Battlefield 2042 information is starting to slowly trick in now that the game has been officially unveiled. One such tidbit is that the latest entry in the franchise will be the first to make use of AI bots, as confirmed on EA’s Battlefield Briefing page.
These computer-controlled combatants will fill up any empty spaces in an online lobby, allowing every multiplayer match to be full rather than having one side dominate with a numerical advantage. This is a very welcome addition to the series, as there’s nothing more frustrating than joining a team that is hamstrung by empty player spaces.
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It’s also been announced that you will be able to "play alone against AI soldiers." Presumably, this means you could set up a full 64 vs. 64 match solely comprised of just bots on PS5, Xbox Series X, and PC (last-gen players will have to settle for 32 vs. 32). This does sound like a useful feature, especially for players who want to hone their skills before facing off against actual human opponents.
It makes sense that Battlefield 2042 would introduce this feature as well. The game has been announced to be a multiplayer-only experience, without a traditional single-player campaign to speak of. So having an active player base will be critical to the game’s long-term success. These bots will be able to pick up the slack during off-peak hours and ensure that no match feels empty.
AI bots aren’t a proper single-player alternative
The inclusion of match-filling bots, and the ability to play against them solo, is welcome but the feature cannot make up for the lack of a traditional single-player campaign in Battlefield 2042.
The series has a slightly uneven past when it comes to crafting engaging solo modes. But even the worst Battlefield single-player campaigns have enough enjoyable moments to make them worth at least a playthrough. Completely dropping a traditional campaign in a game that will cost $70/£70 feels like a stingy move.
It’s hard to imagine that anyone would cough up full price for Battlefield 2042 solely to play against AI bots. So the ability to play a full match against them is really just a novelty that'll likely be used exclusively by new players looking to get up to speed before jumping online.
The decision to remove single-player feels especially galling when you consider the series biggest competitor, Call of Duty, traditionally offers three distinct modes: a single-player campaign, online multiplayer, and co-op/zombies. While 2021’s entry is still under wraps, it’s rumored to be a sequel to 2017’s Call of Duty WWII and I’d be willing to bet it will feature a wider variety of core modes than Battlefield 2042.
Still, Battlefield 2042 looks like a fantastic game, and overall there is definitely more going for it than reasons to be skeptical. Nevertheless, while the inclusion of AI bots is definitely a step forward for the series, it’s a shame it’s simultaneously taken a gigantic leap backward when it comes to a proper single-player mode.