In the months before release Battlefield 5, DICE is very keen to emphasize subtle adjustments to the game feel and overall presentation. Even before showing the gameplay, the developers were particularly excited about making the game world more reactive and interactive, fortifications, more subtle destruction, and more important work: a complete reform of the character movement.
Movement is a mechanism that will evolve with every battlefield game. After returning to revisit the old title, the effect of the latest iteration becomes apparent. In “Battlefield 5”, DICE feels like the core components of any shooting game are firmly fixed to a level that the studio has never reached.
The characters in “Battlefield 5” feel more relaxed and respond more sensitively to control. You can jump over low walls, have the power to get in and out of windows, roll when landing to eliminate fall damage, and you can even pull yourself to a higher surface. When lying prone, the game knows to consider your motivation and direction; if you press the button while moving backward, you will lie on your back and you can rotate 360 degrees on your stomach. The character animation will move and play randomly to gracefully support every action.
It’s not perfect, and it has encountered some problems—technical problems, and how misusable some of these mechanisms can become (hello, slide spam!)—but it is the best innovation in Battlefield 5— An innovation that actually started from being revealed to a long time later is different from certain other elements.
So seeing that DICE seems to be moving to Battlefield 2042I played the public beta for a few hours. Although I didn’t mention this in my initial impressions, the more I played it, the more it stood out.
The campaign in Battlefield 2042 learned very little from Battlefield 5. The characters feel more afloat, and the new and faster slides can be spammed and abused in shocking ways, especially before the super sprint. You can no longer lie on your back, and of course you can’t climb anything less than waist height. The only really interesting addition is to have two sprint speeds. Take Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2019 as an example.
This is something I don’t understand. The movement mechanism of Battlefield 5 needs some subtle adjustments to achieve perfection, and all the Battlefield players I know want 2042 to achieve this. It feels good to use in the first person, and looks clear and solid in the third person. Enemy players are easier to track than “Battlefield 2042”.
I know that these two games are in different eras and have different battle rhythms; I suspect that some of the more marginal results-skating and lively sports-will be better at launch. But why give up all the work of creating the most dynamic, responsive and satisfying movement mechanism in the battlefield?
Even leaving aside the smoothness of the animation, the Battlefield 5 version also offers a series of tactical options that were seriously missing in 2042. Edge and climb, but you can’t do it here.
I don’t know how much of this can be improved, or if DICE even recognizes that there is a problem, but seeing one of Battlefield’s most interesting updates in years being forgotten is as frustrating as the game that produced it.