Battlefield 2042 finally kicking off Season 1 this week, over 6 months after release. MeinMMO author Marko Jevtic was allowed to test the new content and thinks it’s going in the right direction, but the steps are much too slow. And the new map is curiously given a lot of symbolic power.
updated: In the original version of this article, I quote the developers and say that they identified “4 barriers”. After the publication, I noticed that I was probably talking about “areas” instead of “barriers”, and I misunderstood the developers. The content of this text has been adjusted accordingly.
On the evening of June 6th, I was allowed to play the first season of Battlefield 2042 together with other journalists and content creators. After more than 6 months, this finally starts on Thursday, June 9th. And there couldn’t be a heavier burden on this new content.
Because Battlefield 2042 has been in a real crisis since its release. The developers in the preview event avoided words like “flop” or “failed”, but it was clear from their very careful wording that they didn’t like the current state of the shooter either. After some delay, Season 1 should change that now.
Battlefield 2042 Season 1: “Zero Hour” brings map, specialist and 2 new weapons
Season 1, dubbed “Zero Hour,” is DICE and EA’s biggest attempt yet to turn the tide. But is that enough to save Battlefield 2042, contrary to my expectations? You can decide that in advance when you look at the self-confident trailer for Season 1:
The big innovations in Zero Hour include:
- 2 new weapons: a flexible DMR & a crossbow
- 1 new map: Exposure, whose great peculiarity is its verticality
- 2 new stealth helicopters
- The new anti-vehicle specialist, Lis, and her TV-guided missile
- 1 new gadget, the smoke grenade launcher
After I was allowed to play about 2.5 hours in advance, I have to draw a mixed conclusion for myself. Because although I enjoyed the new content a lot, the innovations in total are not enough to be completely convincing. Paradoxically, the numerous adjustments in response to the negative feedback actually emphasize how much has already gone fundamentally wrong.
DICE identifies 4 areas for improvement in Battlefield 2042
As I listened to the developers introduce Zero Hour, I had a very sobering thought. Because with all the explanations from DICE about how many fundamental errors in Battlefield 2042 are being adjusted, I noticed:
I’ve never experienced a live service game where the live service is primarily a complete overhaul of the game.
DICE started the presentation by clearly identifying “4 areas” that need improvement:
- the maps
- the game modes
- the core gameplay
They want to radically improve these areas, but they say they need time to do so.
The game should be gradually “unleashed” by the big feature of 128 players, so that the focus for future maps is instead exclusively on 64-player modes. In addition, old maps get more coverage (starting with Kaleidoscope in August). The future new maps will also be made smaller.
Construction site on the rubble heap: New map with involuntary symbolism
The developers of DICE proudly stated that Exposure is the best map in Battlefield 2042 so far. And having played them, I can easily agree, although the original maps certainly didn’t set the bar high.
Exposure shines above all with its high verticality. You fight your way through deep gorges to the mountaintops, with almost labyrinthine laboratory complexes and the associated tunnels in the middle. This vertical “pie design” works very well, as it clearly separates areas for vehicles and melee areas for infantry.
The new map also shows how much better Battlefield 2042 plays when the map is smaller and has more coverage. There are piles of rubble everywhere, caused by a landslide, and tools and vehicles from a construction site that are supposed to put the crisis area back in order.
But as good as it plays, this very image of a construction site on a pile of rubble involuntarily becomes the iconic image of Battlefield 2042 in June 2022. Battlefield 2042 feels like it has to be completely reinvented in the live service, and that goes so far that when I’m playing I can’t shake the feeling that I’m playing more of an active construction site than a finished shooter.
The UI is partly completely different from the release, the desEsports Extrasphilosophy of the maps has turned 180 degrees, even the specialists are now completely silent at the end of the game after disastrous feedback (thank God).
Yes, these are all positive changes, and you can clearly see in places how hard the developers are now working hard to finally exploit the full potential of the shooter. But it’s precisely in this transition process that it makes the game feel even more ephemeral, hollowed out, even soulless at times. It’s like watching live as a patient is hastily patched up on an operating table by the surgeon.
Battlefield 2042 is moving in a good direction, but at too slow a pace
The other innovations in the game also follow the same principle: the new content is good in itself and clearly shows that the developers understand what Battlefield 2042 needs under new leadership. But there is clearly not enough content to eliminate all fundamental problems with the game.
Let’s take the new weapons as an example. The BSV-M is basically the AS VAL that you can already use in Battlefield Portal. However, thanks to the attachment system in Battlefield 2042, it is very flexible and adaptable.
By default, this weapon is a semi-automatic DMR that packs a punch, especially at medium ranges. However, with a few attachment tweaks and a fire mode switch, it becomes an aggressive, high-fire rate SMG in a matter of seconds.
That’s the strength of the Plus system and a great showcase of the flexibility I’ve always appreciated in Battlefield 2042. But it’s just a really new weapon. Because the crossbow is primarily a nice gimmick for players who like this kind of gameplay. After all, the explosive arrows can also damage vehicles.
Even the best new weapon isn’t going to do well with the old maps, or make the Specialists fit better into the gameplay. This also applies to the new specialist Lis, who is supposed to contain the dominance of helis and co. with a steerable missile and automatic markings of enemy vehicles. Like all specialists in the game, it falls into the category: nice idea, but it doesn’t really fit the game.
And that’s how it went in my play session. I had fun with the new content at first, but after about 1.5 hours I lost interest again. At the latest when the bots were activated for my last laps, I knew again why Battlefield is the place for me.
The players are mostly gone and prefer to play 6 year old shooters. That’s why even with the newest weapons, I only shoot at stupid bots. And exactly this unsatisfactory feeling of having to fight against AI soldiers because the player community hardly exists anymore is unfortunately the reality in Battlefield 2042 before the launch of Season 1.
The new content of the first season is good, especially the new map. But I doubt if that will be enough for real players to be romping around on the servers again from Thursday instead of all these bots. Also because of the generally catastrophic mood.
Season 1 of Battlefield 2042 with its new content will be available free of charge for all players on Thursday, June 9th. The season runs for 12 weeks. If you want to start, our weapon recommendation still applies:
The current best weapon in Battlefield 2042 – This is how you use it and that makes it strong