After a disastrous launch and months of treading water, the beleaguered Battlefield 2042 had its first major update last week with the introduction of Season One, which saw the game get its first new map, weapon, vehicle and specialist since its release eight months ago.
That doesn’t sound like much, and let’s be clear right up the top here, it’s not. It’s a paltry offering for a game that needed so much more — especially so when you consider this series has a history of releasing multiple maps, weapons and vehicles with major updates like this — and has done little to change the perception from outsiders that DICE and EA have massively dropped the ball here.
Not helping matters have been technical issues plaguing Season One’s launch, which DICE tried to fix, messed up and then only made things worse. It was days until I could reliably join servers and stay connected, which is a big reason I’m writing these impressions later than those you may have read or seen elsewhere.
And yet! Those who have been cursed to play and keep playing Battlefield 2042 regularly since launch — and I am doomed to be among that number — have this week finally had something to enjoy. Because while the update contained very little, what it did introduce has been fantastic, and a rare bright spot for a community that has known little but suffering for the past eight months.
The new specialist, Lis, comes equipped with a rocket launcher that players are able to guide after launch through a small TV screen. It’s enormously over-powered at the moment when it comes to ground vehicles, but it is also really fun to use, so there’s some balancing work to be had there. On the whole, though, she’s good, and happens to arrive at a time when the specialist’s oft-derided post-game soundbytes have been cut from the game, sparing her from ever becoming as infamous as certain other characters.
The new vehicle is a stealth helicopter, which you would think is notable for the fact it can engage a stealth mode which makes it impossible for units to get a missile lock on it, but which is actually notable because it can drop bombs like a B-17. It’s incredibly powerful in the hands of the skilled — I have been absolutely obliterated in a tank by one of these things sneaking up on me — but also deeply funny to see if you’re playing as infantry.
It’s the new map, though, that has been making the most impact. I have not seen the 2042 community this happy…ever, because Exposure has come in and blown every existing map in the game out of the water. It’s gorgeous, it’s huge, but most importantly it also has a wide variety of focal points and an abundance of infantry cover, two of the biggest criticisms against the launch map’s openness.
Joining the bullet-point additions to the game are a range of smaller interface and UI improvements, which do little things like provide more context for things you’ve done in a round that earn XP, give you extra info about the server you’re about to join, that kinda thing. Hardly the kind of updates that are going to grab headlines, but still welcome as part of the overall package.
These all come together to make 2042 finally feel like…well, the game it could and should have been at launch. That’s once again a damning indictment on how poor its release was, and despite my own personal Stockholm Syndrome I don’t want to ever make it sound like I think this is OK. The fact long-suffering fans are so psyched about a game reaching par eight months after release says as much about that release as the quality of the new content, and it’s tragic that a series with such a strong and established history of making big updates with its seasonal content could this year offer so little.
But for now, for this week, I’m just happy to be playing a good map with some fun new stuff. My more long-standing concerns with the game will, I’m sure, have plenty of time over the rest of the year to circle back around.