The Infinite Zenith

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Battlefield 2042: Celebrating 1500 Posts, Becoming A Master of Arms Through Adaptive Design Choices and Regaining My Proficiency As A Marksman

“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 IIModern 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.

Battlefield 2042: Zero Hour, My First Killtrocity On A Canadian Excursion and Considering the Future of Battlefield

“When things are a disappointment, try not to be so discouraged.” –Carol Burnett

Seven months after Battlefield 2042 launched, DICE has finally launched the first content update to their beleaguered title, which has suffered from instability and performance issues since it was released last November. The state of Battlefield 2042 was such that the game’s player-count had been in free-fall since launch, and while DICE attempted to right things with updates to improve things like hit detection, stability and consistency, skeptical players continued to leave the game for greener pastures. With over just a half-year having passed since this launch, DICE has managed to iron out most of Battlefield 2042‘s most glaring technical issues, allowing them to now focus on improving the game loop and turn their attention towards adding new content to the game. Traditionally, content has always been the appeal of a Battlefield game – new maps and weapons kept previous titles exciting and fresh, and earlier Battlefield games have always delivered consistently. New weapons allow players to explore new play-styles, while new maps challenge players to learn new routes and strategies to best take advantage of the map’s design to earn a win. Battlefield 2042, however, has done neither until now, and even with the Zero Hour update, only a single new map has been added, along with two new primary weapons, two new helicopters and one new gadget. In 2018, DICE’s Battlefield V introduced the Panzerstorm map within a few weeks of launching, and then consistently provided new content that culminated in the triumphant Pacific War update, which decisively showed that Battlefield V had everything in place to become an iconic and immersive shooter, a far cry from its initial marketing. Battlefield V‘s lifespan was shortened when DICE announced they were dropping everything for Battlefield 2042, and looking back now, one wonders why this decision was made: Battlefield V had just entered a state where it was highly enjoyable and was poised to revisit iconic World War Two theatres. In retrospect, the decision to end support for Battlefield V was foolish, especially considering that Battlefield 2042 was launched and handled with even less finesse than Battlefield V; while the constant adjustments to TTK were irritating, Battlefield V still delivered consistent gameplay and new content with regularity. Battlefield 2042 is in a very rough spot, a far sorrier state than Battlefield V had ever found itself in: late is the hour in which the Zero Hour update comes, and despite DICE’s claims that they are in a position to finally add content and improve the game per player feedback, faint rumours are suggesting that Battlefield 2042‘s fate will be similar to that of Battlefield V’s, with support ending after one year’s worth of content.

These rumours, if they are true, will prove disastrous for DICE: with the Zero Hour update, it is plain that DICE’s map design team and developers can pull through. Although lacking the same volume of content as previous Battlefield games, the new map, Exposure, is every bit as immersive and engaging as some of Battlefield’s best maps. There are wide open spaces for vehicular gameplay, narrow corridors for intense close-quarters firefights, and vertical cliff sheers that force players to be mindful of attack from above or below. Exposure’s design allows snipers to be effective against careless infantry, vehicles to traverse vast expanses and duke it out while infantry-oriented players might take refuge in the corridors and tunnels of a secret mountain base to control its interiors. The presence of escape routes, zip-lines and extensive cover give infantry players a chance to make a tangible difference without exposing themselves to long-range fire from vehicles and snipers. Similarly, inquisitive players can make use of the map’s interiors to get off a strategic flank and surprise foes from unexpected directions, forcing defenders to stay on their toes. There is, in short, something for everyone on this map – this is what Battlefield’s best maps have traditionally offered, allowing a skilled player to be effective in any play-style on the map. The successful design in Exposure is a mixed-bag; on one hand, it is a highly engaging experience that shows DICE definitely can still put together maps that players can have fun with, but on the other, it raises the question of why DICE hadn’t been designing maps like Exposure, with a creative balance of cover and open spaces to accommodate all play-styles in the manner of Battlefield’s best maps. The entire Zero Hour update carries a similar melancholy about it; everything is plainly a step in the correct direction, being a return to form for DICE, but there is so little content, so late in the game, that one must wonder if DICE’s hearts are in Battlefield 2042 at all. Despite this sense of wistfulness, however, the Zero Hour update does bring with it the most fun I’ve had in Battlefield 2042 since launch.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Until Zero Hour, my time in Battlefield 2042 was spent exclusively in the single-player modes, where I fought bots extensively to unlock weapons and gear. Because DICE had implemented a limiter to prevent players from farming for experience and trivially unlocking everything, the reduced experience greatly extended the amount of time it took to reach level sixty – this is the point where one would have all weapons, vehicles and gadgets unlocked. Similarly, to prevent players from reaching Tier I for their badges, DICE limits players to reaching Mastery 12 with weapons, vehicles and gadgets, but at Master 12, one will have all attachments and options open to them. Here, I give the NTW-50 a go: this anti-material rifle is extremely powerful but cumbersome, handling similarly to Battlefield V‘s BOYS Anti-tank rifle.

  • Early on, I hopped into a Condor and managed to land the front gunner’s seat. We had come under fire from a Super Hind, and my pilot had managed to position us behind it. With the 50 mm rounds, I destroyed the Super Hind, landing me my first-ever Killtrocity in Battlefield 2042 (in fact, this was one of my earliest kills against live opponents). The transport vehicles tend to be heavily utilised owing to how large maps are, and destroying a fully-occupied vehicle can yield a ludicrous amount of points. However, I chalk this moment to beginner’s luck, more than anything.

  • Ribbons are disabled in the single-player modes, presumably to prevent abuses, and here, I score enough kills to earn a combat ribbon. I’ve missed ribbons: they were absent in Battlefield V, but Battlefield 1 had an excellent system where ribbons were based purely on player actions. To see this simpler system return in Battlefield 2042 was quite welcome, as ribbons reward players for playing a certain way. Unlike earlier Battlefield games, ribbons in Battlefield 2042 are tiered: one can earn ribbons three times in a match, with each tier granting more experience points as a result.

  • Upon returning back to Battlefield 2042, I found myself performing about as well as I had towards the end of my time in Battlefield V: the reason for this is because when Exposure first launched, it was a new map, so players wouldn’t have time to learn every nook and cranny in the map for camping, ducking away from a firefight or laying an ambush. Similarly, playing against AI bots meant I had a very good sense of how my weapons handled, so I was joining the game with an arsenal I had a modicum of familiarity with. Initially, I tried the AK-24, a hard-hitting assault rifle with a longer range than the starting M5A3 and found moderate success with it.

  • The M5A3, on the other hand, is an excellent assault rifle meant for closer-range engagements; it has a higher rate of fire, but with the right attachments, can be made into a makeshift marksman rifle for taking on more distant foes. Having now used the weapons out against live players, I’ve found the M5A3 remains my personal go-to for its high RPM and low recoil: like Battlefield V, the gunplay in Battlefield 2042 is consistent and enjoyable. Random bullet deviation isn’t quite as strong in Battlefield 2042 as it was in Battlefield 1, so for my part, firefights are solid.

  • Whereas Battlefield 1 and V gave points for dealing damage to opponents based on amount, Battlefield 2042 will yield assist points equivalent to a kill if one was involved in any way. The scoring system in Battlefield 2042 is quite generous with points, and for me, just spotting enemies can lead to piles of assists coming in. I’ve found that no matter what I’m running, the proximity sensor is an indispensable asset, allowing me to swiftly locate nearby foes on the mini-map. 3D spotting is still absent, but the plethora of spotting options and improved soldier visibility means that camouflaged players are no longer the issue they were in Battlefield V.

  • One curious trend resulting from my return to Battlefield 2042 was that I found myself using the FXM-33 AA Missile (basically, the FIM-92 Stinger) with a much higher frequency than I had in any previous Battlefield game. The trick to mastering this weapon is to fake out enemy pilots by locking onto them without firing. When locked on, some pilots will immediately deploy flares to break the lock. This also renders their air vehicle immune to being locked onto again for some time. However, the reload time for flares is longer than the delay in being able to lock onto them again.

  • Thus, once I’ve made an enemy pilot waste their flares, I immediately lock onto them again, and fire. This trick allows me to consistently land successful strikes on enemy helicopters, blowing them out of the sky. Previously, in Battlefield 3 and 4, I’ve had no success with the Stinger because I would always fire as soon as I got a lock – if a pilot deploys flares after a missile is fire, the missile will lose its lock on the aircraft. Battlefield 1 and did not have any effective man-portable anti-air weapons, allowing a skilled pilot to single-handedly control a match. Even I was able to get in on the fun in Battlefield 1: the while I’m a terrible pilot, I was able to get work done with the Ilya Muromets bomber.

  • Conversely, Battlefield V offered assault players the Fliegerfaust, and prior to the weapon’s being nerfed, the weapon was obscenely powerful against planes, to the point where even I was able to enjoy the satisfaction of ruining a pilot’s day. The Fliegerfaust would eventually be weakened, requiring two full salvos in order to down an enemy plane. I’ve never felt that man-portable anti-air weapons were ever over-powered – a good pilot can effectively control an entire game, so giving players effective anti-air solutions balances the game out. Battlefield 34 and 2042‘s implementation of anti-air weapons are fair.

  • Exposure is an aesthetically pleasing map, more so than any of the other existing Battlefield 2042 maps. The southern edge of the map is dominated by a rockfall resulting from the landslide that exposed the hidden research facility, and the northern area is dominated by a massive lake. At first glance, the trees here are of a brilliant shade of yellow, suggesting that the map is set during the autumn. However, closer inspection finds that these are evergreens, which don’t yellow unless they’re afflicted with pests, or undergo extreme temperature change – this small detail could hint at how damaging changing weather patterns have been in the Battlefield 2042 world.

  • The Battlefield 2042 story has been ill-explored in the game – while the marketting materials indicated that the game would explore the effects of adverse climate events through the maps and specialist’s backgrounds, the actual product never delivered on this aspect. A campaign would’ve been more appropriate, and probably would’ve given players one more aspect of the game to take on. Here, I land a headshot from afar with the DXR-1, which has quickly become my favourite long-range option in the game, reaching out further and having better accuracy than the starting SWS-10 .

  • During the course of my first entry into Battlefield 2042‘s multiplayer, I also ended up utilising the game’s LMGs. Of the weapons in Battlefield 2042, LMGs received the short end of the stick – only two are available at the time of writing, and while both have noticeably different traits, earlier Battlefield titles had a more impressive selection of these high-capacity weapons, which are best suited for covering choke points. The LCMG is the default available, and while it lacks the firing rate and capacity the PKP-BP possesses, it is slightly more accurate.

  • While farming for healing, I managed to reach rank eleven for the battle-pass, giving me access to the Hannibal, a new stealth helicopter. The stealth helicopters available to both Russian and American factions are excellent anti-infantry platforms with the options for equipping anti-ground or anti-air missiles. In stealth mode, the helicopters lose their direct attack arsenals but cannot be locked onto, and instead, pilots gain access to bombs that can clear out entire capture points. These helicopters are fun to fly, and while I’ve rarely been able to get to a vehicle in live matches, one can still unlock attachments for them in single player modes.

  • Battlefield 2042‘s option for single player modes against AI bots may seem extraneous, but the biggest advantage about having these modes is that it provides one with a sandbox for trying new unlocks out and ranking up weapons and vehicles. These modes do have their merits, and in fact, I’ve found that compared to the firing ranges of earlier Battlefield titles, solo modes are a fantastic sandbox environment to get familiar with new weapons and even practise flying against targets that do shoot back.

  • While landing headshots from long ranges is immensely satisfying, I miss the days of when Battlefield would give a bonus for the distance such a shot was landed from. The point system in Battlefield 2042 feels less sophisticated than its predecessors did, and I have heard reports that the reason behind DICE’s inconsistent performance of late stems from the fact that many of the original developers have left, and the new developers are unable to find the same passion and bring the same drive to the table as the previous developers have.

  • In conjunction with the distractions brought on by the global health crisis, DICE’s current team is not collaborating and working together with the same cohesion as previous teams had, in conjunction with possessing less experience with Battlefield all around. This corresponds to why Battlefield 2042 has not, as a product, conveyed the same look-and-feel of what players have come to expect from a Battlefield title. While inexperience and poor teamwork might account for some of what players have seen, what strikes me as odd is the fact that DICE’s current developers already have precedence from the earlier team for what makes for a successful Battlefield title.

