Battlefield 2042 PS5 review. A common thread that has existed throughout every Battlefield game since Battlefield 1942 splashed down on PC all the way back in September 2002, has been the penchant of developer DICE to fashion these grandly dynamic spectacles that would unfurl during online multiplayer play. Back then, seeing a troop carrier stuffed with eager soldiers strike a beachhead against the backdrop of determined dogfighters did their deadly dance in the sky while explosions erupt across the shore was quite the revelation and with every Battlefield game released since, that sense of spectacle and spontaneous combat theatre has only been amplified – something that Battlefield 2042 absolutely emphasises with verve and aplomb.
Another sadly common thread that has also emerged and equally become more prevalent with each new instalment in the Battlefield series is the veritable smorgasbord of launch issues that each game seems to drag with it into release. As you might have guessed with where this introduction is going, Battlefield 2042 has not escaped unscathed here – indeed far from it. With a sizable list of already known launch issues combined with new gremlins being found seemingly every day since early access went live, there’s clearly a lot of work for DICE to do in order to get Battlefield 2042 truly shipshape. That said, if you can dig beneath that currently troubled veneer, you’ll discover one of the most ambitious entries in the series to date – and a shooter that’s arguably worth persevering with.
Battlefield 2042 PS5 Review
A Heady, Ambitious Open World Shooter With A Rocky Start
But let’s talk about that currently troubled veneer for a bit. Though Battlefield 2042 suffers from all the usual teething issues that previous Battlefield games have such as rubber banding, server kick outs and more, there are a raft of other annoying issues too such as being killed and not being able to respawn (even when the timer counts down to zero, thus losing all of your progress) and an absolute avalanche of glitches that run the gamut from the frustrating (long texture loads and wandering hit boxes) to the hilarious (being able to run up walls sideways and getting a super jump at the top). It almost goes without saying that the majority of these bugs and issues will be resolved in the near team but as of right now, there’s a lot of crap for Battlefield stalwarts and franchise newcomers to put up with.
Once you push past all of that though, Battlefield 2042 begins to unfurl itself in earnest and while even without its launch troubles EA’s latest isn’t perfect, Battlefield 2042 is nonetheless pulling off a lot of well-meaning changes and subtle tweaks that while not all of them land precisely as intended, can ultimately only benefit the franchise going forward. Perhaps the best example of these changes is the new 128-player limit that features in Battlefield 2042’s Conquest and Breakthrough game modes.
Case in point – the aptly titled ‘Hourglass’ is a portentous descriptor for one of Battlefield 2042’s sprawling Conquest maps, depicting a city of wealth and status that is slowly being lost to the desert that surrounds it as climate change hardens its grip around the throat of mankind’s architectural most egotistical excesses. Quite easily other largest map ever seen in a Battlefield game, it turns out that Hourglass might be a little too big – even for Battlefield 2042’s newly increased 128 player unit.
Though a great deal of player driven ingenuity can power the various firefights that spill across the desert and up into the head-spinning heights of the tallest skyscrapers in Hourglass, the fact remains that even with a full compliment of players on each side it can often take a great deal of time before you see someone to kick off a firefight – let alone the horrendously plodding notion of having to make your way on foot to an objective because all of the vehicles are currently in use. Certainly then, while I applaud the ambition that lurks behind Hourglass, it’s clear that a dollop or two of restraint would have made this particular map a much more enjoyable affair.
However, as it turns out the 128 player limit does actually work out much better where the Breakthrough game type is concerned. Essentially a linear version of conquest where rather than holding multiple objectives at once across the map, your team must instead defend or capture a single point, Breakthrough makes the most of the new player limit by quite literally throwing all 128 players together into a fight to the death for a single objective. Certainly here the peerless madcap spirit of Battlefield is alive and well as helicopters are shot down and crash into enemy squads, while cheeky saboteurs can toss C5 explosives onto enemy vehicles as they scream past, before detonating them as they disappear out of view. It still remains great, great stuff.
Away from the familiar treats of Battlefield 2042’s returning modes and 128 player offerings, the brand new Hazard Zone mode offers a true polar opposite experience for players looking for something a little different. The sort of squad based experience you might expect to find in something like Ghost Recon Wildlands, Hazard Zone combines the sweeping scope and chaos of Battlefield 2042’s sandbox with tactical play as players must succeed by gathering Data Drives and the extracting before a timer runs out. Additionally, extra weapons, gadgets and armour can be purchased with credits earned from killing enemies and securing data drives, making future rounds easier (or harder) as a result of how well (or not) you play early on.
Where Hazard Zone becomes especially tense however, is in the realisation that once you bite the bullet – that’s it, you’re done – unless your teammates can stay alive long enough to reach an uplink and bring you back into the fight. Rigidly tense, Hazard Zone would be absolutely incredible were it not for the fact that as of this writing, Battlefield 2042 has no voice comms. That’s right, you haven’t misread – you cannot speak to other players on your team, which means that in a narrowly team-focus mode like Hazard Zone where being a lone wolf really isn’t going to cut it, you’re basically stuffed until EA patch voice communications into the game. Say what you want about the previous games in the series, at least they all launched with voice comms.
