GameFace's Chief of Tech Talks Battlefield 2042 Beta
Review Time: The Good, The Bugs, and the Insane Amount of People on the Map!
GameFace's Chief of Tech Talks Battlefield 2042 Beta
Review Time: The Good, The Bugs, and the Insane Amount of People on the Map!
If you blinked, you likely missed DICE’s Battlefield 2042 beta. The first Battlefield 2042 beta ran a short shelf-life from October 6th through the 9th (for those who met the requirements) or just the 8th and 9th for the few unlucky who didn’t meet those preorder or subscription service requirements (see here).
Players were reportedly going to get access to a new and exciting map and an even newer, cooler mode. That mode was Conquest on the new Orbital map. One of our lucky GameFace staff members had the opportunity to join the beta and playtest all the components of the upcoming release of Battlefield 2042!
According to Declan Lubbersen, GameFace’s chief of technology, his initial thoughts were that “the Battlefield 2042 open Beta was an absolute blast to play.” Declan continues saying, “however, there’s still a lot of work to be done. If DICE can resolve the major issues [...] we can buckle in for an epic experience on November 19th.”
“Thanks to the 128 player count and Orbital being one of the largest maps ever seen in Battlefield history, the open Beta truly delivers a sense of scale.”
Declan’s experiences on the massive orbital map reminded him of being in an action movie. He described the excitement that he felt as he charged sectors on the map with up to six friendly squads, engaging him in a "truly awesome experience."
Another feature Declan noted was that no matter where a player is on the map, there is always something to do. There was always a firefight to get into, there was always an objective to attack or capture, and there was always excitement around every corner of a destructible building!
In past Battlefield titles, it felt at times like some objectives were more common than others to be captured uncontested. This is no longer the case with the massive player count. No matter where you are on the map, there is always someone lurking, making even the most covert capture mission into a multi-squad firefight.
Battlefield 2042 is a truly immersive experience that keeps you on your toes for anything to come around any corner.
“Having the ability to pick any Specialist, primary and secondary weapon, throwable, and gadget I want is amazing,” said Declan. “I love that I can pick up an ammo box with a sniper rifle (a combination previously not possible) and run around the map sniping to my heart’s desire without having to worry about running out of ammunition.”
Much of what we know about the loadouts is that DICE is allowing them to be customized and pretty flexible. The game reportedly isn't going to restrict which weapons you can pick based on class, unlike previous games in the series.
Specialists will be able to customize their primary and secondary weapons, as well as grenades and other such throwable items. Also, their equipment, which includes medical and supply crates, is said to be fully customizable as well!
"Whenever we introduce a feature such as loadouts, we also think about balancing the individual mechanical elements, such as missile ease of use, or range and effectiveness against vehicles or infantry. We then also introduce counters and scenarios, such as against rocket launchers, where you may have been better off picking something else. Battlefield is all about player choice and freedom to play however you want, and your decisions are vital to your squad and ultimately, the team's success."
Battlefield 2042’s Plus System is what some would call is absolutely a game changer. The system allows players to change their weapon’s attachments on the fly, allowing players to a adjust their fighting style mid-battle, mid-fight, or mid-game (right in the heat of the action)!
This feature allows players to immediately change their fighting style in the moment so as you come across new terrains, new environments, vehicles or whatever, you can adjust to be most effective to that scenario.
The best example of the Plus System is the ability to switch out various scopes on a weapon to go from a close-quarters gun fight to sniping some enemy across the map and vice versa.
The Plus System was described as “intuitive, easy to use, and best of all - FAST.” Not my words, but DICE. Players shouldn’t be stuck fiddling with attachments during a fight.
Declan stated, “swapping attachments on the move to adjust to the combat situation I’m about to face is awesome. Equipped a red dot and your target is 100m away? No problem, just swap to your ACOG. Running into a huge group of enemies and want to stay hidden? No problem, equip a silencer. It’s easy to use and does exactly what it’s designed for.”
As soon as the Battlefield 2042 beta went live, opinions on the graphics were spreading like wildfire on Twitter. Polarizing opinions of amazing graphics vs “Please DELAY” graphics were all over the internet. Many players are still shouting from the rooftops about how good this game is looking on PC and on console.
One video circulating the web showcases a player attaching a grappling hook to the rocket on Orbital and riding it up to an insane altitude before being cut from the aircraft to fall back to the landscape. Experiments like these are revealing just how big these maps are being built and the amount of details that are going into them.
According to our Chief of Technology, the quality of graphics was not a problem for him at all.
“[Graphics are] an important aspect for a lot of players,” Declan confirmed. “The game definitely looks good with little to no difference between low and ultra settings.”
Back in July 2021, DICE informed us that the bots would not be optional. They would be a mandatory requirement in the game's 128-player servers.
BUT, in later news, there was mention of a cap on the number of AI soldiers that would appear in any given Conquest or Breakthrough match.
According to EA, “you will not experience more AI soldiers than players UNLESS the match is still filling-up, or almost empty. Real players will displace bots as they join.”
To myself, this seems like a fair trade off. Instead of half-filling matches, you get AI bots and even teams, neither side has the advantage or the disadvantage. However, during Declan’s time playing the Battlefield 2042, he had mixed experiences with the AI in the game.
“Before the open beta was available to players that did not pre-order, AI was common in my matches,” Declan stated. “At this point in time AI does not seem to add much. They were easy to recognize due to their abnormal behavior and poor gameplay decisions.”
"AI Soldiers are intended to play the game like how you would play it yourself. However they are not designed to be Specialists and cannot use Traits and Specialties. You will see them undergoing certain tasks such as using the vehicle call-in system and engaging with vehicles, or capturing objectives. Whilst they can't use the Wingsuit, they do have the intelligence to decide between engaging with you via enemy fire, flanking, throwing grenades or even reviving a downed squad mate."
