Battlefield is as famous for its troubled launches as it is its sandbox multiplayer, but even by its own standards 2042 has been something of a disaster – lumpy, incomplete and with some less than popular decisions along the way such as the expansive maps designed to accommodate the newly expanded 128 player count and the introduction of specialists.
DICE at least does have some previous in turning around a shaky ship – Battlefield 4 went from a disastrous launch to become one of the most celebrated in the series – and is making the right noises ahead of the belated launch of Battlefield 2042’s first season next month.
While we’re not yet privy to the full reveal, a discussion between creative director Lars Gustavsson, senior producer Ryan McArthur and community manager Freeman outlined the studio’s commitment to Battlefield 2042 – interesting itself in light of comments made by EA boss Andrew Wilson to investors earlier this month that suggested development on the series is being rethought – as well as what changes to expect.
Perhaps the biggest – and the least surprising – is the deprioritisation of Hazard Zone, the Escape from Tarkov inspired mode that was one of the cornerstones of Battlefield 2042 upon its release but one that’s failed to draw an audience. “We had high hopes, we set out on a path but we haven’t gained the traction” said Gustavsson as he reiterated that the mode will still exist within the game but will no longer be a focus for the studio.
More positive steps include the revamping of existing maps, with the likes of Kaleidoscope and Renewal being given more cover and flanking positions as terrain is raised and new forward operating bases are inserted that make use of assets that can be destroyed, while attention has been placed on bringing capture points closer and breaking line of sight on maps which are at present punishingly open. A new map will also be introduced alongside the first season, though we won’t get to see it in action until closer to the launch of the first season.
As previously disclosed, the Breakthrough mode is moving from supporting 128 players to 64 players, while there was also mention of some weapons making it across from the Portal mode that supports legacy maps and modes to the All-Out Warfare mode where Battlefield 2042’s more modern maps reside. Finally there was vague talk of specialists being addressed though the team isn’t ready to share specific details just yet. “We’re not walking away from specialists,” said McArthur, “but we need to make sure we get it right.”
Beyond that, expect plenty more Battlefield 2042 in the future – it seems EA and DICE aren’t turning their backs on it just yet – with four seasons planned which will bring more features, four new specialists and, of course, four new battle passes.
Is it enough to turn around what’s been a very troubled ship? I’ve returned to 2042 in recent weeks and have been pleasantly surprised by the progress made, but there’s still clearly plenty of work to do – and it’ll be fascinating to see how it lands as more is revealed in the coming weeks.