Battlefield 2042 Hands-On Preview: 5 Features to Look Forward to

With Battlefield 2042's first full open beta upon us, those who've been looking forward to the next Battlefield installment will finally get their chance to experience the semi-futuristic setting and large-scale combat once more. Ahead of the open beta, was able to participate in a hands-on preview event where we played Battlefield 2042 for a few hours to see just how well the features highlighted during the reveal event worked with one another. After several hours of gameplay, it was evident everything works together quite well.

Our hands-on preview of the new Battlefield game consisted of round after round of Conquest, the core multiplayer experience from past games that's returned in Battlefield 2042. The map selection was limited to just one map only with all matches played on Orbital, but for reasons we'll soon discuss, the single map choice hardly felt limiting at all. Four Specialists were playable which amounted to one for each of the game's unique classes.

Battlefield 2042's open beta begins soon, so look for these five features when you play to make sure you're getting the most out of what the new Battlefield game has to offer.

Big Maps Are Back

Even though we only played on one map during the open beta preview, you'd be hard-pressed to know that from the size of it alone. Orbital is a sprawling battleground filled with trees, open areas, huge industrial complexes, and plenty of other landmarks to visit. Battlefield 2042's developers said they'd created "clusters" and other focus areas for players to visit depending on how intense they wanted their combat experience to be, but no matter where you go, there's always a battle just a short distance away.

The sheer size of Orbital and other Battlefield maps should be familiar to returning Battlefield players, but for those who've been playing mostly battle royales and are eager to try out the more traditional shooter experience this time, you should feel right at home on vast maps like this.

(Photo: Electronic Arts)

Choosing the Right Tool for the Job

The Specialists come with a couple of unique gadgets for players to utilize: The Assault class has a Grappling Hook, the Recon class gets a Recon Drone, Medics get a Syrette Pistol, and the Engineers get a Sentry Gun. Each class has an additional passive effect that works in tandem with their tools These archetypal gadgets should be pretty familiar to those who frequent FPS games, but when you see how they can be utilized at different points of interest, they make much more sense in Battlefield's new formula.

Recon Drones, for example, felt optimal when used in the plentiful open areas of Orbital. Find a decent place for a sniper to hunker down and use the Recon Drone and the associated Movement Sensor to scout out threats nearby.

A Grappling Hook used by an Assault character, however, felt far less useful in these areas. Assault seems to thrive in big conflicts with vertical elements where the Grappling Hook could be used to quickly transition to a new area.

The Medic seemed to be an all-around option invaluable to any squad, but the Engineer by far stood out the most. The Sentry Gun itself locks onto enemies and fires on them, but the passive effect that highlights enemies spotted by the turret means Engineers can fulfill both their own role and a lite version of Recon responsibilities.

Mixing and Matching Loadouts

While your gadget selections are limited by the class you pick, the same isn't true for your weapon loadouts. Everything from the throwables to the secondary weapons can be customized regardless of your Specialist which allows for some pretty unique combinations of gear to fulfill the needs of different situations.

Pair a Grappling Hook with a sniper rifle and you'll instantly have access to vantage points that would've taken a Recon player much longer to get to. Outfit your Medic with whatever loadout you want and they're instantly suited for backline support or for assisting your teammates on the front line. Both Specialist choices and loadouts can be reconfigured each time you respawn, so there's no need to feel stuck to any one choice.

Dynamic Maps

With maps as big as Orbital, it's entirely possible to go through a whole match without ever visiting a section of the battlefield. What's even rarer – and even more exciting – is the dynamic element of this and other maps that led to standout, memorable experiences that won't be easy to recreate.

Orbital has both a rocket launch element and a swirling storm, for example. To give an idea of how rare these are, I never saw a rocket launch and only saw one storm after hours of play. When the storm did appear, it immediately took the focus of the lobby. Getting buffered with debris and taking damage was a small price to pay for seeing a tornado rip through Orbital while people parachuted down around it before pivoting back towards the storm to see what'd happen next. It felt like the live events many free-to-play games offer nowadays without feeling out of place alongside Battlefield 2042's other offerings.

(Photo: Electronic Arts)

The Plus System

Battlefield 2042's loadout choices aren't limited to the respawn screen thanks to the brilliant addition of the Plus System. As its name suggests, this tool comes in the shape of a plus symbol and allows players to change their loadouts on the fly to adapt to different situations.

It's used by holding one input and to keep the plus open and using another to select which attachments you want to swap to. Scopes, grips, muzzles, and magazines are the core attachment categories to choose from, though options are limited based on your weapons.


Through the Plus System, you're able to move seamlessly between long-range and close-range combat if your weapons support those options. Given the sprawling nature of Battlefield 2042's maps, it's entirely possible you'll end up in part of the map you didn't initially plan to visit and will need a different loadout. If that happens, the Plus System will be your best friend. It could be more descriptive than it was in the preview, however, since the weapon attachments didn't always indicate what they changed and to what degree, but its usefulness was evident.

Battlefield 2042 is scheduled to release on November 19th for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC platforms.