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Battlefield 2042 won't have voice chat at launch

battlefield 2042
(Image credit: EA/DICE)

Battlefield 2042 introduces a 32-player tactical mode called Hazard Zone, which I described as 'Escape From Tarkov Lite' in my early BF2042 impressions. It's a squad-v-squad race to acquire randomly scattered data drives and escape alive. Communication feels vital in a mode like that, so it's slightly surprising that there's no squad VOIP system in Battlefield 2042 right now.

Voice chat is coming "ASAP," according to EA, but for launch, DICE is working on the assumption that coordinated squads will communicate in Discord or other standalone chat applications. 

That's a fair assumption for people who are friends outside the game, but those who solo queue into a four-player squad in Hazard Zone will have to make do with text chat, a quick chat menu (you can request ammo, healing, etc), and the built-in ping system, which leaves something to be desired. I found it easy to miss an enemy's body when trying to ping, accidentally highlighting a location instead of warning my squad about incoming hostiles. 

To some degree, though, pinging is ineffective by design, because BF2042 distinguishes between pinging an enemy's last seen location, which any player can do at any time, and tagging an enemy, which requires the SOFLAM gadget or another tagging tool, such as a remote control drone carried by one of the specialists.

Generally speaking, I like that distinction. 'Recon' has typically meant 'sniper' or 'stealth assassin' in games, because they don't actually include meaningful reconnaissance tools, or reconnaissance itself isn't meaningful in the game. While playing Battlefield 2042's Conquest mode this week, however, I had a good time collecting assists by scanning enemy troop movements with the SOFLAM, giving my team's airborne gunners targets to point their cannons at. With that HUD-based recon role, no commanders, and less need for coordination than in, say, Rising Storm, lacking built-in voice chat in Conquest isn't a big deal. (I don't think I've ever used the built-in squad voice chat in a Battlefield game.)

For Hazard Zone's more calculated maneuvers, though, squads forged in matchmaking are going to feel disadvantaged against Discord four stacks until voice chat is added. (The gif above is an admittedly poor example of calculated maneuvering.)

I don't know why voice chat wasn't included at launch, but I've got to imagine that it looks like a giant canker sore to developers and publishers right now. Bad voice chat behavior is frequently cited as something that drives players away from multiplayer games, and no one likes being told to "just mute it," which means excluding themselves from fun and useful tactical discussion to make room for jackasses. Riot now records all Valorant in-game voice chat so that it can effectively investigate reports. 

I'm not sure exactly how Battlefield 2042 voice chat moderation will work when it's added (though voice chat abuse will be reportable), or even whether or not leaving it out at launch had anything to do with moderation concerns. We'll start to find out how big of a deal its absence is or isn't this weekend.

For EA Play Pro subscribers who pre-purchased the special editions, Battlefield 2042 releases this Friday, November 12. It's out on November 19 for everyone else. We don't have a review up yet, but I did get to play it a bunch earlier this week. It's a bit janky as expected, but I like it so far. I'll publish a full review with our final verdict next week after I've spent more time blowing up helicopters and getting blown up in helicopters. 

Tyler Wilde

Tyler has spent over 1,200 hours playing Rocket League, and slightly fewer nitpicking the PC Gamer style guide. His primary news beat is game stores: Steam, Epic, and whatever launcher squeezes into our taskbars next.