Eight months later and Battlefield 2042 has finally kicked off it’s first season. Is it too little too late, or has DICE manage to show a bit of hope for the game’s future? Find out in our Battlefield 2042 Season 1 review!
All right, so before I start I want to get this out of the way. Guys, I understand that what DICE did with Battlefield 2042 is inexcusable. I’m completely aware of the state the game launched in, I reviewed it and gave it a low 4/10 score. Battlefield 2042 had a horrendous launch, it wasn’t good, it wasn’t what fans wanted, and it will forever be a stain that DICE and EA are just going to have to live with. Trust me, I was — and still am — angry about it. It’s heartbreaking to see a series that I have been with since its begining, fall down so far. It felt like a stab on the back, especially after all the claims that it was going to be a love letter and how the studio has been listening to the fans. We know that didn’t turn out to be the case.
With that being said, it does seem like DICE is sticking it out with continuing to support the game, committing to trying to make it the best game it possibly can be. With the first season finally here, it’s time to look at just how committed they are, and just how much of the community feedback is actually being put to use.
New Map – Exposure
Let’s start this review off by looking at what is essentially the “beef” of the update, the new map. Unlike past Battlefield games, this drop only features a single new map, as well as a couple of weapons and some vehicles. It really isn’t a lot, but I suppose once you jump into Exposure, which is the name of the new map, you somewhat can understand why, even if it’s still disappointing content wise.
It’s a large map, and as we learned from other maps such as Kaleidoscope, and Renewal, size isn’t always the best answer. The previously mentioned maps are plagued with issues such as little to no coverage, objectives being placed in odd positions, and just large sections that put the pacing off completely. It’s a problem, one that the community has been very vocal about. Thankfully, those issues don’t appear to be going unheard as the studio did announce that they would be going back to rework both Kaleidoscope (launching during Season 1) Renewal (Season 2.) They’ll have objective markers moved, as well as added coverage and additional tweaks made throughout that’ll hopefully make them better maps.
Now you may be wondering what that has to do with Exposure. Well, I’m happy to report that after some extensive playtime on the map, it seems (for the most part) that the new map doesn’t suffer from any of those issues mentioned above.
As a map, it features a number of different vistas that all feel unique. There are facilities to be explored, tunnels to dive into, mountains to climb, and canyons to soar through. It’s gorgeous, and DICE makes wonderful use of its environment, beautifully blending colors throughout. I’d argue that it is one of the best looking maps that DICE has created to date, and even the best map (not counting Portal’s) in Battlefield 2042 that makes it feel, well, like a Battlefield game.
Landing on Exposure, I felt it had direction. No wandering around wondering what objective I should be attacking, where I should be defending, and where all the action was. Everything was laid out in front of you, where you chose to go was up to you, with certainty that there would be action. I never once felt like we were trading points with the opposite side, but fighting over it, to see who can outnumber, outgun, and out-skill each other. That gave it a bit of a sense of progression, to both Conquest and Breakthrough, something I always felt lacking in the other maps. What I did on the field felt like it mattered, and we didn’t have to worry so much about small skirmishes, as every point felt like they had their own battles going on. Sure, the center of the map where the caves and hidden bare are were undoubtedly the busiest, but If I wanted I could go to the outer ridges and still be part of the action unfolding.
It’s a big map for sure, but compared to the others it’s condensed. Points are far enough to not be able to kill each other from end to end, but close enough where a walk doesn’t last an eternity or guarantee death. I love that I could go from fighting in a grassy, green filled forest along a river, to scaling down a cliff, dodging bullets from perched snipers, and eventually into some close quarter action in a dimly lit base. The map offers that in an instant, creating some true “Only in Battlefield” moments that don’t come off as forced, like a twister that does practically nothing. It’s all natural, completely up to the player in how they want to craft those moments.
And contrary to the name, Exposure features quite a bit of coverage. In the many firefights I partook in, I always had some form of cover readily available, and while you can expect to still see moments where you’re exposed, you’ll certainly find you’ll have a bit of a fighting chance. Take the cliffside section of exposure. Naturally you would expect this to be a hot zone for snipers, and it is as they’ll sit perched along the top and other nooks, and cranny. However, at least in my case, anytime I came around this section I always found there to be something to hide behind, be it a big boulder, inside one of the tunnels, or just a car that slid down when the cliff collapsed. There was always something to take safety behind, and from a strategic perspective, this allowed me to pick off those snipers in a more fair way. Compared to the map Discarded, and Renewal, you literally had nothing to hide behind when traversing between points. You just pick a god and pray that you can make it safely around the map without being killed from a sniper that’s 1000 miles away. It’s awful, unfun, and unwelcome to both old and new players alike. I’m not saying that Exposure doesn’t have sections like that, but a majority of it isn’t going to feel punishing just for moving between points.
There’s also some good balancing between infantry and vehicles on Exposure. The verticality, as well as how condensed sections are, offer huge opportunities to helicopters to swoop in and get a bunch of kills. However, it’s a big risk, as it leaves them little to no room for maneuverability, with players able to target from any direction safely. I’m no good at piloting an aircraft, but having used the gunner, I can tell you it gets really intense hearing all the rockets lock-on. The pilots I have rolled with often find themselves having to move in and out quickly, constantly avoiding rockets. It’s not like how it is on the other maps where there are big spaces to flow through and enough room to just chill around. I love it.
The great thing about all this is I’m mostly talking from the 128-player experience. In my original Battlefield 2042 review, I slammed this experience, noting that more doesn’t always equal better as myself, and many others, found the 64-player to be the better experience. Well, I’m surprised to say that maybe there’s a bit of hope in the mode if Exposure is anything to go by. Of course that would solely rely on DICE’s ability to continue making maps in the similar vein of Exposure, but if they can, I’ll gladly be happy with the 128-player experience. Now if you aren’t a fan of that, the 64-player variation of the map is every bit as good as its large variant, just you know, smaller..
