The Battlefield 2042 preview event I attended came with a disclaimer: The build we were about to play was quite old, so if we saw any “work in progress” elements (read: bugs), we should keep that in mind. Do you hear it? That’s the clarion call of the AAA game hurtling toward its shareholder-beholden launch date, falling apart at the seams and spitting fire as it crashes onto the runway.
After a delay of a month, the Battlefield 2042 Open Beta is finally here and, frankly, I feel like it shouldn’t be.
Let’s start high level — for the first time in series history, matches consist of 128 players split between two teams. To compensate, maps across the board are much larger than before. The beta map, Orbital, features rolling hills and several capture points around its radius which cluster most tightly around the map’s set-piece: a rocket that can launch (and explode, Space X-style) mid-game.
The map is designed well enough, with underground tunnels for large vehicles and open spaces flanked by a more intimate industrial landscape. The issue, as with most of my issues surrounding Battlefield 2042, is related to a bug.
Pressing “B” will open a vehicle drop menu. This allows you to have transport and assault vehicles, which are critical to traverse such a large map, dropped to your location. Sounds simple enough, except for the fact that it almost never works. I’d select a vehicle, and the menu would simply disappear. So I’d start running. Then I’d get a little lost, and press “M” to open the map screen. Only the map is universally bugged and cannot be opened even if rebound to another key.
Don’t get me wrong, my beta experience has included a handful of genuinely fun and interesting moments — like watching every player in a game jump into a tornado and parachute around it like an amusement park ride — punctuated with hair-ripping bugs. I like to use the AK, but unlike other weapons, its attachments inexplicably reset every time I spawn, forcing me to use the otherwise interesting “cross menu” to re-apply them. The ping system feels worse than ever and is about as reliable as the “close door” button on an elevator. Rubber-banding and server lag are ever-present, but these are issues I’d actually expect from a beta this close to launch.
I just don’t know if DICE has the time to iron out all the kinks. There are a handful of more fundamental problems with Battlefield 2042, like the identical player models on both teams, but nothing has soured my experience quite like the overall lack of polish. What’s here, when it works, is fun. Teaming up with old friends to relive the glory days of playing Battlefield 4 in our dorm was a treat, even if we spent most of our time fighting the game itself. Time will tell if Battlefield 2042 sticks the landing — all we can do now is watch as it comes in a little too hot and cross our fingers.