It’s been a couple of Battlefield entries since the franchise has managed to get its hooks into me, but I think Battlefield 2042 has pulled me back in as if I’m Michael Corleone. Thanks to EA Australia, the testament to this is the recent three-hour hands-on preview event I attended. I thought I’d do around two hours and get something else done. Surely enough to do this article, jump off, grab a bite, come back for the QnA session — but no, instead, I insisted on “one more game” continuously up until the final minutes when I knew I could sneak into the last queue before the event ended.
You’ve probably heard the MO, but I quick recap, just in case. Battlefield 2042 has no single player. Instead, developer DICE has focused on the multiplayer experience and what story there is you’ll find tucked into maps, and I’m sure, continuing game updates.
Over my three hours with the game, I played Conquest on Orbital, which is the same map and mode available for those jumping into the beta. Conquest is still Conquest: players work to capture points across the map while deleting enemy team tickets with each successful kills. However, Orbital is a massive island map like none other in the history of the franchise. With a rocket on one end that can be launched or destroyed, there’s a figurehead at the far end of the island, and you always know where you are relative to the rocket. I caught the back end of it launching one time, and standing right below it was a wind force of both sound and smoke that made the firefights happening directly below it a mess. Vehicles skidded to a halt, smoke filled the air and made it hard to see opponents, and players, myself included, were caught in crosshairs as they stopped what they were doing to watch them take off from below.
Orbital looks big in pure square kilometres, but it’s also got a lot of verticalities, coming from both the design of the island and the new tools players have access to in Battlefield 2042. The Assault class has access to a grappling hook that they can use to reach rooftops in an instance or disengage from enemies. There’s plenty of stone-faced mountainsides for snipers to find a nice spot to suppress enemies from afar, while others move in to capture points.
Each of the classes in the game has a passive ability now. For example, the Sniper class has a passive ability that lets them sense approaching enemies, which saved my ass more than once as I lay prone and reacted ahead of time to the enemies coming from my side to flank my squadmate and me.
I loved each class’s different traits and abilities but found it refreshing not to be locked into a specific load-out. If you want to run the Medic class with a sniper and ammo crates, you can do that, and although it wasn’t available in the hands-on build, the full game will let you customise specific load-outs for the different classes.
Each of the classes does have a name, they’re characters, and I assume we’ll learn more about them and how they fit into the Battlefield 2042 universe as time goes on. Maria Falck, for instance, has a healing gun that lets you shoot syringes at ally’s to heal them from afar. That’s awesome. What’s her story? I’m excited to at least learn the backstory of each of the characters in the game. There was four available in the preview event, but ten in total will be available at launch.