Can Battlefield 2042 be saved? DICE’s challenge to bring players back

battlefield orbital spotEA

Battlefield 2042 was hyped to the moon and back, and it’s fair to say that the FPS title hasn’t quite delivered on that promise. Dexerto staff Lloyd Coombes and Andrew Highton dish the dirt and debate on whether or not EA’s AAA shooter is past the point of no return.

The announcement of Battlefield 2042 and subsequent trailers and hype sent EA’s next FPS war shooter into overdrive. Several years after the release of back-to-back World War shooters in Battlefield 1 and V, 2042 marked a return to modern-day conflict.

But suspicions about the game first arose when the beta was delayed, then the reception to the beta’s launch didn’t blow people away, and the game’s release cemented any lingering doubts and apprehension. We’re now nearly three months into the game’s release, and it’s fair to say that the game is greatly underperforming in all aspects.

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Is Battlefield 2042 too far gone? Or is there still time for EA and DICE to rectify this mess?

specialist using defibrillatorElectronic Arts
Can all the defibrillators in the world save Battlefield 2042?

The biggest sinking ship since the Titanic

Andrew Highton

Battlefield 2042 was supposed to be the one. The entry to inject some much-needed life into the long-running FPS franchise. Battlefield 1 and Battlefield V were by no means bad games, but they both suffered from similar problems and the games were found wanting when other major titles were delivering and battle royale was coming to the fore.

The series had arguably lost its way since Battlefield 4, and the early footage of Battlefield 2042 looked mouthwatering. But as we’ve learned, undercooked game modes, countless technical issues, a lack of polish, basic missing features like scoreboards, and a lot more have ground any momentum the game had to a halt.

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Worse still, not only are consumers either desperately trying to get refunds or revisiting older Battlefield games, but they’re turning to satirical parodies of the game – with some even having a bigger active player count than Battlefield 2042!

EA are consistently providing free updates to try and alleviate the issues and fix problems prevalent since launch. The only caveat is that it feels like the damage has already been done. Steam’s all-time peak for the game was well over 100,000, and now it’s at about 5% of that.

One of the game’s main problems stems from EA’s purported inability to listen to its fanbase. Battlefield V’s Firestorm mode was the series’ answer to the growing battle royale craze, but by that point, the game was already falling badly.

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Fans demanded that Battlefield 2042 launch with a battle royale mode to help it compete with titans like Apex Legends, Warzone, and Fortnite, but it didn’t. The worry is that the same thing will happen again.

Just to compound matters, we are coming up to the 3-month anniversary of the game’s debut, and we still don’t have Season One yet. With every passing day, interest wanes, and potential Battle Pass and DLC sales numbers diminish.

robot dogs running alongside destroyed planeEA
It seems everyone is running away from Battlefield 2042.

Things have reportedly gotten so bleak and desperate that EA are reportedly weighing up the possibility of making the game free-to-play. This in itself brings about even more controversy as paying customers will be furious that a game they paid full price is being offered for free, but on the other hand, Battlefield 2042 is losing ground week by week.

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The overarching fault is that this is Groundhog Day for Battlefield fans that have been burned before by Battlefield V and Battlefield 1. An overriding sense of deja vu is inescapable, and it seems like EA haven’t learned anything from recent Battlefield games.

A severed reputation seems to have hit critical mass, leaving disheveled fans to saunter off elsewhere and not return. It seems highly unlikely now that Battlefield 2042 can be redeemed, and even if it goes free-to-play to usher in new gamers, that will be EA waving the white flag.

Give it time

Lloyd Coombes

Sure, things look bad right now, and you’re right, fans have been burned by Battlefield games in the past. I (sadly) was there on day 1 when Battlefield 4 dropped in 2013. Sure, it’s regarded as the de facto Battlefield game right now, but it was a mess — arguably worse than Battlefield 2042 is.

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The good news is that it not only recovered but has actually seen its player base skyrocket through disillusioned Battlefield 2042 players looking for their “only in Battlefield” moments.

battlefield santa skinEA
EA will need to focus less on novelty, paid skins and more on the game that players paid for to win them back.

I’m not making excuses for Battlefield 2042, but I do think DICE has proven time and time again that it’s capable of repairing these games “mid-flight”. Battlefield V gradually grew into a solid entry after a slow start, but it’s in Battlefront 2 that we see the biggest glow-up.

Star Wars Battlefront 2 almost launched with a pay-to-win system that was ripped out at the eleventh hour. It since received a boatload of free content, including characters, classes, maps, and modes, and is now a huge Star Wars toybox.

Sure, it’s incredibly disappointing to see another stumble at launch, and you’re right — DICE really should be nailing a franchise it’s been working on for two decades. But, with Battlefield Portal, and the rumors suggesting a free-to-play version on the horizon, I think Battlefield 2042 will bounce back. Will it get to where it needs to be? Unlikely, sadly, and the project’s overall outcome will likely leave a sour taste in the mouth. It also adds more weight to the argument that the Frostbite engine is tough to develop for.

Still, if older Battlefield titles can be remembered fondly with horrific images such as these, then anything is possible.

And, for what it’s worth, with the game being much more stable now, it’s well worth jumping into again… if you haven’t refunded it yet.