I’m Enjoying Battlefield 2042, But There May Be Something Wrong With Me

I’m Enjoying Battlefield 2042, But There May Be Something Wrong With Me
Image: Battlefield 2042

Earlier this week, Ethan rightly called out Battlefield 2042 as being the “wrong game at the wrong time”. A similar piece on Eurogamer says Battlefield 2042’s opening weekend was “a disaster”. User reviews of the game are in the toilet. Imagine my confusion, then, when I realised last night that I’d been logging onto the game all week and having a blast.

I am not for a second suggesting there’s anything wrong with either of those pieces, or the people’s user reviews. The game has launched in a very half-assed and for many longtime fans unforgivable state, as though the whole thing has been cobbled together for the judges like a last-minute Bake-Off disaster. The changes made to player classes are confusing, the way infantry bullet spray is being handled is maddening and the technical issues people playing on Xbox consoles are having seem very shitty.

I’m going to sound like an arsehole here, but those aren’t my concerns. First up, I’m playing on PC, where I’m having very few issues. Maybe Australian servers are just blessed, who knows. The second time I played I got some weird texture pop-ins, and there’s sometimes a weird screen-tearing effect even when I’ve got V-sync turned on, but those are annoyances, not deal-breakers, and that’s basically the extent of my technical concerns. Most of the time the game looks gorgeous and is running nice and smooth to boot.

Next up, I get that the game is lacking in some game modes, and that others aren’t up to scratch. But I only ever play Battlefield’s big Conquest mode, where up to 128 players do battle on enormous maps, and that’s here and working, so that’s all I’ve been playing anyway.

Now is the part it gets weird. I recognise that a lot of people’s complaints about infantry, which range from not being able to identify classes visually to concerns over their bullets not landing where they’re aiming, are very important to the way they play the game. But I don’t play the game like that.

I like tanks. I like driving them around and shooting. If I can’t be driving the tank, I’ll happily sit in one anyway and use the machine gun, like a murderous twist on Ralph Wiggum’s “I’m helping” meme. I like Battlefield’s tanks so much, in fact, that I’d wager I spend around 90% of my time in the game using them, and the other 10% driving cars that also have guns on them, or smaller tanks that are designed to blow up aircraft instead of buildings.

I’m just not interested in any of that infantry stuff. There are so many other shooters out there involving dudes running around with guns; for me the whole appeal of Battlefield is that it’s bigger than that, with its helicopters and hovercraft and fighter jets and enormous maps. I appreciate that infantry is there to blow up with my tank, but in the way a whale might appreciate the swarms of krill it scoops into its mouth every day, without otherwise stopping to ever consider their existence.

And the tanks here are fun. Or, as many series veterans are calling them, “overpowered”. Russian or American it doesn’t really matter, both are fast, look badass, can fit three other people in them for squad-based shenanigans, and those three can wield an interesting variety of complimentary weapons, from robot shotguns to little rocket launchers. I think tanks are just the best way to really soak up the Battlefield experience. This series is as its best when the whole screen is exploding, choppers blasting missiles at the ground while infantry scramble for cover and trucks blow to bits around you; a tank’s third-person view, visibility, speed and degree of safety from those explosions often has you at the very eye of Battlefield’s storm, and I never shriek “holy shit!” at a chain of chaotic events as often as I do when driving a tank.

Me, every time I fire up a Battlefield game (Screenshot: Black Books) Me, every time I fire up a Battlefield game (Screenshot: Black Books)

Is this weird? That I look across the entire smorgasbord of stuff you can do in these games and only settle on one tiny part of it, then play that part to death? Maybe! I’m not the world’s most ardent Battlefield player; in fact this is the first time since Battlefield 4 that I’ve really spent much time at all with one of the games at launch. And now that I think about it, that’s probably down to the military hardware on offer. There’s just something more white-knuckled about blasting around the map in speedier modern vehicles than the (relatively) creakier armour of the last two games, Battlefield 1 especially.

Also, while we’re here and talking first impressions, I really like these maps. I’m yet to learn their deepest secrets since it’s only been a week, and I understand veterans are already complaining about stuff like lack of cover, but please see above, I drive tanks and don’t care. Each one has its own set of gimmicks, like Singapore’s docks having huge moving parts, an Egyptian map with a perfect split down the middle between arid desert and lush green grass or another that develops a huge storm in the middle of it. Even though the game doesn’t have a singleplayer campaign attached, each one is telling a small part of a story about a dystopian future, the only thing they have in common being that they’re all affected in some way by an impending climate disaster, making them strangely depressing to play on.

If you’re wondering why I’m writing this all up, it’s not because I want to rub it in, or dismiss your criticisms; I’m just fascinated by the disparity between so many other people having a justifiably bad time with this game and my own enjoyment. That unlike everything else on the internet this difference of opinion isn’t a subjective disagreement. My views and theirs (and yours) can coexist here and all be true, because that’s the kind of game Battlefield is. Despite its ups and downs, it’s a series that’s essentially giving us games within games. You, playing as infantry on huge maps without cover and overpowered vehicles, are having a bad time. Me, driving overpowered tanks around beautiful big playground because that’s what I love to do, I’m having a great time. All in the same game.

If the way you like to play Battlefield is broken or underwhelming here, that’s definitely a problem, and I don’t want to give the impression here that I’m somehow letting DICE and EA off the hook. This game needs some serious work, regardless of how much fun I’m having with it. But if you’re a weirdo like me who looks at this huge game and only plays one part of it, whether its tanks or jets or choppers or whatever, then despite all the bad press the game is getting at the moment, there’s still a good time to be had here. Depending on just how big a weirdo you are.

