Battlefield 2042's first season makes a lacking game feel slightly less lacking
We've had a chance to dive into Season One: Zero Hour ahead of its imminent release on June 9.
After delays and a whole lot of extra work, EA and DICE are finally ready to get the first season of Battlefield 2042 underway. Set to start as soon as this Thursday, this season will be bringing a new map, a new specialist, some new weapons, a couple of vehicles, and some more improvements, and to get the gist about how all of this is shaping up, I've had the chance to dive in as part of a preview session to test it all out.
But before I get into my thoughts, it's worth being aware that this season will be known as Season One: Zero Hour, and will last for 12 weeks, meaning by the end of the summer, we'll have yet another season of new content to look forward to. Otherwise, as was previously noted in recent developer blogs, this season will include a reworked version of the conflicting map Kaleidoscope, but this isn't quite ready to be put into the hands of the public yet, and instead will arrive in August, meaning I've yet to have the chance to check out the new improvements for this map. But anyway, back to the actual new content.
The new map is called Exposure and is an interesting and unique concept. The map is split and defined by the sheer cliff face and secret facility that is embedded into the mountain side, and makes for a range of different styles of gameplay. The narrow corridors of the facility bring close-quarters action, whereas the summit scenes serve up a helping of long range encounters. It's a nice balance, but as Exposure is tailored with verticality in mind it is often its own worst enemy. What I mean is that going up can be a major issue sometimes in Battlefield, and a lot of the time you'll have to find ziplines or specific parts of the map that allow movement if you have any intention of climbing the cliff face and heading to a new portion of the map. It doesn't have that same level of freedom as for example Battlefield 1's Monte Grappa, but is more alike Damavand Peak, where once you leap off the dam once, there's pretty much no way to get back up. Don't get me wrong though, Exposure makes for some nice set pieces and striking gameplay scenes, so it has that going for it.
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As for the new Specialist, Lis, she is a necessary evil you could say. With this season introducing helicopters into Battlefield 2042, more vehicles that are designed to make your life as squishy infantry harder, DICE has brought along a new Specialist with the gear to scrap some armoured metal. Her gadget is called the G-84 TGM and is a guided missile system that can deal some serious damage to tanks, trucks, helicopters, you name it. The catch is that you have to aim and guide the missile to its destination, which isn't a problem for slow moving tanks, but for anyone who plays on PC with a low sensitivity, you will have a lot of trouble getting the missile to quickly adapt to the fluid movement of the agile new helicopters. But Lis is your best shot for dealing with these blighters, as these futuristic aerial war machines can switch between the 'angel of death' assault mode and the sneaky stealth mode at the click of the button - and the latter will even scrub the chopper's presence off radars to make it even harder to bring down.
But here's the thing. All of this new free content is great but the problem still remains that Battlefield 2042 has a clear lack of weapons. There are at most still four of each weapon type, which may not seem all that bad, but there are only seven different categories, with four of those seven being reserved for secondaries, utilities, marksman rifles and the very similar sniper rifles. And yes, Zero Hour has brought a few new weapons, but they are a crossbow (in a shooter that has incredibly long sight lines), a smoke grenade launcher (handy but hardly lethal), and then the BSV-M marksman rifle, which from what I saw is rather overtuned and incredibly powerful right now. Will it remain this way when Zero Hour gets its public launch? That remains the question, but it is worth being aware of.
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In terms of what else is new with Season One: Zero Hour, well there's not a whole lot at all. There's a battle pass of course, which has a free and a paid track, and is progressed by playing the game and by completing challenges to earn Battle Pass Points. It offers the typical array of cosmetics and new ways to customise your account, but that's precisely all it does as everything affected by gameplay (new guns, vehicles, Exposure, etc.) is free for all players.
Otherwise, Battlefield Portal is getting a few small improvements as well, but these are very minor and include ways for creators to fiddle with spawn locations, place more vehicles, and do a few other extra things. DICE is of course celebrating the addition of the new content in Zero Hour with some brand-new game modes in Portal, which will either provide a "twist" on classic modes, or serve up a mode designed at its core for vehicular warfare. Some things to be excited for, but nothing game changing at all.
My point is, anyone who is hoping that Season One is going to be a massive step forward for Battlefield 2042 should probably get their expectations in check. The new content additions are always a highlight, and the game does feel significantly better to play than it did at launch last year. But one new map (which is its own worst enemy at times), a few new guns, a Specialist, a couple of helicopters, and a whole batch of new cosmetics aren't really the solution to this title's woes. No. This is still a game that feels rather barren a lot of the time.