Beyond Hazard Zone we’ve got Battlefield Portal which is easily one of the best things EA have ever done with the franchise. Essentially a melting pot of different maps, weapons, classes and settings from different Battlefield games, Battlefield Portal taps into the storied heritage of the series to let players replay fan favorite maps and modes from previous games, such as Battlefield Bad Company 2 Rush on Valparaiso and old fashioned Conquest on the sprawling Battle of the Bulge map as featured in Battlefield 1942.
Much more than just a wistful look back at what made the series great, Battlefield’s Portal value isn’t measured in how it looks back to the halcyon days of the franchise, but rather in how it looks forward – and how it trusts the community to take series into the future. With a near infinite array of tweakable settings at their disposal from bullet damage to bullet drop, player health and just about everything in-between, Battlefield Portal marries all this up with a constantly updated suite of tools and new assets from DICE that essentially allow creative players to just keep on generating new modes and unique game types forever.
Want to see how World War II riflemen would fare against their modern counterparts? You can do that. Equally, want to make a Counter Strike style game mode where you have to eliminate or protect a VIP as they travel from one safe house to the next? You can do that too. And this is the thing – once the sour taste of Battlefield 2042’s less than optimal launch has left our collective mouths, it’ll be the endless ingenious of Battlefield Portal that’ll keep players engaged and talking about the game for years to come – and I can’t wait to be a part of that.
As I mentioned earlier too, there are a whole heap of subtle changes that have been made to the classic Battlefield formula which will keep series veterans and newcomers alike coming back for more. Being able to switch gun modifications mid-battle is also something of a subtle game changer, too. Just having a 3x scope attached to your FAMAS rifle as you gun down foes from medium range, before switching to a 1x quick scope for snappier and closer encounters allows the moment-to-moment infantry driven combat of Battlefield 2042 to feel much more malleable than ever before and provides players with the sort of flexibility that they (and certainly I) have long craved.
Then there are the new gadgets afforded by Battlefield 2042’s near-future setting and how they can also affect the moment to moment gameplay as well. New stationary turrets can be set up at key locations to create tactical chokepoints that expand your strategic opportunities further, while autonomous attack drones can be sent into combat to rack up skills on your behalf and Battlefield 2042’s new grappling hook allows you to pull off some Just Cause style stunts as you latch onto vehicles, distant cranes and even nearby aircraft. It’s properly thrilling stuff and to say that DICE makes the most of Battlefield 2042’s futuristic setting would be an understatement to say the least.
As neat as many of these new improvements are, not all of them are for the better and easily (for me at least) the worst of these is the new specialist hero class system that DICE have woven into the game. Essentially Battlefield’s versions of the Operators that you’d get in Rainbow Six Siege, I’m not convinced of the need to have these class hopping specialists above and beyond the usual class archetypes that the Battlefield franchise has previously had – especially as none of them are especially neat or cool to begin with. Oh, and the post match smack-talking that these folks indulge in is absolutely c r i n g e too – which doesn’t help their cause any.
Happily, the new extreme weather adds an additional dimension to the game in the same way that it did back in Battlefield 4 where roiling tropical storms allowed players to ingress to enemy positions undetected. In Battlefield 2042 however such weather events as massive tornados and blanketing sandstorms have a more direct affect on vehicles and personnel, with the former whisking them up into the sky and directly playing a role in the momentum of battle. It’s neat stuff for sure.
Further afield, the other elephant in the room is the lack of a single-player story campaign in Battlefield 2042, but lets be honest – the Battlefield franchise is hardly known for its blockbuster single-player story campaigns. Indeed, the absence of a narrative driven single-player campaign is arguably not felt quite so keenly here as it did when Activision pulled the same trick with Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 back in 2018. It also doesn’t hurt that Battlefield 2042 allows players to fight it out against a veritable army of AI bots who happen to give a decent account of themselves by not being too easy or too difficult to beat.
Crucially then, Battlefield 2042 can be a lot of fun when it’s technical shortcomings don’t make themselves as keenly felt as they do other times. Bombastic and also surprisingly inventive, Battlefield 2042 really does feel like the most inventive game in the franchise to come along in a good old while and Battlefield Portal in particular looks set to give the game legs that extend far beyond its usual collection of game modes. More of this please, EA.
As it stands now, Battlefield 2042 is a formidable and enjoyable shooter that once again delivers on the series promise of peerless open world combat theatre in a way that no other series or franchise has managed to match. It’s just a shame that while Battlefield 2042 looks to the future for its setting, so too must players for the short-term as EA and DICE scramble to fix what could potentially be the best Battlefield in years.
Battlefield 2042 is out now on PS4 and PS5.
Review code kindly supplied by Publisher.