Portal Is Battlefield 2042’s Best Mode By Far

Portal Is Battlefield 2042’s Best Mode By Far

Portal’s the best mode in Battlefield 2042. I’m just gonna say it.

Over the course of this week, EA had me attending a media preview event over three nights. Each night, we were allowed around five hours to go hog wild on a new mode. The first night was the game’s standard, traditional big-team game. Huge maps, futuristic weapons and gadgets, wild weather. The whole bit.

This mode was fine. The build we were playing on had some problems, and because we only had so many players available, the team balance was wildly skewed into one-sided steamroll territory. I’d like to spend a bit more time in this mode once the game is properly in the wild because I don’t think it got a fair shake that night and I’d like to give it the benefit of the doubt.

The second night was Hazard Zone. A quieter mode to be sure, possibly tenser than the standard Battlefield experience. I quite liked it and wrote a bit about how it’s worth taking a punt on. I reckon it’ll be the sleeper hit of the whole package.

But EA saved the show-stopper for the third and final night. Portal, Battlefield 2042’s much anticipated way-back machine brings maps, modes, operators, and even design quirks from previous games into the modern era. This allows players to use a simple logic map to create custom games with rules of their own. You could feasibly create a game of 1942 soldiers vs 2042 soldiers, in groups of two, player cap of 48, with instant respawns, on the Caspian Border map from Battlefield 3, playing the Rush game type from Battlefield: Bad Company 2. Or you could go much crazier than that.

A team leader from EA in Los Angeles created a mode that was clearly a friendly dig at competitor Call of Duty — a free-for-all with instant respawn and no healing-over-time. It was a first-to-50 match and it was utter bedlam.

The second DICE-created mode was far sillier and more enjoyable. Rockets and knives only, launchers contain a single rocket, and the only way to reload is to jump five times. It was fun, and kind of reminded me of GoldenEye 007 multiplayer in a weird way. It really was impressive how much control DICE was willing to give the community over its multiplayer experience in Portal. There’s so much you can fiddle with or change entirely to suit your tastes. I look forward to seeing the best of what the community can come up with here.

The other thing you can do in Portal mode, and this was by far the biggest hit of the entire event, is wind back the clock. If you want to play a pure, authentic Battlefield 1942 experience, down to the game feel of a shooter made in 2002, you can. If you want to return to the heady days of Battlefield: Bad Company 2’s multiplayer, you can — it even turns off sprint strafing to ensure 1:1 game feel. This mode went over huge with the assembled crowd.

Upon hearing the familiar sirens blare to life in BFBC2’s Rush mode, one of my teammates sighed with contentment. He said it was the video game equivalent of eating cheesecake, just pure pleasure.

He was right. It was. We had a ball. The map rotated through six maps — El Alamein and the Battle of the Bulge from BF1942, Arica Harbour and Valparaiso from BFBC2, and Caspian Border and Norshahr Canals from BF3. All six maps were a lovely reminder of the series’ history, and still play as well as they ever have. All of them benefit from a gorgeous facelift in the modern Frostbite engine.

The problem that Portal mode exposed was that it made the newer, less familiar maps seem less interesting by comparison. Again, as I said earlier, it felt like the new maps in 2042’s primary mode didn’t really get a fair run on the night, so I’d like to revisit them. But the mood throughout the event was clear — this was the standout favourite. Suddenly the atmosphere in the Discord server EA had prepared for us all to communicate through had become a party. The handful of complaints about errant bugs or connection issues evaporated. Everyone was simply having a great time.

With that in mind, DICE now faces a bit of a problem. How do you entice players over to the new material when the Portal mode is giving them quite literally everything they want?

I look forward to finding out.

Battlefield 2042 launches on November 19 on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, Windows PC and previous generation consoles. If you are an EA Play Pro subscriber, or you’ve preordered the Gold or Ultimate Edition, you can jump into early access play on Friday, November 12.

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