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Battlefield 2042 Season 1 Zero Hour: Release date, battle pass, and everything we know

A Specialist using the new crossbow weapon in Battlefield 2042.
(Image credit: Electronic Arts)

To say that Battlefield 2042 has struggled since it launched in late 2021 would be an understatement, but EA and DICE haven't given up on it. The developers recently announced the imminent launch of the game's Season 1, dubbed "Zero Hour," which will refresh the vanilla Battlefield 2042 experience with new content, a new battle pass, and several beneficial tweaks and adjustments.

We'll go over everything you need to know about Battlefield 2042 Season 1: Zero Hour, including when it launches, all of the new content players will have access to, and how its battle pass works.

Battlefield 2042 Season 1 release date

According to Battlefield 2042 Season 1's official trailer, the season will go live for all players and platforms on June 9, 2022. It's currently unclear when specifically the update will release during the day, but it's likely that the season will start at 12 a.m. PT / 3 a.m. ET. This is because previous Battlefield 2042 updates, such as the Update 4.1 balancing patch, have launched at this time.

Note that while DICE hasn't announced exactly when Season 1 will end, the studio has confirmed that Battlefield 2042 seasons will last 12 weeks. This suggests Season 1 may conclude on Sept. 1, which is exactly 12 weeks after Zero Hour's launch. 

Battlefield 2042 Season 1 Zero Hour: Everything included

(Image credit: Electronic Arts)

Battlefield 2042 Season 1 represents the first major steps that EA and DICE are taking to try and improve the game. In addition to fresh offerings, Season 1 will also bring a number of adjustments and improvements to Battlefield 2042's core systems and vanilla content. 

We'll go over everything coming over the course of Zero Hour's 12-week runtime in the sections below, but for now, here's a quick-and-dirty synopsis of everything you can expect to see in Battlefield 2042 when the season goes live on June 9:

  • New map: Exposure
  • New Specialist: Ewelina Lis
  • New weapons: The Ghostmaker R10 Crossbow and the BSV-M Marksman Rifle
  • New vehicles: The RAH-68 Huron and YG-99 Hannibal stealth helicopters
  • New gadget: Smoke Grenade Launcher
  • Battle pass: A 100-tier battle pass with free and $10 Premium reward tracks (all gameplay items are free)

On top of what's becoming available at the start of Zero Hour, patches coming later in the season will introduce additional content and gameplay changes. Here's what DICE has in store for mid-season updates:

  • Improved third-person animation modeling in June and July
  • An extensive balance overhaul to the Kaleidoscope map in August
  • Additional weapons in Battlefield Portal, as well as a new Builder toolset for the Superiority mode
  • Weapon adjustments to ensure gameplay balance and reduce visual recoil
  • Performance improvements targeting CPU utilization, input latency, and other issues

Battlefield 2042 Season 1 new map: Exposure

(Image credit: Electronic Arts)

Exposure is the first map to come to Battlefield 2042 since launch, and it was designed with criticisms of the game's vanilla maps in mind. Unlike 2042's original maps that many fans disliked due to their unnecessarily large size, lack of verticality, and sparse cover, Exposure is a tighter and more focused level with mountainous terrain and a healthy number of sightline blockers that facilitate both close and long-range encounters on foot and in vehicles. 

The map is split into three different sections: a pair of bases located on top of high plateaus, a facility embedded deep within the map's mountains that features plenty of tunnels and hallways, and a large strip of open and flat terrain at the base of the steep landmasses. All three of these areas are connected with a large slope that runs down the side of the mountains and intersects with the facility's tunnels. There are numerous caves and caverns that players can use for flanking as well. There's even a large lift that can ferry players and ground vehicles between the highest and lowest points of the map. (Note that the map supports both the Conquest and Breakthrough game modes.)

While Exposure is playable in 128-player lobbies, the developers have confirmed that the map is the first to be developed with 64 players in mind. This is because the game as a whole is shifting to a focus on 64-player gameplay after Season 1, though Exposure and all of Battlefield 2042's launch maps will remain 128-player compatible indefinitely. 

Battlefield 2042 Season 1 new Specialist: Ewelina Lis

(Image credit: Electronic Arts)

The new Specialist coming to Battlefield 2042 Season 1 is Ewelina Lis, an anti-vehicle expert that can effectively combat armored targets better than any other Specialist. Her passive Armor Hunter trait automatically highlights damaged enemy vehicles on her heads-up display (HUD), making it easy for players to spot and target vulnerable tanks, helicopters, and other craft. 

Once you've spotted a hostile vehicle while playing as Lis, you can destroy them using her unique G-84 GTM missile launcher. This weapon fires missiles that you can guide and control manually, allowing you to get around traditional counters to anti-vehicle weapons like flares or pieces of natural cover like buildings. The downside is that these missiles can be shot down with machine guns or avoided with skilled flying maneuvers. This gives attentive tank gunners and proficient pilots a way to deal with the threat of Lis' launcher.

