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What Really Went Wrong With Battlefield 2042

Over the course of the past two decades, "Battlefield" has grown to be one of the most popular first-person shooter franchises on the market. The series' big team objective-based gameplay has made it stand out from the pack, even as shooter trends change from chasing "Call of Duty" to making sure nearly every game launches with a battle royale mode. DICE has stayed faithful to its original vision, taking the series from WW2 to the modern day, then to the future in "Battlefield 2042."

The latest entry in the series launched in November 2021 and it didn't quite go as planned. There is no easy way to say that the release of "Battlefield 2042" was a complete disaster for DICE and EA. Numerous bugs have plagued the title, and as the months press on, the saga of "2042" only seems to get more dire. What began with optimistic previews (via Game Informer) has led to over 200,000 players asking for their money back. Here's everything that went wrong with "Battlefield 2042," a game that even EA has confirmed was a disappointment.

Reviews for Battlefield 2042 were extremely poor

In a landscape where most major releases get at least generally positive reviews, initial reception to "2042" was shocking. An extremely buggy launch dragged the game's average review score way down (as seen on Metacritic). Even reviews that didn't take EA to task for the title's extremely rough state had other issues with the game, namely the fact that the formula was starting to feel stale and uninspired.

Professional reviews were not the kindest, but players were understandably even more upset. They are the ones paying $60 for a game that barely worked when it came out. Currently the Steam user reviews show the reception to the game is "mostly negative." This hasn't been getting any better over time. In fact, according to Steam, it's been getting worse. Recent reviews are "overwhelmingly negative," the lowest user rating that a game can achieve on the platform. Sadly, "Battlefield" fans jumped headfirst into a game that was bursting at the seams at every turn.

The game's progression system was plagued with bugs at launch

Ever since "Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare" redefined what an online shooter can be to players, progression systems have pretty much been a requirement for this type of game. Players like to be rewarded for their time and see that sweet progress bar tick up after every match. These incentives keep players invested and putting in hours long after a game comes out. Unfortunately, as EA has acknowledged, "Battlefield 2042" launched with multiple glitches and bugs that prevented players from progressing and gaining XP.

At launch, XP wasn't being tracked for its 128 player game modes. The game offers many options for smaller team and map sizes, but for the largest, most "Battlefield"-iest mode, progression was broken from the start.

As reported by VG247, the game also had bugs relating to mastery ranks and cosmetic unlocks upon launch. One issue ranged was a visual glitch in which progress bars were being tracked on the backend, but not appearing to players. Some players found certain items simply wouldn't unlock when earned. On the PS5 version, for example, the Captain Caspian player card Background was not being unlocked when players would complete the stated requirements.

Many of the maps were broken when the game launched

Early on, the maps in "Battlefield 2042" ran into numerous issues, many of which obviously broke the balance of the game (per GameSpot). If players on one team are falling through the map or getting stuck in walls and the other team is not, the game is fundamentally unbalanced, invalidating the entire competitive spirit of the game.

Other glitches were more specific to certain maps. When playing on the Breakaway and Kaleidoscope maps while in Breakthrough mode, players were often prevented from spawning in certain points while they were contested, which in turn kept them from getting right into the action and helping their team. 

On the PS5 version of the map Manifest, the destruction of a certain building had the potential to cause extreme light flickering so severe it could negatively impact players with photosensitivity. As players discovered when the braindance portions of "Cyberpunk 2077" caused seizures, this can be a pretty harmful type of glitch to certain players. Thankfully, as noted by EA, the "Battlefield" team quickly addressed these flickering issues in the December 2 patch for the game.

UI glitches and messaging bugs

The final category of major glitches that plagued "2042" right at launch has to do with the game's UI and social messaging systems. The interface bugs were numerous, according to a roundup by VG247. Basics like tool tips, subtitles on video tutorials, enemy player cards were not appearing for players across platforms. Text wasn't the only thing missing either, as many players experienced slowly loading textures on their character. These small details going awry all over the place added up to give early players the impression that "Battlefield 2042" had been released as an unpolished mess.

Other glitches were specific to certain game modes or platforms. In the Hazard Zone mode, unlock notifications from previous rounds would pop up during the current round's intro sequence. One glitch would prevent cross-play friends lists from loading. Even Battlefield Portal — a community tool that allows players to create custom game modes and play on maps from the greatest hits of the "Battlefield" franchise — was marred by bugs.

Fans were disappointed by the lack of a single-player campaign

In addition to the buggy, incomplete suite of multiplayer options, "Battlefield 2042" launched without the inclusion of a single-player campaign mode. You can play solo against bots if you so please, but that is far from the same thing. Not all shooters are required to launch with a campaign (just look at the plethora of free-to-play games on the market), but players have gotten used to having one included.

