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Battlefield 2042 patch gets rid of ‘chaotic’ 128-player Breakthrough

Breakthrough is still available in a more manageable 64-player version

Four soldiers exit a helicopter in a screenshot from Battlefield 2042’s Hazard Zone game mode Image: DICE/Electronic Arts
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Battlefield 2042’s latest update, available Thursday, removes the 128-player version of Breakthrough, leaving the large-scale multiplayer battles for which the series is known to Conquest, a mode played on larger map layouts.

In a blog post describing update 4.1, EA DICE acknowledged “the increased intensity and chaos of the combat” in the 64-versus-64 Breakthrough playlist, which frequently saw both sides packed into the same chokepoint struggling over the same objective. Players had complained for some time that the mode had become much less fun, if not unplayable.

“In Breakthrough’s 128-player mode, we feel that the value and impact of an individual player and squad is reduced, due to the increased intensity and chaos of the combat,” developers said. “We felt that the 128-player modes are better suited for Conquest, where gameplay spaces are larger, and where you have a more natural fit for sandbox gameplay.”

It doesn’t mean Breakthrough is gone entirely. “When reviewing Breakthrough, we noted that the 64-player version represented a more tactical experience,” DICE wrote. Halving the team sizes “helps to remove some of the chaos from the experience,” which is putting it mildly. But it also “means players are better able to hold frontlines more effectively.”

The changes mean Breakthrough’s 64-player version will continue to play on the 128-player layouts of Discarded, Manifest, Orbital, and Kaleidoscope. Breakthrough on Hourglass, Breakaway, and Renewal will use the 64-player layout.

Battlefield 2042, the first-ever multiplayer-only version of Electronic Arts’ military shooter, launched in November 2021 and immediately faced performance issues and other problems requiring a title update and several patches soon after release. The game’s first season of multiplayer progression and unlockable content is delayed to sometime this summer, and it didn’t get baseline multiplayer features like a scoreboard or in-game voice chat until early spring.

As such, Battlefield 2042 on consoles is the lowest-rated game (by Metacritic) in franchise history, and the second-lowest rated on PC. Last week, Electronic Arts’ chief executive told investors that EA DICE is “rethinking the development process from the ground up,” now under the direction of Vince Zampella, founder of Apex Legends studio Respawn Entertainment. In December, EA assigned Zampella to oversee the Battlefield franchise.

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