It would seem that people decided to play this beta thinking that it would be a finished product. Are they wrong? No, but they aren't right either. Should they be expecting a beta that looks like the product is finished?
I don’t think so. Let's be honest, beta experiences are expected to have some bugs. Load tests, player actions, glitches, and other issues are common things that are supposed to be REPORTED DURING A BETA TEST. But that is just my opinion, as many others across the Twitterverse felt differently.
“According to a Battlefield employee on Twitter, the open beta build was a few months old.” Declan spoke about his experiences with bugs. “Keeping this in the back of my mind allowed me to look past the wide range of bugs and enjoy the beta for what it was. An absolute blast!”
So, consider this: this build is a few months old and we have already seen many improvements since several early reveals. Take a neutral stance and just acknowledge that the developers over at DICE already have a head start on what some beta players are griping about.
“THE PHYSICS ARE VERY IMPRESSIVE AND ADD A LOT OF DETAIL TO THE GAME. HOWEVER, FOR ME IT WASN’T A SELLING POINT I’D LIST AS A PRO. MORE OF A 'NICE TO HAVE' THAN ANYTHING ELSE.”
Declan continued, “Physics actually came close to a con for me because of how unrealistic and 'bouncy' vehicles felt when traversing terrain. Additionally the tornado event was impressive but felt like a gimmick. As soon as it landed in my match, all 128 players dropped what they were doing and b-lined for it.”
Ok, so, all you players that have never seen a digital tornado before, get this out of your system now. That way, when launch day comes around (see what I did there... Orbital.... nevermind) you can concentrate on the match and not the rocket taking off or blowing up.
Get your head in the game!
The Room for Improvement
Not going to lie; this is always kind of my favorite part of writing reviews even if I didn’t play because I get personally invested in hoping that they fix these things for Declan and for all of you other Battlefield 2042 sweats out there.
And so far, DICE has really put a lot of effort into listening to the community. They hear us and are working to improve our Battlefield experiences.
Let’s talk about Declan's negative experiences during this beta. "I see a few areas that have room for improvement," Declan says, adding that he thinks DICE should look into working the majority of these before release.
Points obtained during a match are now split. Kill notifications remain in the original position but experience rewards have been moved to the bottom right of the screen. This makes it much harder to keep track of your achievements.
Another item that could use some improvement is when either team manages to claim sector majority a full width banner appears at the top of the screen to inform you of this. At the same time, there is no easily accessible scoreboard showing the rank of all players in the match.
To some, these may seem like smaller details or less important, but when talking about balance in a game, visual details that allow players to track these things are a part of that balance!
Also, you’re only able to see the position of your team in comparison to other teams with similar placement to yours.
The open beta only gave us 4 Specialists to play with. Specialists have no visual difference based on the faction they’re on. Additionally, we received no alternative skins to equip. This made it extremely difficult to differentiate players from each other alongside the aforementioned problems with the HUD.
Another issue that Declan ran into darkness in certain areas or during environmental effects.
“In darker weather conditions like rain it became increasingly difficult to see what I was shooting at. With the live ping system being removed from the game, it was extremely difficult to fight at range when the map turned dark. I just could not distinguish between the enemy players and the surrounding terrain.”
“I played this on a high end build with a Ryzen 7 5800X and an RTX 3080,” Declan stated. “I barely managed to maintain a stable 100 FPS average and had frequent dips into the low 50s and 60s with medium/high settings at 1440p. It was certainly playable, but I’d expect a lot better. Using the NVIDIA overlay I monitored the utilization and found that optimization isn’t quite there yet. CPU load averaged around 20% and GPU load bounced between 80 and 90%.”
Perhaps this plays into the other graphic and optimization issues that a lot of players are describing about their experiences with the beta.
Using the Plus System, players gain access to multiple ammo types in one lifespan. These ammo types are meant for different encounters based on range and what you’re facing. Take the M5A3 for example, which is the game’s default assault rifle. It had the following magazine options: Standard issue, Close combat (increased recoil control, reload speed and rate of fire with a minor accuracy, firepower and range deficit) and High-power (increased firepower, accuracy and range in exchange for a heavy decrease in handling).
Each ammo type has a different ammunition count. These counts are separate from each other, which means that when you run out of ammo with a standard issue magazine, you’re able to swap to close combat which has its own pool of ammunition. Here’s the catch: to compensate for the multiple ammo types, they all have reduced ammo count, meaning you run out of ammo with one type very quickly.
“I think DICE wants us to swap between ammo types based on the situation we’re in but it just doesn’t feel intuitive,” Declan announced. “When I’m running from one object to another I don’t know if I might just engage with somebody in a bush or a sniper on another hill. Having to swap ammo types whenever a firefight starts feels cumbersome and counter intuitive.”
According to Declan, it would make a lot more sense if all ammo types were shared from a pool of your specialist. Each type could have a different ratio affecting how quickly you deplete the shared ammo pool. This wouldn’t force you to swap magazines when you run out of an ammo type.
Declan spoke about the balance of the game and how he felt some weapons and vehicles were too strong relative to their counterparts in the beta. “It’s hard to tell if this will remain a problem post release when we have full customization options over our weapons and vehicles alongside more options,” he said.
Regardless of these drawbacks, Declan is very optimistic about the upcoming release of Battlefield 2042 and expects to have just as much fun in the final release as he did during the beta!
Now that we have our first real look at the Battlefield 2042 beta, the specialists, the new mode, and the absurdly large map, what are your opinions? What are your thoughts? Should EA and DICE consider a delay? Can they, in less than a month, put enough polish on this product to make it stand out in the crowd? Head on over to @GameFacedGG on Twitter and tweet at us!
And last but not least, don't forget to get your GameFace on!