Battlefield 2042 had some problems when it launched a couple years ago, but I said then that it was a fun game, and I say it again now: It’s fun! I feel a little less alone in thinking so lately, because it’s presently sitting at the respectable position of #13 on Steam’s list of top games by daily players, which of course doesn’t include players who own it on console or other PC stores.
Pretty good for a game that was once being called, in polite and impolite terms, a complete disaster.
It helps that BF2042 just had a free weekend, but that free weekend is over and its daily peak is still hitting 90,000 to 100,000, the highest Steam numbers the game has seen since launch by a lot. The biggest factor here is its currently discounted price of $10, but whatever the reasons, this is the most enthusiasm I’ve seen for DICE’s latest large-scale multiplayer shooter since 2021 (if I’m not including enthusiasm for hating it).
What many thought of as the new worst Battlefield is still recognizable as the game that launched two years ago, but its peculiarities and series firsts have been hammered into more traditional shapes. More cover has been introduced to the big vacant fields that characterized its maps at launch, class distinctions have been added (though without losing its new character abilities), and the currently available playlists feature only 64-player matches, rather than the 128-player matches that were once at the top of Battlefield 2042’s feature list.
The full suite of “core feedback” changes was documented in great detail, and it’s also gotten multiple seasons worth of new maps and guns and vehicles.
Regarding 128-player games, I’m sure they’ll return in a future Conquest playlist, and there are 128-player custom servers in the Portal mode, but I’m a little disappointed that the “64 players is better” lobby seems to have won. With 128 players, you could spend a whole Conquest match fighting in one corner of the map with everyone else on the server as your backdrop, which gave me PlanetSide 2 flashbacks—I loved the sense that I was a tiny part of a much bigger battle. The increased scale also helped distinguish Battlefield 2042 from Battlefield 1, which helps justify it, since BF1 is better in ways. (It has horses, for one thing.)
As much as I think the problems with Battlefield 2042 were overstated when it launched, I certainly can’t fault anyone for skipping any given buggy, divisive $60 multiplayer-only shooter. And revisiting it this week after having played quite a bit of Modern Warfare 2, I’m extra conscious that BF2042’s shooting and gun customization metagame aren’t nearly as fun as Call of Duty’s are right now.
But Modern Warfare 2 doesn’t let you snipe someone from the roof of a skyscraper, leap off of that skyscraper to escape an attack helicopter, open the magic, always-ready parachute on your back, and then snipe someone else mid-fall. “Only in Battlefield” is a rare videogame marketing slogan I don’t feel I have to qualify or poke fun at—it’s true. (If you blotted it out of your brain, MW2’s ridiculous tagline is “the ultimate weapon is team.”)
If you’ve got room for a goofy large-scale shooter on your SSD, you could do worse for $10. Based on the pattern of these spiking player numbers, which peak in the morning Pacific time, it seems like a lot of the new players are in Europe and Asia (a good number of new Steam reviews are in Chinese, too), but thanks to crossplay I haven’t had any problem finding full 64-player games whenever I look for them.
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