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Battlefield 2042 Season 1 is an improvement, but a late one

Battlefield 2042’s launch didn’t go quite as planned for EA. While it was poised to be the publisher’s next live service hit, it floundered at launch due to an overwhelming number of bugs, a controversial ability-driven specialist system, maps that felt way too big, and more. While Digital Trends’ reviewer loved the base game, many players didn’t, so EA spent months fixing it. As a result, Season 1: Zero Hour was pushed back all the way to June 9, over six months after the game’s launch. Ahead of its release, I got the opportunity to try out some of Season 1’s new content a see if Battlefield 2042 has really changed for the better. 

This primarily consisted of going hands-on with the new Specialist Ewelina Lis on the new map Exposure. Is Battlefield 2042 in a better state now than it was at launch? Yes. Will it make enough compelling additions and changes to bring you back if you’re not a hardcore Battlefield fan? Not really. 

Battlefield 2042 | Season 1: Zero Hour Gameplay Trailer Premiere

What’s new?

The main additions coming to Battlefield 2042 at the start of Season 1 are a new rocket launcher-wielding specialist named Ewelina Lis, a new map set in the Canadian Rockies called Exposure, new weapons including a crossbow and marksman rifle, and a battle pass containing lots of free and paid unlockables. It’s definitely the meatiest batch of content Battlefield 2042 has received since launch, but it doesn’t revamp or fix every core problem with the game. 

A specialist holds Battlefield 2042's new crossbow weapon.

Starting with the battle pass, don’t expect any wild crossover or crazy outfits, just a lot of new realistic looks for your specialists, vehicles, and weapons. It is challenge-based, which Halo has shown the downsides of, but thankfully 30 tiers of it are free and the only things unlocked by paying up are cosmetic. That means everyone will be able to try the new specialist Ewelina Lis. She is a helpful Engineer Specialist as she always has a rocket launcher at her disposal to help destroy vehicles.

While I found the new Ghostmaker R10 Crossbow and BSV-M Marksman Rifle to be too slow and not powerful enough to be very useful in a game with such a quick time to kill, Lis may be a useful specialist that will stick around on most squads. She’s particularly useful on the brand-new map Exposure.

When previewing the new season, I got to try out both Conquest and Breakthrough on Exposure, a map that supports both 128-player and 64-player matches. As it takes place in and around a base built into the side of a mountain, it has one of the most distinctive and vertical layouts of any new Battlefield 2042 map. The tensest firefights took place in a spot nestled on the side of the mountain, as players could flank from within the mountain on foot or from the skies in new stealth helicopters. While I enjoyed those moments and attacking the base in the helicopter, it still felt a bit too big to traverse on foot outside of that base, a common problem with all of Battlefield 2042‘s maps. 

Soldiers run in a room while being shot at by helicopters in Battlefield 2042.

Will it win you back?  

Exposure’s size issue is ultimately indicative of the whole Season 1 experience: It’s got some neat new things to check out, but probably won’t win you back by fixing some of the game’s fundamental problems. Avid players of Battlefield 2042 who’ve stuck around since its rocky launch should be relieved that new seasonal content is finally arriving, but those returning for the first time since launch shouldn’t expect this to be a massive overhaul of the experience, even if the game is in a better place now.

Many other fixes are also MIA at the season’s launch. Map reworks for Kaleidoscope and Renewal are in development, but Kaleidoscope’s changes won’t arrive until August, and Renewal’s fixes won’t come until Season 2. While EA is promising to add player stats pages in the second update for Season 1, their absence at the start of the new season is glaring. More Battlefield Portal tools are promised but don’t have a release date. Specialist post-match voice lines have also been removed in anticipation of a future update that will make their quips better, but that update does not have a set release date, which is worrying. 

Ultimately, players will still have to wait for some big Battlefield 2042 reworks, and even then none of those will fundamentally change the game. And as Season 1’s delay shows, DICE doesn’t exactly have a recent track record of supporting every mode and making sure every update arrives on time.

Season 1 of Battlefield 2042 is decent, but it probably won’t win many players back. There’s fun to be had, but it’s still not doing enough to draw players away from much more consistent live service games like Call of Duty: Warzone or Fortnite, which recently got a much more interesting season update. Battlefield fans can take solace in playing a more polished and focused game, but don’t expect this update to do much else.

Battlefield 2042 Season 1: Zero Hour launches on June 9 for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S and will last for 12 weeks.

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