  • To be honest, I’m not sure why DICE has a tendency to rework the networking code and physics wrappers every time a new Battlefield title is made: in software development, good developers will create modular libraries that can be reused. So long as the game engine itself isn’t changed dramatically, these libraries can be utilised to form the basis of the game, and then new assets can be built around a solid set of core frameworks. This is how I approach app development: I tend to write wrappers and helper classes around dependencies. Then, I can make calls to my own classes anywhere in the app that requires that functionality.

  • In this way, if any changes happen to a library, rather than having to go through my entire app and make sweeping changes, I can just update my wrapper classes, and I’m set. Similarly, if I suddenly need to write a new app that requires similar base functionality, I can just import this wrapper, and out of the gates, I’m guaranteed something that works (said wrappers would already have passed testing previously). This is an example of the adaptor pattern, and for me, it makes it significantly easier to maintain a project. Applying this to Battlefield would mean that, unless a game were to use a new version of Frostbite, developers could (and should) draw from existing networking libraries and physics tools for the basis of their games.

  • This would make it far easier to create new games, since every new game would already have a solid, proven set of fundamentals. For the end-user, it would mean things like rubber-banding, latency, connectivity issues and poor hit-registration would be a non-issue. If a previous Battlefield had good networking code, then reusing these libraries means the fundamentals shouldn’t be a concern. New Battlefield games would simply require designing new maps and assets, as well as writing new code for controlling game behaviour. This method is why Infinity Ward is able to push out new Call of Duty titles year after year, changing up only the stories, maps and other assets.

  • If DICE had wanted to differentiate itself from Call of Duty, assuming that they adhere to good software engineering practises, they would then simply need to continuously support Battlefield titles by providing new, refreshing content for large-scale, sandbox environments over a few years, and only release new games when they wish to change out the era or settings. Everything I’ve mentioned here sounds like common sense – other Battlefield influencers have mentioned the same thing. My statements are backed by experience in software development, so I can ascertain that Battlefield influencers do have it right when they present their criticisms of Battlefield 2042.

  • As a player, rather than a developer on the team, I’m not privy to all of the inner workings at DICE. There could be other forces at work, such as  executive meddling, so I can’t presume to judge the developers for their actions. While Battlefield 2042 is a symptom of larger problems with DICE, and players end up paying the price, I will note that it’s not all doom and gloom, either – when things connect in Battlefield 2042, I find myself having fun. Here, I use the anti-air missile to shoot down yet another helicopter, landing me a triple kill and earning me one of the assignments, to get a multi-kill using explosives.

  • While I’m generally having fun with Exposure and a return to the multiplayer, I will note that this fun is probably a consequence of also having a superior CPU. When I attempted running Battlefield 2042 with my 9-year-old i5 3570k, the game would push my CPU usage to 100 percent. With an i5 12600k, CPU usage hovers around 10 percent and goes up to 15 percent when things get more chaotic. I’m running a GTX 1060, and while the frame rates are pretty consistent, I am currently running things on lowest settings to get the best performance possible. While my GTX 1060 is holding out, I am looking to upgrade my GPU once the Lovelace series is available.

  • Zero Hour introduces a new operator, Liz: her passive ability is being able to spot vehicles, and her custom gadget is a camera-operated missile launcher which, when fired, allows one to guide the missile to its target, ignoring any countermeasures like stealth mode or flares. While these missiles are slightly weaker, they are remarkably enjoyable to use. Liz can only carry two missiles at once, and they recharge slowly once depleted, preventing them from becoming overpowered. The concept of a TV-guided missile is not new: 2003’s 007 Nightfire featured the AT-420 Sentinel, which operated on the same principles, and during the second mission, the Sentinel is how Bond must defeat the Hind attacking them when he’s escaping Drake’s castle.

  • For most of my time, I chose to run with Angel; in single-player modes, his ability to revive allies with bonus armour isn’t particularly noticeable, but with human allies, bringing players back to life with extra armour can be helpful. I ultimately found the loadout crate to be immensely versatile, allowing me to rapidly switch loadouts as the situation demands. Angel is the most versatile operator in this regard, specialising in nothing, but being capable of adapting as circumstances change. I have seen plenty of players running Sundance: her wingsuit is a remarkable asset for quickly traversing large distances quickly.

  • Thanks to duking it out with AI bots, I was able to unlock everything for both my American and Russian MBTs – while one can pick different shells and secondary armaments, I find that the starting options (MPAT shells and a light co-axial machine gun) are sufficiently versatile for handling most situations. In reality, Multi-Purpose Anti-Tank shells are less effective than dedicated APFSDS rounds against armour, but Battlefield 2042 treats them as the de facto option for combating tanks. Curiously enough, the HEAT rounds (High-Explosive Anti-Tank) are marked as being better against infantry and lighter vehicles where in reality, beehive and HE rounds would respectively fulfil those roles.

  • Besides getting new maps, the other aspect of Battlefield updates I would most look forward to were new weapons. Zero Hour adds two primary weapons and one gadget, which is underwhelming compared to previous Battlefield games, but on the flipside, the BSV-M Marksman Rifle introduced presents players with a novel way of playing. In its base form, it’s a suppressed marksman rifle with reasonable accuracy, making it useful for picking off foes at medium ranges. However, with the right modifications (an extended magazine), it becomes a submachine gun.

  • Switching between a semi-automatic rifle and a submachine gun allows the BSV-M to excel both indoors and outdoors – if one can time their attachment switching appropriately, one can effortlessly transition between exchanging fire with enemy marksmen and helping their team push for an objective. One aspect Battlefield 2042 has really tried to accentuate, and one that the community (even the more notable influencers) miss, is the fact that the weapons are quite versatile. Adaptability seems to be a recurring theme in the weapons, and the + system allows players to mix things up with a much higher degree of flexibility than before.

  • At the time of writing, I’ve made some progress in getting the assignments done: I’m only a stone’s throw away from unlocking the crossbow, which looks like a fun, if impractical weapon. However, I have no plans to reach the maximum tier; summer’s underway now, and after a rainy few weeks leading into the summer solstice, this past weekend’s seen some gorgeous weather that’s seen me spend a bit of time outdoors. Yesterday, I ended up taking a twelve kilometre walk to visit a side of town I’ve not seen since my university days, and today, I dropped by the neighbourhood bookstore. It was an immensely relaxing day, and since there’s a Starbucks adjacent to the bookstore, I found myself thinking it would be quite nice to buy an iced coffee and spend an hour there just taking in the atmosphere.

  • This week, I’ve only got three workdays, having opted to extend my Canada Day long weekend by one day. In retrospect, I might’ve not taken the day had I known I would be permitted to start a major upgrade and refactoring project, but on the other hand, a day off to enjoy the summer isn’t unreasonable, considering I’ve been going full throttle since December. Back in Battlefield 2042, I managed to shoot down a helicopter using Liz’s guided missiles, earning myself another triple kill. I’ve noticed that unlike the other missions, which have adverse weather events, Exposure is consistently sunny and pleasant, allowing players to focus on the game itself.

  • I’ll wrap this post up with my earning a proximity sensor badge: this gadget has been most helpful, and being able to utilise it has allowed me to contribute greatly to the matches I’ve played. I imagine that a difficult road lies ahead for DICE, and while it is plain that the DICE of today is no longer the DICE I remember from the Battlefield 3 to Battlefield 1 days, it still remains fun to hop into a game from time to time and mess around. Having said this, I will likely return to write about new developments in Battlefield 2042 as they appear: DICE has indicated they will continue making improvements to the base game’s maps, and further to this, with at least three more seasons on the horizon, I am hoping to see at least some new content in the upcoming months.

I had initially stayed off multiplayer servers since Battlefield 2042 launched because I struggled to connect to servers and load visual assets properly (on the rare occasions I could connect, my player model did not load with the gun visible, and I found that both allied and enemy players were completely invisible to me, rendering the game unplayable). Instead, I spent most of my time playing single-player AI bot matches to rapidly unlock weapon attachments and new gear. In addition, I also played Battlefield Portal extensively to relive my old memories of Battlefield 3 and Bad Company 2. Although it was immensely fun, I similarly felt a hint of melancholy: the best days of DICE had appeared behind them, and the countless hours I dumped into Noshahr Canals were little more than a mere memory. However, with Zero Hour and its seasonal progression system, I found new incentive to play Battlefield 2042‘s multiplayer. This time around, I found a game that was smoother and more consistent than I had known previously. For the first time since launch, there was motivation to enter a multiplayer server, join a squad and have fun in capturing objectives, reviving teammates and landing headshots against human opponents. Admittedly, a part of me had wanted to stay away from multiplayer servers, knowing that I’d now be going up against players half my age with double my reflexes. However, when I joined my first match, I was shocked to learn I could still hold up. Where other players may have superior response times and better aim than myself, I compensate with a veteran player’s sense of patience and awareness. I retreat behind cover and move in ways to make myself scarce, utilise every tool available to me in order to spot my foes, and never rush into a situation without ascertaining what I’m up against. In this way, to my surprise, I found myself having the same kind of fun I did in the earlier Battlefield titles, to the tune of making some progress through the seasonal content and unlocking the BSV-M Marksman Rifle, a remarkably versatile weapon that can be changed from a long-range semi-automatic rifle into a submachine gun on the fly. Despite a disappointing showing thus far, Battlefield 2042 still has its moments, and more than once, I found myself wishing that DICE would commit to this title. With the attention and focus the community deserves, Battlefield 2042 may yet redeem itself and, like Battlefield 4, become a title that is worth playing.

Invalidating the Mother of Japanese Tanks, Daigensui: Examining What Battlefield Portal Requires To Model What Happens When Ideology Meets Reality

“平時就牙刷刷, 依家出埋清都攪唔掂條𡃁仔, 抵佢死!” –九叔, 半斤八兩

With a muzzle velocity of 1575 m/s, a single 120 mm M829 APFSDS round slices through the air and slams into its mark, a Tiger I tank, from a distance of two kilometres. In a single shot, Sumeragi is unceremoniously removed from the fight as the M829’s stopping power kicks the Tiger I back like a child’s toy, flipping it onto its side. Had this APFSDS round been live, it would have torn through the Tiger I’s 120 mm frontal armour as though it were cardboard, turned the Tiger’s interior into a hell on earth as the penetrator vapourised metal and created molten shards that instantly perforated the crew. However, this is a friendly Panzerfahren match; on impact from a shell, a microprocessor in the Tiger I’s armour quickly determines that this round far exceeds anything the Tiger I can handle, and instead, Sumeragi’s Tiger I is simply rendered impotent, immobile. A white flag pops up to signify that this tank has been taken out of the fight. Six seconds later, the report of a distant Rheinmetall Rh-120 gun can be heard. Sumeragi had been leading the Panzerkiel formation in keeping with the Nishizumi Style, and the remaining eight Mädchen und Panzer Tiger Is reform their line, intent on maintaining formation as they travel through an open field until they reach their foe, a lone M1A2 Abrams designated “Icarus”. However, a second shot from Icarus punches into Leo Xiao’s Tiger I. The platoon’s commander, Tak, orders smoke to be launched as the surviving Tiger Is retreat into a forest and disperse to escape the enemy fire. Two kilometres away, Icarus’ commander calmly orders for the FLIR camera’s polarity to be changed from White-Hot to Black-Hot. The Tiger Is, hidden away behind a cloud of white smoke, suddenly become visible, as clear as day. Icarus’ gunner takes aim and fires again, disabling Hooves’ tank. With the Tiger I formation now behind cover, Icarus begins moving: while the Abrams enjoys seventy years of advancement over the Tiger I, including NGAP composite armour that gives the equivalent of an estimated protection of 900 mm Rolled Homogenous Armour equivalent (RHAe) against armour piercing rounds and 1320 mm of RHAe against HEAT rounds from the front, all it would take is one lucky shot to the Abram’s engine block to bring about a mobility kill. Sitting still is the one surefire way that a lone M1A2 could lose to six Tiger Is, but this is provided that the Abrams is daft enough to allow for this: with its Honeywell AGT1500 gas turbine engine, an M1A2 is capable of a maximum off-road speed of 40 km/h, giving it enough mobility to run rings around the slower Tiger I, which plods along at a paltry 25 km/h on a good day whilst off-roading. Minutes later, Icarus’ commander spots two of the remaining six Mädchen und Panzer Tiger Is that have exited the forest, in a not-so-subtle attempt to launch a pincer attack. The Tiger Is fire, but their 88 mm shells travel wide of their mark. Icarus responds in kind: its stabliser allows the gun to track moving targets and hit them reliably even when the Abrams is on the move, and in this way, RRW is taken out of the fight. Ascaloth’s Tiger I attempts to back up and flee, but its heavy tracks get stuck in the mud. Ascaloth too is immobilised from a single round to its front. The four Mädchen und Panzer tanks left belong to willx, Myssa Rei, Kimidori and Tak, and predictably, they’ve attempted to flank Icarus: Myssa Rei and Willx come from the rear, while Kimidori and Tak are approaching from the side. Icarus’ driver hits the gas and accelerates into a turn so the Abrams can face its foes: the four Tiger Is that are now coming in head-on. With a lurch, the Rh-120 sends its sixth M892 shell down range. Capable of penetrating an estimated 540 mm RHAe at two kilometers, this round hits Kimidori squarely on the turret, and its immobilised flag pops up: the Tiger’s armour is simply inconsequential. During the exchange of fire, a stray 88 mm round from Myssa Rei’s Tiger I glances off the Abram’s front turret, scratching the paint and marking the first time Mädchen und Panzer had hit anything during this match. Moments later, Icarus’ gunner lands yet another kill with grim accuracy. This time, platoon commander Tak is taken out; only Myssa Rei and willx remain. The gunner trains Icarus’ turret on willx’s Tiger I, pulls the trigger, and after the smoke clears, willx is downed. Seeing this, Myssa Rei orders her driver to stop, and closes her eyes while allowing the inevitable to happen: one Tiger tank is no match for an M1A2. Within the space of ten minutes, all nine Tiger Is are immobilised, and the only sign that the M1A2 had gone through combat is several superficial scratches on the turret’s front armour. The match is over; Icarus’ commander climbs out of the cupola and surveys the carnage, reflecting on how seven decades’ worth of technological advancements meant today, this was no victory – this is bullying.

