The day many of you have been waiting for is finally here. Battlefield 2042 is upon us and promises next-generation gameplay and visuals when it comes to all-out war. I've been playing the multiplayer-only title on Xbox Series X since it launched in early access last night, and have to say that I'm somewhat disappointed. While the gameplay is great — especially the chaotic modes like Breakthrough and Conquest — Battlefield 2042 isn't so sound on the technical front.
Battlefield 2042 features some truly spectacular moments when it comes to gameplay. The arenas are massive and you'll need vehicles to efficiently traverse one end of the map to the other. On current-generation consoles and PC, the player count can go up to 128so you have to constantly watch your back. This is where the title truly shines.
It's clear that Battlefield 2042 is an ambitious game and even features content from Battlefield 1942, Battlefield Bad Company 2, and Battlefield 3 in a special section called Battlefield Portal. Battlefield Portal also allows you to create custom games where you can modify everything from bullet velocity to health regeneration speed.
Battlefield 2042 even allows cross-play between consoles and PC, and this greatly increases the number of players you match with. During the early access period, I only had to wait a few seconds to join a game. There weren't that many server errors as well.
Battlefield 2042 runs at 4K resolution on Xbox Series X and targets 60 frames per second (FPS). Unfortunately, there are noticeable stutters during certain parts of the game. For example, I noticed dips to around 20 FPS when I respawned or when there were a lot of explosions happening right next to one another. Hopefully, developer DICE will release a patch to fix the frame rate as more people gain access to the game on November 19, 2021, its official launch date.
Battlefield 2042 has an excellent arsenal of weapons and weapon attachments, but shooting on Xbox Series X doesn't feel as precise as Call of Duty: Vanguard or Halo Infinite Multiplayer. That hasn't always been the case because Battlefield 1 and Battlefield V were more precise despite featuring dated weapons. This may be due to the performance issues that plague the Xbox Series X version. Once again, I'm hoping DICE will release a patch to improve this on the console, because right now it's disappointing and frustrating to say the least.
While the textures are high-resolution, the lighting leaves a lot to be desired in larger arenas. Apart from that, there's texture pop-in, bodies clip through walls, and jerky animations. I've seen some people teleport into vehicles even though it looked like they were getting in naturally.
However, the biggest issue with Battlefield 2042 has to be some of its uninspired levels. For example, when you're in the desert, the cityscape looks generics and lacks character. They're quite possibly some of the blandest buildings in any game. I appreciate the fact that you can play with up to 128 players, but none of this feels truly next-generation to me.
Except for small-scale combat in Battlefield Hazard Zone, Battlefield 2042 looks like an early last-generation game on Xbox Series X during Conquest. Battlefield 1, Battlefield V, Star Wars Battlefront, and Star Wars Battlefront II featured much more impressive visuals, even during populated battles. The scope of the titles was slightly smaller, but they also managed to look spectacular on much weaker hardware.
Smaller levels are gorgeous, but the large-scale environments are somewhat jarring to look at. If you have an arena with 128 players versus a handful, there will be a lot of sacrifices made to the environment. However, I wasn't expecting the levels to look worse than Battlefield 4. Maybe this is a result of targeting last-generation consoles as well as the PlayStation 5 (PS5) and Xbox Series X|S.
Maybe targeting 1440p and 60 FPS, with better lighting and building models in large arenas, should've been the target. Many times, Battlefield 2042 feels like a technical test with unfinished assets.
It's clear that Battlefield 2042 needed a lot more time, maybe another 6 months of polishing. COVID-19 has impacted the way games are developed, and a lot of titles have been delayed as a result of the ongoing pandemic. I understand deadlines have to be met, and that game development is a business too, but releasing a title that's visually inferior to past entries, and suffers from noticeable performance issues, that are exasperated by its multiplayer nature, isn't acceptable.
Battlefield 2042 should've launched sometime in 2022 once all of these problems were ironed out. I don't think I'll ever understand how companies release games in this state and expect players to buy them. It only harms the reputation of EA, DICE, and the Battlefield franchise as a whole. The game has tremendous potential, but it needs a lot of fixes. Look out for my colleague Pulasthi Ariyasinghe's review of the full game in the coming days.
Battlefield 2042 is currently available in early access on PC, PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S. You'll have to buy the Gold or Ultimate editions to play immediately. Battlefield 2042 officially launches on November 19.
The game starts at $69.99 for the Cross-Gen Bundle version. Luckily, if you're an EA Play or Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscriber, you can get a 10% discount on any EA title, including Battlefield 2042. You can also access a 10-hour trial through both memberships.
EA provided us with an early-access code for Battlefield 2042. The game was tested on an Xbox Series X.