Mauren: “Battlefield 2042” forgets its roots

Columnist Jacob Mauren examines key issues with the release of the “Battlefield 2042” open beta. 

Jacob Mauren

“Battlefield 2042” released its open beta this past weekend, giving fans the chance to test out the upcoming game. While a beautiful map and dynamic environment create a visually impressive arena to battle in, the actual gameplay reveals a large and troubling deviation from the game’s roots. 

For years, the “Battlefield” and “Call of Duty” franchises have battled for control of the first-person shooter market. Yet the whole time, each has remembered what differentiated it from the other. “Call Of Duty” puts you in the shoes of a one-person army. As you play at a lightning pace, kills come first, and objectives can be an afterthought. “Battlefield” is where you go to fill a role on a team. The rigid class system gives you certain strengths and weaknesses that influence how you play and affect your team. Filling the various roles and communicating with your squad is key to finding success. 

The developers at DICE seem to have forgotten this. The “2042” beta featured a gutted class system and nearly non-existent squad system.

Now players will play as “specialists,” a fancy name for skins, and can use any class loadout with any weapons and any ability. Even further, a player can make large changes to their gun loadout on the battlefield. This empowers players to act as one-person armies, adept at taking on any situation at any moment. This is a significant departure from the previous style of play and brings the game much closer to “Call of Duty” gameplay. 

The game also lacked almost all squad mechanics. While a player is placed in a squad, there is no squad leader to highlight an objective or make decisions. In fact, there is not even a communication wheel to request support from teammates. It would be quite easy to forget you are even in a squad while playing “2042,” as it is such a low-impact mechanic. 

Also worth mentioning is that the skins for both sides of the conflict are the exact same, meaning your teammate and the guy trying to shoot you look exactly the same. This is done to open the door for the specialist system where players can buy certain skins: a sad case of the developers sacrificing gameplay quality for profitability. 

Some have used the excuse that the beta was an unfinished build of the game, but that does not explain the issues. Betas are used to introduce potential buyers to the game and discover bugs for the developers to fix. I am willing to overlook small bugs and some unbalanced guns in an unfinished game, but the fact is core gameplay elements will not be changed between now and the release. 

These are disappointing developments in the series. Getting rid of the cornerstones of the franchise will not sit well with long-time fans and only inch them closer to “Call Of Duty.” Fans can only hope that the developers will make some changes and not completely disregard the loyal fanbase.