The Battle Pass
The Battle Pass featured in Battlefield 2042 is similar to many other Battle Passes out there. It’s paid, and has 100 tiers for players to go through. Any of the weapons, vehicles, and major gameplay unlocks are free to everyone, so there’s no pay to win elements unless you count buying your way to progress the tiers as part of it . In terms of progression you have weekly challenges that reward you what are called Battle Points, with every tier requiring 10 battle points. Depending on the tier level the mission is, these can reward you anywhere between 4-10 points. They are limited per week, but players can also earn XP, which goes to an unlimited mission that rewards you 1 battle point after hitting the required XP. As far as I can tell, it’s a pretty fair system that doesn’t feel like a total grind to push you towards paid tier skips. I’ve already hit tier 20 and that’s just a few hours a day since the launch of the season, so I can see myself hitting 100 well before the 12 weeks are over.
As for the cosmetics, seeing that there’s a ton of them, you’ll likely have things you like or don’t, but just know that nothing looks out of place, or goofy. It all looks like it would fit right inside of Battlefield, no crazy Santa outfits or anything like that. Again, there’s not a whole lot to talk about here, it’s a Battle Pass that I’m sure many of you are already familiar with.
The one thing I don’t like, and I could be wrong, is the removal of the free weekly reward altogether that DICE has been running during pres-eason. As far as I can tell, the weekly challenges are only going towards the Battle Pass progression. While yes, it does have free weapon skins, as well as the weapons and vehicles that are free for everyone, it would have been nice to have a weekly reward like before. I would also like to see some community weekly challenges with some special rewards. Maybe next season, hopefully.
Tweaks and Tuning, and Those Darn Specialists
I’m not going to spend a lot of time here, seeing that the Season 1 update included a ton of changes that you can read yourself. What I will say is that this update, combined with the ones before, makes Battlefield 2042 feel like a different game compared to when it launched. I noticed almost immediately that guns were handling better, and the aiming not being as aggressive with acceleration like before. The hit detection especially is better, with my bullets now being on-point with targets. I’m not wrestling with the game to move around. In general, it is a more polished and more enjoyable experience than before.
As for the specialists, they are getting better. The Battle Pass offers plenty of unlockable cosmetics, it doesn’t look like there’s a hundred McKay clones running around on the field anymore. They still have some cringe worthy voice lines playing, but DICE has confirmed those are being tweaked in later seasons, with their end of the game lines completely removed as of now. Lis, who is the new specialist, is a nice addition to the roster with the gadget she brings. She makes for a perfect anti-air/vehicle class, but I still can’t help thinking that classes would be better to have. Maybe when the additional changes are implemented my tune will change, but in the very least, specialists are now tolerable.
Overall, the changes are noticeable, and in a good way.
Is It Too Late?
So my general thoughts on Battlefield 2042 Season 1 are mostly positive. Yeah, some things still need tweaking, and the content is lackluster given that we did have to wait for almost eight months for the season to start. Not to mention there are features we are still waiting on. I’m not excusing that at all.
But in terms of what DICE is doing, what they’re taking from the community feedback and how they’re applying it, it’s clear they’re listening now. This update is a solid step to building a better Battlefield 2042. Yes, it still has a long way to go, but it is a step forward nonetheless. And despite what some are wanting them to do, I’m glad they didn’t abandon the game, because let’s be real, where’s the real learning experience in that? Would you rather they just cancel the work on BF2042 and not understand the reason why we didn’t like it only to make the same mistakes with the next Battlefield? I know I wouldn’t. I’m glad DICE is finally showing that they’re taking the community feedback and coming back with an update that feels like a reflection of it. Again I would much rather the studio work on fixing something than to come back a few years later making the same exact mistakes, and hopefully that’ll continue to be the case as we get more and more updates through this and the latter seasons.
Now on the matter of whether or not it’s too late, that’s really hard to say. I personally don’t think it’s too late for the studio to try and save the game because we’ve seen other games in the past go from being in an awful state to being one of the best. Look at No Man’s Sky. Who would have thought that game would have rebound the way it did, and with the kind of content drop it’s pushing. I didn’t, I marked it off as a lost cause yet here we are.
I’m not saying that DICE can and will, but I am saying that there is a chance for them to come back from the brink. So is it too late for them? Not necessarily. Do I think this update is enough to bring back the Battlefield community it has lost? Sadly, no. As great of an update Season 1: Zero Hour is, people are probably going to be burned out quickly.
This is a very critical phase for DICE. They can either retreat, go back on radio silence and do random drops, or they can capitalize on the flock of returning players, and keep an open comm with them. I hope for the latter, I really do want to see what DICE has cooking, and with the latter seasons being focused on smaller maps, hopefully that means bigger content drops. There is a simmer of hope that this game can be turned around, DICE just has to ensure they keep up the communication. Give us something to look forward to, and a why. Maybe, MAYBE this game will turnaround.
- Exposure is the most “Battlefield” map 2042 has to offer. Well design, well paced, and most of all fun, especially on the 128 player mode.
- Gameplay tweaks are noticeable, and a big improvement since the original launch.
- Older maps are also fun to go back and play with these changes.
- New helicopters are incredibly fun to use, even if I suck as a pilot.
- Severely lacking in content for a first season.
- Removal of weekly rewards is a bit of a bummer even if the Battle Pass has free content.
- No clear roadmap as to when and what players can expect.