Games Inbox: Can EA and DICE save Battlefield 2042 from failure?

The Thursday letters page argues that listening to fans is not always a good idea for developers, as one reader points out that XCOM 2 is free on PC.

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Long-term Battlefield
People always take pleasure in an EA game failing and I get it, I understand why. EA are a horrible company, with horrible anti-consumer grifts, but I happen to be a massive Battlefield fan and there’s nothing I can do about the company that happens to make the game.

It pains me to see Battlefield 2042 doing so badly. So badly that it’s now a laughing stock, people reporting how few players it has with obvious glee. I won’t pretend that 2042 is the best Battlefield, or even than it’s a great game, but I don’t think it’s a bad one either. I’ve had a lot of fun with Portal mode and there are some good maps in the main multiplayer.

It seems pretty obvious that EA are trying to get a new game made as soon as possible, which seems a bad idea given that being rushed was the main reason Battlefield 2042 turned out so bad. For me it would be a much better idea to stick with 2042 for a number of years and turn it around in terms of the quality and quantity of content. Make this EA’s No Man’s Sky, not a mistake to be quickly swept under the carpet.

The fact that they’re not really even pretending that the game can be turned around is a big red flag, but the latest update is pretty major, so I’m hoping it can still happen.
Host

Got it where it counts
I have been playing Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga for almost a week now and it is just as good as I was hoping. My anticipation for it grew with each delay and I didn’t think it could possibly live up to it but somehow it has! It is clearly crafted with great care and attention by fans of the films and the amount that is packed in to see and do is staggering.

I have played about 15 hours so far and not quite finished each level the first time around. It will take tens more hours to get 100% completion and the platinum trophy and based on my experience so far it will be a delight doing so.

It is only April, but it will take something very special indeed to surpass it as my game of the year.
Pigfish2 (PSN ID)

Slow improvement
I’m not surprised that Halo Infinite is losing players. The support since launch has been terrible and there’s still no sign of any of the promised features like Forge or campaign co-op. I enjoy Infinite when it first came out, including the campaign, but really, we were all giving it a free ride just because it was nice to have Halo back.

The multiplayer is really good but it’s April now and it’s barely changed since it came out. There’s obviously talented people at 343 Industries (or maybe it’s more Certain Affinity?) but they’re so slow and inconsistent. The management must be terrible there or there’s some other kind of problem but they’ve been like this basically since they started. They really need to sort themselves out because Halo Infinite could still be a great game, it just needs more content.
Boson

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Wrong side of bed
I have to admit that I’d completely forgotten about the Nvidia dataminers leak… though I’m pretty sure that’s because, well I mean, was it ever really that interesting? Let’s get real, that there will likely be a new Tekken, Monster Hunter, and Bioshock, and more PC ports of console titles, is hardly a revelation is it? Bar the odd exception, the leak was just stating the obvious for most of these titles, any nutter on the internet could have guessed it and had a pretty good hit rate.

Even that the Switch 2 will use Nvidia’s latest tech (depending on cost) and be more powerful isn’t that interesting really, because, well, of course it will. Nintendo penned a long-term agreement with Nvidia years ago so obviously it’s next gen systems will have their chipsets and be much more powerful than a 2017 device. Am I just being an unreasonably pragmatic and dour spoilsport here?

As for Zelda: Breath Of The Wild 2, I think it will have enhancements for the Switch 2. Though I think all future Nintendo releases from now on will and even the old ones will likely be patched up for their next console once released. I don’t expect the Switch 2 to launch with the game and thanks to the chip shortage it’ll take years to get a critical mass for exclusive games to be cost effective, much like the current gen of home consoles.

So It’ll still run on the original Switch, it would be an outrage if Nintendo were hyping a game now to sell current machines when in fact it was for its future unannounced console (I don’t think a major video game company has ever done that?), but much like Breath Of The Wild on the Wii U it’ll just be a bit more unstable, bit lower resolution, etc.
Marc

GC: You are being inexplicably dour, but you’re also failing to mention all the most unexpected games, like a Batman city builder, Chrono Cross remaster, Crysis 4, Final Fantasy 9 remake, Tactics Ogre, Vanquish remaster, and XCOM 3. Not even things like a new Metro or Wreckfest are ‘obvious’. It’s by far the biggest and, so far, most accurate leak we’ve ever seen.

