Similar to the event before the launch of Battlefield 2042, EA invited creators and members of the press to a preview event in which we were able to try out Battlefield 2042 Zero Hour – the game’s first season. While it has some new content including one beautiful new map and two weapons, is it enough to bring back the player base that has been less than impressed with the game so far? Be sure to hit the video to see all of the details of this hands-on event.
What was the event?
The day opened with a presentation on what all is in store, and then we were immediately able to get into a match of Breakthrough on the new map.
Well, some were able to. Others, like myself, were stuck with matchmaking issues for at least 30 minutes. Everyone in charge of the event relayed how that was just a fluke and servers shouldn’t be an issue when the season goes live on the 9th, I also had flashbacks to launch day when my friends and I weren’t able to get into a match straight away.
Because of the limited number of people invited, most of our matches were far below maximum server capacity which gave an odd feel to the new map. After about an hour of Breakthrough, the servers were switched and we were able to hop in and try Conquest. They filled these servers with AI which made up about 50% of the 64-player game.
New map: Exposure
The highlight of this season, at least for me, is going to be the new map – Exposure. Set in Canada, this cliff-size combat area has huge elevation changes with a combination of above-ground sites and a close-quarters interior portion. It felt considerably smaller than the other Battlefield 2042 launch maps, but they said it should still handle up to 128-player conquest matches. Breakthrough has been limited to 64 but that change took place in an update much before this preview event.
Battlefield 2042 Zero Hour: Video
Dice has received quite a bit of criticism over the level design of many of the launch maps with wide-open spaces that lack any sort of cover. Many of the maps are also very clean-looking which doesn’t often match with the war-torn narrative of the Battlefield franchise.
Development for Exposure was underway when the game launched and during the Q&A, the developers mentioned that feedback was heard and taken into consideration with the design of this new map.
And for the most part, I think they’ve made it a very interesting map with a variety of areas and cover. Flying from the cliffs down to the map room of the B1 objective is a lot of fun; I often found myself in these interior areas for close-quarters combat. There are ziplines to get up and down the cliffs relatively quickly, and they even mentioned a vehicle lift but I didn’t see this in my gameplay. Or at least, I didn’t realize what it was.
I didn’t really get a feel for how it will play with full servers, but I think the interior portion around B1 and B2 will be a lot of fun. It can get pretty hectic in there with plenty of potential for flanking thanks to the large windows looking out over the valley.
Battlefield 2042 Zero Hour: New weapons
While content might seem light compared to DLC packages from previous Battlefield titles, two of the main pieces are the BSV-M, which is basically a modern AS-Val, and another throwback – the crossbow.
Found in the DMR slot, the BSV-M can also play like an assault rifle thanks to extended mags and a full-auto mode. Rather than using it for mid-range encounters, I often put a close-range sight, bigger magazine, and a grip on the BSV-M and used it for clearing objectives close-up.
Fun and frustrating at the same time, the crossbow opens up for some epic plays with 1-shot frags when up close or exploding bolts with a short time-delayed payload. It took me a while to get used to it, and I missed a lot, but it was very satisfying when I did land a hit. The 1-hit nature of it falls off after a distance but it was still fun to play with.
New Specialist: Ewelina Lis
Recently, Dice has made adjustments to some of the specialists, but the only new addition for Battlefield 2042 Zero Hour is Ewelina Lis. Her main gadget is a tv-screen controlled rocket launcher. After aiming down sights and pulling the trigger, the missile can be controlled and also sped up with an “after-burner” mode.
The main goal here is taking out armored targets like tanks and helicopters, and that’s also evident with the lack of damage it inflicts on foot soldiers. It can also be a bit tricky to fly. And with the speed and maneuverability of the new helicopter, I missed quite a few of my rockets to top-tier helicopter pilots.
In addition to the rocket launcher, Liz gets a red outline of damaged vehicles on the map. This makes it easier to target opponents with the rocket launcher as well as call out locations to allies.
Get to the choppas
I didn’t spend much time in either of the two new helicopters, but I spent plenty of time being killed by them. The new Hannibal has some interesting weapons with devastating HE bombs. It is also extremely agile, making it hard to hit with Liz’s player-controlled rockets. They are marketed as stealth helicopters, and there were instances where I wasn’t able to lock on with the anti-air launcher because they were in a stealth mode.
Battlefield 2042 Zero Hour: Battle Pass
Like other titles, Dice is also bringing a Battle Pass to Battlefield 2042 with Season 1. There is a lot of free content as you work through the 100 levels, but to get everything, you’ll need the premium Battle Pass. One of my favorites was a new skin for Angel. This seems to be where a majority of the new content resides which is a bit of a bummer. The premium version of the Battle Pass will cost 1,000 BFC which is $10.
Other upcoming updates?
In a Q&A session after the playtest, members of the team mentioned a few more updates that will be coming up but not with Zero Hour. One that should happen between season 1 and season 2 is the addition of a lifetime stats page. They said they’ve been tracking everything since launch and will implement this at some point.
Two other updates that have been announced but don’t have a release date yet are the inclusion of more Portal weapons in the standard 2042 all-out-warfare modes, as well as new voice lines for the specialists. Moving forward with this update, Dice has removed the end-of-match voice lines that have received a lot of criticism – stating that there will be re-worked lines at some point that match the gritty nature of the Battlefield 2042. Will we ever find out just how many times Angel has done it again?
As advertised before this event, Dice is also developing re-worked versions of two of its original maps – Kaleidoscope and Renewal. The first is slated for release in August while the rework of Renewal isn’t going to be seen until Season 2. While I’m glad they’re working on these, I am disappointed that we have to wait even longer for those. Playing anything but the new map when season 1 goes live will feel pretty stale.
How does it play?
Besides new features and updates, Battlefield 2042 has also had a tumultuous life with performance issues, messy menu UI, and even lacking a basic scoreboard at launch. For the most part, it does seem like Dice is listening and making changes that enhance the experience in-game. There are still some weird issues like not being able to see the scoreboard at the beginning of a match – when you’re waiting for at least 30 seconds for the match to start with nothing else to do. There is also the beginning animation that shows off the map but is just frustrating after you’ve played on that map more than even once. It just seems pointless.
Server performance for Battlefield 2042 Zero Hour seemed good to me. It certainly leaped beyond the state of the initial launch which was plagued with issues. There was one instance where my t-menu wasn’t working to swap attachments, but switching weapons fixed that. There was maybe one moment where I noticed what seemed like a stutter, but otherwise, things felt smooth.
The big question here is did Dice do enough to bring players back? Time will tell, but I have the feeling that this really isn’t enough to make most jaded players spend any more time beyond just checking out the new map.
Personally, I still play Battlefield 2042 almost weekly with a few friends, and I am stoked to have some new content. I would have loved to see the reworked maps as part of this season’s launch, but all of the new updates and content are a welcomed addition. Besides the helicopters. Death to the helicopters.
Check out Battlefield 2042 Zero Hour
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