Such a scenario has lingered in my mind for the past nine years, ever since Girls und Panzer had finished airing: I’d finished writing about a post on Battlefield 3‘s seventh mission, Thunder Run, and AnimeSuki’s Wild Goose had stopped by to read about my impressions of Thunder Run, one of Battlefield 3‘s most impressive missions. After I destroyed a group of T-72s and commented on how this would be the result were I to solo Mädchen und Panzer “on skill alone”, Wild Goose remarked that using an M1A2 to beat on World War Two era tanks would be cruel and unnecessary to the point where the mere suggestion would earn me a Vlad Tepes award. My original assertion had been that if given an era-appropriate tank, such as the Sherman Firefly or Centurion MBT, my patience and strategies would have allowed me to overcome Mädchen und Panzer, an AnimeSuki World of Tanks clan that had prided itself on using the Nishizumi Style. The me of nine years earlier was plainly less learned with clarity, and I had mistakenly given the impression that I wanted to solo Mädchen und Panzer with a modern MBT. However, the thought of trivially mopping floor with Mädchen und Panzer (and proving the weaknesses of the Nishizumi Style as I’d known it then) remained. Over the years, I’ve had the chance to become more familiar with simulated armoured warfare through an option superior to World of Tanks, and this is how I come to greatly enjoy how the Battlefield franchise handled armoured warfare. Nine years after completing Thunder Run for the first time, Battlefield Portal has arrived, and while both Battlefield 2042 and Battlefield Portal have seen considerable difficulties following launch, the latter has come the closest to allowing me to experience something that had, until now, only been possible as a thought experiment. Battlefield Portal allows for custom matches to be created, where different factions and eras can go against one another, and the revelation that the Wehrmacht could be made to fight the modern US Army had been intriguing. So far, Battlefield Portal allows one to effortlessly pit the two factions against one another in a match of conquest, and with a bit of tweaking to vehicle rules, tanks can be made to reflect the vast disparities in their performance, in turn allowing me to definitively answer the question of whether or not a number of Tiger Is could, in conjunction with the Nishizumi Style, defeat a single M1A2. The outcome shouldn’t surprise anyone: it’s “not a chance in hell”. Battlefield Portal plainly offers the base for satisfying a nearly-decade old question, but with the flexibility and versatility DICE had advertised, the question inevitably becomes, is it possible to re-create Panzerfahren with Battlefield Portal in order to create a more thrilling, fail and tactical experience? Unfortunately, the answer for now remains a resounding no – game modes and the logic editor remain quite limited in functionality. Similarly, the small number of factions and maps means that iconic Girls und Panzer Panzerfahren matches cannot be easily remade. However, the elements are all here for Panzerfahren modes to be created: Battlefield 3 had introduced the idea of Air Superiority, in which players would spawn into jets and fly around the map to capture points. In this mode, players could only spawn into jets, and could not bail under any circumstances. With this in mind, opening Battlefield Portal‘s mode editor to accommodate this behaviour for tanks, and generally increasing the number of tanks one could spawn onto a map at any given time would be the first steps. Subsequently, to facilitate the two Panzerfahren modes (elimination/annihilation, and VIP/Flag Tank), the rules editor would need to be extended. Elimination matches are the simpler of the two to create, requiring that one set the match up such that downed players cannot respawn in, and then, when a team has no more players, the match ends. VIP matches would require randomly assigning a single player the role of “flag tank”, and on this player’s defeat, the match ends. Cosmetics, such as a visible flag or unique tank camouflage, can be utilised to denote a flag tank. To provide win/loss logic, one would need to set things up such that score is counted only if the flag tank is killed. It becomes clear that a more versatile logic editor and larger option set would easily accommodate for Panzerfahren matches to be conducted purely from within Battlefield Portal, which in turn would highlight just how powerful Battlefield Portal and the Frostbite Engine are.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The idea behind pitting a single M1A2 against World War Two tanks came about when Wild Goose first mentioned that, when confronted with a Panzer VIII Maus, the M1A2 would be his preferred weapon of choice – in Girls und Panzer‘s penultimate episode, Black Forest brought a Maus to the fight, and its armour was so heavy that not even the Tiger I’s KwK 36 had a chance of punching through its front. Moreover, the Maus rocked a Pak 44, which could defeat any armour any World War Two era tank had (even the T28 Super Heavy tank the Americans had built). However, the Maus’ biggest shortcoming was its slow speed: thanks to its sheer bulk, it was only capable of reaching a top speed of 20 km/h. This is something Miho exploits during Girls und Panzer‘s final match, but in its first appearance, it was a terrifying foe. For the average Abrams crew, however, a Maus would be a joke at all ranges: modern ammunition can burn through 540 mm RHAe at two kilometres, and between a computer-assisted fire control system, plus gun stablisation technology, an M1A2 would simply out-drive a Maus and disable it before the Maus even had time to blink.

  • Furthermore, even if the Maus could hit the M1A2, the composite armour would allow the tank to survive and keep fighting. In short, the Maus stands no chance at all against the M1A2. This hypothetical match-up remains unlikely, and in reality, had the Maus been deployed, the Allies would’ve likely targetted it with artillery strikes or bombs rather than waste any tanks on it, using combined arms approaches instead of attempting to take the tank head-on. Combined arms is a doctrine in which multiple disciplines are used to strike an enemy in a way as to be complementary, such that if an enemy were to defend against one measure, they would be rendered vulnerable to another. For instance, if an enemy were to defend against attack by tanks and places an emphasis on armour, they would leave themselves open to attack from the air. Today, air support is a vital part of warfare: ground forces designate targets for air and artillery assets. Had Panzerfahren included combined arms, the entire sport would disintegrate, since all one would need to win was to send out spotter helicopters like the Kiowa, and then Hellfire missiles can be launched from a distance. In this way, an entire column of tanks could be rendered ineffectual in a matter of minutes.

  • However, since Panzerfahren only allows for tanks, Wild Goose had wondered what it would be like, and I myself began wondering if a single M1A2 or modern equivalent would be able to solo Black Forest. After doing some reading, I found the answer to be a decisive yes, to no surprise. Battlefield Portal allowed me to, after a minor bit of modification to the game rules, re-create this experience. By default, all tanks are balanced against one another so that it takes three solid hits to take one another out, but this actually creates a jarring situation where it takes the M1A2 three or more shots to take a Tiger I out, whereas the Tiger, which would have no way of harming an M1A2 besides hitting it in the back, could also take an M1A2 out with three good shots.

  • Once things were fully configured, I would describe the match ups as “boring”. Even assuming a fully competent foe that utilised everything in their environment and arsenal to its fullest, the disparity between a modern tank and a World War Two tank means in effect, the latter has no solutions against the former save overwhelming numbers. In Battlefield Portal, after everything is set up, every engagement with a Tiger I or Panzer IV entailed lining up the sights, pulling the trigger and watching as the tank exploded. There was absolutely no skill involved in this, and the conclusion here is simple: had I actually been given a chance to take on AnimeSuki’s Mädchen und Panzer in a “M1A2 vs Nishizumi Style” showdown, the results would have been indisputable.

  • As a bit of background, Mädchen und Panzer is a World of Tanks clan for AnimeSuki’s players. Founded in late November of 2012, the group was intended to allow AnimeSuki members to live out their Girls und Panzer fantasies – clan members created a tightly knit clique and spoke of their exploits fondly at the height of their activity, swapped advice and compared their experiences to what was seen in Girls und Panzer. Although Mädchen und Panzer generally maintained a low profile, things changed when Akeiko “Daigensui” Sumeragi temporarily joined their tanks and used his premium perks to help them to a few wins here and there. These premium perks supposedly came as remuneration for Sumeragi helping Wargaming.net to research Japanese tanks. For the Record, a World of Tanks fan blog, translated an interview Sumeragi had with the Korean World of Tanks community regarding his contributions to the game’s Japanese tank line. This post painted Sumeragi as “the mother of Japanese tanks” because Sumeragi considers tanks as his “daughters”, a strange term of endearment, and here, Sumeragi alleged that he had access to original Imperial Japanese Army documents through family contacts, and was exposed to military hardware from a young age for similar reasons. While I am skeptical that Sumeragi has connections of this level, it is plausible that Sumeragi could have simply been a shade more skillful than the average person at finding information pertaining to World War Two Japanese tanks.

  • This interview also gives insight into how Sumeragi reached the conclusion that he did pertaining the Nishizumi Style: when the interview had asked Sumeragi what he thought the main appeal of World War Two era tanks were. Although Sumeragi did not elaborate further, his respect for the older weapons of war appears to come from the fact that without technology to guide and manage things, everything people did boiled down to their own skill:

If we look at the tanks of [World of Tanks], they are from an era before computers started fighting wars. These tanks are what humans, men, would control and fight with. A man controling [sic] directly the large metal, a man directly aiming and firing the gun, a man directly looking for the enemy…in a way the tanks of [World of Tanks] from an era where the last romances of war still lingered. It’s similar to how [Girls und Panzer]’s Hana felt the thrill of firing the gun. The vibrations passing onto your hand, the vibrations of a live engine…it’s a feeling only people who worked with such machines can feel. That is what I think of as the appeal of a tank.

  • Aiming and firing the main gun accurately came down to knowing the marks on the sights and using one’s experience to estimate distance to determine how much one should compensate for gravity. Smoke and poor sight lines forced commanders to position themselves smartly. Thus, from a certain point of view, tankers of old did have to cultivate a large number of skills in order to be effective in their roles. However, this, in no way, shows that modern tank crews are inferior to World War Two crews in any way: modern crews simply train for different modes of combat and under different conditions than crews from the Second World War.

  • It should be evident that, given how wide the gap is between modern tanks and World War Two tanks, Mädchen und Panzer would not have likely accepted the match against a single M1A2, no matter how strongly members agreed with what Sumeragi had said about traditional values and the romance of fighting with older ways. The march of technology would’ve resulted in what netizens colloquially call a “roflstomp”. Whereas I have no moral qualms about reducing Sumeragi’s “daughters” into scrap metal with a single well-placed 120 mm round, I cannot imagine that I would have accepted this match, either. This wouldn’t be on ethical grounds, but simply because, if Battlefield Portal is anything to go by, it would’ve been so one-sided that there’d be no fun in things.

