In addition to our main Game of the Year Awards 2021, each member of the PC Gamer team is shining a spotlight on a game they loved this year. We'll post new staff picks, alongside our main awards, throughout the rest of the month.
Battlefield 2042 is one of the most bickered-about games of the year. Before it had fully released Reddit was overflowing with player criticisms about perceived missing features like "no diving while swimming," "no custom emblems," "no standard server browser," and "no map-altering levolution." This, argument that a lot of things had been "removed" from Battlefield 2042, dominated the weeks before and after launch.
In these posts, one of which tallied 103 sins Battlefield 2042 had committed, players also complained that the series had changed too much: They wanted old stuff to come back and new stuff, such as Specialists, to be flushed into the sewer of abandoned Battlefield ideas where Battlelog is still floating around.
Some of the gripes were trivial ("no swelling crescendo of dramatic music at the end of a match," read a line in the most upvoted post of all time in the Battlefield 2042 subreddit), some were just untrue ("no ammo or health pickup off of teammates"), and some were true but didn't strike me as problems ("absolutely zero cover between capture zones"). In any case, this narrative that Battlefield players had been wronged blanketed 2042, spilling out into 70,000 Steam reviews that remain, in aggregate, "Mostly Negative"
One popular Reddit post cheerfully rang in the arrival of negative user reviews: "The slaughter has begun."
But I had a pretty good time with it. I put 55 hours into Battlefield 2042 before the holiday break. I enjoyed gelling with a semi-auto marksman rifle, the DM7. I thought the initial overpowered "Spider-Man hovercraft meta" was hilarious and quintessentially Battlefield. "Even after two decades of streamlining, Battlefield still has great comedic timing," Tyler wrote in his Battlefield 2042 review.
Feeling this way put me on the opposite side of a smoldering internet rage fire. I was having a completely different experience from thousands of angry players. What did I like about 2042? The usual Battlefield stuff. Feeling dwarfed by its scale, which had doubled to 128 players. The experience of carving out a corner of the map for yourself and breaking an enemy's advance. Jumping out of the bushes to lob the perfect AT round at a tank. Riding shotgun with an ace pilot and admiring their work.
Don't get me wrong—I had my own, not insubstantial set of complaints. In the spirit of those breathless Reddit posts and user reviews, I'll list them here:
Some of the stuff that annoyed me while playing Battlefield 2042
- Crashing to desktop about one-in-every-six times I played the game, often at the very end of a match.
- Jamming the 1 key three, four times to switch to my primary weapon and it not registering. I'd also experience this while trying to pull my parachute 10 meters above the ground.
- A modest 60-70 fps on an RTX 3080 (at 3440x1440, admittedly)
- Under-explained gear functionality. It took me 10 hours to realize that Angel can call down a loadout-switching crate by right-clicking while using his armor packs. There's a fire select button and a separate key that switches to your grenade launcher on specific guns. I still haven't bothered to figure out how to switch between optics on dual-optic scopes. Hacking is a slight mystery.
- The unresponsive and finicky spotting system, a deterioration from previous Battlefields.
- The animation glitch while prone where some part of my character's body keeps twitching, wobbling my vision while aiming.
- Maps not being initially designed with Breakthrough mode in mind. Several maps culminated in a state that I can only describe as "the defending team sits atop an impregnable rooftop" that anyone on Earth could've told you isn't fun.
- Sometimes, it feels frustratingly unpredictable where I'm going to spawn when I click a capture point.
- The unfathomable power of the PP-29 before it got patched, holy cats. Why use any other gun when there's one that kills everyone twice as fast?
This stuff definitely ate at my enjoyment. I had dozens of frustrating deaths to that input bug—I think it's every FPS player's nightmare to hammer their primary weapon key and get no reply from the game. But even these obvious, objective problems didn't keep me from playing. At any moment I could've swapped over to the largely beloved, free Halo game that was just sitting there on Steam! (I played that, too, but Halo's sci-fi gunplay is too arena-shooter for my taste). I put 5 hours into Halo Infinite compared to the 55 I put into Battlefield.
The whole experience has been a reminder that it's all right to enjoy a game and continue playing it while being aware of its flaws. This habit of publicly swearing off games that has sprung up from the "dead game" rhetoric is poisonous to the hobby and it spreads quickly. Everyone has a right to be unhappy, but watching the response to Battlefield 2042 this year reinforced that we're increasingly gaming in a time where, for some, the social media-trained desire to feel aggrieved and victimized by your entertainment for some people outweighs the experience of playing the game itself.
Whenever I doubted myself in the face of these walls of bullet-pointed angry Battlefield posts, though, I just jumped into Conquest and did something stupid. You can drop a hovercraft on top of a skyscraper, drive it off the edge, and float to the ground like it's some kind of magic carpet balloon with a minigun on it. I'm not uninstalling that anytime soon.