TUCSON, Ariz. — “Battlefield 2042” envisions a grim, near-future hellscape that has drawn global superpowers into a third world war.
The struggle for dwindling resources has triggered power plays that have destroyed the balance of power, triggering military units to unleash a torrent of technological devastation.
Military campaigns that once would have meant massive deployments can now be executed remotely.
However, it’s human innovation and teamwork that still turn the tides of battle. The message rings true in “Battlefield 2042,” which hurls players into an ever-shifting onslaught of dazzling tech-driven devastation.
Upgradeable gadgets and capabilities abound, from drones that can identify, rain fire or deploy explosives into enemy units.
You can also deploy mobile turrets to provide cover even amid open ranges, don a wingsuit to swoop down from a perch, hack into enemy devices to claim them as your own, or heal teammates from afar with a pistol shot of regenerating meds.
The first release in the franchise since “Battlefield V” in 2018, the shooter makes its current-gen debut, projecting massive-scale battles that can pit as many as 128 players against one another.
The master Swedish developers at DICE open up the visual and animation capabilities of the Xbox Series X, pushing the look and feel of the game considerably past previous entries. Eschewing a story-based campaign in favor of focusing all its resources on multiplayer, the strategy pays off.
Rather than dividing its attention, DICE laser focuses on its multiplayer objectives.
There’s a stark segmentation between last-gen and current-gen versions, with cross-play supporting PS4 and Xbox One players in a minor league of sorts, with the upper tier, restricted to PS5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC gamers.
The traditional Breakthrough and Conquest modes are the main draws, pitting squadrons of players against one another in preset objectives. You’re rewarded for making kills, securing outposts, as well as assisting and healing teammates.
The rewards system encourages teamwork and — along with the inherent culture of serious-minded “Battlefield” players — drives out those with a lone-wolf or griefer mentality.
Battlefield Portal is more open-ended, allowing players to create playlists and preset rules to gear the game toward their specific visions.
The cooperative-minded Hazard Zone pits teams against one another as they locate and extract data drives guarded by drone units.
Somewhat of a twist on capture the flag, the frantic scrambles provide some intense, action movie-style iterative scenarios you won’t encounter in Breakthrough or Conquest.
Although more maps and a more significant weapon selection would have been appreciated, the content at launch is satisfying, and players who look back at the continual support DICE has given to the likes of “Battlefield 1” and “Battlefield 5” can be assured that a steady drip of content is on the way.
As the opening salvo in a battle campaign that will no doubt last years, “Battlefield 2042” accomplishes its shock-and-awe goal with an objective.
No doubt, a wild ride lies ahead.
The publisher provided a review code.