Battlefield 2042 Season 1 Zero Hour live preview: A shift in large-scale map design

Battlefield 2042 Season 1 Zero Hour live preview: A shift in large-scale map design
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Battlefield 2042 was released in November 2021, and for the first time since its initial release, a major content drop arrived in the game. Season 1 was long confirmed but delayed as DICE polished the game and prepared it for some design changes that 128 player Battlefield will experience.

Prior to the new Season releasing on June 9, DICE invited a group of players to test out the new content while also detailing what the player base can expect going forward. There’s a mix of new content, philosophical changes, and gameplay improvements that are certainly promising for the latest Battlefield title.

However, Zero Hour Season 1 certainly raises the question of whether this can bring about a spike in player numbers. In this case, there is a mixed signal.


Improved gameplay in Battlefield 2042 Season 1 Zero Hour

Lis is the newest Operator in the new season.  (Image via Electronic Arts)
Lis is the newest Operator in the new season. (Image via Electronic Arts)

One of the most noticeable changes when playing Battlefield 2042 Season 1 is the gameplay itself. It’s the same game as before, of course, but in the past, bugs plagued the game to the point of being a burden to the experience. I can confidently say that I played almost bug-free in my own Season 1 experience and my framerate remained stable throughout the session.

My gaming sessions last for at least a few hours, which is sufficient time to try out new content, but this may change after release as more players are added to the mix. It’s also important to note that server issues do appear for a long time during gaming sessions, but that may not happen when the update officially drops.

Hitbox feels great, movement feels fluid, and my copy of the game runs as smooth as butter. In terms of improvements, when compared to the previous version, the developers do deserve credit. But Season 1 is more than just the gameplay improvements that have been continuously released in the last six months. Content is key with Zero Hour.


New weapons and content in Battlefield 2042 Season 1

The BSV-M is the new DMR along with the crossbow.  (Image via Electronic Arts)
The BSV-M is the new DMR along with the crossbow. (Image via Electronic Arts)

Two new weapons are on their way as part of Zero Hour in Battlefield 2042. The first is the BSV-M, a DMR that has two firing modes and can easily dispatch enemies within a few shots. The second is the Ghostmaker R10, a crossbow that is part of the utility section of a weapon made to suit a unique playing style. Both guns are a lot of fun and are welcome additions to the game.

Ghostmaker can kill with two body shots, which makes him quite weak, but headshots are an instakill. Given the sharp nature of the weapon and its low speed, it was meant for close combat. On the other hand, BSV-M can easily dominate in Battlefield 2042. It’s an absolute pleasure to pop one of the scopes to rip through enemies at multiple ranges.

While not classified as a “true weapon”, the Smoke Grenade launcher is also added to the update and offers a much improved version of the existing smoke screen. It can be added to your loadout as equipment. Overall, every weapon and gear that can be used is a welcome addition in Season 1. BSV-M will likely be used by almost everyone on the live server.

The helicopter is a new vehicle that has two forms: attack and stealth modes. This helicopter can hold two players at once and can move quickly to avoid being destroyed. On top of evasion, there are some serious weapons on offer, but none as insane as early land ships.

A new specialist named Lis is also added to the game, and the main feature is finding damaged vehicles for the team. He has a manned rocket launcher, which is perfect for his character goals. He probably won’t rock the meta too much, and in testing, I found myself reverting to previously available options.


New map philosophy in Battlefield 2042 Season 1

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Perhaps the best part of this update is the new map called Exposure, which takes players to Canada. On the surface, the area looks beautiful, and it’s a reminder of how good the graphics potential of Battlefield 2042 really is. But the main attraction is the size of the map.

The idea behind Exposure is chokepoints, melee combat, and fewer sectors. DICE confirmed that future maps in the new Battlefield 2042 season will feature maps designed with less engagement in mind while retaining 128 players.

Simultaneously, DICE will return and rework the base game map to fix many of their problems. Some of the focus areas are overall flow, far more cover to use in open expanses, and plateaus around the map. More than anything, this change in philosophy is the most promising aspect of Zero Hour Season 1, and I can’t deny having hope for the idea.

However, that may not be enough for now. Most of the basic Battlefield 2042 maps, if not all, will remain the same size, and overall plot will still be an issue in Battlefield 2042. Exposure is a great introduction to the new philosophy, but one new map won’t be enough to hold attention for now. Hopefully, the next season can help with this problem.


Will Season 1 Zero Hour be enough to bring players back to Battlefield 2042?

Exposure takes players to Canada in close combat.  (Image via Electronic Arts)
Exposure takes players to Canada in close combat. (Image via Electronic Arts)

With the content we played in the Season 1 playtest, everything is solid. Most importantly, they are all fun and feel great to use. There’s some great content in every aspect of the gameplay, and the gameplay feels smoother than ever. At the very least, many of the gameplay hiccups with bugs and graphics have been fixed over the last six months.

However, this six month time period, during which another game will complete two or three seasons, could be crucial for the future of the game. This update brings two new weapons, a new map, another Specialist, and a Battle Pass, all of which are standard fare for other shooters in the same category.

Simply put, this may not be enough to attract the attention of players. During my time with the update, I found myself quickly switching back to old gear or wondering if there was another small map to play with.

Given that the Season 1 update is free, existing players should definitely try the new content. Exposure is one of the best maps in the game and full of action. The map feels more like classic Battlefield, and that’s a good sign.

Having said that, more content of this kind is needed before 2042 becomes a must-play title. There is optimism for new content, as well as skepticism about the overall scarcity.


Battlefield 2042 Season 1 Zero Hour

Preview Code Provided By: Electronic Arts

Previewed On: PC (Original)

Platforms: PC, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, PlayStation 4

Developer: DICE

Publisher: Electronic Arts

Release date: June 9, 2022


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