Battlefield 2042’s Hazard Zone Is Made For Anyone Who Doesn’t Like Battlefield

Battlefield 2042’s Hazard Zone Is Made For Anyone Who Doesn’t Like Battlefield

I surprised myself with how much I liked Battlefield 2042‘s new Hazard Zone mode. It has all the makings of a sleeper hit.

Now, I wouldn’t necessarily describe myself as a die-hard Battlefield guy. Living with ADHD makes Battlefield’s traditional big-team game type a headache for me. It’s too big, too loud. There’s so much going on at once, and it all happens so fast.

I think that’s why I’ve enjoyed Hazard Zone so much. Hazard Zone is Battlefield 2042’s slower-paced battle-royale-meets-survival mode. Several teams of four drop onto a large map and must recover data drives strewn about the map. These data drives are detectable via equippable instruments. They’ll tell you which are still in play, which have been retrieved, and which are on the move.

Teams need to scoop up as many data drives as they can and make their way to the nearest extraction point. The mode has a weapon-buy system similar to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive where credits accrued in the previous match can be spent on weapons. The review build for the media preview event only unlocked weapons for a single match. At the top of the next round, they all had to be purchased again. I can’t say for sure whether this will be true in the final retail version of the game or the build we were reviewing the game on. Time will tell.

Hazard Zone’s maximum player count is 42 on PC and current gen consoles. Because of this, the pace of Hazard Zone is significantly slower. You hit the ground with your squadmates, dropped straight out of a chopper. A quick spot check of whether other helicopters are departing from on the map gives you a bird’s eye view of where other teams are starting from. And then the hustle is on.

We played all four of the modes primary maps and each have their quirks and best points of attack. The muddy Indian shipyards are perfect for lurking among the rusted hulks, waiting to flank unsuspecting inbound teams. The city-engulfing dunes of the Saudi Arabian map make for lower overall visibility, but you’ll still be vulnerable to fire as you scurry across its wide-open plains. The mountainous, snowy Antarctic map invites players to equip tundra gear, but the craggy geography and wild verticality may make it a sniper’s delight.

Across each of our six matches during the media preview, it became clear that sneaking and rock-solid teamwork are the order of the day. Unlike the big-team mode, the gameplay equivalent of throwing juggling balls into a dryer, Hazard Zone is far more nuanced. Firing a shot will give your position away. Solid pings and comms will save your life. Choosing the right equipment to buy — like an extra team revive to keep in your pocket — will often be more crucial than the LMG you blew 300 credits on.

This is still Battlefield though, so the time-to-kill remains extremely short. If an enemy flanks or gets the drop on you, that’s game over. Like other battle royale titles, what you can hear is as important as what you can see. The sound of boots sprinting towards you, the direction of gunfire, the roar of an engine that tells you someone has commandeered a vehicle. Spatial awareness will keep you alive and moving toward extraction.

Among the teams hunting around are roving AI teams. You’ll be able to pick these computer squads out from a mile away because they have no instinct for self-preservation whatsoever. They’ll dance around in full view, only seeking cover when their health is low. Take these encounters on balance — you can gun the AI down for easy XP and a bit of extra currency in the next round, but popping off will make a lot of noise and potentially call human players down on your location.

I like that DICE are trying to offer something different to the usual chaos of Battlefield multiplayer here. It’s an interesting mode, slower-paced and more methodical in its design than what Battlefield typically is. I hope that it will get a look-in when the game moves into wide release next week, and I’m sure it will build a dedicated little community. But with a mode as desirable as Portal in the mix, I worry it might get a bit lost in the wave of hype.

Anyway, Hazard Zone. If you’re jumping into Battlefield 2042 next week, check it out. You might like it.

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