Battlefield 2042 is doing a lot of things that fans had been hoping it would. It’s promising larger maps than ever before, new levels of destruction, dynamic events like storms and tornados to ratchet up the chaos in every map, more of that classic vehicular action that the series is known for, interesting new mechanics with multiple playable Specialists, and more. By all accounts, it looks like the most ambitious game in the series in quite a long time. Given all that, the general mood within the series’ fanbase following Battlefield 2042’s announcement should have been one of excitement and celebration- and though there is plenty of that going on, it’s not completely untarnished.
You see, in spite of Battlefield 2042’s fascinating real-future setting, where climate change has driven the world to war and nationless soldiers fight in conflicts without allegiance to any one country, the game is not going to have a single player campaign. Instead, it’s going to take a seasonal approach to its storytelling, telling a continuous narrative through its multiplayer offerings with new Specialists being added to the game over time. Understandably, people are disappointed, not least because it’s a setting that could have been the backdrop of a great campaign. Right now, one can’t help but feel like that setting is sort of going to waste- though surely, it’s best to reserve judgment until we see for ourselves how the setting is leveraged in the game’s multiplayer offerings.
Though Battlefield as a series might not have delivered as many memorable single player campaigns as something like, say, Call of Duty has, it has still had some truly great campaigns over the years. Battlefield 1’s War Stories were excellent, and though Battlefield 5 wasn’t quite on that same level, it also had a few memorable episodic tales. Battlefield: Bad Company’s campaign is still fondly remembered, and might just be the series’ best single player outing to date, while Bad Company 2’s campaign also has quite a few fans. The point is, this is a series that’s capable of delivering solid single player content- when it tries, at least. So seeing Battlefield 2042 dropping that side of the experience entirely is disappointing, to say the least.
Even so, even with all of that said, I can’t say I don’t understand why DICE made the decision. Saying that the multiplayer is the point of any Battlefield game would be the antithesis of a controversial statement. Single player campaigns in Battlefield games are nice to have- they’re enjoyable bonuses, but they’re ancillary to the experience. The multiplayer is always the meat and potatoes of the dish. If DICE has decided that they’d rather focus on the part of the game that most people are going to buy it for, the part that’s going to keep the game alive for the months and possibly years ahead, the part where most of the player base will be spending the vast, vast majority of their time with the game- I might not like that decision, but yes, I do understand it. That was true when Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 did it, and it’s true now that Battlefield 2042 is doing it.
Many people would have been willing to overlook the lack of a single player campaign, but unfortunately, EA – in classic EA fashion – has made commercial decisions that make that problem feel so much more egregious than it otherwise would have. On PS4, Xbox One, and PC, Battlefield 2042 is going to cost the regular $59.99, but on PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, it will cost $69.99. Games being priced higher on the new consoles is something that players are being forced to come to terms with, but when that happens for a game that drops an entire chunk of its experience, that price becomes a significantly harder pill to swallow.
Because honestly, in today’s day and age, if a company is making a multiplayer-only game, there’s absolutely no reason for it not to be free-to-play. Multiplayer games have their own monetization models and methods that net companies massive revenues over prolonged periods of time, which is why we’re seeing so many games going down that road. Battlefield 2042 has a similar monetization model- it’s going to have seasonal battle passes, and though the only microtransactions in the game are thankfully going to be for purely cosmetic content, it’s still ridiculous that the game has that sort of a model on top of an up front cost of $70. I don’t want to throw around accusations of greed, but hey- if the shoe fits… EA has been known to indulge in predatory microtransactions (to put it mildly), and though this isn’t “predatory” per se, it definitely feels excessive.
I mean, just look at the competition. Nearly all of the biggest multiplayer shooters in the market right now are free-to-play. Fortnite, Call of Duty: Warzone, and Apex Legends are all free-to-play games, and those are some of the biggest, most successful, most full-featured, and most enjoyable multiplayer games in the industry right now. When Halo Infinite launches, it, too, is going to make its multiplayer completely free-to-play. The entire is industry moving ahead from the archaic and excessive pricing practices that EA is putting in place for Battlefield 2042.
Also, why exactly is the game priced higher on PS5 and Xbox Series X/S than it is on PC? On PS4 and Xbox One, it’s going to be technically inferior, it’s going to have reduced map sizes, and it’s max player count will be cut by half, from 128 to 64. It makes sense that those versions are cheaper. But the PC version is going to have parity with the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S versions, and the gap in price makes no sense there. If EA can sell Battlefield 2042 for $60 on PC, they can sell it for $60 on PS5 and Xbox Series X/S. And sure, Battlefield 2042 isn’t the only game to have done this- Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War was also costlier on PS5 and Xbox Series X/S than it was on PC, just as an example. But then again, the price gap wasn’t okay then either.
None of this is an indictment on Battlefield 2042’s quality, obviously. From what we’ve seen so far, the game is shaping up great, and might just turn out excellently. But the lack of a single player campaign feels like a waste of potential for the game’s setting, and more importantly, exacerbates the issues with its pricing. Time and again, EA has buried games with great bones under piles of bad commercial decisions driven by greed, and I’m just hoping that won’t happen with Battlefield 2042. No, none of this is nearly as egregious as what happened with Star Wars Battlefront 2 at launch, or what happened with Need for Speed Payback– but it’s still put a blemish on what should otherwise have been a time for limitless excitement.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.