Battlefield 2042 Season 5: A New Dawn Preview
Despite a very shaky start at Launch, Battlefield 2042 is still going strong and ahead of the launch of Season 5: New Dawn, I got to experience some of the new, and old, toys on offer for players as they engage in large-scale battles on Reclaimed, a new map that requires a mixture of infantry and armoured vehicle combat in order to be successful in your campaign.
Along with the new map, there are also some new weapons and gadgets being added to the game. In great news for long-time fans of the series, the RPG, a staple of the engineering class finally makes a return. Whether you are trying to soften up the armour of a tank, take out a jeep that keeps buzzing your squad, or just clear out a group of enemies in a confined space, the RPG is a multi-purpose weapon that can be used in a variety of ways. Also coming to 2042 is the BFP.50, a fifty-calibre hand cannon that packs a wallop, with a deep booming sound that will make it a favourite side-arm for a lot of soldiers. You will also have access to three new types of grenades, a spring grenade that launches back into the air before it explodes, an anti-tank that will allow you to do some damage to armoured vehicles, and the returning mini-grenades that trade quality for quantity and giving you more chances to blow up enemy soldiers.
Continuing on with the work in previous seasons, there will be more weapons from previous games added to the weapon vault so players can experience their old favourites in new ways, and at some point, in Season 5 we will see the release of the reworked Hourglass map. The final of the original maps to go through the upgrade process, Hourglass 2.0 brings tighter combat areas and less running around between objectives.
There will also be an upgrade to the squad system that brings 2042 back into line with previous entries in the series. Now players will be able to create and manage their own squads, so if you jump on a bit late and find yourself running solo while your friends are in a full squad, they can easily join your squad. Also, if you find the burden of leadership a bit too much you can always pass on the mantle of squad leader to someone else and let the deaths of your squad be on their conscience.
So now that we know what is coming down the pipeline for Season 5, the biggest question is ‘What was it like to play on the new map?’
The answer to that is pretty fun. While 2042 is known for its 128-player matches, Reclaimed is the smallest map released for the game so far, resulting in a 64-player cap in both Breakthrough and Conquest and while many a seasoned veteran may be of the opinion that bigger is always better, I found that the smaller player cap worked well, allowing players to be able to move around to the different points of the map without instantly dying. With the funnelling effect you get in games of Breakthrough, where the players of both teams are concentrated around only two control points, were there to be 128 players in a game I think it would end up looking like the meat grinder that was Operation Metro in Battlefield 3. Even when the whole map is open in Conquest mode, the smaller map size means you can go from one end of the map to the other and never be too far away from the action.
After some time away from Battlefield 2042, coming back and experiencing the return of classes really made the game feel different from back at launch. In my first match, I found myself in a squad that had two support and two assault classes. Now this would be fine against only infantry, but against armoured vehicles, we would need some heavier firepower so I switched to an engineer character to help take on armoured vehicles. The added bonus of the Engineer class is a steady hand with LMGs while crouching, so you better believe I was rocking a big LMG with an extended mag to bring the suppressive fire. This felt like Battlefield. A balanced squad that adapts to the needs of the fight is how this game was supposed to be.
The only issue that I had during my time playing Breakthrough on the new Reclaimed map is the possible balance. Now in order to make sure the matches were not vast and empty, A.I. bots were put into the match to fill out both teams, with only three or four human-controlled players per team. Now despite the fact that my attacking team would make their way through the first set of objectives, we were never able to successfully capture both objectives in the second stage, always coming up short and losing the match. I am not sure if this is something that could end up being different once the game is populated by human players or if DICE needs to tweak the map a little. Only time will tell with that question.
So for those of you who are still interested in Battlefield, especially those who may have dropped off after launch, it feels like a whole new game and has left me with the itch to spend more time than I currently have to spare engaging in all-out-war. If you want to check out the new map, weapons and gadgets, Season 5 kicks off June 7th.