Yes… Hahaha… Yes! (Screenshot: Battlefield 2042) Yes… Hahaha… Yes! (Screenshot: Battlefield 2042)

Comments

  • Less articles like this, please..
    “I enjoy playing the new broken game, here’s 1500 words” … What is the point of this. Good for you.

    • OR as a functional adult the author is capable of thinking for themselves and is willing understand just because something has issues, that doesnt mean everything is terrible.

  • I’m very happy that Kotaku has writers that aren’t just saying the same as every other outlets. I’m having a blast with Battlefield, and yes there are issues (like every modern AAA launch) but that doesn’t mean the whole game is absolute garbage.

    • But the ‘like every modern AAA launch’ is the problem. When you’re investing the amount of money and man-hours into a game that these studios are, they should come out at the very least in better shape than they are.

  • Enjoying the gameplay, but goddam the lack of server browser, no persistent server rotation, and no squad management suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks.

  • Same here. Here’s my thing we go through this merry dance this time every year with CoD and every few with BF, for seemingly the last decade… the fan base goes into full outrage and meltdown mode, sometimes in deserving ways but most times not. But its got to such a stage they all just become noise, while the rest of the player base just deals with the changes and the bugs in rational ways and gets on with playing.

    It is as predictable as the sun rising, and as forgettable. I wish these games launched better (in terms of bugs) but after playing the ultra safe and forgettable Far Cry 6, I am glad BF decide to change things up, even if at the moment it is a bit of a mess.

    • “A bit of a mess”

      U wot?

      The following a just some things wrong with 2042:

      – No classes
      – Wide open maps with no cover
      – Maps are too big and turns the game into a running simulator
      – No scoreboard
      – No changing squads
      – No changing teams
      – Awful hit registration
      – Awful random bullet deviation
      – Broken hover tank that can scale walls and harder to blow up than a tank.
      – Bug that won’t allow you to re-deploy when you die. You have to leave the game.
      – Bug that will show your team mates as enemies and they can knife you to death
      – Only 22 weapons, of which 2 are actually good.
      – Attachments unlocked that are cosmetic only.
      – Some attachments do the opposite of what the description gives.
      – XP disabled in custom portal games
      – Attachment progression disabled in AoW Solo / Squad matches.
      – Crashes and disconnects
      – Persistence data error that makes the game unplayable.
      – Only two modes on 7 maps for AoW that feels like you are playing wide open fields.
      – Control points in breakthrough mode on top of skyscrapers what can’t be captured because there are 11 vehicles on top.
      – Hit registration, or lack there of. You will dump an entire clip into an enemies back to have them turn around and kill you.
      – You can get in a vehicle and shoot and kill yourself because the animation still has you outside of the vehicle.
      – Crap FPS on the highest end systems. Changing the settings makes virtually no difference.
      – No stats page
      – No server browser
      – Lobby disbands after every game, no carryover
      – No distinctions between factions except the glow stick colors. Soldiers around the world wear glow sticks to make themselves unseen to the enemy. Sometimes you see the Betty White specialist kill the other Betty White specialist who is then revived by the Betty White specialist.
      – When you spawn in you are forced into an animation of chambering a round that you can’t avoid. If you spawn near an enemy, you are dead.
      – Not nearly enough destruction.
      – Can’t change the scale of the UI, or the zoom of the minimap.
      – No all chat
      – No bullet damage on hit, this goes for vehicle hits too.
      – Finding yourself on the map or the mini-map can be… challenging.
      – You can’t dive under water but…
      – You can fall through the map
      – Portal
      – No single player campaign that was left out to focus on the multiplayer.
      – No spectator mode
      – No community servers
      – No test range
      – No 3d spotting
      – No contextual leaning
      – No crouch sprinting
      – No scope zeroing
      – No tiered or paused reloads
      – No melee weapon choices
      – No thermal optics in the future
      – No Claymores
      – No first person takedowns which are different based on positioning.
      – No naval vehicles
      – No gunner direction indicator
      – No TV missles
      – No vehicle kill assists. Do 95% of the damage… Well, too bad.
      – No in-game VOIP at launch
      – No static weapon emplacements
      – No infantry focus maps. You will get farmed by vehicles.
      – UI is…well…interesting
      – Impossible to play with more than 3 friends.

      • No one at ALL is going to read that list, in fact I could play a whole game of Conquest and have more fun, then it would take to read such a lengthy treatise. After a quick glimpse through it so much of it are design decisions. Sure I may not agree with some, but they dont make the game ‘a mess’.

        • The bugs sure do make it a mess, every game without fail there are multiple players that look like an enemy but they are actually on my team, how is that not absolutely unacceptable in 2021?

          • FFS where on earth did I say that? Of course bugs shouldnt exist, of course this game needed more time in the oven, of course they shouldnt have removed core stuff. is there really a gamer on the planet accepting any of that as good? trust me tonight I saw all terrible bugd, but in spite of that (for me) there is a core of refreshing fun in the over all vision. My comment regard to this list was NOT suggesting they were acceptable but so much of it was highly subjective and not the game they wanted to make. Not to mention I was having a slight dig at the poster, cos no one is ever going to read an entire copy and paste diatribe that is doing rounds to spam levels.

  • I feel ya, I think people are just loving to hate. Yeah there’s some glitches, which somehow I’ve avoided for the most part, but that’s where funny videos come from. I’m shocked at the amount of hate going out, feels a bit over the top. Almost every multiplayer game in the last 3-4 years have had ordinary launches.
    I showed some support on twitter for enjoying BF2042, and boy did I feel the heat from that one.

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