The last time we took a look Battlefield 2042the teased online shooter had just released its second major update and was finally starting to feel like something was approaching a finished video game. With season 3 coming out this week, it’s even closer now.
Note that I am not making that claim as a criticism. Battlefield 2042 was released in the middle of the pandemic, with almost two whole years of development, and as a longtime fan of series, but also a video game journalist who is familiar with how this stuff works—I’ve come to terms with the fact that the game has clearly been pushed out the door by executives to achieve a short-term financial goal, regardless of the long-term damage it’s done to the brand’s reputation.
So I’m not really getting to it if I say – if anyone who played the game at launch knows – it just wasn’t ready for release in November 2021. Those of us who still found something to love in the game and kept playing were essentially playing and publicly testing for months an unfinished video gameone that would only feel “complete” (at least compared to its predecessors) after months of updates.
Well, we are now at that point of “months of updates”, which in the previous Battlefields would have been the stage to which the game was substantially addedbut in 2042 case is simple where it is within touch distance of par.
Season 3 was released this week, adding a massive new map (set in Sweden around two boxy robotic arm factories), a new anti-tank vehicle, a railgun and a new specialist, whose unique weapon is a miniature air-bursting explosive rifle.
It’s all right! The map, Spearhead, is a large, and like Stranded before it neatly distinguished by two large indoor playgrounds for close combat, surrounded by wide open spaces for snipers and vehicles. I had a great time with it, due to its long design and rocky terrain between the two buildings means that games often become meat grinders through the exchange checkpoints, leading to huge, explosive battles.
The new Specialist, Rasheed Zain, is also something the game needed; his air-bursting rifle is capable of killing enemy troops bunkered into cover or around corners, creating infantry the kind of space-clearing ability previously only available to vehicles or the rare few who can actually use grenades well.
I’m not so sold on the other two main additions, the railgun and the anti-armour tank. The latter, the EMKV90-TOR, plays like StarCraft’s siege tank; you can drive it around with limited firepower for a while, but if you really want to mess things up you can lower the suspension and blast enemy tanks from all over the map.
The railgun is all about timing; it’s useful as a medium and long-range weapon, but only if you master the way it charges itself and automatically discharges when it’s ready. Nearly all of the game’s current weapons and vehicles feel somewhat contemporary, with friendly concessions to the fact that this game is set 20 years in the future; these two additions look, sound and feel more like Halo weapons.
When you look back at all the work and updates the game has received since then launch – not just new stuff, but revisions to old maps and tweaks to things like the look of Specialists and their soundbytes, giving the game a more cohesive tone – it’s clearly a much improved experience!
I think back then the unpopular Specialist system will be reworked to return to next month traditional Battlefield classes, those years of effort to make this the game it should have been, will be made. Which, given the game’s disastrous launch, will be a great achievement.
And yet we wonder: What would this game have been if the past 12 months had been free to add to the game, rather than just make emergency fixes? I really like the setting 2042one of the few blockbusters to ever take the threat of climate change seriously, and its near-future arsenal was so much more fun to use than the historical gear available in the last few games.
We will never know! A pandemic and the class of investors have conspired to curse this game, and so if only we can look forward to one final season 4 update before everything gets tossed and everyone moves on to the next Battlefieldthen I look forward to it. Me and the other people who have been enjoying the game since launch. We are dozens! tens!