Out of control
Can I just get check that I’m correct in thinking that the N64 Switch controllers have not been back in stock since their initial release? I was one of the unlucky ones who didn’t manage to order a controller back in October, but it’s nearly six months later and I’ve been keeping an eye on the webpage, plus I have an email notification set up and haven’t had anything sent through.

I understand there’s a chip shortage and global supply chain issues but six months of no new stock is a bit crazy, isn’t it? Or have I missed the restocks?
Matt

GC: We can’t say we’ve been following it ourselves, but we don’t remember seeing anything about a restock and the NES and SNES controllers were also often hard to come by.

It all adds up
With Slay The Spire popping up on PS Plus and appearing in the letters page, I thought I’d finally confess my dark secret. I intended to write in for the Hot Topic about single-player games you have played for the most hours, but missed the deadline. According to PSN I have played over 1,400 hours of Slay The Spire. And that’s just on PSN…

I originally heard about it on a podcast and was waiting for the Switch port. The PlayStation 4 version came first so I bought that. Absolutely loved it from the very start and soon bought it on Switch to go on holiday with. Add around 50 to the above tally.

Then I got a new laptop and decided I wanted to try the daily challenge against the big boys. I often place in the top 20 on PSN but after coming in at around 300 to 400 each time on PC I gravitated back to PlayStation 4 with my tail between my legs. Add another 30-40 hours to the tally.

Why do I keep going back? For me, it’s the perfect game. Each game is different and the randomness ensures this. The mix of cards and relics have so many workable combinations that it’s fun trying out different strategies. It’s also handy knowing that most runs take about an hour, so a quick run up the spire can fit in nicely of an evening. It’s now like a comfort blanket, and if I want something to take my mind off work – this takes my entire focus and I disappear for an hour or so.

Anyway, now it’s free on PSN (and Game Pass I believe?), I do recommend you give it a go.
Petersmiler

Had a blast processing
Just for the record, I enjoyed the Sonic 2 movie. I took my eight-year-old daughter to see it and she loved it as much as I did.

I don’t know what anyone was expecting from a movie based on a platform game of a hedgehog that can run faster than everybody else and then ultimately finds himself a friend?

To be honest, I think they did a sterling job on screen with the scraps they were given and I am looking forward to the third one on the basis of the first two.
freeway 77

What you need, not what you want
I have to disagree with David’s letter on player feedback, if anything the problem is the opposite. That current developers now listen too much to the loudest fan feedback, (though partly that’s just because it’s much easier these days to get that feedback due to t’internet). As a result, players get what the loudest element of the fanbase want, but often to the detriment of the game, and Battlefield is a great example.

Fans asked for larger player counts, more destruction, and aircraft and vehicles that were harder to take down. Turns out that these were really bad ideas, with the larger player counts leading to unfocussed games that were impossible to fill reliably with players, excessive destruction leading to large, flattened maps with no interest or cover, and aircraft that rack up enormous numbers of kills with no meaningful counters.

The best developers listen to feedback from players but know when to draw a distinction between what the playerbase wants, and what they need, and they aren’t always the same thing. Politics is much the same – and it’s why populism is a problem.
Matt (he_who_runs_away – PSN ID)

Inbox also-rans
Just to say thank you for the tips in the comments about ways to tackle that confounded final Elden Ring boss. I’ll give them a try in a few days when I’m sure my blood pressure has recovered from my previous attempts! I really do want to get to New Game+.
NickG

XCOM 2 and Insurmountable are free on Epic Store from today at 4pm. They have not been given away free by Epic Store before.
Andrew J.

GC: XCOM 2 is one of the best games ever made, we can’t recommend it enough.

This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Georgie, who asks what’s your favourite family friendly game?

The recent success of Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, has emphasised just how few big budget, mainstream games are suitable for all audiences, so which is your favourite? It can be any game with a 3 or 7 age rating, or a 12 if you can make an argument for it being suitable for everyone – in terms of both tone and gameplay.

What styles of game would you like to see with a more family friendly approach and what games do you regret not being able to play with your children or other friends and family? What are you biggest concerns when kids play games and how do you police what they play, if at all?

E-mail your comments to: [email protected]

The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length and content.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

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