  • In a hypothetical match with Mädchen und Panzer using Panzerfahren-sanctioned tanks (which would make things more interesting), I would likely go with a Sherman Firefly if engaging any clan member in a one-on-one: the 17-pounder would give me enough firepower to deal with heavy tanks, while the fact that the M4 is a medium tank would afford me with additional mobility, which I’d use to evade shots rather than attempt to absorb damage. Conversely, if soloing Mädchen und Panzer, the Centurion would be my pick: the 1945 Centurion also has a 17-pounder, while at the same time, possessing armour traits rivalling that of a heavy tank despite maintaining the handling traits of a medium tank, making it suited for me to appear, hit my foes and move to a better spot before retaliation can be dealt. One other factor affecting my confidence is Mädchen und Panzer’s average win rate, which is around 51.23 percent. Of its members, RRW has the best performance at 54.08 percent, while Sumeragi holds a win rate of 52.02 percent, and willx’s win rate is 51.10 percent.

  • On virtue of skill alone, my odds against Mädchen und Panzer should be quite good; to put things in perspective, my win rate is 61.3 percent in Battlefield V, so I am reasonably confident that when push comes to shove, I could hold my own against Sumeragi and the remainder of Mädchen und Panzer to an extent as to set them straight. This comes about because I adapt to the situation and do what I can for my team, whether it be playing the objective or supporting teammates, rather than worry about playing in a specific way. The numbers alone indicate that contrary to talking a big game, Sumeragi could be proven wrong where skill is concerned – this is what lends itself to the post title and page quote. The latter is a line taken from Sam Hui’s 1976 comedy, The Private Eyes: when one of the minor crooks get stomped by Lee Kwok-kit, Uncle Nine remarks that the guy normally swaggers around, but gets beat by some random kid here even though he’s got a knife, and that this serves him right for being so arrogant half the time. Although Sumeragi’s poor World of Tanks performance is amusing, my dislike of Sumeragi stems from the fact that, despite being wrong more often than not, he still had a large number of people supporting him.

  • Longtime readers may be familiar with my long-standing grievances surrounding this individual: Sumeragi would put on an act as the mature onee-sama, doling out advice to people and acted as the kawaii “reliable older sister” figure with those in his good graces. However, whenever Sumeragi was challenged, even in face of overwhelming evidence, he would become a foul-mouthed, vehement and unyielding individual who would defend untenable positions vociferously. Whereas some praised Sumeragi for these attitudes as being “sharp-tongued, quick-witted, and knowledgeable, and impatient with the ignorant”, my dealings with Sumeragi found an individual who was not only unknowledgeable, but outright unqualified to discuss matters ranging from what the essence of martial art is, to romantic relationships. Frustrated with Sumeragi’s refusal to respond to my counterarguments regarding topics like Girls und Panzer, I dug a little further and learnt that Sumeragi was actually someone from Vancouver, British Columbia, going by the name Kang Seung Jae.

  • Kang Seung Jae had claimed to be a very intelligent, overachieving individual who graduated from both Tokyo and Yonsei Universities, worked at a Fortune 500 company his parents owned, possessed a net worth exceeding ten million dollars and was distantly related to the Japanese royal family. The reality was very different: I’ve long known that Kang was an ordinary citizen, albeit one with a history of self-aggrandisement and holding contrarian perspectives of history that would lead to his getting banned from virtually all online communities of note. It was ultimately by fabricating a new identity in Sumeragi, that Kang was able to continue propagating such perspectives – Kang found that his Sumeragi identity allowed him to accrue credibility. However, even then, as Sumeragi, Kang crossed numerous lines, eventually becoming banned from both AnimeSuki and most recently, from Sufficient Velocity. The technique that Kang Seung Jae used are the precursor to the sorts of behaviours that dominate social media today, especially where politics is concerned, and is informally referred to as the nekama phenomenon (i.e. males assuming a female persona online).

  • This approach has gained popularity in recent years, with many people utilising this as a means of garnering approval (especially regarding political opinions) in social media. Psychologists agree that a desire for approval and validation is precisely why the nekama phenomenon exists, although for me, learning about this actually ends up invalidating everything Sumeragi/Kang Seung Jae stood for, lending this post its title. While most of AnimeSuki’s user-base have gone inactive, a few of the remaining users did end up learning the truth – one user indicated that any apparent reverence and respect the AnimeSuki community had for Kang was strictly role-play, which is telling, being akin to a total disavowal of any association the community may have previously had with this individual: Kang himself was kicked from Mädchen und Panzer shortly after Girls und Panzer ended. While I am unlikely to see how Kang’s most ardent supporters, like willx and Leo Xiao, respond to this news, it gives me some closure that at the very least, the sorts of perspectives that Kang held were not accepted at AnimeSuki.

  • The fact that Kang was kicked from Mädchen und Panzer means that the beatdown I describe here remains hypothetical for the present, and with this, I will not make further mention of the name Akeiko “Daigensui” Sumeragi here in the future, as I believe that I’ve now said everything that needs to be said of the matter. While the technology has long accommodated for Panzerfahren-style matches since the Battlefield V days, and Battlefield Portal, with a bit of elbow grease and care, could also prove to be a good Panzerfahren venue, even if I were to play on their terms, I doubt that Mädchen und Panzer’s members would switch over to Battlefield owing to the price tag and system requirements. In the nine years since I’ve entertained thoughts of soloing Mädchen und Panzer, both with period-appropriate hardware and something like the M1A2, Battlefield‘s system requirements have increased to the point where, if one were still running a PC from 2010 that had been geared for World of Tanks, they’d almost certainly need an all-new new system to keep up.

  • On the topic of newer hardware, circumstances have led me to move up my plans to put a machine together, and earlier today, I ended up going in and placing the order for my parts. While my current machine is just holding together, I’ve caught wind that hardware prices could spike in the near future owing to current events: SSD prices are expected to jump 10 percent in April, and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company announced a similar increase in price owing to rising manufacturing costs. In conjunction with the fact that the conflict between Ukraine and Russia puts neon gas and palladium exports in jeopardy, building a computer could become even more challenging. As such, while the local retailers still have microprocessors and SSDs on discount, the time seemed prudent to expedite things and pull the trigger sooner, rather than later. I’ve been saving for a new build since this time year, and while the ongoing GPU shortage meant I was unable to pick up a current-generation video card, the remainder of my build is solid.

  • With a new computer, I should be able to handle things like Battlefield 2042 and DOOM Eternal without worrying about the CPU approaching its TJunction under load. Conversely, no matter how powerful my hardware becomes, I adamantly refuse to set foot in World of Tanks. The reason why I never got into World of Tanks was precisely because the game was very beginner-unfriendly: there are no respawns, so if one is destroyed in battle, that’s it for the match. Moreover, destroyed tanks require a certain amount of in-game currency to repair, but if I’m being destroyed in battle often enough, I wouldn’t be accruing the funds to repair my tanks, leaving the game quite unplayable unless I were to go the Premium Account route (which is what Mädchen und Panzer ended up doing). I’ve always found that the best games out there punish players for making a bad decision and then encourage them to learn from said mistakes by giving them opportunity to try again.

  • This is precisely why Battlefield has always been something that appealed to me: if I made a mistake and died, I would be allowed to respawn and try a different approach. Dying costs my team tickets and impacts my KDR, but I have as many attempts as I need to get things right, so over time, I’m able to improve my movement and strategies to help my team out. Conversely, if I were allowed to just drop money on a Premium Account and get perks that offset my lack of skill, I’d never improve in the game. My reasons for staying away from World of Tanks are, in short, about as strongly-held as Mädchen und Panzer’s refusal to play on fairer terms (i.e. within Battlefield, where there is no Premium ammunition), and for this reason, my facing off against Mädchen und Panzer remains quite unlikely even though the technology now exists to do so.

  • While many will disagree, I have found that Battlefield 2042 and Battlefield Portal, despite dropping the ball in key areas, remains a superior game to World of Tanks because the game’s paid content is purely cosmetic. All of the skill-based components in Battlefield are available to players, and those who buy cosmetics are not conferred a performance advantage over others. Similarly, while playing Battlefield allows for one to unlock customisations for their weapons and vehicles, and some customisations favour certain play-styles more than others, the stock configurations that weapons and vehicles come with are quite viable.

  • This ensures that experienced players can customise their vehicles and weapons to fit a specific play-style, but even in the beginning, the stock setup is sufficient for even a moderately skilled player to hold their own while learning how things work. Moreover, Battlefield Portal overcomes this barrier outright: all weapons, vehicles, attachments and customisations are available to players right out of the gates. Altogether, I’ve found that the foundation for Battlefield Portal is solid, and as such, what’s really needed is additional content. However, for the present, it is difficult to ascertain where Battlefield 2042 and Battlefield Portal will end up.

  • This is a shame, given that Battlefield Portal had, when it was first announced, sounded like it was exactly what the series needed: it was intended to give players the ability to tailor Battlefield experiences to their liking, and the potential for this was immense. In fact, had Battlefield 2042 just released with Portal, but at least eighty percent of the maps, weapons and vehicles to each of Battlefield 3Bad Company 2 and 1942, it would’ve proven massively successful for bringing back everything that players had come to love about the series. While I’ve been able to partially recreate the scenario in which I solo Mädchen und Panzer in a single M1A2 using Battlefield Portal, the mode creates the tantalising potential of allowing me to recreate Panzerfahren matches. I’m not confident that such a possibility will ever be realised, but as it turns out, a few more additions to the logic editor, and the addition of new content is all that it would take.

  • Playing proper Panzerfahren in Battlefield Portal would be considerably more fun that curb-stomping World War Two tanks with modern hardware, and despite the doubt surrounding Battlefield 2042, it is of some consolation to me that, nine years after Girls und Panzer finished airing, we’re the closest we’ve ever been to both recreating iconic Girls und Panzer experiences and messing around with outlandish scenarios like seeing if Mädchen und Panzer could indeed live up to their claims that Sumeragi’s interpretation of the Nishizumi Style is a match for decades of technological advancement. I’ve long held that operator skill trumps hardware performance, but I accept the reality that, when two competent operators are separated by hardware differences, the superior machine will win out. I’ve been running my current desktop for nine years, and while this machine has performed very admirably during its run, its twilight is also here. This desktop saw me through graduate studies and everything else for the past nine years, so I will be sad to see it go, but at the same time, I also recognise the need for an improved desktop that will continuing assisting me over the next several years.

Assuming that the logic editor and options provide freedom of modification to this level, DICE would then need to greatly extend the factions available and vehicle customisation choices in Battlefield Portal. At minimum, the Soviet Union and United Kingdom would need to be added, along with their corresponding tanks (T-70, T-34, IS-2 and KV-2 for the Soviets, Crusaders, Matildas, Churchills and Valentine Archer for the British), and additional tanks for both German and American factions are required, as well. Bringing such as the 38(t), StuG III and Panther to the German faction, and the M3 Lee, plus the M26 Pershing and M18 Hellcat, would provide enough variety for players to kit out their tanks in an authentic manner. Since Battlefield V already had assets for Japanese armour, it would be nice to bring tanks like the Type 89, Type 97 and Type 3, into the game, too. Once the appropriate factions and their corresponding tanks are present, a deeper customisation system would need to be added for each tank. Currently, tanks offer limited modifications to their primary and secondary weapons, as well as two slots for equipment. Allowing players to switch out the Panzer IV’s KwK 37 L/24 for a KwK 40 L/48 would increase firepower and accuracy at the expense of blast radius, or adding a turret skirt would increase damage resistance at the expense of top speed, could offer meaningful ways of altering the way one’s tank handles. To provide aesthetic customisations, limited cosmetics should be available, altering one’s tank cameos, hull logos or accessories like flags. Battlefield V had actually done a fantastic job of armoured warfare, introducing limited turret traversal rates, and simulated deflections through its ricochet mechanic: if players hit an enemy tank from a shallow angle, the shell would simply bounce off armour and head in a different direction, dealing minimal damage to the first target hit. With its variety of vehicles and a relatively involved upgrade tree, plus deeper tank mechanics, armoured warfare in Battlefield V was the best it’d felt in any Battlefield game. The variety of what was seen in Battlefield V, in conjunction with an expanded version of what Battlefield Portal allows, show that it is very much possible to, with a little creativity, re-create Panzerfahren in the Frostbite Engine and do something that Bandai Namco Entertainment continues to lack the courage to do: Girls und Panzer: Dream Tank Match has been out since 2018, and to this day, only is available for PlayStation 4. DICE has the perfect opportunity to demonstrate that the Frostbite Engine can step in and fill this void by providing players the power to create their own Panzerfahren matches. At present, the fundamentals are all in place – a little bit of elbow grease and creativity could very well allow DICE to do something that Bandai Namco Entertainment refuses to, and a Panzerfahren mode in Battlefield Portal would confer one the ability to experience Girls und Panzer in a novel way. In the meantime, having spent a few matches trivially blowing Tiger Is and Panzer IVs away with the M1A2 in Battlefield Portal, the word that best describes this experience isn’t so much cruel, as it is unnecessary, from my end – as formidable as the Tiger I is, and as revered as certain interpretations of the Nishizumi Style is, there comes a point where reputation alone cannot carry a battle; one must learn to adapt and embrace change as Miho has, or risk being rendered irrelevant by the times.

