There are also five other challenges, all centered around flying very low and very fast, and one challenge that requires players to land on an aircraft carrier. The expansion also introduces a new hypersonic aircraft that can reach Mach 10 and altitudes higher than 150,000 feet. To go along with that, there’s also a new mission to take your flights into the stratosphere.
There’s still nothing quite like being in the middle of a massive firefight with dozens of players, while jets strafe the ground around you, and a tank rumbles over a hilltop only 50 feet away. DICE has been in search of that old Battlefield magic for more than a decade, and Battlefield 2042 comes extremely close. But 2042, at least so far, rarely manages to be much more than that. It doesn’t feel like a real step forward for the franchise, or a meaningful update on a 20-year old formula. As of now, I’m still waiting for that next big leap.
Fights are long and involved, and even though the game is fast-paced, actually getting a kill (or dying) takes a lot of bullets to accomplish. This gives players plenty of time to outplay an enemy who got the drop on them. Splitgate's long-range fights are all about strafing and accuracy, while its up-close duels are most often decided by a quick peppering of assault rifle fire and swift use of melee attacks. Both types of fights are a fairly simple loop, but one that never gets boring, no matter how many times you do it.
On their own, all of these things would have been significant improvements over the Zombies modes from the recent past. But when added together, they feel like a massive leap forward for the whole mode. By streamlining the overly complicated mechanics this time around, Treyarch is placing the focus back on the mode’s bread and butter: killing zombies.
There’s something extra special about hurtling through space from one wall or platform to the next in first person. Compared to a 2D platformer, the motion seems faster, the timing is tighter, and the penalty of missing a jump — that feeling of the ground rushing toward you as you fall — is way more intense. Ghostrunner is a perfect example of what happens when a developer works within the limitations of an underappreciated genre and pulls the absolute best from it.
Valorant may still be more promise than reality in some ways, but what already exists is strong enough to bring in players and keep them there while Riot refines the experience. Valorant, as of this writing, is at a fantastic starting point, and there’s every reason to believe it’s only going to get better from here.
Before I started Remnant, I was worried that its ranged combat wouldn’t provide the same kind of challenge or depth as other, more melee-focused, action games. But Remnant is still finding ways to surprise and challenge me, after I’ve put nearly 10 hours into the game, and each boss teaches me something new about the game and how to play it. I can’t wait to see what I’ll learn next, and what I’ll see — and kill — on the way.
The greatest testament to Blizzard's design in this expansion is that it's worth wading through Battle for Azeroth's seemingly endless and frustrating grind, all in the hopes of helping your group of four friends push their keystone up one more level than you thought was possible — at least, for now.