Note that while you're playing as Lis, you'll also be unable to select the Recoilless M5 launcher as your gadget. This is because this would allow players to carry two rocket launchers into battle, which would be too disruptive to Battlefield's vehicle gameplay.

Battlefield 2042 Season 1: New weapons and vehicles

(Image credit: Electronic Arts)

Zero Hour also offers players a handful of new weapons, vehicles, and a new gadget. The first of these weapons is the Ghostmaker R10 Crossbow, which is an assassination weapon with high damage, a low rate of fire, and a silent firing sound. Regular bolts move incredibly quickly and are perfect for scoring lethal headshots, while the weapon's explosive bolts deal moderate damage to vehicles and can take down multiple grouped-up players at once. 

The second is the BSV-M Marksman Rifle, which is a silenced medium-range DMR that players can toggle between semi and full auto-firing modes. The former is ideal for sniping at range, while the latter is effective in close-quarters combat. 

Also new are the RAH-68 Huron and YG-99 Hannibal stealth helicopters, which have two different flight modes that give them incredible flexibility. The standard assault mode gives pilots access to machine guns and rockets, while the stealth mode trades these weapons for droppable bombs, prevents enemies from seeing the helicopter on their radar, and makes it impossible for anti-air weapons to get a lock on the vehicle. They're not quite as lethal as 2042's existing heavy attack helicopters, but their ability to avoid anti-air attacks makes them very versatile. The best counter to them will be Lis' manually-guided G-84 GTM missiles.

Finally, there's the Smoke Grenade Launcher gadget, which players can use to create a thick, wide smokescreen on the battlefield. Whether you want to cut off an enemy's line of sight or provide visual cover for your squad as you advance into enemy territory, the Smoke Grenade Launcher will likely be an effective and reliable tool.

Battlefield 2042 Season 1: Battle pass

(Image credit: Electronic Arts)

All of the gear above, as well as a variety of cosmetic rewards like Specialist skins, weapon and vehicle skins, player profile cards, and more, will be available in Season 1 through its 100-tier battle pass. Like the passes found in many other games, Zero Hour's will have a free and premium reward track. 

The free track will include 30 items players can earn, including all of the aforementioned gameplay gear as well as some cosmetic items. Meanwhile, the premium track costs $10 and includes 70 tiers of extra cosmetic content, as well as BFC (Battlefield Currency) that players are free to apply towards additional cosmetic rewards. All premium battle pass owners also get instant access to the following four unlocks:

  • Legendary "All-Seeing Eyes" Angel Specialist Set
  • Legendary "Light Bringer" AC-42 Weapon Skin
  • "Ghost Assassin" Background
  • "Omniscient" Tag

Players can make progress on Zero Hour's battle pass by earning XP through standard matches, but can also make significant progress by completing weekly missions that require them to complete certain challenges in-game. Players can also get access to special bonus missions if they finish weekly missions during the week they come out, though players can always go back and complete previous weekly missions later.

Battlefield 2042: Roadmap and Season 2

(Image credit: Electronic Arts)

DICE has also provided fans with an official roadmap detailing further additions and changes to come to Zero Hour, as well as a sneak peek at some of the things players can expect from Battlefield 2042's second season. 

Throughout June and July, the studio has plans to update the game's character animations to make them more readable and less erratic. This should make it less frustrating to target other players in firefights, which will make Battlefield 2042 feel smoother to play while fighting as an infantry soldier. Reductions to visual weapon recoil and performance improvements are on the way, too, to improve the player experience.

In August, the developer is also introducing a massive overhaul to the Kaleidoscope map that will add significantly more cover, additional structures, and more destructible elements. These changes will hopefully make the map more dynamic and less frustrating to play.

It's unclear when it will come during Season 1, but we also know that Battlefield Portal will be getting improvements. More weapons will be made available across Portal's Battlefield 1942, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, and Battlefield 3 gameplay experiences, and a new Builder toolset will be introduced for the vehicle-heavy Superiority mode. 

Finally, DICE also teased some fixes coming in Season 2. This includes changes for the Renewal map that will be similar to the Kaleidoscope overhaul, as well as a "tone adjustment" update for the game's Specialists that will remove certain voice lines and adjust the way they look in order to make them more "aesthetically faithful to 2042’s gritty, war-torn world."

Battlefield 2042 Season 1: Zero Hour is slated to launch on June 9, and while it's only a small step in the right direction, it's great to see the game improve nonetheless. If the game gets significantly more content across the game's next several seasons, there's a decent chance it could blossom into one of the best shooters available.

Battlefield 2042

Battlefield 2042 is the latest entry in DICE's famous multiplayer military shooter franchise. Though the game has struggled significantly after a disastrous launch in 2021, the changes and additions coming with Season 1 are a small, yet solid step in the right direction.

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Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.