featured mode for Flashpoint conquest is 64 players, and this makes it both easier to get into a match. Further to this, the pacing in conquest makes it more suitable for exploring the map and capturing screenshots – owing to how Breakthrough works, I found that I would either join a team that was routing their opponent so hard that they blitzed through the sectors, or otherwise had reached a stalemate, leaving one stuck in one area for entire matches. This makes it difficult to really check out all of the areas of a map, whereas in conquest, since capture points come and go, there is more opportunity for exploration.
- The AC9 is one of the new additions to Battlefield 2042 – it’s a submachine gun modelled after the Brügger & Thomet APC9 and fulfils a similar role to the MP9, another weapon designed for supremacy at extremely close ranges. As with all of the weapons I run with, I ended up unlocking all of the attachments playing solo Breakthrough against AI bots. Once it’s kitted out, the AC9 appears to occupy a niche between the MP9 and the PBX-45: it has a higher firing rate than the PBX-45 and is more accurate than the MP9, making it a great choice for flanking enemies. In a straight firefight, the AC9 is bested by the K30 and MP9.
- I had moderate success with the AC9 when I wielded it against human opponents; the weapon performs best with a Warhawk Compensator and laser sight. Out of a force of habit, I tend to aim down sights even with submachine guns – in older Battlefield games, I was comfortable with firing from the hip whenever using submachine guns and made full use of the hip-fire accuracy to shred foes at close quarters. I’m not sure if submachine guns in Battlefield 2042 still have their predecessor’s hip-fire performance, but given I prefer to aim down sights, the PBX-45 has become my favourite of the submachine guns.
- For assault rifles, I find that the M5A3 and the SFAR-M GL are my go-to weapons, capable of excelling at most ranges. Here, as I reload the SFAR-M GL, the glint of light catches the weapon. Battlefield 2042 was originally not as visually polished or detailed as its predecessors: many places had textures that looked blocky and pixellated, and maps were quite lacking in detail. However, between DICE’s tireless efforts in making the new maps and overhauling the existing maps to have more cover and clutter, Battlefield 2042 looks significantly better than it had at launch. Some visual bugs still exist, but on the whole, Battlefield 2042 is evidently in a better place in the present.
- The tendency of a Battlefield game to improve over time is an oft-repeated story: Battlefield 2042 joins the ranks of Battlefield 4 and Battlefield V as titles that had rough launches in being a title that managed to turn things around. While the end result is a series of strong comeback stories, I’ve long felt that it would make more sense for DICE to support a game for longer periods of time and not reinvent the wheel every time a new Battlefield title is released. Recent advances in game engine technology, especially the Unreal Engine, has meant there is precedence for studios to use a stable, reliable engine. The presence of the Unreal Engine has been a game-changer: my graduate thesis was developed in Unreal 4, and Unreal 5 is so sophisticated that independent developers have been able to make jaw-dropping games. In fact, Unreal 5 is sufficiently powerful so that 343 Industries has decided to drop their plan for additional Halo Infinite campaign elements and transition over to a new Halo game done in the Unreal 5 engine.
- As a result of using the solo mode to unlock weapon attachments, I was able to push the AC9 to the point where I even had the high-visibility laser sight unlocked. Unlike the other submachine guns, whose high-visibility lasers are green, the AC9’s high-visibility laser is blue. The new laser sights add a bit of bonus recoil control on top of improved hip-fire accuracy, and although some speculation suggested the inclusion of night maps, insofar, these additions have not been made to the game. The low volume of content is currently the largest issue on the minds of Battlefield fans, and while the game has made strides, there haven’t been enough maps or unlocks to keep dedicated players engaged.
- I still vividly recall when support for Battlefield V ended: back in June 2020, DICE released one final update to Battlefield V that added a variety of new weapons and two new maps. I remember playing through these maps on a stormy day – I’d been doing well on the Provence map when all of a sudden, the power went out. Without any other plans for that afternoon, I decided to take a quick kip while said rainstorm raged on outside. That time had been quite melancholy: deep in the midst of the global health crisis, there was very little to do besides stay at home and play games, so hearing that DICE was planning to stop updating Battlefield V just when the game had hit its stride was disappointing.
- There was always the risk that DICE would do the same to Battlefield 2042, since its sales and player retention hasn’t been impressive. With this being said, between the solo modes and returning to the seasonal content, I’ve already logged a total of 133 hours in Battlefield 2042. Similarly, I put in a total of some 362 hours into Battlefield V and 404 hours into Battlefield 1. From a value standpoint, I do feel that I got my money’s worth in all of the Battlefield titles I’ve picked up at launch. If DICE were to drop support for Battlefield 2042 after the fifth season, I still feel that the experience would’ve been a fairly enjoyable one.
- Here on Flashpoint, I set my own personal best for a recorded headshot distance: while trading fire with another player, I landed a headshot from 258 metres. Although I’ve previously managed a 400 metre headshot on Hourglass, there’s no indicator that this was the case, so my current headshot here is the longest confirmed headshot I’ve scored. Sniping in Battlefield 2042 is just as engaging as it had been in previous titles, and while I wasn’t always fond of picking up a bolt-action rifle, ever since Battlefield 1, I’ve been more open to using these long-range weapons. Battlefield 2042 does have a noticeable lack of long-range weapons, but the weapons available get the job done, and of late, I’ve spent more time trying to get to know the SWS-10 better – the DXR-1 has been my preferred rifle for having less bullet drop and better damage, but the SWS-10 has better handling and a higher firing rate.