Battlefield 2042: Revisiting Old Memories Through Battlefield Portal and Considering Future Additions

“True nostalgia is an ephemeral composition of disjointed memories.” –Florence King

Back when I was a graduate student, I spent many Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons in Noshahr Canals’ container area to get a feel for the fancy new toys I’d unlocked before heading on over to conquest or rush to partake in all-out warfare on iconic maps like Caspian Border, Operation Metro, Seine Crossing, Operation Firestorm and Damavand Peak. Battlefield 3 was my first entry into the franchise, and it represented the complete package, with a polished and varied multiplayer component, as well as a compelling campaign full of set-piece moments. Being able to return to a completely refreshed Noshahr Canals and Caspian Border some eight years later, with a contemporary movement system and updated weapon mechanics, is a bit of a mixed bag. Movement feels a little floatier and more limited in the earlier games – things are plainly more responsive now, and the option to vault over taller cover like fences is a world apart from the old days of using a knife to break through chain-link fences. Weapons feel more incisive and reliable than their older counterparts; every shot fired sounds powerful, and every shot landed provides a more visceral feedback. However, the improvements in core mechanics, and the fact that Battlefield Portal provides an unparalleled opportunity to experience a blast from the past, is tempered by one sobering reality – Battlefield 2042 has not been performing well as a game. While I am having fun reliving old memories on private servers, subtle hints remind me of the fact that I’m in Battlefield 2042, as opposed to Battlefield 3 or Bad Company 2; there’s no ribbons, and after a certain point, player actions no longer net experience. Battlefield 2042‘s main attraction in all-out warfare has proven to be a disappointment, with the 128-player servers still managing to feel empty. Large, hollow maps are not conducive towards the intense infantry gameplay that earlier Battlefield games provided, and this is assuming one can run the game at all. On older systems such as my own, player models and weapon models fail to render, and this is for those rare occasions where I can get into a match through match-making. The technical faults in Battlefield 2042 has led me to stick with the Portal experience, and it is saying something when playing private matches against AI bots on smaller-scale maps has proven to be more enjoyable than the central all-out warfare modes. On private maps, I am pitted against surprisingly life-like players: although the AI bots are nowhere nearly as strategic or varied as human players, they offer a chance to really enjoy a renewed presentation of the Battlefield franchise’ most iconic moments.

However, even Battlefield Portal has suffered as a consequence of challenges Battlefield 2042 is currently facing; dwindling player counts as a result of ongoing performance issues, missing features and the general sense that Battlefield 2042 lacks the gritty, large-scale warfare aesthetic that defined previous Battlefield titles. Because these issues have demanded virtually all of DICE’s attention, Battlefield Portal remains a very bare-bones experience for players. At the time of writing, only six classic maps have been brought into Battlefield Portal, and similarly, the weapon variety is non-existent. Classes only have access to a handful of weapons, and vehicle selection is similarly limited. Altogether, Battlefield Portal only offers a glimpse as to what appears possible, and this means that excitement in the mode has been limited. Coupled with the fact that Battlefield 2042‘s main attraction has not delivered an engaging experience, Battlefield 2042 is in dire straits. However, unlike all-out warfare, Battlefield Portal does have one significant advantage: its shortcoming at present is merely a lack of content and customisation options. Were DICE to double the current map count by adding more iconic Battlefield 3, Bad Company 2 and Battlefield 1942 locations, the outlook would already improve. Being able to fight through Operation Metro and Damavand Peak would bring players one step closer to being able to re-live classic Battlefield 3 experiences, while bringing back Laguna Presa, Port Valdez, Omaha and Wake Island would liven up the Bad Company 2 and Battlefield 1942 side of things. Similarly, weapon variety had been what made earlier Battlefield games fun. Being able to run with more weapons across the different eras would be a game changer. Finally, customisation options still need to be expanded further: while it is unreasonable to ask for a map editor or create moving objectives (à la Halo‘s “Crazy King” mode), the existing logic editor has not proven to be user-friendly. It is difficult to do something like limiting players to one life, designating players as high-value targets, or creating vehicle-only experiences; even after DICE implemented Vehicle TDM as a template, experimentation has found that this is “TDM with vehicles” rather than “vehicle-only TDM”. For the present, however, Battlefield Portal‘s biggest shortcoming is content; I would find that receiving new maps and weapons would be the first, most essential and also the simplest action to take, giving players more to do in Battlefield Portal while additional features and options are implemented for players to ultimately create their own, engaging, custom experiences.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • The last time I played a proper match on Caspian Border was some six years ago: at the height of my Battlefield 3 experience, I was playing quite regularly on Friday nights and weekends. Back in those days, Caspian Border was known for its radio mast, which could collapse during a match and change things up for players. It was on Christmas Day that I cut my teeth with Battlefield 3, scoring my first-ever kill on Caspian Border with a knife; this started a two-year journey into Battlefield 3 for me, and so, to be able to return now and play a remastered Caspian Border was most enjoyable.

  • For my revisit of classic Battlefield maps through Battlefield Portal, I am playing entirely on AI bot-only servers; it took me a little while to get things set up to create a classic experience, and for my part, I enjoy the cathartic feeling – the combination of aging hardware and shifting obligations means I do not have the time to expend towards familiarising myself with game mechanics as I once did, and that means even a moderately competent player will wipe floor with me nowadays. In my university days, my only responsibilities were to keep up with coursework, and I had become exceedingly efficient with that, affording me time to get into things and become sufficiently skilled to keep up with other players.

  • This is why Battlefield Portal has, in spite of its limitations, remained quite fun for me; I don’t play all that often, but when I do, I get to play at my own pace, in the manner of my choosing, without worrying about being sent to the spawn screen every quarter-minute. AI bots still provide a sufficiently life-like experience such that I can hop onto a private match and re-live the same Caspian Border I enjoyed back during the Giant Walkthrough Brain days some seven years earlier but lack the same aggression and hostility of human players. Here, I play the engineer class: the Battlefield 3 classes differ considerably from what I’ve grown accustomed to; back then, medics had access to the ubiquitous assault rifle, and engineers fulfilled the role of both vehicle support and anti-vehicle roles, being armed with carbines, which were better suited for closer ranges than assault rifles.

  • Of all the Battlefield Portal maps, Battle of The Bulge and El Alamein received the most significant updates, and in a map of classic conquest, I ended up being reminded of Battlefield V‘s aesthetics. DICE had just turned Battlefield V around with the Pacific War update, providing players with some of the most iconic World War Two settings since Battlefield 1942 had with Normandy and Battle of the Bulge. However, it was too little, too late; support was dropped shortly after, and some of the things I would’ve liked to see, including a B-29 reinforcement, the Eastern Front and the invasion of Europe, never materialised.

  • Seeing all of the World War Two assets in Battlefield Portal has led me to wonder just how difficult it would be to re-use assets from Battlefield V; here, I wield the MP-40 whilst clearing out the capture point at the windmill near my spawn, and to open things up, I had spawned in with the iconic StG 44. Wandering around the map, the windmill feels like those seen in Battlefield 1‘s St. Quentin Scar, and moving into town, the church was quite plainly the church seen in Battlefield V‘s Arras. At first glance, if recycling assets like the structures is possible, in theory, it feels like it should be possible to at least bring back some of Battlefield V‘s best maps, like Iwo Jima, without too much difficulty.

  • While the lack of content is disconcerting, what already exists in Battlefield Portal is very promising: maps have been lovingly brought up to modern standards and definitely feels like a proper battlefield. Compared to its 1942 iteration, there’s significantly more detail, and destruction has been implemented. Running default settings, I was able to fight alongside tanks and soldiers equipped with anti-tank weapons, creating the sense of a true large-scale conflict. The content that already exists in Battlefield Portal is polished and engaging, and for the duration of my experiences, I did not once feel as though I were alone on the server, even though I’d set things up so that only I could join my private matches.

  • The reason why I’m so fond of AI bots are because they provide a chance for me to take things in without worrying about letting my team down, or open myself to being picked off by another player with, as they say in contemporary-speak, a particularly “good gaming chair”. Cheating had been a particularly big problem in Battlefield V, ranging from people who weren’t even making an effort to hide things, to those who modified their weapons to have less recoil, bottomless magazines and the like. On a private Battlefield Portal server, this sort of behaviour is a non-concern, and I’ve been having a thoroughly fun time of being able to really appreciate the sort of detail that goes into the maps.

  • I’ve not really explored El Alamein in great detail as of yet; desert maps aren’t my preferred setting in general, and during my run at El Alamein, after I captured all three objectives on my own, the AI bots on the opposing team struggled to deal any appreciable damage, causing the match to end quite quickly. Unlike Battlefield VBattlefield 1942‘s class system separates out engineers and anti-vehicle roles entirely, and as such, classes are even more specialised than they are in the Battlefield games I know; the change in style took some getting used to, and it becomes clear that the 1942 classes are rather weaker than their counterparts in more modern titles.

  • Besides Battlefield 3 and 1942Battlefield Portal also brings back two maps from Bad Company 2Bad Company 2 was my first Battlefield game; in 2010, a friend invited me over to try the campaign out. At the time, my desktop was incapable of running the game, and it wasn’t until three years later, when I built a new PC, that I had the chance to fully experience the game for myself. Of the Battlefield games, Bad Company 2 had the best campaign, featuring hilarious characters and a story that was both engaging and outlandish. Battlefield 3‘s campaign, on the other hand, is a close second because of how well it nailed the set-piece moments.

  • I’d long hoped that DICE would make a Bad Company 3: well-known Battlefield YouTubers argued that Bad Company 3 would be difficult to develop because it was difficult to pin down what had made Bad Company 2 so successful: I would tend to believe that the game’s balance, destruction and level design made the multiplayer a winner, while in the campaign, the characters and their humour made all the difference. Here, I use the engineer’s XM8 Compact to score a kill; the most iconic weapon of Bad Company 2, the XM8 Prototype, makes an appearance, and this allows me to run my favourite campaign loadout in the multiplayer as the support class.

  • In the multiplayer, however, the presence of vehicles does mean that, per the habits I’ve picked up over the past half-decade of playing Battlefield 1 and Battlefield V, I am now very fond of the engineer class owing to their ability to wield anti-armour weapons. Here, I managed to land an exceptionally lucky RPG shot on a helicopter, netting me a killtactular. In Battlefield 3 and 4, I tended to do best with the medic class owing to the fact they had access to the highly versatile assault rifles, but once Battlefield 1 and V switched things up, I continued to to excel with the assault classes for their highly effective primary weapons and the capability to engage vehicles, too.

  • Medics have seen considerable changes over the years; in Bad Company 2, they use light machine guns, while Battlefield 3 and have them use assault rifles. In Battlefield 1, medics use semi-automatic rifles, while Battlefield V gave them submachine guns. Constantly changing the medic’s ranges has made the class a difficult one to play for initially, but once I got used to them, medics became consistently fun to play. Similarly, while Bad Company 2‘s support players get assault rifles, Battlefield 3 and later consistently give support players light machine guns. They are a consistent and reliable class, great for accruing XP thanks to their ability to constantly resupply allies.

  • The recon/scout classes, on the other hand, remain largely unchanged: all recon/scout players have access to long-range bolt-action rifles and equipment to help them spot enemy players. Here on Valparaiso, I spent much of my match sniping with the M24 and GOL Sniper Magnum. When I first picked up Battlefield, I was a terrible sniper, but things began changing after I attempted the Sinon loadout during my Battlefield 3 days. Since then, I’ve taken warmly to bolt action rifles and can perform with them where needed: in Battlefield 1 and V, I was quite comfortable with the class and found it immensely satisfying to land headshots on distant foes.

