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DICE and Electronic Arts showed off Battlefield 2042‘s third multiplayer mode, dubbed Hazard Zone, where players can engage in a new kind of squad combat.

In this mode, up to 32 players in squads of four each will compete to recover intel from crashed satellites. The players can choose to escape about halfway through the match or stay until the end when everyone has to converge on the same location to escape. The twist is that the squad with the most kills isn’t necessarily the winner. Rather, those who escape with the most intel win. And if you’re killed at the last minute before your team gets any intel out, then you lose.

It’s a very different kind of experience than the usual battle royale mode.

“We’ve been very clear in our reveal that Hazard Zone is not a battle royale mode,” said Danny Berlin, senior design director for Battlefield at Electronic Arts’ DICE studio, in a press briefing. A blog post about the news is here.

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DICE has already shown off two other modes. All-Out warfare has two different kinds of battles — Conquest or Breakthrough — where up to 128 players square off against each other in cross-platform multiplayer matches. In those matches, two opposing sides battle each other across huge maps with dynamic events such as tornadoes.

The other mode is Battlefield Portal, where players can create their own scenarios and invite people to play. In those scenarios, players can anachronistically combine soldiers from different ages for various “what if” challenges, like whether a bunch of World War I infantry soldiers can take out a modern battle tank. Portal is a community-driven platform where players change the rules of war.

“You start as a four-member squad and you must locate and retrieve the critical data drives scattered across the battlefield, and you’ll do this while fighting opposing squads, all who share the same objectives as you,” said Berlin. “They will fight tooth and nail for these data drives.”

Battlefield 2042 is coming out on the Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5, PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4  on November 19, with early access starting on November 12.

The backstory

Here's a view of one of the maps of Battlefield 2042.

Above: Here’s a view of one of the maps of Battlefield 2042.

Image Credit: EA

In the year 2040, a worldwide blackout event reduces the total number of satellites by 70%. Tensions rise between the US and Russia. In the wake of this event, temporary low-orbit satellites became the new method of gathering intel for both sides. These satellites collect aerial photography, heat map imagery, ID scanning, and other valuable types of intel.

These temporary satellites are launched, and then brought down in U.S. and Russian controlled territory, allowing the occupying forces to collect the intel, which is stored on radiation-hardened data drives. For the No-Pats, the intel is valuable for their own safety, and the safety of all other non-combative No-Pats. Hazard Zone is playable on all launch maps confirmed for All-Out Warfare.

As a No-Pat Task Force, you and your squad set out to acquire these valuable data drives as the satellite capsules are being brought down. Up to 32 players can play on the PC, Xbox Series X/S, and PlayStation 5. And 24 can play on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

Berlin said that specialists are restricted, your squad cannot contain more than one of the same Specialist. Making the right choices here may give you the edge during various phases of the match. Tornadoes will be relatively rare, but they can appear in a match and add more tension.

If you are downed, you can crawl to safety. But if you are killed in this state you are placed in the spectator screen. Your squadmates can get you back in the fight using a Reinforcement Uplink, which can be found scattered across the map, or as a Tactical Upgrade.

What’s unique

Battlefield 2042 features a pretty powerful-looking two-seat helicopter.

Above: Battlefield 2042 features a pretty powerful-looking two-seat helicopter.

Image Credit: EA

Hazard Zone combines tense, squad-focused survival experience gameplay with the best of the Battlefield sandbox, Berlin said. You and your squadmates will not only battle rival squads, but also forces like the tornado, as well as deadly occupying forces attempting to protect the data drives. These occupying forces can acquire a target quickly and they will focus on self preservation. A prolonged engagement with them could drain your resources, not to mention alert nearby player squads.

Your objective is not to kill, but to extract out of the Hazard Zone alive with as many data drives as possible, Berlin said. In total there are two, time-limited extraction opportunities within a match. They occur at different times and at different locations. This means that only two squads can make it out alive from the Hazard Zone, or potentially none at all.

There is a higher emphasis on the choices you make as you and your friends build your squad. Choosing the right mix of Specialist, weapons, gadgets and Tactical Upgrades is the key to survival. You can create an offensive squad with members who can use grappling hooks or nimble traits. Or you can use a defensive squad with things like a SG-36 Sentry Gun. You’ll choose among various specialist characters.

The metagame

One of Battlefield 2042's maps.

Above: One of Battlefield 2042’s maps.

Image Credit: EA

The Hazard Zone metagame assigns value to the data drives. Each data drive that you successfully extract will be converted into a special, Hazard Zone-specific currency called Dark Market Credits. You then spend these Dark Market Credits before each match in order to buy and equip weapons, gadgets, and Tactical Upgrades unique to Hazard Zone.

There are four main components to the metagame: If you successfully extract, you will be rewarded based on the number of data drives collected, those turn into XP and valuable Dark Market Credits that can be used to make you powerful for the next round. You have to strategize and equip before a match. You get a briefing at the outset. Then you will insert your squad into the map at a predetermined location. You have to then retrieve the data drives using tools like an Intel Scanner. You have to make sure one member of the squad has it.

Occupying forces — often found protecting data drives — and opposing squads will make your journey difficult. Mid-game, new satellites will fall from the sky, containing several data drives, making these satellites more valuable than those that previously crashed. You can then move to the first extraction point and escape aboard a CV-38 Condor.

If you choose to stay, your only option is the last extraction. The window for that opens approximately 10 minutes to 12 minutes after the start of the match. The remaining squads will need to battle over the single, final Extraction Zone. If you’re all left behind, you’ll lose everything you’ve gathered. But even if just one of you gets out with something, you’ll all get rewarded for it.

Berlin said this option of using the last extraction is “extremely risky.”

“Every decisions counts in the Hazard Zone,” he said.

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