Wednesday, May 4, 2022

State of the Game - Battlefield 2042

I take no pleasure in writing this post. As a fan of Battlefield for over a decade, it saddens me to see the state of the game, and knowing that this could have all been avoided. I want Battlefield to do well and I am not here to laugh at its current pitiful state. This series has been my main multiplayer game for almost a decade now.

As of May 4, 2022, it has been 166 days since the launch on November 19, 2022. To date, there has been one minor update, and one major update (released on April 19, 2022), and zero new content. The updates themselves are hardly praiseworthy. They fixed some egregious bugs, and added some so called legacy features, such as a scoreboard, simple UI customization options. I still can't get over the fact that they decided to ship the game without a scoreboard and a server browser. The latter is still missing for the main game as of this writing.

Some of the issues that got addressed in the latest update were present in the beta, and players brought this to the attention of DICE. However, we were all assured by DICE that the beta was a build from an old branch and the release branch was much better (or so they implied).

However, after the terrible reception of the beta, they decided to postpone the release by a month.

Hazard Zone is a total flop. Hardly anything next gen about these game modes

It should be noted that this person does not work at DICE anymore, which is very unfortunate because he was involved with building Battlelog.

In my review of Battlefield 2042, I said the game had potential, and I stand by it. I really dislike the operators, and I wish we could go back to the player models from BF4 or BF3, but it is what is it. I was willing to put up with that if the rest of the pieces were in place. While it is not a total let down, and I did put close to 300 hours into the game, as of now, I am just disappointed with the state of Battlefield.

When I wrote my review 5 months ago, I did not expect the progress from the development team to be as slow as it is. DICE is currently reworking the maps, and they made a blog post about it, and they went into excruciating detail about how they are listening to the community and collecting feedback, and in true DICE fashion, instead of shrinking the size of the map, and bringing objectives closer together, to reduce travel time, they decided to remove buildings near E on Renewal. While this is not final yet, it goes to show that there is a serious lack of understanding of Battlefield map design at DICE right now.

To add insult to injury, all said and done, they are only reworking two maps. Considering that the game launched with just 7 maps, the rate of progress is extremely slow. Most of the issues can solved by simply adding some cover, and shrinking the size of the map. Take Hourglass for example, the good parts are quite good, but the map can be so boring because of the large open spaces, and this is coming from someone who enjoyed Bandar Desert in BF3. Bandar Desert had transport vehicles, and it was easy enough to get from one point to the other. It really takes rare talent to increase the player count, and still make a boring game.

Very poor map design, Large area, no cover and not enough transport vehicles.

In my opinion the maps themselves are not bad. The main issue is traversal and lack of any cover between points. All they have to do was emulate the design of the best maps (not the most popular maps, because that would include Operation Metro, a truly atrocious map). Maps such as Grand Bazaar, Pearl Market, Propaganda, Dragon Valley 2015, Flood Zone, Zavod 311, Noshar Canals, Siege of Shanghai are all excellent maps, that could have served as inspiration. DICE appears to not know how to design a proper Battlefield map anymore. This is backed up by the fact that they are asking for community feedback on map design. Anyone that played previous games would be able to point the flaws in map design. The lack of transport vehicles, lack of cover, terrible spawn experience all contribute towards a poor experience.

Looking back at the statements made by the DICE team, there can only be two conclusions - they were either lying the whole time, or they genuinely thought they were shipping a quality product because what they said about the game, and what the game was actually like are very different things.

This is very misleading. Other real time events are hardly noticeable.

So how is this any different than Battlefield 4, because Battlefield 4 had an awful launch, which I wrote about HERE. Well, 2013 was a very different time. There wasn't as much competition in the multiplayer FPS games. Now you have Fortnite, Warzone, Apex legends, CSGO, PUBG all pulling in hundreds of thousands of players, so its very difficult for a bad game to recover. I don't necessarily think BF2042 is a bad game, I had more fun playing it than Battlefield V, but the problem with Battlefield 2042 is that at its core, it wasn't meant to be a Battlefield game.

Battlefield 4 was able to recover and redeem itself because fundamentally, it was a Battlefield game. DICE was not trying to reinvent the wheel. It took all the good things about Battlefield 3 and made them better over time, and there was a lot of content, so I never got the feeling I've done it all.

With Battlefield 2042, I am 300 hours in, and I feel like I am out of things to do. The game feels dead. The player base on Steam has dropped by over 90%, and it is very hard to get into a match without cross play enabled. Its embarrassing. These numbers are worse than Hardline.

Steep decline of players over time

Can DICE do what they did with Battlefield 4? No. I don't think so. At that time, DICE LA was dedicated to fixing Battlefield 4. The game was getting weekly updates, and CTE was an excellent idea. There was a lot of positive buzz around the game. I have a hard time seeing that happen with Battlefield 2042.

Also think of all the content that was available in Battlefield 4. There were over 30 maps! They even had night versions of some of the popular maps available in CTE, but sadly all of them were never released to the public. 2015-2018 was such a great time to be a Battlefield player. Battlefield 4, Battlefield Hardline and Battlefield 1 all launching within a 3 year period, and it was glorious.

I think DICE should have just released a Battle Royale game like they wanted to. Instead, they wanted to cash in on the popularity of Battlefield, but also wanted all those monetization opportunities of a hero shooter. You pick the worst things about gaming, and put it in one package, and you end up with this mess.

I refuse to believe that a significant number of resources are allocated to fixing the game. If this is the case, we would be getting weekly or biweekly updates. It wouldn't take them 5 months to add a scoreboard.

You would think as time passes, technology gets better, we would get better games, but no. We have a game on our hands that is in a worse shape than Battlefield 3, which was released 11 years ago. Its not surprise that Battlefield 2042 is probably the most poorly reviewed game in the franchise history.

Overwhelmingly negative reviews.

So here is my plan - I will not buy another Battlefield game at launch. I will wait for 30 days. No pre-order bonus will tempt me to buy the game, and if I am ever tempted, I will read this post, and hopefully it will bring me back to my senses.

Some of these corporations have no morals, decency and on the best of days, they have a fleeting relationship with truth. The marketing departments have this sociopath like ability to blatantly lie, because they have absolutely no respect for their customers. It is up to us to show some self respect, and hold on to our hard earned money until the game has proven that it is worthy of it. Do not buy games at launch. Wait for independent reviewers to release their reviews, and if the game is good, then and only then buy it.

It is unfortunate that it has come to this, but DICE really made a mess with Battlefield 2042, and given all the turnover at the studio, there is a strong possibility that the best days of Battlefield are behind us.

If this post convinced at least 5 people to not pre order the next game, then my work here is done.

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