  • Valparaiso brings back many memories of my open studies year; after beating the campaign, I turned my attention towards playing Bad Company 2‘s multiplayer, and as memory serves, I was never good with it owing to how weapon mechanics worked, but in spite of this, I had fun anyways. I still remember playing a variety of game modes with a variety of classes, and spent time on a wide range of maps. The lighthouse in Valparaiso brings to mind the lighthouse from the campaign mission, Sangre del Toro, and I think I played my first ever multiplayer match here, where I threw motion trackers everywhere to level up.

  • If memory serves, I became interested in unlocking the MG36, which is why I spent several months going through the multiplayer. I never did make it to my objective, but the journey remained quite enjoyable nonetheless. Here, I rock the M60 light machine gun during one particularly fun match of conquest; I originally had intended to play Rush using the Bad Company 2 maps, but an unusual bug manifested. Whenever I would load up a map, the HUD and other interactive elements refused to load. I ended up changing things back to conquest so I could get gameplay for this post. Battlefield Portal is fun when it works, but there are definitely limitations that need to be addressed.

  • For my part, I’ve found Battlefield Portal to work more often than it fails, and what’s more, the introduction of modern features like the plus system and movement mechanics has been quite seamless. Being able to switch weapon attachments on the fly has proven to be quite fun, and while 1942 doesn’t offer this because weapons were limited, the other Battefield games do show how having the additional versatility can be fun; here, I’ve decided to put on an ACOG sight for the M60, which, in conjunction with a tap-firing, allows the weapon to reach out to ranges that appear beyond what light machine guns were initially designed to reliably hit.

  • Back in the Bad Company 2 days, the GOL Sniper Magnum was probably the most favoured bolt-action rifle for being reliable and accurate; it has a slightly improved accuracy compared to the starting M24 and coupled with the fact it consistently lands headshots, it is preferred over the other bolt-action rifles in the game. Having said this, these are the only two bolt-action rifles available in Battlefield Portal right now, whereas in Bad Company 2, the campaign also featured the semi-automatic Type 88 marksman rifle and the M95 .50 calibre rifle. Both weapons are missing from Battlefield Portal, and admittedly, I’d love to see both weapons make a return.

  • Because every bullet from a sniper rifle in Bad Company 2‘s campaign is a one-hit kill, the Type 88 is the preferred long range weapon for the story. Its semi-automatic capability does mean it’s suited for making follow-up shots in the multiplayer, and I’ve always been fond of its reload animation and distinct scope. My friend actually introduced me to Bad Company 2 through the mission “Upriver”, which opens with Marlowe taking a Type 88 and using it to provide covering fire for Redford and Sweetwater. Prior to playing Bad Company 2, said friend had sat me through Marble Hornets to show me what horror could be like on a minimal budget, and since then, I’ve long called the Type 88 the “Slenderman Rifle” as a result.

  • Of course, being an otherworldly entity, it is agreed that conventional firearms wouldn’t do any damage to the Slenderman; some variants of the mythos has Slenderman appearing in warzones and terrorising armed soldiers, even killing them in some instances, despite their access to highly powerful weapons. As such, logic dictates that no, the Type 88 isn’t the dedicated Slenderman-stopping tool that I’d thought it to be. However, this hasn’t stopped it from being my go-to weapon of choice in the campaign, and owing to the fond memories I have of using this weapon, I’d love to see it return in Battlefield Portal.

  • While the M95 is counted as being a less effective weapon despite its damage characteristics and longer damage drop-off as a result of its slower rate of fire, I still find it to be an iconic part of Bad Company 2. The weapon has one of the most satisfying firing sounds of any weapon I’ve seen in any game: only the AK-47 from Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War and Halo 2‘s Battle Rifle come close to capturing the sheer power behind every shot, and as a result, I’d love to be able to fire this gun again in Battlefield Portal. With this being said, many of the things on my wish-list are probably a pipe dream for the time being: Battlefield 2042 has performed very poorly, and given how Battlefield V was treated, it is not out of the realm of possibility that EA may simply pull the plug on the game, rather than allow DICE to continue to support it and improve things.

  • This would be a disappointment if it came to pass: previously, DICE had turned Battlefield 4 and around entirely to the point where they became smooth, enjoyable experiences. While and had a stronger base, Battlefield 2042 does possess the makings of a great game, and adjustments would go a long way in improving things. Locking weapon categories and gadgets to certain specialist types would bring back class play, while adding more cover on maps and providing essential features like a server browser would allow players to focus on infantry-oriented combat. Once these fundamentals are available, DICE can then focus on adding maps, weapons and vehicles to both the base game and Battlefield Portal. Here, I wield the PP-2000, a very entertaining submachine gun I’d come to use extensively with Battlefield 3‘s recon class.

  • Here, I’ve switched back over to Caspian Border to play around with the recon weapons: the M39 EMR is a reliable and entertaining semi-automatic marksman rifle, handling similarly to the DM7 in Battlefield 2042. Here, I clear capture point echo of foes, and it suddenly hits me that Battlefield Portal is able to reconcile the aesthetic differences between Battlefield games – each of Battlefield 3Bad Company 2 and 1942 come from a different era, hence their sporting different design elements, but in Battlefield Portal, use of colours and environment details means the maps all feel like they could come from one game. This is no mean feat, one which emphasises that Battlefield Portal is a unified experience.

  • In my Battlefield 3 days, I recall that, since I was having trouble with bolt action rifles, I ended up levelling up the recon class using PDWs. This proved to be an immensely effective means of earning the experience needed to unlock the M95B, the only rifle chambered for the powerful .338 Lapua Magnum rounds. This weapon proved remarkably fun to use for its stopping power, and once I improved with sniping, I ended up branching out and trying the other bolt-action rifles out. This in turn opened my mind to recon, although it wasn’t until Battlefield 1 where I really began enjoying the bolt-action rifles (in Battlefield 3 and 4, I ended up running straight-pull bolts on my rifles so I didn’t need to look away from the sight in order to chamber a fresh round).

  • Battlefield 2042 appears to do away with this mechanism altogether, allowing one to keep looking down sights while they chamber a new round, and one mechanic I don’t particularly like is the fact that one can keep looking down sights while reloading. Out of habit, I continue to look away after firing a shot whilst chambering a new bullet. I’ve swapped over to the M240B here and equipped it with the 3.4x M145 scope, which is a variant of the Canadian C79 optic. Its bulkiness makes it a little tricky to use, but the reticule is minimal, allowing it to give good clarity on targets at medium ranges.

  • While weapon variety is limited in Battlefield Portal, looking back, there were only a handful of weapons I favoured back in my Battlefield 3 days, and so, the limited selection here might be psychological more than anything. However, I would very much like to have a much wider map variety in Battlefield Portal; adding two more maps to each era would be a massive step up, and if throughout Battlefield 2042‘s lifespan, a total of six to eight maps were added to each era, Battlefield Portal would become the definitive experience for players, allowing folks to re-live classic experiences in a refreshed and renewed manner.

  • The biggest Battlefield 3 maps I’d love to see return first would be Operation Metro and Damavand Peak. Grand Bazaar and Seine Crossing are also fantastic maps, as well. For Bad Company 2, Laguna Presa and Port Valdez are my top picks for variety’s sake (Heavy Metal and Isla Inocentes come in at a close second), while with 1942, Normandy and Iwo Jima would be fantastic additions. Because Battlefield Portal is developed by a second team, additional maps shouldn’t heavily impact the delivery of Battlefield 2042 content. As it stands now, with the Battlefield 2042 team in rough conditions after the game failed to meet sales expectations, all new materials have been pushed back to the summer of this year.

  • Originally, Battlefield 2042 was set to receive its first content update in March, but with this now being pushed back, one hopes that an additional three months will allow DICE to patch things up and ensure that Battlefield 2042 is functional; I’ve been playing on solo mode because connecting to 128-player all-out warfare servers is near impossible; the game typically times out, and when I do connect, I suffer from both lag and assets that refuse to render. Not being able to see my own weapons, teammates and enemies makes for a very difficult experience. This was not the case back during the open beta in October of last year, even on a machine as old as mine, so getting this issue sorted out should be a high priority for the team.

  • Beyond this, the next steps should be to address the lack of quality-of-life features like a server browser, scoreboard, the ability to change teams in-game and server rotations for Battlefield 2042 TDM. With over three months remaining, one hopes that the DICE team can turn this around; a stable Battlefield 2042 capable of running smoothly on older or weaker hardware with essential features acts as the first steps for righting things. Subsequently, specialists can be updated: while it would be nice to dispense with specialists entirely, that they’re so baked into the game suggests this isn’t happening. In place of this, my earlier suggestion of limiting weapon types and gadgets to specialists would bring back the class system somewhat.

  • The final step to get Battlefield 2042 back on its feet is to update the maps so they feel more cluttered and ruined, remove the corny dialogue from specialists and give specialists cosmetic changes that make them more gritty. These changes would improve the aesthetics of Battlefield 2042 to fit with the story that writers had tried to portray through earlier trailers. I realise that I’ve listed off a fairly length number of items about Battlefield 2042 that require improvement, some of which require considerable work, but I will clarify that despite this, I’m still having fun in the game in my own way. Folks who play for hundreds of hours will have already burned through all of the content, but I’m playing at my own pace, and doing things in moderation prevents things from ever becoming monotonous. At the time of writing, I am level 55 and are closing in on the last of the weapon unlocks, the NTW-50; once this is done, I will likely give Battlefield 2042 a quick break so I can focus on making progress in Project Wingman.

  • While weapon variety in Battlefield 2042 is similarly limited right now, the plus system actually does allow for weapons to be modified extensively to the point where they handle like different weapons (for instance, the SFAR-M GL can be outfit with a drum magazine, turning it into an LMG like the MG36, and the M5A3 goes from being a good close-quarters rifle to a makeshift marksman rifle with a long barrel, high power rounds and M11 6x optic). The customisation available through the plus system is actually quite impressive, but oft-overlooked, and as I’ve now got most weapons up to Mastery 7 or later, it is the case that weapons in Battlefield 2042 is actually quite deep, comparable to Battlefield 3. As such, before the summer, which is when DICE’s new content is suggested to arrive, I will return and do private Battlefield Portal matches on the full-scale maps with all of the weapons I’ve unlocked. Until then, I’ve got one more Battlefield Portal related post in mind; being able to pit modern Battlefield 3 soldiers against 1942 Wehrmacht soldiers has given me the opportunity to wrap up a topic I’ve had in the back of my mind for quite some time.

From what I have been able to create and play in Battlefield Portal insofar, however, the experience has been a little more positive – being able to play conquest and TDM on my favourite maps from an older time brings back numerous memories of when I’d been in university. I had first tried Bad Company 2‘s campaign at a friend’s place as my first summer came to a close, and I would later pick up Bad Company 2 on sale as my final undergraduate year came to a close. The multiplayer had proven fun, and I’d spent more hours on both African Harbour and Valparaiso than I’d care to count. By the time I was admitted to graduate school, I had picked up Battlefield 3 and found the game that would fill the void that Halo 2 Vista had left behind: countless hours were spent on Noshahr Canals, Operation Metro, Seine Crossing and Operation Firestorm, and I ended up having such a good time in Battlefield 3 that I had no qualms about upgrading to Battlefield 3 Premium. Being able to walk the old maps again was a trip down memory lane, and the fact that Battlefield Portal has faithfully recreated the most iconic classic experiences left me with optimism: at present, what Battlefield Portal needs most is new content, because the basics (i.e. movement and weapons) are in a fair state. It would not be fair to expect every map or weapon be brought over, but slowly bringing some of the more iconic maps and weapons into Battlefield Portal would represent a major step forwards for the mode – granted, I imagine that over half of the ninety or so hours I spent playing Battlefield 3 was with the HK416 on Noshahr Canals’ TDM, so I’m not one to talk, but one can still dream about what Battlefield Portal could be. When I first heard of Battlefield Portal, I had hoped that there would be enough options such that I could reasonably reproduce both the elimination and flag tank modes of Girls und Panzer against German, British, American and Soviet tanks of World War Two: besides recreating classic Girls und Panzer experiences, I would have also liked to have created a mode where I could simulate a hypothetical match between myself, in a modern M1A2 tank, against twenty World War Two-era tanks to stand in for the infamous World of Tanks clan Mädchen und Panzer. While this is presently not possible, the next closest thing is running a Battlefield 3 team against a World War Two German team in a match of conquest with modified rules to mimic the fact that contemporary armour-piercing rounds can one-shot even the mighty Tiger I. I’ve not attempted such a setup yet, but the fact that Battlefield Portal does support this allows me to come one step closer to modelling the outcome of something I’d wished to try for the past nine years.

