I had the opportunity to give it a go, along with various members of games media (and a bunch of content creators and Youtubers who kept wiping the floor with me), and here's what I thought.
The Battlefield Itself
We played the game mode Conquest of the Orbital map. It's absolutely massive. There's a lot of space to explore and each area felt distinct enough to be worth trundling around the whole map. The giant rocket ship is a real treat, and it really is a sight to behold when the whole thing blows up in a cacophony of fire and flame.
There's also a tornado that apparently shows up 10% of the time on Orbital. I wasn't lucky enough to see it, but people who did were extremely excited. I'm super excited to experience it too - it'll be a great showcase of Battlefield 2042's weather features. The constantly-changing weather was great too - it really does make the world feel like a real 2042 hellscape of war and destruction.
As a bonus - you can run into a room with a sprinkler system on and it makes your screen go all wet. It's not just random raindrops on the camera either, the visual effects offer just enough to feel like a substitute to getting your face wet under a sprinkler portrayed in-game.
The Vehicles Were Great
From tanks to choppers, it felt brilliant hurtling through Orbital with the wind in my hair and gunning down baddies with giant cannons. As an infantry soldier too, it didn't feel completely impossible to take on enemies in helicopters - the anti-air gadget was really handy, and adding anti-material rounds to your LMG or AR really puts the fear in a chopper driver's heart.
The only real problem I had was as a foot soldier facing a tank. Obviously, the tank should and does have the upper hand, but even with frag grenades and a rocket launcher it felt like I was barely putting a dent in the giant hunk of metal. Of course, this is all tweakable so I wouldn't worry too much about vehicle balance for Battlefield 2042's full release.
Weapons and equipment
The guns were hit and miss. Of course, balance will come with time, and when the open beta is done and the full game is out, I imagine things will be all sorted. It did feel like there were people laserbeaming me from miles away with ARs and LMGs, making snipers somewhat pointless especially with the extremely bright and prominent scope glint they have.
Of course, this was just a preview of the beta - we only had a few hours so I wasn't able to figure out all the very best combos and specialists, but I'm optimistic with how the guns feel to use once you get used to them. Expect a whole lot of guides and tips on all the best Battlefield 2042 guns right here on Gfinity once the full release hits.
Specialists' equipment was fun to use too. I tried Boris' turret, but never seemed to get a kill with it. Maybe that's just down to my placement of it, but I do appreciate it. A nice throwback to playing too much Torbjörn in Overwatch if nothing else!
My favourite specialist of the four we got to use was Mackay with his grappling hook, as the potential to take high ground faster than everyone else, as well as the ability to swing around the map like Spider Man in khakis, is hugely valuable (and super fun too). One thing I found to be a bit of a shame was how cumbersome and inaccessible it is to actually use. Maybe it's for balancing reasons, but you have to press a button (left on the D-pad for controller players), get the grappling hook out, and then grapple to your desired destination. It just feels less satisfying than it has the potential to.
Some weird glitchy stuff
Obviously, it's a beta. With a beta, we're always going to have issues. When trying to sort out my PC graphics settings, the menu automatically dropped my resolution down to the lowest possible level and forced me to quit the game to escape the menu. Thankfully, my visuals worked well enough without having to fiddle with these menus, but if I wanted to try out different graphics settings, this'd be a tough ask.
There's also in-game bits and pieces that look strange on a visual level. The one that stood out to me big time was the parachutes - sometimes people were just running around dragging a parachute along with them. It looked funny and I really enjoyed it, but it also meant I spotted and shot at enemies I otherwise wouldn't have seen with my short-sighted and terrible aim. Again, it'll hopefully be something the devs can get onto and figure out by the time the full game releases. Along with hit-markers that wouldn't go away or UI elements that failed to show up at times, it's a mild distraction to the experience.
What are those spawns?
In a game with 128 people per map, you're always going to have an issue with getting players spawned into the game without getting shot in the face immediately. Sure. It's a given. However, I found it a lot more of a problem than in a lot of FPS games I've played before. With Battlefield 2042, I found myself getting shot out of spawn
It's great, provided you have a squad
For the first bit of my preview, I was running around with random people I don't know. It wasn't great. Without a bunch of mates to run around with and set your own goals, Battlefield 2042 ended up being a bit of a struggle for direction. When I dropped in with a couple friends though, things became so much more fluid. We'd set a task for ourselves to take a certain point together, organising strategies with the different guns and specialists we prefer, and generally just doing our thing.
In Battlefield 2042, everyone has their own thing, and I'm honestly looking forward to finding mine.