Unlike its long-time rival (Call of Duty), the Battlefield series has but one developer who consistently lives up to expectations, no matter the cost. Sure, EA has undergone scrutiny over its implementation of advantageous loot boxes in Star Wars: Battlefront II, but thankfully those days are long gone. It’s safe to say they have learned from their mistakes and vow never to put their consumers in that place again. And so, Battlefield V comes along and takes us back to its World War II roots. In 2016 we were blessed with a superb offering set in the First Great War through Battlefield 1, and it was brilliant, adding and tweaking new mechanics into an already perfected formula that EA refuse to shy away from, and rightly so.
Battlefield V does have what this year’s Call of Duty doesn’t: a single-player campaign, three in fact, and one on the way next month. They aren’t lengthy affairs though, they’re rather short stories that tells the stories of 3 soldiers who bravely overcame all odds and invite us into the other happenings in World War II aside from the famous D-Day landings and happenings in Northern France. The first and weakest of the three War Stories is “Under No Flag”, which puts you in control of Bill Bridger, a British soldier pulled from a London jail and sent overseas to cripple a Luftwaffe Airbase. This War Story is the weakest because of its over-the-top use of cockney slang and awful dialogue. The mission itself, however, is a joy to play as you have the choice to sneak in utilising Battlefield V’s impressive Far Cry-like stealth system. The similarities don’t stop there either as each of the three War Stories opens up, allowing you to take on your objective however you please.
The strongest of the three War Stories is “Nordlys”, which takes you to the snowy peaks of Norway as you infiltrate a Nazi stronghold to rescue a fellow soldier. This story is special thanks to main character Solveig’s option of using her skis to navigate the snowy landscape. It’s breathtaking and very reminiscent of a well-known Call of Duty moment, but I won’t spoil things. There’s also a special moment halfway through that tasks you to travel to a dead drop point whilst battling impending hypothermia. It’s truly remarkable.
The third and final War Story hands you the reigns of a French soldier who, whilst fighting alongside your brother, heads off to attempt a retake of Southern France. This story is the all-out war story that takes away the stealth mechanic in favour of tense battles. It’s a heartwarming story with some really good set pieces within it.
What Battlefield V really excels at is its famous multiplayer, which stays well within the borders of the famous Battlefield blueprint. It’s here where the smallest of tweaks make the biggest difference. The game modes remain mostly untouched from Battlefield 1 with Conquest and the smaller scale infantry-based Team Deathmatch, Domination and Frontlines, which is like a tug-of-war mode that teams fight over control of flags to eventually take out their base. The main attraction though is Grand Operations, which is a more in-depth version of Battlefield 1’s Operations mode. Battles take place over three in-game days where teams must either attack or defend key points on the map. Win or lose a particular day (or round), and the results carry over to the next, with teams either gaining an advantage or disadvantage to start with. The days are separated by narrated cutscenes that tell the story of the ensuing war between the 2 teams, which is a really great touch, and it keeps the battles interesting and oozes the feeling that you’re fighting for a reason.
So, what small tweaks was I talking about? The gunplay, for starters, has now had a facelift, with Random Bullet Deviation being completely removed, meaning your bullets hit wherever you’re aiming, no matter the distance. I can see how this may not be favoured by the more hardcore Battlefield fans as it takes away some of the realism and skill of sniping a target from a long way away, but this decision makes Battlefield V accessible by not having to worry about drop distances. Another nice tweak is traversal. Now you can quickly clamber up walls and over fences without losing any momentum, making escapes from death a more exciting prospect. There were many times I leaped over a wall at a moment’s notice because I was receiving gunfire from behind me, but I was unsure of the enemy’s position. Anyone on your team can now revive you, which is a fantastic feature; however, it comes at a cost of a revive animation that takes a bit of time, making your saviour vulnerable for a few seconds. This is a great move by EA to add this in. It’s only ever been the Medic’s job to revive people, but that role has now been expanded to all 4 of the classes.
A new addition to the gameplay are fortifications, which are available to all classes. Fortifications can be built at specific locations, such as sandbag walls, barbed wire-coiled barricades, and medical and ammunition stations. Select the Support class, and the time to build these shortens, as well as being able to prop up gun turrets. Fortifications adds a new layer of strategy and counters the impressive new ways that buildings and environments can be destroyed. Building around one of the flags in a Conquest match will make it tougher for the enemy to get through, which gives you extra time to hightail it over there to stop them.
The eight maps currently available are nicely varied and take place across lesser known World War II locations. Arras is filled with open fields laden with overgrown crops that can be used to creep up on unsuspecting enemies. Rotterdam is an urban map in a war-torn town filled with tall buildings and a suspended railway on which a derailed train sits dormant. Then there’s Narvik, a snowy town with a destroyed train yard and a harbor. Each map is different and gives way to different playstyles. Rotterdam and Narvik allow more close quarters encounters, whereas Fjell 652 is better suited to snipers because of its peaks and open spaces.
I mentioned how EA has scrapped its loot box system; well, they have apologised by taking away its Premium Pass for the Tides of War live-system. This is a service that EA plan on implementing until March of next year, which allows them to inject the already content-rich Battlefield V with even more content periodically. This content comes in the form of the fourth War Story, more maps, weapons and skins, as well as the highly-anticipated Firestorm mode, which is Battlefield’s version of the now-popular battle royale mode. The inclusion of all this upcoming content will make Battlefield V an unprecedented champion of the multiplayer first-person shooter genre.
Developer: EA DICE
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Release Date: 20th November 2018