One of the strangest things about the launch of Battlefield 2042 is that, for all that it tried to do differently—and in some cases even succeeded—it was rounded on and devoured by critics so wholly that if you’d never played the game, you’d be forgiven for assuming it didn’t even boot up.
Put another way, because the internet is what it is (social media especially), once enough people had said “this game is bad,” a kind of gravitational pull was set in motion. More and more people would say the game was bad at increasingly louder volumes, until that was all people were saying about it.
I said as much in my review of the game, but not all of that is true! It’s true that in some key parts the game is busted, yes, and in others it could do with some work. But to trash the whole thing, when it still has some very good and fun parts, is to deprive yourself of some surprisingly epic multiplayer battles.
Anyway! That’s a very long-winded say of getting to the real point here, which is that because I’m one of the handful of people on this planet who is actually having a really fun time with the game, I’ve been playing for a few months now. Not just during work hours, but outside of them as well. Having gotten *ahem* pretty handy at it, I figured now was as good a time as any to share some tips.
Some of these may seem basic for veterans, but I’m trying to cover all bases here, so humour me for a moment when serious players get to some of the simpler tips. And note that most will relate to Conquest and Breakthrough, since they’re the flagship modes, and the only ones worth playing for an extended time anyway.
GRENADES: Most grenades are useless (battles move too fast, the maps are too big) except for some random, incredibly specific circumstances. The exception to this is the smoke grenade, which is supremely good to have around if you’re trying to capture a sector, or need to mask your escape from someone targeting you with a bigger/better gun.
ANTI-AIR: Because of 2042's wide-open maps, helicopters have emerged as the most dangerous forces on the battlefield. Choppers in the hands of capable pilots can dominate the battlefield, so the more infantry packing anti-air weaponry (especially snipers at the fringes of the map), the better. And while we’re on the subject, if you’re ever at the controls of the game’s lone anti-air ground vehicle, please try to focus on anti-air responsibilities. There’s nothing more annoying than someone trying to rack up cheap infantry kills with the Wildcat’s powerful guns when choppers are raining death on your troops somewhere else on the map.
SQUADS: For a few reasons, primarily the game’s lack of VOIP, it can seem like sticking together with your squad is pointless. Try to do it if you can, though; you’ll enjoy a number of perks, like being able to revive each other even if you’re not packing medic equipment, and spawning alongside each other, even if you’re in a vehicle on the other side of the map.
GUNS: With precious few exceptions, there aren’t really any guns that are better than others of their type, so if you’re new to the game don’t assume that unlocking new rifles and handguns will simply result in improved stats. What you tend to get are different guns with different capabilities; most snipers, for example, will use the middle of the game’s three, because the fanciest last one is geared more towards anti-vehicle use, a completely different use than blowing people’s heads off.
SPECIALISTS: In one of the game’s most divisive changes, Battlefield’s traditional class system (Medic, Engineers, etc) have been replaced in 2042 with Specialists, pre-baked characters with their own perks and abilities (though you can actually modify every specialist to carry a basic loadout that roughly matches the old Class designations). Take your time working out which one best suits you, but be sure to try them all, because nearly every single one of them has some very cool uses for their unique ability that can transform the experience for you. I didn’t settle on my preferred one (Mackay) until I was around level 45-50, for example, because all the other ones I’d tried also had really fun stuff that I’d gotten used to leaning on.
BLACKBIRDS: See the AA advice above, only in reverse. If you have the patience and/or skill, learning how to fly these nimble scout helicopters will turn you into the most lethal force on the battlefield. I have tried and failed spectacularly to master it myself, and so now view anyone able to whip around rooftops mowing down infantry with cannons as some kind of God.
TANKS: Here’s some tactical advice straight from the real world: don’t rush in with your tank. I know it’s tempting, with all that firepower and armour, to think you’re somehow invulnerable, and that the best place for you to be is at the very tip of the spear. But 2042's armour is surprisingly vulnerable in a lot of situations. A squad of infantry with C5 and/or RPGs will make short work of a tank, so they’re best used in a supporting capacity, sitting just a little back from the infantry and raining explosive fire down on the enemy.
TEAMWORK: While kills, assists and captures tend to release the biggest dopamine hit among Battlefield players, victory in this game requires 64 people working as a team, not just roving bands of killers. Every successful team will have dedicated medics, suppliers (dropping ammo) and observers, whose work might not be as instantly gratifying, but in propping up an advance or discovering enemies for easy kills, will be the difference between victory and defeat.
BOLTE: If you’re ever bored or frustrated in a game, or just wondering what to do when confronted with enormous maps that look like everything is happening all at once all around you, just get a Bolte. They’re fast, you can run people over in them really easily, they’ve got a stereo, and can be equipped with powerful cannons. You’ll be blown up or shot through their large cockpit window before too long, but you’ll have a blast right up to that point.
HANGING AROUND: Here’s a special tip directly related to the game’s lacklustre reception and dwindling playerbase: Every time you try to play and the game can’t find any current rounds to throw you in, you’ll be held on a waiting screen with up to three other players. The problem here is that you’re not told how long you’ve been waiting, how long the other players have been waiting, or most importantly what the player-count is for the match that you’re sitting in the waiting room for. This makes it impossible to tell if you’re two players short of 128 and a 45-minute match is about to start, or you’re the only person waiting and it might never get off the ground. To preserve your sanity, don’t waste your time; if you don’t get into a game within 30 seconds, quit and try another mode, or go do something more constructive with your time.
CONQUEST: A tip just for Conquest mode! Both factions have big transport helicopters, able to carry a load of infantry as gunners while in the air, but as airborne troops when they bail out. These are absolutely key to seizing lightly-defended sectors on the other side of the map, so if you ever see one of these transports land near you, or have a seat available when spawning, jump right in.
BREAKTHROUGH: And now a tip just for Breakthrough mode! While these games have designated attackers and defenders, the latter must try to take the offensive from time to time. If there aren’t at least attempts made to reclaim lost objectives, then the attacking side’s offensive impetus will just steamroll you.
SOFMAP: I have saved my final and most important tip for last. Please, for the love of God, once you unlock it, learn how to use the SOFMAP. It’s able to both mark enemy units (so your teammates can see them at a glance, even when hidden in vegetation or behind cover) and divert opposing vehicles by creating a missile lock. So it’s the least dangerous item in the game (in that it has no offensive or defensive capabilities whatsoever), but also the most dangerous, in that it can make the difference between a shootout ending in a stalemate and your side murdering everyone in sight because you’ve been able to “paint” every single enemy, even the ones hiding and behind cover.
And that’s it! I’ve tried to be pretty general here with my tips, but if you’ve got any you’d like to see added, get in touch and I’ll see about updating the post!