When a developer starts saying stuff like "we hear your feedback," it's hard not to imagine that a clock has started ticking. Any online game is in danger of Antheming out of existence these days, or at least being deprioritized if it underperforms. So far, though, DICE hasn't wavered commitment to making Battlefield 2042 popular.
It hasn't quite succeeded, but the game's average Steam concurrent player count did increase after the delayed Season 1 update dropped in early June. Now the shooter's second season is about to start: A new map, specialist, guns, and vehicles are coming next week, on Tuesday, August 30.
Later in Season 2, DICE will also patch in revisions to the Renewal and Orbital launch maps based on player feedback: Renewal in September and Orbital in October. Another launch map, Kaleidoscope, has already been reworked, and in a recent blog post, DICE also said that it plans to reintroduce "classic and familiar classes" to Battlefield 2042 by putting gadget restrictions on specialists. There's no ETA on that change (Season 3, maybe), but it's a significant, if not total, concession to players who've shunned 2042's freeform loadout system and focus on specialist abilities.
The new map coming in Season 2 isn't quite as interesting as the snowy peaks from the first season's map; it's another stranded container ship in a former body of water. I did see a lot of calls from players for tighter quarters, though. One of the new vehicles, the EBLC-RAM, can place spawn beacons, and the other is a lightweight buggy that could be fun. The update will also add concussion grenades and three new guns, the most interesting of which is the PF41, a full-auto pistol that uses a P90 magazine. The new specialist is named Crawford: He can drop a mountable stationary minigun, and when he revives players, their gadget ammo is resupplied, which should help with maintaining anti-air pressure. Nothing too wild there; I tried the mounted gun in a preview build of the update, and locking down doorways was entertaining.
The first battle pass is also coming in Season 2, though DICE has reiterated that anything that affects gameplay, such as the new weapons and vehicles, will be unlockable without the premium tier. Season 2 will also introduce an assignments system that will let players unlock guns and vehicles from previous seasons, as well as guns from the old Battlefield games featured in the Portal mode, starting with the M60E4 and M16A3. Portal guns in regular 2042 Conquest is another thing I saw players requesting after launch.
Portal itself is getting some updates, too, including customizable Conquest rules. The fact sheet DICE provided mentions "user-editable objectives," which I'm excited to check out. Sometime after the start of Season 2, DICE will add "extra-small playspaces" and new guns to Portal, too.
My opinion on Battlefield 2042 hasn't changed a lot since it launched last November: It's a dated-feeling game, but as a dated gamer, I enjoyed its unserious, inefficient, and buggy battles for a few weeks. Someone recently asked me why I didn't keep playing it if I enjoyed it so much, and my excuse was that I broke my wrist, but if I'm being real, I did play a bit of Rocket League while healing. So, fair point. Battlefield 2042 might've lacked the so-called stickiness developers always hope their multiplayer games will have. For $60 or more, people want endlessly repeatable fun, especially when there are free-to-play games that offer that (like, say, Rocket League, if I had to pick an example that I've put over 1,000 hours into).
It seems like DICE is working hard to find that glue, though. I recently saw a rumor going around that the studio had given up on Battlefield 2042, but I haven't seen any evidence to support that idea. DICE said in June that it is "only focusing" on Battlefield 2042, and the developer has communicated about everything it's done—the map reworks, balance changes, big fixes, scoreboard redesign—in more detail than I think most people really care to read. The evidence of DICE's efforts is in all the blog posts and patch notes I've been swimming in for the better part of a year.
EA has plans for the Battlefield name that are a lot bigger than 2042—Respawn head Vince Zampella is in charge of the series now, and at least one singleplayer game is coming—so maybe EA and DICE want a comeback story here bad enough to make it happen. It wouldn't be the first time public opinion about a Battlefield game changed.
Battlefield 2042 Season 2 starts on August 30. All the stuff I've talked about here is free for owners of the game—the map, new weapons, new vehicles, new specialist—but there will be premium cosmetic stuff. DICE will be talking more about that next week.