The last time we looked at Battlefield 2042the famous online shooter had just released its second major update and was finally starting to look like something approaching a finished video game. With Season 3 releasing this week, it’s now even closer.
Note that I am not making this statement as a criticism. Battlefield 2042 was released in the midst of the pandemic, with almost two entire years of its development affected, and as a lifelong series fan, but also as a video game journalist familiar with how this stuff works— I accept that the game was clearly rushed by executives to achieve a short-term financial goal, regardless of the damage it did to the long-term reputation of the brand.
So I’m not exactly reaching when i say – like anyone who played the game at launch will know – 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 have been, for months, basically playing and publicly testing an unfinished video gameone that was never going to feel “complete” (at least compared to its predecessors) after months of updates.
Well, we are now at this point of “months of updates”, which in the past Battlefield would have been the scene where the game had been significantly addedbut in 2042 the case is right where it is within contact distance of par.
This week saw the release of Season 3, which adds a huge new map (set in Sweden around two square robotic weapon factories), a new anti-tank vehicle, a railgun, and a new specialist, including the unique the weapon is a miniature air blast explosive musket.
It’s perfect! The map, Spearhead, is large, and as failed before is clearly differentiated by the presence of two large indoor playgrounds for close combat, surrounded by large open spaces for snipers and vehicles. I had a good time with it because its long design and rocky terrain between the two buildings means games often turn into meat grinders on center checkpoints, leading to huge explosive battles.
The new specialist Rasheed Zain, is also something the game needed; his air rifle is capable of killing enemy forces taking cover or in corners, giving infantry the type of space clearing ability that was previously only available to vehicles or rare who can actually use grenades properly.
I’m not as sold on the other two main additions, the railgun and the anti-armour tank. The latter, the EMKV90-TOR, plays like the StarCraft one Siege tank; you can drive it around a bit with limited firepower, but when you really want to mess it up, you can lower its suspension and shoot enemy tanks across the map.
The railgun, on the other hand, is all about timing; it’s useful as both a mid-range and long-range weapon, but only if you can master how it charges and then automatically discharges when ready. Almost all of the game’s current roster of weapons and vehicles feels somewhat contemporary, with slight concessions made 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 launch – not just new stuff, but revisions to old maps and tweaks to things like how specialists look and their soundbites, giving the game a more cohesive tone – it’s clearly a much improved experience!
I think when the unpopular specialized system is reworked next month to return to traditional Battlefield classes, this year-long effort to make it the game it should have been will be done. Which, given the disaster of the game’s launch, will be quite an achievement.
And yet, we also can’t help but wonder: what might this game have been like if the past 12 months had been free to add to the game, rather than just make emergency repairs? I really like the frame 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 later games.
We’ll never know ! A pandemic and the investor class have conspired to curse this game and so if all we can wait for is one last season 4 update before everything gets scrapped and everyone else moves on next Battlefield, so that’s what I’m looking forward to. Me and the other people who have enjoyed the game since its launch. We are dozens! Dozens!
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