Battlefield 2042: Twelve Hours of Solo All-Out Warfare and First Impressions

“All great beginnings start in the dark, when the moon greets you to a new day at midnight.” –Shannon L. Alder

Buckshot sails past my teammate and into my skull, sending me back to the deployment screen. In past Battlefield games, I’d be shown the foe who killed me, and I would wonder if that player had been lucky, skilled, or if their level was low, using cheats. However, there’s no time for such thoughts here in Battlefield 2042; I decide to spawn into the M1A5, and moments later, I’m back in the heat of combat. This time, I’m protected by composite armour in all directions. I proceed to single-handedly slaughter an entire capture point on my own and buy my team some breathing room, but in that time, the enemy team has managed to begin capturing another point on the map. I immediately race over, leaving a trail of dust and destruction in my wake. Battlefield 2042 represents a dramatic departure from the class-based multiplayer shooter that DICE had perfected over the years. For one, it is now possible to play solo on a private instance, and this alone has made Battlefield 2042 a relaxing experience. This year, the mantra “at my own pace” has dominated my discussions. I am happiest when taking in entertainment in the manner of my choosing, and Battlefield 2042‘s solo modes have provided exactly this. The AI bots I join in a given match play as humans would. They capture objectives, fire on me when I draw near and duck for cover when I return fire. While their performance can vary, they can be challenging and unpredictable like human players, but unlike human players, possess no ill-will towards me. No AI bot has yet killed me from across the map with a shotgun, camped in a single spot all match to spawn frag teammates, or singled me out in text chat for a fight. For this reason, Battlefield 2042 is fun; spared the trouble of having to deal with an excessively zealous enemy team and teammates who can’t perform, players who believe camping is a legitimate strategy and folks who count on cheats to gain the upper hand, I am able to properly play Battlefield 2042 at my own pace. The pressures associated with multiplayer evaporate as I am able to focus purely on a goal for that match. If I’m intending to give a newly-unlocked weapon a go, I can equip the base weapon and not worry about being destroyed by players using the optimal loadouts. If I wish to rank up my tanks, I can park on a capture point and hammer away at foes towards the unlock thresholds without try-hards from the other team destroying my tank with air-to-ground missiles. In fact, the absence of highly proficient pilots means for the first time in a Battlefield game, I’ve been able to learn how to fly, as well. Previously, I’d be shot down by enemy pilots who’ve unlocked everything for their air vehicles of choice within seconds of spawning in to an aircraft, but the AI bots in Battlefield 2042 lack the same level of aggression, giving me a chance to learn how to fly in a live match.

The solo experience is a complete breath of fresh air from previous titles, where I’d necessarily need to play against overly-determined foes who care only about their stats, and Battlefield 2042 has met expectations in this area. Similarly, thanks to two post-launch patches from DICE, gunplay has become sufficiently smooth so that assault rifles can perform at medium ranges. Performance is, for the most part, satisfactory – my aging hardware still runs Battlefield 2042 on medium settings. In this way, I’ve spent twelve hours playing against AI bots in the solo All-Out Warfare mode, and I’ve reached level 18. Over these twelve hours, I’ve played enough to determine that Battlefield 2042 is sufficiently satisfying so that I will be continuing with the game as it continues to mature and grow. Battlefield 2042‘s launch has been rough, and I’ve heard that since launch, player count has decreased by upwards of seventy percent. The game is one of the most negatively reviewed games on Steam, and day after day, endless Reddit threads are created, instructing others not to buy the game. While most of it is irrelevant or overblown, some of these feedbacks have merit: Battlefield 2042‘s problems lie predominantly in performance issues, lack of essential quality-of-life features like a server browser and scoreboard, and the fact that solo modes offer drastically reduced experience points compared to multiplayer proper. These are the sorts of things that should be slotted under DICE’s “high severity, high priority” fixes. The other point that I’m in agreement with are the map designs the new All-Out Warfare maps. While the maps themselves are visually stunning, there is far too much empty space between congregation points. This means that for most players, the average match will consist of sprinting to a capture point, perhaps scoring a few kills and then dying instantly to a sniper, or sprinting to a capture point and being killed by an enemy helicopter along the way. There’s no buildings or vegetation to provide cover for moving infantry, and there’s not enough vehicles, like quad bikes, to allow squads an accessible means of swiftly moving between capture points. I also find myself unable to join a squad of AI players, resulting in long walks should I ever die. The recurring joke, that Battlefield 2042 is a virtual track-and-field simulator, holds true in solo All-Out Warfare; in the absence of a vehicle, I tend to stay at one capture point because of how long it would take to hoof it over to the nearby control points, even on the smaller maps solo players are provided with. A bit of extrapolation would find that larger maps would be very difficult to traverse. It would be phenomenal for DICE to address these issues in their maps: Battlefield V initially had similar problems, and without dramatically changing up maps, DICE had fixed these issues by providing a handful of respawning motorcycles at capture points and adding fences, foliage and trenches to make it easier for infantry to move around in. The community appears to believe otherwise for the present, but DICE’s track record speaks for itself: Battlefield games typically start out roughly, and then improve over time. As such, it is likely the case that over time, Battlefield 2042 will improve – maps will be updated to handle better, basic UI elements will return, and, if my luck holds, optimisations will be introduced so even older rigs like mine can run the game with reasonable frame rates.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Because I spent a total of six hours on the Orbital map during Battlefield 2042‘s open beta, I’ve elected to play on different maps. Playing multiplayer proper means utilising Battlefield 2042‘s matchmaking system, and from what I’ve heard, this approach makes it really tricky to play on one’s preferred maps. Unfortunate player can get stuck on the same map two or three times in a row; as such, having a proper server browser would be mandatory. In my case, since I’m playing solo, I have the choice of picking which map I play on every time.

  • Here, I play on Hourglass, a sand-swept portrayal of Qatar’s Doha. Massive skyscrapers can be seen in the distance, and although the illuminated city is gorgeous, there is a lot of open space on the map, making a  vehicle mandatory. In earlier Battlefield games, I’ve commented that one thing I enjoy most about a well-designed map is that there is enough variety to accommodate all combat options without favouring any one weapon type or play-style. The larger maps of Battlefield 2042 openly favour vehicles, and early in my experience, I found that I could single-handedly control the tide of battle if I were to spawn into a tank: here, I destroy an enemy vehicle and earn myself a killtacular in the process.

  • The experience gain in solo mode might be stymied, but the flip-side is that unlocks for weapons and vehicles progress normally. This makes solo a great place to become familiar with weapons and vehicles; when something is initially unlocked, there are no additional options available for it, and its handling might require some time to get used to. Previously, trying newly-unlocked weapons out on human servers would be painful, since I’d be destroyed in the blink of eye by folks playing better weapons. Conversely, here in solo All-Out Warfare, I am afforded the chance to get used to a base weapon. Here, I shoot a helicopter out of the sky with the M1A5, the American MBT, in a manner reminiscent of my Battlefield 3 days.

  • Kaleidoscope is set in Songdo, South Korea, and it is another map where there is a large central business district surrounding the actual map itself, a large open park with little cover. The park area offers next to no cover, and one can be attacked from all angles even if they are cautious; people report that nothing is more frustrating than surviving a harrowing firefight at close quarters with another squad, only to be picked off by distant snipers. These events have led some to express a wish for DICE to modify the maps. While the maps themselves cannot be easily changed in terms of layout, simple changes like adding trenches, fences and foliage as cover would make a massive difference.

  • These small changes would allow for more close-quarters environments and also break up the line of sight for snipers, forcing snipers to play more strategically. DICE has previously done something similar in Battlefield V: the Panzerstorm map was notorious for favouring vehicles, and anyone who spawned into a tank could decimate infantry unchallenged. The map was later altered so trenches and fences broke up open fields, giving infantry flanking routes and allowing them to sneak up to vehicles in order to counterattack.

  • I can now say that the AI bots in Battlefield 2042 are definitively a cut above the bots in other games I’ve played: Battlefield 2042 bots can traverse the maps well enough to capture objectives and force players to respond, will reprioritise their focus if I fire on them, and utilise their equipment when appropriate. I have died on several occasions to bots that would astutely swap over to their M5 Recoilless Rifles and hammer my tank with rockets, and similarly, enemy tankers immediately stop firing on infantry with their coaxial MG and change over to their MPAT rounds to take me out when I arrive.

  • This isn’t to say that AI bots can replace human players: there are some moments where the bots can become pretty bone-headed as a result of limitations in their decision algorithms: towards the end of a given Breakthrough match, AI bots will always just congregate on the capture point in the aim of keeping players from capturing it. Allied bots similarly seem to have a problem rushing in to take the points, and as such, the end of a match on some maps becomes impossible to win on my own. However, other maps give me a chance to drive a vehicle onto the capture point and finish the match off quickly.

  • Having now had the chance to try the PBX-45, I’ve found it a superbly reliable and enjoyable weapon to use. The base weapon has low recoil is low, high firing rate and good hip fire accuracy. When aiming down sights, tap-firing the PBX-45 allows it to reach out further than one would imagine. The PBX-45 is inspired by the LWRC SMG-45, a next-generation submachine gun firing the .45 ACP rounds and entered production in 2019. Battlefield 2042‘s weapons are all inspired by existing weapons, but rather than going with venerable classics such as the HK416 or AK12, DICE has opted to go with cutting-edge weapons.

  • Here, I drive a tank on another match of Breakthrough on Breakaway, which is set in Antarctica’s Queen Maud Land region. As it turns out, Shōwa Station (as seen in A Place Further Than The Universe) is also located in Queen Maud Land. Battlefield 2042 supposes that by 2042, illegal drilling operations will have occurred here. For me, Breakaway is probably my favourite of the Battlefield 2042‘s maps; besides sporting excellent scenery, there’s actually a bit of cover to utilise in between the different capture points. Despite being a snowy, icy map, Breakaway is broken up with rocky regions and a massive drilling platform, adding variety to the map.

  • It turns out that the bolt action rifles do have penetration; I found this out when I landed a double kill with a single shot while pushing towards the final set of capture points. While solo All-Out Warfare is fine for levelling up even with the constraints in mind, the fact that everything is so far apart means that firefights are less frequent. I would like to see DICE implement deathmatch options for both multiplayer and solo/co-op in All-Out Warfare, as it would offer players a means of focusing purely on unlocking attachments for their new weapons.

  • For me, the biggest problems in Battlefield 2042 at this moment are performance issues and the fact that progression in Battlefield Portal is restricted. Things like aesthetics can be improved over time, and DICE historically has a good track record when it comes to fixing bugs surrounding ballistic properties and UX. I bought Battlefield 2042 for the fact that one can play against AI bots, and in this area, the game does handle in a satisfactory, if less-than-ideal, manner. However, being restricted in experience gain is a bizarre decision, and the outcome is that a vast majority of players, like myself, are punished by the actions of a few number of players.

  • The solution for experience farming is, theoretically, a simple enough concept: if a server alters AI behaviour and attributes like health to beyond a certain threshold (e.g. setting AI to stand still or having less than half of normal health), then XP is automatically disabled for that server. Otherwise, progression equivalent to that of solo All-Out Warfare would be permitted. This approach would allow solo players to be rewarded for spending time in the game, while only punishing those who abuse Battlefield Portal‘s capabilities. This would be the optimal solution, but in the absence of such an implementation, I still see myself playing Battlefield Portal on its own: everything in this mode is fully unlocked from the start and ready to go for players.

  • For the sake of exploring every map, I ended up swinging by Discarded, which is set in Alang, India. This map features the rusting husks of derelict cargo ships that are being decommissioned and scrapped for parts. The ships themselves are massive, and their labyrinthine interiors are perfect for close quarters combat, whereas outside, wide open spaces on the muddy coasts facilitate sniping and vehicular combat. The extremities in the maps justifies the presence of a + system, which is the colloquial name for the menu that allows for weapon attachments to be swapped on the fly, just like in Crysis. While the system was initially questioned, I’ve actually found it to be quite powerful.

