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Will Season 1 Save Battlefield 2042?

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June 21, 2022

Battlefield 2042 has been panned by many critics and players, seen its player count drop to near unsustainable levels, and had a lengthy drought with no content whatsoever. Needless to say, the situation seems pretty dire. The delay of the Season 1 Content from late 2021, in its own release window, to eight months later is less than ideal. Despite everything working against it, what’s the consensus on Battlefield 2042’s first major content drop and the state of the game moving forward? The new content, hopefully, will refresh things enough to bring waves of wary combatants back to the game’s high-octane maps.

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The Addition of the Battle Pass Could be a Literal Gamechanger

Rewards that affect gameplay, such as the new Specialist and weapons, are all available in the free tier. This marks a much needed player-friendly move, and things could have potentially led to disaster had the developers gone another route. In that same vein, you might question why anyone would pay for the Battle Pass in the first place, if the only new rewards were skins that would be mid-grade at best in most other games. 

The addition of Specialists, while controversial, lends itself to inventive skins and gear that could be unlocked or purchased in game. The cosmetics across the board have felt incredibly uninspired. Many Specialist skins in the game are very minor color variations that are difficult to even notice in the menus, let alone in the middle of a game. Maybe class-based shooters like Team Fortress 2 or Overwatch lend themselves better to that kind of monetization model and artistic philosophy, but Dice could definitely try to shake things up a little.

In Dice’s defense, new models need to be created in order to add the kinds of substantial cosmetic changes that make a skin desirable. There is absolutely no defending the uninspired weapon skins the game had its first few months, after all. Every reskin of a weapon was seemingly a bland palette swap or washed out color. A majority of these resemble the low grade skins in Counter-Strike that players can’t get rid of fast enough. While the new skins pale in comparison to the design and ingenuity shown in that game, they have shown remarkable improvement with this most recent update. So far so good on this first Battle Pass in that respect, but there is definitely room for further improvement in Season 2. 

There’s a New Specialist Who Fills a Much-Needed Role

The new specialist, Lis, has an ability that focuses on targeting vehicles. In addition to a self-guided rocket launcher with passively reloading ammunition, she will automatically ping vehicles within the player’s vicinity. This makes it easy to target those troublesome foes from a distance, as well as lending a further layer of strategic planning for squadmates that communicate well. 

Her rockets feel fairly well balanced. Ground vehicles are decently protected by the map’s cover and buildings, while air vehicles are far more mobile and are less threatened. When attempting to use them on regular infantry, the rockets move too fast to navigate anything other than a straight line in close quarters. On top of this, the rockets have to hit too precisely for this to be a viable strategy. Lis is also vulnerable when firing her manually-aimed rocket, which means getting one off and having the proper time to aim at a distant target is easier said than done. If the rocket misses, you either have to correct your aim on the fly, or manually guide it into the ground in order to fire off another one. In short, they’re potentially very powerful, but must be used with care. Just as it should be.

Dice has promised a new Specialist with each season of content. Lis is a nice change of pace, having a build specifically for countering vehicles, and hopefully she’s a sign of the sort of the thing to come. Time will tell if future new Specialists can deliver as strong a niche.

New Weapons With Interesting Customization Options Mix Things Up Further

Major item additions include two new stealth helicopters: the Hannibal and the Huron. Both are capable of switching between stealth and regular modes. In stealth mode you do not show up on enemy radars and can drop explosives from a higher distance. Other than that, the vehicle functions just as the game’s existing helicopters do. The additions are part of a conscious change, intended to add more vehicles to every game mode to reduce the travel time in between points. The two new weapons added are the Ghostmaker crossbow and BSV-M marksman rifle. The rifle offers plenty of customization options, serving as either a long range rifle to pick off people from a distance or a close range weapon with a higher rate of fire. The same holds true for the crossbow as well. The options for bolts are surprisingly strong. You can either switch to a fast-traveling bolt that dispenses easier one-shot kills at any range, or explosive bolts to spam down choke points. 

Season 1 also adds the smoke grenade launcher gadget to the game. While smokes are nowhere near as effective as they were in Battlefield 5, the wide open level design of most of these maps make them incredibly useful for navigating your way between large areas. All the new items added are both useful and fun, but the lack of them has some players frustrated with the slow development cycle. It remains to be seen if they can expand upon their offerings from here.

The New Map Really Takes Player Feedback To Heart

The new map added, Exposure, definitely shows promise for future arenas. All of the launch maps seemed to share the same problems across the board. Somehow, maps designed for 128 players felt at times like they were designed to accommodate twice as many. It took forever to travel from one point to another, and there was almost no cover during these long treks. This led to frustrated players regularly being picked off from a distance, which in turn discouraged many from playing objectives (a real disaster in a team-based multiplayer game). The feedback implemented so far in Exposure is definitely a positive sign for the future of the game. 

Relative to the original maps, Exposure has several points much closer together, and a more vertical level design that allows players to parachute down (which greatly decreases travel times). While the map still feels a little too big, it’s a massive improvement from the vast, samey maps the game has offered for months. The decision to use a more vertical level design made balancing distance between points significantly easier. However, I can’t imagine every single map going forward will be using this same design philosophy. At some point, Dice will have to figure out a more stable long term solution to correct this problem.

Looking ahead

The addition of classic maps to the new Exodus Conquest playlist, such as Caspian Border and Arica Harbor, also improves the experience substantially. When playing more close quarters maps with tons of flank routes and just 64 players, you can see that the classic Battlefield experience is still in there somewhere. On top of recent patch changes to netcode, bullet registration and weapon recoil, it’s looking more and more likely that Dice can still salvage Battlefield 2042 before it’s too late.  

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