Battlefield 2042's Orbital map isn't scratching my Battlefield itch
A flat design, not enough cover, and underwhelming destruction.
I've been having a good time with the Battlefield 2042 beta over the last few days, but one of the beta's biggest disappointments is the Orbital map. A gigantic battlefield centered around a large rocket taking off into orbit is easily one of the coolest themes for a map that EA and DICE have created, but due to several flaws with the map's design, I'm not as impressed as I was hoping to be.
The map's main problem is that it's way too open and flat, which makes it difficult to move between points of interest without being spotted. It's also tougher to pull off stealthy strategies like using a recon vehicle to deploy other players to an enemy's flank, which is something that I've enjoyed doing in Battlefield games. Additionally, the lack of significant verticality also makes it way too easy for anti-aircraft vehicles and players armed with anti-air rocket launchers to harass and take down helicopters since there are very few tall structures or pieces of terrain to use as cover.
Another big problem with Orbital is that it's way too sparse. Whereas most other Battlefield maps have traditionally had lots of structures to break up sightlines and give players cover, Orbital only has a few buildings at each capture point with next to nothing located between them. The extreme lack of cover makes it way too easy for snipers and tanks posted up on elevated positions to control the match, and I wish that the developers placed several more buildings and props around the map so that I wouldn't feel so exposed all the time.
Orbital's flatness and lack of cover also make the map feel way too messy. One of the reasons why fan-favorite Battlefield maps like Caspian Border were so good is because their structures and terrain shape would corral players into engagement zones, resulting in frontlines that players could identify and organize around. In Orbital, the complete lack of these elements means that the entire map is incredibly disorganized and chaotic. I can appreciate chaos to an extent, but Battlefield plays best when there's at least some structure to the flow of a match.
Orbital's destructible elements are also incredibly disappointing. From what I've been able to gather, you can only blow up sections of the walls on the map's smaller structures, the round rocket coolant tanks, and the explosive barrels found next to some doorways. You can't fully destroy any of the structures on the map, and things that look destructible, such as radio towers, can't be blown up. You can't even do any damage to the large tower adjacent to the map's central rocket at all, and while you can destroy the rocket while it's taking off, doing so has little to no impact on the map's gameplay. It's more or less just a visual spectacle.
Compared to something like Battlefield 4's "Leveloution" that allowed players to collapse entire skyscrapers and cover the entire map in clouds of dust or turn a control point structure into a giant mound of rubble, the lack of meaningful destruction on Orbital is concerning. It has me worried that most of the Battlefield 2042 maps will be like this, although there's a chance that the game's other maps will have more destructible elements.
Overall, Orbital is simply disappointing in most respects, and it has me worried about what to expect from the maps in Battlefield 2042 in general. The game could be one of the best Xbox shooters, but not with maps like this. I expect well-designed maps with a good flow, a healthy amount of cover, and plenty of destructible elements from Battlefield, but Orbital has none of these things. As a result, it's not scratching the itch I've had to play on a quality Battlefield map lately. I'm tempted to avoid the beta entirely and simply play Zavod 311 with my friends in Battlefield 4.
Battlefield goes back to the future
Battlefield 2042 debuts Electronic Arts' next-generation vision for the military shooter, supporting up to 128 players, the largest-ever maps, devastatingly destructive weather systems, and more.
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Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.
My one criticism is the same as always … how many freaking bullets does it take to kill someone. Jesus.
I have noticed the limited destruction though of some buildings.
One point to note though .. the PC version (with decent hardware - a 3080 or equivalent /5800X CPU or equivalent type PC) is superior to the Xbox Series X version of the beta from what I’m hearing from my buddies. In terms of graphical fidelity, jankiness in motion, and bugs. They congregated back to the PC version (of the beta) tonight and said the Xbox version wasn’t fun to play.
Probably expected considering the vast difference in cost of the Series X and the PC’s we have.
Place like a red mark on top of enemies, so I know.