  • Even though I’m presently only able to switch between a handful of sight, barrel and under-barrel types, being able to switch out a holographic sight for long range optics and exchange a suppressor for a heavy barrel has meant I could change my optimal combat range when going from the interiors of a ship, to the wide open plains surrounding each vessel. The + system actually does add a bit of nuance to things, and picking attachments to best suit one’s play style at certain ranges enhances Battlefield‘s weapon customisation system. As players unlock more options for their weapons, it is possible to have an assault rifle handle more like a submachine gun for unexpected close quarter situations with a change to the equipped ammunition and barrel attachment, for instance.

  • During one match of Conquest on Discarded, I ended up boarding an attack helicopter and scored my first-ever kill with a helicopter in any Battlefield game. Until now, the presence of other players meant I never had the chance to learn the controls. While the AI bots are smart enough to train their anti-air guns and missiles towards the sky when I fly, they are nowhere nearly as persistent as human opponents. In this way, I learned how to move the helicopters and get it to go exactly where I wanted it to go, and I also got a better measure for the weapons available from the pilot’s seat.

  • Back on the ground, I will remark that Angel is the best specialist, bar none, for solo All-Out Warfare; his passive ability is to revive downed allies faster and bring them up with their armour topped off, while his equipment allows him to call in a loadout crate. This ability is the most mundane of the specialists, but in practise, it is also the most useful of the abilities. I am now able to switch weapons and gadgets outright if a situation changes: if I am pinned down in an area, I can call in a crate and switch over to the medic loadout, then as soon as I extricate myself, I can return to an anti-armour role. Similarly, if opponents begin engaging me from ranges beyond what I’ve configured my assault rifle to do, I can pop over to a DMR or bolt action rifle.

  • The initial smart rockets attack helicopters have access to are underwhelming and require a few hits in order to kill, but I ended up getting the hang of them. My goal now is to unlock the 70 mm anti-personnel rockets for both factions, which lack anti-armour properties but would be particularly lethal against infantry. Generally speaking, an attack helicopter is at its best when there’s another player occupying the gunner’s seat: they can focus on an anti-infantry role while I deal with vehicles. In the absence of a gunner, and in the knowledge that the AI aren’t overly aggressive about anti-air combat, I have also found success by raising the helicopter’s altitude, switch to the gunner’s seat to clean up infantry on the ground, and then return to the pilot’s seat so I can steer the helicopter back into the air for another attack run.

  • It feels a little unusual to run a predominantly support player without LMGs, and Battlefield 2042 has a rather disappointing two LMGs available for players to unlock at this point in time. The LMG that I do have access to right now, the LCMG, is a decent option to run, and I’ve found it to be quite useful for clearing areas out; on Kaleidoscope on Breakthrough, the last capture point is located on the roof of a skyscraper, and this creates an unusual situation where the defenders are guaranteed to win because the allied AI have no chance of breaking through in a concerted fashion. However, the placement of enemy AI also means that one could capitalise on their behaviour to score kills and work towards their weapon progression.

  • A week ago, it was Black Friday, and I ended up going shopping for new bed frames and mattresses, where I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I saved a hundred dollars on my bed frame. This weekend, the day was spent finishing off the Christmas shopping – I finished most of mine back in the first week of November, having anticipated that supply chain problems could make Christmas shopping considerably more difficult. At present, there are only a few odds and ends to look after, and gifts for the folks most important to me are already secured, leaving me to leisurely browse the local mall. Winter has also begun arriving in my region: the past week had been snowy, and today saw -6ºC temperatures with gentle flurries.

  • A Cantonese-style dinner wrapped up what was a relaxing and somewhat brisk day –  sweet and sour pork with mayonnaise and apricots, beef brisket and daikon, seafood Chinese broccoli and 小炒皇 (jyutping siu2 caau2 wong4, a stir-fry with fish, shrimps, chicken and deep-fried tofu) ended up being the perfect way to take the edge from a cooler night. This weekend is a bit of a breather from the recent flurry of activity, and in the weeks upcoming, the goal will be to finalise the furniture for our new place. The beds, wall units,  couches, coffee table, desks and shelves are good to go, so all that’s left are night tables, shelves for the bedrooms and dining table. Once those are bought, I can capitalise on that vacation time to begin building the furniture, and then begin moving some personal effects over.

  • Sniping in the open beta was a little inconsistent, but with the fixes that have occurred since Battlefield 2042‘s launch, sniping has become a superbly enjoyable activity. I miss the days when the game would give players bonuses for landing headshots from extreme ranges: besides rewarding sharpshooting and skill, it was also an elegant way of telling players their headshot distance. Here, I nail a shot on an AI bot from about 200 metres away; bullet drop in Battlefield 2042 is less pronounced than it was in Battlefield 3 or 4, although this is purely something I’m saying based on observation, and I feel that I’ll still find it useful to spend more time with bolt action rifles.

  • Because I’m certainly not a skilled pilot by any stretch, being able to hop into a match of solo Breakthrough or Conquest and practise flying in the context of a live match has been remarkably helpful. In previous Battlefield games, this simply wouldn’t be possible, and while tutorials are offered, I’ve found that like real life, I tend to learn best when given a chance to apply the basics towards a tangible objective. This is how I picked up C# and Unity for the Giant Walkthrough Brain and how I became a self-taught iOS Developer.

  • The sandbox environment in Battlefield similarly is conducive for self-driven learning, and looking back, this is something I’ve come to enjoy from all of the Battlefield games I’ve picked up. According to the blog’s archives, I wrote about my first impressions of Battlefield V about three years ago. Back then, I found the most frustrating aspect of the game was player visibility. Beyond this, I was hopeful that DICE would continue introducing new content to the game, and while Battlefield V ended support a year-and-a-half into its life, the game did end in a decent state. While visibility was never adequately addressed, DICE did fix a host of issues with Battlefield V, leaving it in a playable state after support for the game was dropped. Unfortunately, the game succumbed to cheaters, and after that final match on Al Marj Encampment in mid-June last year, I’ve never returned. Had Battlefield V offered a solo mode with AI bots, the story would be very different.

  • At around this time three years earlier, I had just accepted a new job offer and had a few weeks to myself. Besides sleeping in and perhaps spending a little more time playing Battlefield V than I would have otherwise, I also decided to take the bus downtown to get a feel for the route one morning. That day, I also ended up enjoying a delicious Lobster and Scrambled Eggs poutine from a local breakfast institution, as well as explore the then newly-opened central library, where I spent the entire morning reading Reader’s Digest’s Treasures of China, a beautiful coffee table book that showcases the beautiful landscapes and dazzling cultural artefacts of China. I’d given up hope of reading that book again, but thanks to a bit of holiday magic in the present, that book will be joining my private library this Christmas along with Smithsonian’s Space, another book I’d been longing to buy.

  • Like Battlefield 2042Battlefield V‘s launch was a bit rough, and players back then similarly decried the lack of content and numerous bugs. However, since DICE did add extensively to Battlefield V‘s content and patched out the more critical bugs, the game became much more immersive: the Pacific Update stands as one of my favourite expansions to any Battlefield game ever. Owing to this history, I hold similar expectations for Battlefield 2042 and will anticipate that with time, more primary weapons, sidearms and maps will be added to the game. For now, though, I am content to work through the unlocks that are available, and here, I manage to score a killtacular on enemies chilling in a vehicle using the M5 Recoilless Rifle. AI bots are fond of gathering in vehicles, making multi-kills quite common.

  • The SVK is modelled after the SVCh (Snaiperskaya Vintovka Chukavin), a Russian designated marksman rifle manufactured by Kalashnikov Concern. The real world equivalent is designed to supplant the SVD marksman rifle and unlike its predecessor, is a modular weapon that can accommodate different calibres and possesses a Picatinny rail, allowing it to mount different attachments. From what I’ve seen of the SVK so far, it hits harder than the DM7, but has a reduced magazine capacity. The default optic is also a little tricky to use.

  • Conversely, the AK24 is an excellent assault rifle: par the course for the Kalashnikov derivatives, the AK24 has a slower firing rate and more recoil than the M5A3, but in exchange, hits harder per round and is more reliable at range. In the beginning, I only had the iron sights for it, but as I’d mentioned in the open beta post, iron sights no longer bother me quite as much as they did during my Battlefield 3 days: being forced to use iron sights in Battlefield 1 and V has seen to it that I’ve adjusted, and in Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War, not having a sight also meant being able to equip an alternate attachment instead.

  • While I’ve yet to unlock the attachments that bring out the best in the AK24, even having a few attachments to bolster the weapon’s performance slightly is welcome. Shortly after unlocking the AK24, I returned to Revival to see how the weapon handled, and that particular match was exhilarating: my team had fallen behind early on, but thanks to my captures, we held the lead until late game, when the opposing team managed to sweep victory from under us by the margin of five tickets. The outcome was as lifelike as any match against human opponents.

  • As such, while Battlefield 2042 still needs a bit of work before I’m ready to step into the realm of multiplayer, the solo mode has proven to be satisfactory, offering me a modernised sandbox environment to play in without worrying about rampant cheaters and juvenile players plastering memes into text chat. As such, I see no merit in paying too much heed to the non-stop vitriol that is being generated on social media; at the end of the day, I’m having fun, and that’s all that matters. I have seen that Battlefield is most enjoyable with some mates, but since most of my friends don’t have an interest in this series, I’ve spent the whole of Battlefield 341 and V on my own. This has never diminished my experience in any way, and admittedly, it is fun to see how far I can get on my own.

  • Having now gained a rough idea of how Battlefield 2042‘s solo modes handle, I do see myself returning, at my leisure, to unlock things and have a good time in my private sandboxes, away from a community that has only become more negative and unbearable since I last wrote about Battlefield. I don’t play Battlefield for a living, and I don’t tie my self-worth to my performance in a video game, so I see little reason to participate in that particular side of the community; so long as the game provides me the large-scale sandbox experience I’ve come to love, I will continue to enjoy it. Finally, DICE has announced that a new map will be joining Battlefield 2042 – this map is called “Exposure”, and I am rather looking forwards to checking it out. This time around, thanks to the presence of a solo mode, I am similarly confident that I’ll be able to easily explore the map once it becomes available.

My impressions after spending twelve hours in Battlefield 2042 have been largely positive, thanks in no small part to the fact that it is now possible to get a private All-Out Warfare session going. Here, the limitations that affect the larger multiplayer mode are not as apparent. Map sizes are slightly smaller, and vehicles are always available, making travel a little easier. I’m squaring off on a server of 63 AI, rather than 128 human players, so performance is similarly less of an issue. For this reason, I do see myself staying in the solo All-Out Warfare experience for the foreseeable future. While being killed by cheaters and having to contend with youth whose vocabulary seems limited to memes is annoying, the main reason why the AI bots remain appealing is simply from the fact that my machine is aging and therefore, unlikely to be able to keep up on a server of 128 human players. While perhaps speaking poorly of Battlefield 2042‘s multiplayer component, these observations also serve to show how powerful AI bots have become. We are now at a point where I am able to play a convincing match against AI bots without ever encountering human players, and although the AI bots are still limited (allies and foes alike do not adapt to situations as quickly as humans would), I’ve nonetheless had a solid time so far. The biggest impediment right now is the fact that experience and unlocks are constrained right now thanks to the actions of a few impertinent players creating “1 HP EASY XP FARM” modes and flooding Battlefield Portal with these servers during the game’s early access period. The problem was exacerbated by unethical gaming journalists promoting these modes as a means of quickly levelling up during this timeframe, harming the experience for the remainder of the players. The reduced XP has made it far slower to unlock new weapons and gear, as well as outright preventing attachments from being unlocked in custom TDM experiences. So far, this has not been an impediment, but as I continue to level up, and the experience required for each successive level increases, I imagine that I will be feeling the effects of this more severely, the further I level up: DICE and EA did assure players that they would have full access to progression regardless of which modes they play, so it is imperative that progression be returned to Battlefield Portal such that it is at least similar to what it is in solo All-Out Warfare. DICE has had a history of sorting out issues to create increasingly stable and consistently enjoyable games, so I am hoping that Battlefield Portal and solo All-Out Warfare will receive their own fixes in the near future. In the meantime, I will continue advancing through Battlefield 2042 at my own pace – Battlefield 2042‘s latest patch was a major one and addresses a large number of in-game issues that improved gameplay in a tangible way, and most excitingly, added vehicular combat TDM to Battlefield Portal. This particular mode has been of great interest to me – it will now be possible to properly set up a server where I can simulate the outcome of pitting myself against AnimeSuki’s conceited Mädchen und Panzer World of Tanks clan to settle a decade-old argument, and I have a special discussion in mind on this matter once I get that game mode set up.