Battlefield 2042's beta is filled with bots, and players aren't happy
Bots are a common sight in Battlefield 2042's beta but leave room for improvement ahead of launch.
Battlefield 2042 is now in the hands of the public, with its beta test welcoming players across the globe on Wednesday. The four-day preview, a pre-release version available before its Nov. 19 launch, is now live for those with Battlefield 2042 preorders or an active EA Play subscription. While expanding to all Oct. 8, entering open beta on console and PC, players are already breaking down what's new in this latest Battlefield installment.
But after some time with the Battlefield 2042 beta, you might realize something isn't right. If you're regular topping the scoreboard or some enemies appear a little unresponsive, it could be the game's AI-controlled bots in action. These server-filling soldiers are slipped into multiplayer matches, designed to keep server populations high in the place of real players. They're not optional, found in lobbies by default, and one of the more controversial additions to Battlefield 2042.
The Battlefield 2042 beta has shown these AI bots in action, leaving many to voice frustration over their current role in multiplayer. Players have reported lobbies predominately populated with AI players, represented by their generic names on the scoreboard, appended with an "[AI]" identifier. It's a common point of frustration in Battlefield forum threads, especially in matches where bots dominate the roster.
Their appearance is often noticeable, either exiting cover at a standstill, moving erratically when down sights, and waiting a few seconds before returning fire. Sure — they add to the atmosphere of Battlefield 2042's expansive combat, somewhat masking their presence, but it's soon evident as gunfights unfold. While the beta isn't representative of a final product, with bugs and issues a given, it still raises some concerns.
Battlefield 2042 developer, DICE, has previously discussed plans to add bots to populate its larger 128-player servers. It's not a huge surprise; the studio discussed backfilling servers alongside the game's reveal to keep matches at capacity. While they're capped at how many you encounter in a game, and DICE has stated you'll rarely face more bots than players, those measures aren't heavily enforced in the beta. This could also change as the population increases, but still raises concerns for the long term after launch.
"AI Soldiers are intended to play the game like how you would play it yourself," Electronic Arts has stated, pitching its multiplayer bots as similar to real players. "You will see them undergoing certain tasks such as using the vehicle call-in system and engaging with vehicles, or capturing objectives. Whilst they can't use the Wingsuit, they do have the intelligence to decide between engaging with you via enemy fire, flanking, throwing grenades, or even reviving a downed squad mate."
Multiplayer bots don't always negatively impact the multiplayer experience — the recent Halo Infinite beta debuted widely-praised AI foes, emulating common player strategies in its four-versus-four arena encounters (sometimes, too well.) The bots in Battlefield 2042 feel like a step back, and with players quickly noticing their presence in that beta, changes could be in order for the final release.
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Matt Brown was formerly a Windows Central's Senior Editor, Xbox & PC, at Future. Following over seven years of professional consumer technology and gaming coverage, he’s focused on the world of Microsoft's gaming efforts. You can follow him on Twitter @mattjbrown.