How fast that can go. Last week, Ubisoft announced a free-to-play offshoot of Ghost Recon, today its beta was postponed indefinitely after mostly negative feedback. Whether it’s true or not, the Move looks a little like “Back to the drawing board!” the end. And now DICE is launching its third pillar of Battlefield 2042, the Hazard Zone mode – and it actually sounds a lot like what Ubisoft had envisioned as the future for the Clancy shooter.
I’m very excited to see the reaction from the Battlefield community and wonder if Ubisoft had perhaps gotten a little wind of the structure and the process in DICE’s Hazard Zone before they took a step back with Frontline? However, it is unlikely that the EA shooter community will reject this mode just as harshly as that of Ghost Recon: Battlefield has always been a competitive title, while Ghost Recon fans after a solo and perhaps even co-op tactics Shooters crave.
Nevertheless, here maybe the striking similarities, because that’s a lot (and here you can read again in our Ghost Recon Frontline preview): Small player squads made up of different specialists (Thing!) – Double occupation prohibited – must locate and secure a number of data carriers in a freely accessible area of use, some of which come down dynamically on the map (Ding, ding! ). You collect as many “data drives” as you want and you have to decide for yourself when to extract, for which there are two opportunities. And whoever remains on the map afterwards loses (Ding, ding, ding!).
Well, there are also a few differences: Here eight (next-gen) or six (last-gen) squads of four play against each other on the normal all-out warfare maps and against a number of occupation troops controlled by the AI, which the Guarding data and otherwise giving you barrages. The data comes from crashed satellites and not from drones of a mega corporation and of course there are storms and destruction in Battlefield, which are supposed to keep the procedure dynamic. But otherwise, this is the same mode as the one that Ubisoft thought was a good idea for its Ghosts and that already came across closed ears and ironly protruding lower lips with the Reveal trailer.
To me that sounded basically like fun at Ubisoft, although it was difficult to get too excited about the type of presentation and the generally rather bland appearance. But hey, tastes and such. Compared to the other all-out warfare modes, Hazard Zone is held together by a meta-game that converts extracted data drives into game currency (“Dark Market Credits”). These in turn are exchanged for weapons, gadgets and tactical upgrades in the next mission.
In general, all of this seems as if more coordination, more consultation is required than it appeared in the beta of the Conquest mode, especially because not everyone is allowed to walk around Spider-Men as a grappling hook. The search for and the fight for a goal that only a few can achieve has been an exciting opportunity for tactical interaction, not just since Hunt Showdown. The fact that you can see your starting point from the outset – together with an assessment of the distribution of the AI - enables a strategy to be drawn up at an early stage and places greater focus on decisions made on both small and large issues with regard to the course of the mission.
And last but not least, this also counteracts the chaos, which recently overwhelmed not a few fans in the bad way in the beta of Battlefield 2042. Here everything is a little more targeted – at least in theory, because we don’t know much more than a video and an expansive explanation by Senior Design Director Daniel Berlin. Ask yourself exactly which specialists will help you advance or meet your tactics and your spawn – and then do your thing.
The localization of the data drives is primarily done with the help of an Intel scanner, which at least one of your teammates should also equip. In the presentation it almost sounded as if it was possible to leave this important gadget, which provides a rough indication of the location (or owner, if already recovered) of the data at home. Clever.
Another change compared to all-out warfare is the way in which down-but-not-out is dealt with. In Hazard Zone, once shot down, you can still crawl to safety to be resuscitated. If you die, your squad members can bring you back into the game as reinforcements at an uplink terminal. So the mode seems to bring various nice risk-benefit considerations that didn’t cross my mind in the beta – but the card didn’t even work …
But yes, I’m looking forward to having to change my tactics in the heat of the moment, ducking under a real hail of lead on a breathless escape to a randomly thrown extraction point on the map and escaping a tornado at the last second making strawberry camo smoothie out of my chasers instead. Cool “Go without me, I’ll stop them!” – Moments included – because for the extraction to count as a success, it is enough for one player to reach the saving Condor.
An interesting mode – in a game that suits it. Let’s wait and see if and in what form Ghost Recon returns to its “front line” after this announcement.