The idea behind a beta is to test certain aspects to see whether a game performs the way you want or expect it to perform. As a player, I see the beta as an opportunity to see whether the game is worth the $60 to $100 that I may drop on it. The point is, rarely is the beta a fair representation of the final, but it can have a huge impact on whether word-of-mouth promotes advanced sales of the game.
In October 2021, Electronic Arts held the beta for the latest edition of the Battlefield saga entitled Battlefield 2042. The beta centered on Orbital, one of their large team maps. In Battlefield, Conquest is basically the team deathmatch mode, with the number of respawns going to zero used to end the game, but on a large scale with huge teams up to 128 players and what often seems like unlimited vehicles. The beta only featured Orbital, which was fine in that it provided a good approximation of actual gameplay, followed by the week-long pre-release before the final release in mid-November.
Unlike the beta, the final release includes the game modes: Breakthrough and the new squad-based Hazard Zone. In addition, there is Battlefield Portal, which allows the selection of several servers with player-developed modes and a selection of previous favored maps. Hazard Zone has the potential to be fun, but squad dynamics are essential; so, running with a group of folks you don’t know has peril to your duration of play. It is recommended to level up a bit and get a comfortable load out to better prepare yourself for Hazard Zone.
My first foray was extremely reminiscent of going into the Dark Zone in Division alone for the first time — folks were running rogue, jumping me, and taking my stuff. Same thing in the Hazard Zone but a different game. Breakthrough keeps all the joy and pain of trying to either overrun or defend a position. Interestingly enough there seems to be a glitch on the Xbox One version that does not appear in the Xbox X/S version, where there are no spawn points to enter the game. EA swears they are working on it.
The beta premiered four of the ten specialist classes, which turned the beta into a grappalooza as it introduced the use of the grapple hook. Given the abject fun that comes from the use of the grapple, most folks were zooming around as specialist Webster MacKay. Fortunately, the specialist classes do not prohibit the selection of any gun type you would prefer, so many of those folks fond of sniping had great fun zipping all over the place. The addition of many more zip lines up towers and tall buildings can equalize the snipers’ advantage a little, but still, there is much joy to be found camping out where most will not think to look or follow.
The final game naturally includes all ten specialist classes, which introduces another opportunity — learning the wingsuit. Now you too can be Rocky the Squirrel (look it up, kids) and smash into the ground because just having a parachute when you jump off a mountain, vehicle, or tall building is not enough. Actually, the wingsuit is pretty awesome, if you can get sufficient elevation to make it worthwhile. Of course, most of the time you are flailing around like the Greatest American Hero (again, look it up, it’s funny).
My specialist selection is normally the medic, so the functionality of them was forefront in my mind. One issue that seems to carry over from previous editions is the multiple actions for the same key. In this case, it is the revive. Hitting the x-button supports reviving a teammate and swapping weapons with them. So often while under fire, trying to rescue a colleague, you end up swapping weapons, and then, if you are still alive, possibly reviving them. To avoid that scenario, my workaround was to shift to the secondary weapon to avoid confusion. This worked most of the time, but I was hoping by the pre-release this glitch had been resolved. With the game’s release, it is slightly better; however, it is now more likely that you will not get the x to initiate the revive than to end up swapping weapons, so I guess that is a win.
Fortunately, the weapons seem to stay true to their expected handling and amount of damage. None of that sawed off shotgun shooting across a football field nonsense that some other first-person shooters seem to be held hostage by the prospect of simulating the actual range and damage. However, the inability to save or keep loadouts glitches in and out with no apparent cause. This can be really annoying as you are limited to the base kits for whichever specialist class you have selected.
The presence of a large number of vehicles can sway a match rather decidedly with troop carriers, helicopters, and jets adding much more of a vertical element to the game than most others. Naturally, the jeeps and mostly the tanks can make or break the ability to take and hold a position. The addition of the hovercraft makes for some barely controlled mayhem on the battlefield and should not be discounted for quick squad movement into position. But keep an eye to the sky as those who had mastered the helicopters may rain havoc on your ground forces.
Even with the added specialties, Battlefield 2042 stays true to the objective-based formula with great graphics and huge maps that has endeared it to gamers for years. While there is not much different, there is something to be said for consistency, even when you can’t revive your squadmates or initiate a map. It’s just the first week.
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E.Angel is an engineer and holds a BS in electrical engineering from North Carolina A&T State University. In her spare time she works at her comic book store – Brainstorm Comics and Gaming - when she is not reading comic books. She's a real nerd who loves all things Star Wars and Star Trek, and is an avid gamer. E.Angel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on either game platform as Bunnehs Sister.