- We’re now almost halfway through March, and it is not lost on me that I’ve only written one other post beyond this brief update on Battlefield 2042. I typically plan my posts well out in advance, and almost all of my posts for this month are scheduled to be published later this month: besides the Girls und Panzer tenth anniversary posts, I’m scheduled to write about Mō Ippon! and Itsuka Ano Umi de. The combination of delays mean that the end of the month is a bit of a busier time, and as a result of the seasonal anime’s releases, I’d prefer to use the time now and prepare some posts ahead of schedule so they coincide with milestone dates surrounding Girls und Panzer.
- A year ago today, I began the process of moving house. This was a particularly busy day, but the process had gone very smoothly, and in the present, I’m now settled in. Yesterday evening, I went out for dinner with family to a Chinese restaurant that we’d not been to in almost seven years: this particular restaurant is known for its excellent food, but in the past, was stymied by extremely slow service. Since changing management, they’ve turned things around – the food is excellent now, but service is also swift. We ended up enjoying a combination of familiar dishes, as well as things I’ve never tried before, including pig lung soup and crispy taro-crusted duck. Everything was flavourful, but not excessively greasy, and the restaurant was packed. Immediately, I understood why all of the reviews for this place were so positive.
- Back in Battlefield 2042, I’ve got some screenshots of the tunnel area, and here, I scored a kill on someone while defending the capture point, which is large enough so that vehicles can fit here. The sheer number of vantage points mean that defenders do have an advantage here, as they can hide in a corner and remain hidden from attackers, but on the flipside, a vehicle and good spotters will give attackers an overwhelming advantage. While I had hoped this part of the map would be hotly contested, the warehouse at Echo, and the fuel tanks at Charlie tend to be the most fought-over points on the map; more often than not, I could capture Delta on my own without any resistance.
- Although defenders camped out here managed a few kills on me during one match, I ended up coming back in with some teammates, and we cleared them out successfully. As the days passed, it became much easier to find matches on Flashpoint, and over time, I became more familiar with how players moved around on this map. This made it a little more straightforward to complete the assignments; unlike Modern Warfare II, I’ve opted not to pick up the premium upgrade so I could unlock more rewards for moving through the Battle Pass, and I don’t believe I’m missing out on too much beyond cosmetics I’ve little interest in. This is actually why I’m presently sitting out Modern Warfare II‘s second season – there’s so much going on that buying the Battle Pass felt like a poor use of funds.
- While cosmetics in a given game don’t generally interest me, the weapons, gadgets and vehicles do, and fortunately, they’re available to all players. Beyond a new submachine gun, light machine gun, the Super-Shorty (Super 500) and assault rifle, the fourth season also provides players with a CAV-Brawler and the SPH Explosive Launcher. Having managed to unlock the SPH Explosive Launcher, I did end up having fun with it – here, I scored a very lucky double kill on two distant foes with it. The gadget fires two sticky grenades that will adhere to any surface and explode after a short delay, making it a great way to break down walls. The weapon has two more rounds in reserve, and beyond being one extra tool for destruction, the SPH Explosive Launcher can be used in another, amusing manner.
- Since the grenades adhere to any surface, one can use them to stick to enemy players, after which an explosion will occur, instantly killing them. While playing around with the SPH Explosive Launcher, I got several “from the grave” kills, where I would fire a round that was a direct hit. My foe would then gun me down, but the grenade would then detonate and score me a kill, as well. In this moment here, I managed to land a direct hit on an unsuspecting foe and scored a bonus for my trouble. The weapon has some utility, but it is ultimately a fun tool for messing around with others.
- The last moment I’ll share for this series of thoughts will be me using the C5 explosives to destroy a tank being driven by “Im_Neat-_-“, a low-level player who got a pair of lucky kills against me, but otherwise didn’t know how tanks worked. Luckily for me, squadmates nearby were still alive, and after I spawned back in, I immediately planted all of my C5 on the tank, then mashed the detonate button to score a revenge kill against Im_Neat-_-. At the time of writing, I’ve almost got the RPT-31 unlocked, and my plan is to play through Eleventh Hour until I have the RM68 unlocked. I expect that the next time I write about Battlefield 2042 will be season five come June, and I am hoping that season will be accompanied by the news of DICE continuing with support and content for the game for at least two more seasons. In the meantime, with this post in the books, it’s time to turn my attention to the other posts I’ve got lined up for the month.
Now that season four is launched, and Battlefield 2042 is finally delivering an experience that is decidedly Battlefield, the game has finally reached an excellent state. Players are returning (even if the numbers aren’t especially significant), and people remark that this is how Battlefield 2042 should have launched. Battlefield 2042 is a worthy game now, and while this should be encouraging, it also does feel as though these improvements come too little, too late. Battlefield V had suffered a similar fate, starting off on a poor footing and improved to the point where the game had become superbly enjoyable. However, right when Battlefield V had mounted a comeback, DICE cut support and rerouted all of their developer efforts into Battlefield 2042, creating the expectation that the new game would be polished and enjoyable. Now that Battlefield 2042 has reached a steady state, there is always the possibility that DICE could pull the plug and release a new game to try and entice new customers. This would be a mistake: if DICE were to focus on Battlefield 2042 instead, and continue to add new content for at least another two years, longtime fans would have more reason to put their faith in DICE’s ability to deliver. On the other hand, dropping support for Battlefield 2042 would very likely result in the next Battlefield title performing poorly at launch. At this point in time, then, I am very much hoping that DICE will continue to focus on Battlefield 2042, as opposed to releasing a new title. According to Battlefield news sources, the next season is set to include a re-imagining of an iconic Battlefield map, but beyond this, not much more is known. It will therefore be with the next season that Battlefield 2042‘s fate is decided, and while things have consistently been looking up since the seasons began running, history has shown that anything can happen. Consequently, my only objective in Battlefield 2042 at present is to enjoy the game for what it does – while the future is uncertain and the possibility of the plug being pulled is ever-present, being able to play the game while the player count remains reasonable translates to getting as complete of an experience as possible.