I'm pleased to announce that Battlefield 2042 is indeed a Battlefield game. I went hands-on with the upcoming beta for a couple of hours earlier this week, and yes: there was a very big fight on a very big battlefield. At its core, Battlefield 2042 doesn't surprise at all. But on the surface it's a totally different story.
EA and Dice made a big deal of the game's weather and I was like, "Yeah, it rains all the time here too, heh", but you know what? The way these battlefields chop and change when storms roll in really do make a huge difference when you're there with your boots on the ground.
In my hands-on I played Conquest, a mode where you've got to capture various zones around the map. Said map was called Orbital, home to a whopping 128 players, a space shuttle, a skyscraper, and lots of trees. Nestled in and around these trees? Facilities (for military things, I suspect).
As with all Battlefield games, there's this initial dizziness as you plop yourself into the map. You're a little mite with a gun; go forth and fight! But how am I to do that? Eventually, though, you sink into the rhythm of spawning on your allies, seeking out the explosions, and rattling off some bullets yourself. Once the world stops spinning, it's a glorious experience.
This is especially the case if you find a Specialist you get on with, alongside a set of gadgets you enjoy using. Out of the available roster, I liked Boris the engineer. He has this turret you can put down that locks onto nearby enemies and does its utmost to drop them for you. I just felt like I was helping whenever I popped it down, you know? In terms of gadgets, it was a toss up between C5 (C4 has apparently adopted the PlayStation naming convention) and a rocket launcher. There's no greater satisfaction than watching a tank tread on your ickle wickle explosive wedge, or sending a missile whistling through the air and blowing a hunk of metal sky high.
But just when you think you've settled into the rhythm of Battlefield 2042, the weather can suddenly change. I'm not talking a shower, I'm talking about a monstrous storm. There I was, lighting up some bogies in the balmy sunshine with the wails of my fallen enemies wafting in the breeze, when all of a sudden it's lashing down with rain and trees are bending and the wind is deafening and I can't really see a whole lot.
By no means is the weather a gimmick, either. The storm did't just roll in for nice visual effects, it actually shook up the fight. Driving rain and darker skies forced most players closer together, as you couldn't really see anything or one at a distance. This meant both a lot of scrappy fights in crumbled buildings, and a greater sense of comradery with those around you.
Even the little things come to the fore when the weather changes. For instance, when things darkened, gadgets like the proximity grenade - which ping nearby enemies within its radius - became invaluable. I remember tossing one into some bushes, seeing the red markers spring up, and then my teammates turn on their heels to leather the shrubbery with rockets and bullets. Without that gadget to hand, we absolutely would've been ambushed, no question.
I'm not even kidding when I say that swaying trees also made a difference. During the storm, I'd rappelled up onto this building, in the hope of performing an ambush of my own. And thanks to the trees moving to and fro, I could make out enemy shapes between the gaps in the leaves and let rip. If it had been still and sunny, I doubt I would've been able to track their movements so easily.
I should mention that the space shuttle did take off during my hands-on. You'd have thought I'd mention that earlier, but apart from creating a huge spectacle and a large dust cloud for a bit, it didn't really affect the battlefield as much as I'd hoped. Sadly, those tornadoes Brendy got caught up in didn't roll in for me, either.
Even still, the weather I experienced in my short time with Battlefield 2042 proved that it's not a gimmick. In fact, it's a notionally surface level thing that affects each match drastically. I never thought I'd say this, but I'd really like to get hit by a tornado next time. I mean, the open beta starts very soon, so it shouldn't be long.