When the game was announced, it was communicated there would be no campaign or Battle Royale mode. This made fans on Reddit upset, even before they saw the state the game launched in. While the fanbase doesn't have an overwhelming love for the campaigns of the past, many expressed disappointment and feelings that the lack of a campaign lessened the value of the game. If you got the next-gen version of "Battlefield 2042", you were paying $10 more than the previous entries and getting less content to boot. Content is king for many gamers, regardless of quality.

Unoriginal cosmetics didn't do much to make people feel better

"Battlefield 2042" is under such critical scrutiny by its fanbase that even the smallest decisions are creating backlash. Case in point: DICE released a new cosmetic called the Elite Tactical Beanie. Sounds pretty cool right? Well, no, it is just a pretty regular-looking hat. It may keep your head warm, but it's far from worth showing off. However, this is the least of the fans' issues with the new cosmetic for Angel, one of the game's ten Specialists.

"Battlefield" players and streamers are up in arms because Angel's new headwear looks suspiciously similar to an outfit worn by a different Specialist. Sundance is the character in question, and when equipped with their Mamba skin, they can be seen sporting an identical beanie. Both the hats are gray, look to be made from of the same textures, and fit each Specialist in the same exact way. If intentional, pulling this kind of move is an easy way to get fans to leave your game. 

The game quickly lost two-thirds of its playerbase

Despite the cavalcade of issues mentioned thus far, "Battlefield 2042" was not a complete failure when it launched, at least from a numbers perspective. It quickly climbed to the top of the Steam charts, maxing out at over 100,000 concurrent players. Hitting that number is no easy feat and means that, among all the issues, the game still sold well.

Unfortunately for DICE and EA, those impressive player stats didn't last long. By December 2021, "Battlefield 2042" was already hemorrhaging players left and right. The player count plummeted to around 34,000 concurrent users on average — a 60% drop. (via VG247). Meanwhile, according to True Achievements, only 49% of the players who picked up "Battlefield 2042" for the Xbox Series X|S reached level 15, with only 31% climbing to level 25. It quickly became clear that the problems with the game were too much for players to stay long.

The first season of DLC was delayed to the summer

Like many competitive shooters and live-service games these days, "Battlefield 2042" launched with the a Year 1 Pass. The optional $40 upgrade gives players access to the first year of the title's premium Battle Pass, as well as what was originally scheduled as the first year of DLC. This content includes Specialists, new maps, and more. Unfortunately for players who bought the Battle Pass early, Season One of the planned content for "Battlefield 2042" was pushed back all the way to Summer 2022 has been pushed back.

Players who purchased the Year 1 Pass learned they would still be getting a year's worth of DLC — but that they'd be getting it more than half a year after the game's launch. In the meantime, the team at DICE promised to continue working on "improving the Battlefield 2042 experience while finalizing the development of our seasonal content to ensure that it all reaches our standard for quality."

Over 200,000 players have signed a petition demanding a refund

The "Battlefield" playerbase was obviously disappointed all around, but months of the game being borderline broken eventually led to massive backlash — and not just through Steam reviews. Things started looking really bad for "Battlefield 2042" in February, when fans posted an online petition urging EA to refund every player who purchased "Battlefield 2042," regardless of what platform they bought it on. According to the petition, "Even today, 'Battlefield 2042' has bugs that drastically change the in-game experience so much that it's deemed an unfinished release by many community members."

The Change.org petition was started by an anonymous fan using the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, which Insider notes is a reference to the alias used by the creator of Bitcoin. It took a little while to pick up steam, but recently the disgruntled community caught wind of the petition and it has surpassed 200,000 signatures.

It's not likely that EA will grant refunds to all 200,000 players and forfeit millions in profit, but maybe this action will draw attention to the state of the game and prevent similar bungled launches going forward.

Now, player count is at a catastrophic low for a Battlefield game

"Battlefield 2042" players continue dropping like flies, hitting a new low in February 2022. TechRadar reported that the number of active players on Steam fell below 2,000 as of Februrary 14. When looking at numbers this low, it's worth comparing the player count to where the previous two titles in the series sat around the same period of time.

At its busiest, "Battlefield 5" typically still brings in over 25,000 concurrent players. Even on the low end, it outperforms "2042" by about triple the player count, despite releasing back in 2018. "Battlefield 1" is older and less popular, but even that 2016 entry is averaging between 3,000 and 10,000 active players at any given time. It is safe to say the numbers don't look good for "Battlefield 2042." 

As it stands, EA and DICE are going to have to dedicate a lot of time and resources to fixing the latest "Battlefield," particularly if the companies want it to grow and be profitable. In the meantime, it is still looking like players would rather disengage entirely or fall back to an older more reliable entry. "Battlefield 2042" has a difficult road ahead of it.