The skeleton of multiplayer fun is clearly visible in this installment of the popular shooter, but technical issues and missing features cause more misfires than accurate shots on its targets. Battlefield 2042 starts off with a futuristic premise that builds off the gameplay from Battlefield 4, but the story is largely forgettable. It's more of a justification for why there are tornadoes, wrecked ships, melted polar ice caps, and more affecting some of the game's maps, and why everyone's willing to shoot everyone else. This revamped take on combat extends to characters as well, because you're now using Specialists instead of soldier classes, each with their own unique gadgets and abilities, as well as the option to adjust your weapon loadout to suit your playstyle. For instance, you could choose to play Boris as a sniper, but place his sentry gun down to cover him from any enemies that try to sneak up on him as he aims at his targets. Not being tied to a class means that anyone can step up and perform the job of virtually any other soldier on the field, which seems appropriate given the chaotic setting of 2042. That can give you an extra rush of adrenaline as your squad goes charging towards an objective during a match of Breakthrough and you're relying upon the aim and support of your teammates to secure an objective, or you're in a pitched match of Conquest trying to squeeze out a victory from your opponent as allies are falling all around you from incoming fire. It's also a lot of fun to dive into user created game modes in Portal. One stand out was a zombie mode against waves of computer controlled opponents that demanded accurate headshots to eliminate the attacking bots. It was exhilarating, engaging, and felt like something that could be played for hours.
At least, it would be if the game was stable enough to play for that amount of time. Battlefield 2042 is plagued by tons of technical problems that can make the game unplayable. Chief among them are connection issues that can prevent players from even connecting with EA's servers to play the game itself. Assuming that you can get past the loading screen, there's no guarantee of game stability, because players are frequently ejected from squads during loadout screens, deployments, or in the middle of matches. Players have loaded into new matches with the servers considering their player automatically dead, preventing them from spawning into the match and forcing a restart. During some play sessions with other writers, the game even crashed Xbox Series X systems, turning the systems completely off. But moving past all of the hardware issues, there are other problematic items in gameplay, such as characters that go sliding for yards across the map during a running crouch instead of a few steps or characters that are launched far in the air or through walls. Hit detection can also be questionable, as players can unload half a clip into some enemies without them falling. Even Dozer's riot shield was so overpowered that it had to be disabled because it made him invincible. But perhaps the biggest and hardest issue to understand is the omission of voice chat within the game for player interaction and coordination. Voice chat is literally a standard for multiplayer games, and isn't just expected, it's required for a team-based game to help players coordinate their tactics and in-game actions. But for a squad-based mode like Hazard Zone, which is dependent on communication between teammates for players to be successful, excluding chat isn't just a mistake – it virtually makes the mode unplayable. That's a bitter pill to swallow, especially for players that have spent $120 for the Ultimate Edition of the game. Sure, if you're playing with friends, you can possibly set up a group chat on Discord – It's awkward, especially if you're not playing on PC, but it can be done. On the other hand, if you're randomly paired with other players, it's doubtful that you're just going to set up a random group chat for gameplay that isn't stable to begin with. That's not to say that this is the final word on Battlefield 2042 – it's clear that the devs are working on fixing bugs and problems, and it's still very early for the title as well. For example, the voice chat is supposedly one of the first items on the list to be addressed. But right now, until a number of these issues are fixed, players have to be aware that Battlefield 2042 is a bit closer to a minefield of tech problems than a fun session of multiplayer matches.