Curtis jumped into the upcoming FPS' beta recently, here's what he made of it
A disclaimer, before I start... I adore Battlefield 1 and Battlefield V. For me, they are two of my favorite multiplayer shooters of all time, they just happened to both land within the same generation.
I still play both regularly and have a blast every time. The dramatic, cinematic gameplay of BF1 is unmatched, charging towards the enemy atop a devastated, blazing hillside to the sound of screaming and a top-notch orchestral score is nothing short of Hollywood magic.
BFV refined the gameplay with an updated movement system that gave you the ability to run while crouched, back peddle, slide into cover, and even maintain your momentum by landing a high jump with a roll. Fortifications were added, allowing you to build defenses to hold your sector and supply stations to refill ammo and health. It changed the pace slightly with a faster TTK and a new attrition system, but it was still that classic Battlefield I love.
While the movement system, faster TTK and cinematic flair aren’t as strong from previous games from what I’ve seen in the Batrtlefield beta, this is an intentional shift. DICE could have just given us an updated version of BFV with a modern coat of paint, but they didn’t. Instead, they’ve decided to return to the Battlefield 4 style: a more grounded, realistic take. I clocked in around a dozen hours in the Battlefield 2042 beta and here are my impressions, enjoy!
DICE has made a very conscious decision to give '2042 a BF4, Modern Warfare vibe. Though this change does come with a few caveats, remember, this is a beta, and could all be changed when the full game launches.
The beta kicks off with a refreshed version of conquest on a new map: Orbital. The moment-to-moment gameplay is still what you’d expect with a few additions and changes. Vehicles, of course, are here, letting you play with multiple variations of tanks, helicopters, jets and transport vehicles.
While only having access to a small handful of weapons in the beta, we’re given ARs, DMRs, SMGs, pistols and shotguns. All feel punchy with very satisfying feedback.
But let’s get into a few details
The class system has been completely reworked this time around, traditionally, we’ve always gotten four classes: Medic, Engineer, Support and Recon. DICE have opted to almost completely remove this system and instead opted for Specialists, unique characters with their own skillset and traits. For example, Maria Falck is equipped with a Syrette pistol that allows her to heal teammates at a distance. Webster Mackay has a grappling hook that can be used to reach high vantage points or cover long distances with ease. You can still equip the traditional class loadouts though these seem far less of a priority.
While this can be seen as an attempt to mix up the gameplay as well as offering players more customization options, it can be jarring at times because DICE has also seemingly removed differing factions. No longer will you have two completely visually different teams for easy identification, both teams use identical specialists making nobody stand out. Quite often you’ll be killed by a character that looks exactly like yours and in a game with a huge emphasis on immersion, it just doesn’t fit here.
Right now, we’ve only had access to the classic mode, Conquest. A mode left mostly untouched over the years, however, 2042 changes things up a bit. Instead of the usual flags dotted around the place, the map is now split into sectors, each with two or three flags within them, almost making each sector feel like a smaller map in the process. I assume this is done to filter the increased player count to not have everybody on the same points, causing havoc.
This is a really nice change to see, adding depth to an otherwise straightforward mode is greatly appreciated. Especially as this is likely to be the ‘default’ game mode for most players.
Quality of life changes/improvements
As with every Battlefield, this one comes with a few QoL changes to deal with issues that came before it. These range from minor to major.
The biggest, most appreciated change is the ability to swap out your weapon attachments on the fly. You’re able to replace sights, magazine types, barrels and grips to suit whatever situation you find yourself in. No longer will you have to wait for death to adapt, no longer!
Another addition lets you call in friendly transport vehicles to your location. Since the map is huge, it would be unreasonable to expect you to walk from sector to sector and vehicles can be hard to come by, especially if your team are already using them. So, to ease this you can pull out your mini-laptop and choose a jeep to call down, faster than Amazon Prime.
On the same laptop, you have the option to call in a mechanized dog to aid you and your team. This seems very similar to the score streak-type mechanic in BFV. This was originally limited to your squad leader to call in after you all gained enough points, this time, however, it seems anyone in a squad can use it.
Where can it improve?
As I said in my opening paragraph, BF1 and BFV are my favorites of the series. They added so much to deliver a memorable experience, like, the updated movement, the dramatic soundtrack, an updated attrition system etc.
While I completely appreciate DICE wanting to make something different here, I can’t help but feel like the magic has been lost along the way. While by no means clunky, the movement feels very basic here.
The missing crouch-run is noticeable, especially when trying to flank or run away from a tank. It doesn’t break the game in any meaningful way, but returning BFV players will know the difference.
I have no doubt the full game will eventually fix this issue, but the beta features some very questionable UX design. The screen is always so full of information I found it quite distracting.
Every time a sector is taken there’s bright blue or red banner taking up a large portion of the top of the screen. The deploy screen is also messy at times, selecting your squad mates to spawn on is a matter of moving up and down a list rather than using the stick to highlight them on the map, like in previous games.
There doesn’t appear to be a player-cam either, showing you what your team is up to and whether it's safe to spawn. There also seems to be no way of communicating with your team outside of voice and text chat.
No way to call for ammo or health, no way to thank people for supplies or reviving you. In a game that’s always been about teamwork, it’s strange to see such a basic feature missing. Here’s hoping it’s ready for launch.
While part of me misses the feel of the previous games, what we have here is promising. The gameplay is solid, the QoL additions are most welcome, and I have no doubt any bugs will be squashed.
DICE have always delivered on all-out warfare, and I have complete faith they’ll do it again.
Article by Curtis Budworth
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