Right from the outset of EA’s Battlefield V the tone is set for the action to follow. As the game launches you are immediately thrust into a montage of various missions from a selection of different theatres of World War II. You briefly experience the action as different soldiers from both sides of the conflict. Despite their obvious differences they all share one thing in common. They are all going to die. There is no winning these scenarios. They simply exist to demonstrate the true cost and brutality of war.
The message they are trying to convey with this opening is that war is a place where there are no real winners, and the greatest victory of all is simply staying alive. The introduction takes itself extremely seriously, with emotional narration and music attempting to illustrate the gravity of the situation the world found itself in. However this approach does feel somewhat disingenuous and in contrast with the rest of the game to follow, as you spend most of your time killing as many enemies as possible with no real consequences.
As seen in Battlefield 1, the single player story does not focus on a singular hero or squad but instead is split up into a handful of shorter vignettes which concentrate on an array of characters from different countries, fighting in contrasting territories. This approach provides the freedom to explore more diverse stories and experiences from the war without having to awkwardly justify this in the plot. In the previous title these served as glorified tutorial missions with each focusing on a different aspect of Battlefield combat, but here they are all reasonably similar in execution.
There are currently 3 of these “War Stories” available, with the 4th slated to be added on December 4th. Each individual story only took approximately 2 hours to complete which made the single player offering feel very slight. There is some replay value in these stories, as each has it’s own unique challenges to complete and collectibles to find, however I did not feel that this gave me enough incentive to do so. Within the short timeframes of each story the game did do a decent job of getting me moderately invested in the characters and their stories, but one of the downsides of the episodic approach is that generally by the time I felt any attachment the story was completed.
Despite enjoying the characters and their plight I found that throughout the single player campaign I quickly became frustrated with the gameplay. On numerous occasions a stealthy approach was being encouraged without the game really providing the tools to do so effectively. Attempts at stealth would invariably decline into chaotic shootouts after I was immediately spotted. There are even several enemy bases with an alarm which will be triggered if you are spotted, bringing in unwelcome reinforcements. This all felt like something more suited to an open world action game than a military shooter and soured the overall experience.
Undeniably the main reason the majority of players come back to Battlefield titles again and again is for the online multiplayer, which is just as epic and hectic as ever. Fan favourites such as the large scale Conquest mode and more infantry focused Team Deathmatch are of course included, as well as the return of Grand Operations from Battlefield 1. Unfortunately absent is the Battle Royale mode “Firestorm” which is not due to be released until March 2019. Although this delay was already announced in October it’s still disappointing that we will not be able to play a much anticipated new mode until several months after release.
Currently all of the modes center around the early period of WWII and the fall of Europe, but as the game ages new battlefields and fronts will open up for multiplayer modes. The goal is to tell the story of WWII over the entire lifespan of Battlefield V. This “Tides of War” live service is not currently active but is set to start on December 6th, and I am extremely curious to see how this is actually implemented going forward.
Whilst the core of Battlefield V’s multiplayer doesn’t differ too much from previous titles there have been some changes. One of the more interesting innovations being that you can now revive your squad mates regardless of your soldier’s class. This gives an added incentive to be in a squad and rewards players who can stick together and communicate well. The squad spawn preview screen has also been improved and allows you to see exactly what your squadmates are doing and where you will spawn in. The view is in fullscreen and it seamlessly transitions into gameplay very nicely.
Although you can revive your squadmates, medics still serve a purpose as they have the ability to revive any team mates and also revive squadmates faster than any other class. Every soldier can carry one first aid kit to heal themselves with but once used they will need to resupply from a supply crate or a medic before they can do it again. Health does automatically regenerate to a certain amount if you are critically wounded but you will need to use a first aid kit to regain full health.
Spotting has been severely reined in, as now you can only mark an approximate area where enemies are but not the individual enemies themselves. It seems mostly useless and I found myself not bothering with it after my first few matches. However the Recon class can still spot individual enemies by damaging them whilst using the sniper combat role or using the spotting scope gadget.
Players now also have the option to build fortifications at capture points and objectives regardless of whether their team currently holds it. These include sandbag walls, barbed wire fencing or even boarding over shattered windows. As Battlefield matches are extremely destructive I found the ability to rebuild some semblance of defensive structures to be a neat new feature that can really help you defend or even capture an objective more effectively.
The multiplayer is still amazing fun and is full of great little moments. For example when a massive nearby explosion actually knocked my character off of his feet, onto his back and made the screen go dark for a moment, it felt very cinematic and was genuinely surprising. These types of chaotic situations are what I enjoy most about the Battlefield multiplayer.
Due to the backlash and controversy surrounding the release of Battlefront II, it appears that EA have been far more cautious with microtransactions in this game. Battlefield V does have cosmetic items available to purchase with an in game currency called “Company Coins” but I could not currently find any way to purchase this currency with real money. Company Coins are earned by ranking up in multiplayer or by completing daily objectives and special assignments. Class items, upgrades and some cosmetic items also unlock as you rank up each class by playing games and earning experience as that class. As this title does not have an associated premium pass and all the DLC will be available for free it is assumed microtransactions will be implemented in some way in the future.
Battlefield V graphically looks fantastic and the shooting still feels great, but overall it feels somewhat lacking due to the number of features that are still yet to be released, including vehicle customisation, the cooperative mode “Combined Arms” and the aforementioned Battle Royale Mode. The game was originally scheduled to be released on October 19th, was already delayed to November 20th and yet still feels rushed. Some of the animations are pretty janky and I experienced a few minor graphical glitches which may have been ironed out if the developers had more time. Battlefield veterans will surely find plenty of enjoyment spending countless hours in multiplayer but more casual fans may quickly grow tired of it due to the lack of variety in content.
iLythium was provided a review copy of Battlefield V.