Battlefield 2042 introduces a new mode to the series called Hazard Zone, which sends squads of four scrambling to recover data drives from crashed satellites and get out of the map alive. It's not like any other Battlefield mode, taking inspiration from Hunt: Showdown and similar games, and as I said in my Battlefield 2042 review, it can be fun once you understand how to succeed.
While Hazard Zone isn't as rich and complex as Hunt and its demonic bayou (or Escape from Tarkov and its growing wiki), it does require some specialized knowledge and it takes more teamwork than the standard Conquest mode to succeed. My first few runs were disasters because my squad and I were coming at Hazard Zone with an incomplete understanding of how it works and what the best approach is.
Here's how to avoid our mistakes.
How to play Hazard Zone
💾 The goal of Hazard Zone is to collect as many data drives as you can before escaping the map during one of two extraction opportunities. Each player can carry a limited number of drives.
🛰 Data drives are found in fallen satellites scattered randomly around the map. New satellites which contain multiple data drives fall in the middle of the match.
🔭 Data drives can be located using a special item called the intel scanner, a scope which can be used to mark drive locations. It not only locates neutral drives in crashed satellite pods, but also drives being carried by other players.
🎒 You start by choosing a specialist and customizing their loadout and tactical upgrades (perks such as armor and faster healing) by spending currency earned in the mode. At least one player in your squad should bring an intel scanner, which is the default free gadget.
🎖 There are eight four-player squads (32 players total) in each match, as well as AI soldiers called occupying forces who defend fallen satellites and extraction sites.
🚁 The first extraction opportunity occurs a few minutes into the match. The second extraction comes about 11 minutes in. You must be alive inside one of the exfiltration planes (they cannot be destroyed) within a time limit to extract.
💲 If you extract successfully, you'll earn Dark Market Credits for the data drives you and your squad recovered. Dark Market Credits can be used to purchase guns, gadgets, and perks for your next run that will be lost if your specialist dies. Whether or not you extract, you'll also earn credits for killing occupying forces.
Focus on fighting bots in your first matches
Only two out of eight teams can extract in any given game of Hazard Zone (except in the unlikely event that enemies share a Condor), so there's no point in trying for a perfect record. Instead, get a feel for the mode by focusing on killing the AI-controlled occupying forces at first. You'll find lots of them standing around defending the satellite pods that contain data drives, and they helpfully drop their weapons when killed, so you can replace the free default rifle with an LMG or other dropped gun after your first ambush. Be careful, though: AI soldiers and actual, player-controlled soldiers look very similar from far away, so take a close look before taking the first shot.
If you ultimately manage to extract with some drives, that's great, but even if not, killing bots will earn you and your squadmates Dark Market Credits at the end of the match. That'll allow you to purchase better guns, gadgets, and throwables before future rounds, making it easier to take on player squads when you start playing for real.
Pro tip: Equip the free Negotiated Bounty I tactical upgrade in the loadout screen to get 50% more Dark Market Credits for AI kills. If you're broke, there's no reason not to equip it.
Search for uplinks as well as drives
Vehicle call-ins aren't granted automatically in Hazard Zone. To get one, you have to find a vehicle uplink, represented in the game by laptops—you'll be alerted if you're near one, and in my experience they're found inside buildings.
Along with vehicle uplinks, you can find Ranger uplinks (the robo-dogs) and reinforcement uplinks, which allow you to bring back dead squadmates. All of these are potential life savers, and it's worth seeking them out by heading toward building clusters early on. Your squad can carry multiple of each, so there's no downside to stocking up.
PSA: How to use reinforcement uplinks
After you find a reinforcement uplink, the respawn ability appears in the same menu as vehicle call-ins (default B, or Q to open the call-in menu). Using it will bring back dead allies, parachuting them in above your location following a countdown timer. Be prepared to fight, because it also notifies enemy squads of your location. Also make sure the squadmates you want to bring back are dead dead, not crawling around in the down-but-not-out state—it doesn't help them unless they've bled out.
Spending Dark Market Credits on the Squad Reinforcement tactical upgrade before a round gives your team one respawn call-in from the start. If you've got the credits to burn, at least one squadmate should have one.
Choose one of the best Hazard Zone specialists
For beginners, I don't recommend picking Sundance or Mackay, as fun as their wingsuit and grappling hook can be. Those movement gadgets don't help you much in flat terrain and you definitely don't want to abandon your non-wingsuiting squadmates along the way, unless it's part of a plan you've devised with an aggressive, well-coordinated team. Hard team benefits like Angel's armor handouts are easier to make good use of, especially if you're solo-queuing.
Here are the specialists I'd build a squad out of first, with my preferences bolded.
- Irish (mobile cover can save the day on flat land)
- Dozer (ballistics shield to push opponents, drawing attention away from teammates)
- Falck (healing, quick revives)
- Angel (armor and ammo supply)
- Boris (sentry gun distracts or scares off other players)
- Casper (eye in the sky)
Don't be afraid to get in vehicles
I recommend being somewhat cavalier about using the vehicle call-ins. In PUBG, you might be hesitant to hop in a car, which broadcasts your location to anyone in earshot of an internal combustion engine. Piling into an ATV in Hazard Zone does make your squad vulnerable to being wiped by a rocket, but hoofing it across icy plains often isn't better and anti-vehicle weapons aren't as common in Hazard Zone as they are in Conquest. These aren't long matches, either, so playing fast and loose isn't as reckless as it is in slower battle royale games.
If you're the driver, you have a better view than your gunner or passengers, so be sure to let them know if you spot enemies, and what side of the car they're on, assuming you're in an outside voice chat server together (Battlefield 2042 doesn't have built-in voice chat at launch).
Reference the full-sized map
If it's unclear where the first-person HUD is telling you to go to find a scanned data drive or extraction point, Hit M to open up the weirdly low-res overhead map screen. It'll give you a clearer view of where those icons are in relation to yourself.
Get a Discord squad together if you can
I think it's safe to say that not only will you have the most success, you'll also have the most fun in Hazard Zone if you can talk to your squad. It's a big tactical advantage, especially because the spectator view that dead squadmates get gives them better peripheral vision than you have, allowing them to call out nearby enemies you may not see. Since Battlefield 2042 doesn't have built-in VOIP yet, that means assembling a crew outside of the game.
If you don't have any Battlefield-playing friends to group up with, you can see if anyone in the PC Gamer Discord is playing by hitting up the #general-lfg channel.
Get to the chopper
You may as well put your life on the line if the second Condor is leaving and you're not on it. Somehow, I once extracted even while downed outside if it. Might've been a bug, but I'll take it.