Battlefield developer DICE went back in time with Battlefield 1 in order to make the multiplayer first-person shooter franchise feel fresh again, and it’s doing it once more with Battlefield V. While it’s bringing back old school weapons, vehicles and equipment to the battlefield, it’s also bringing in a fresh new take on the Battlefield gameplay formula that fans know and love.
Now, the big question is: does it work or should DICE go back to how the franchise is? We’ve spent some time with the Battlefield V beta, and came away with appreciating some of the new things introduced by DICE, but at the same time, missing some of the franchise’s staples.
War Never Changes…Or Does It?
Battlefield V possibly presents some of the biggest gameplay changes the franchise has seen in a long time with DICE’s new attrition system for ammo and health. Gone are the days when taking a ton of damage can be mitigated by hiding someplace, or having a ton of ammo when you spawn in.
Now? Your health regenerates, but not at 100 percent, and ammo is scarce — scarce enough that you’ll want to be close to ammo stations, or a support player at all times. Is this a good or bad change? It depends on who you ask, though DICE themselves has confirmed that it is changing, even for a little bit.
Regarding my time with the beta, I couldn’t help but wish for more ammo every single time I spawned in. I could deal with the health not fully regenerating, but the skimpy ammo allocation made me a little annoyed at times — especially since ammo pouches dropped by your enemies can be picked up by teammates, which means less ammo for you. This ammo issue is compounded by the fact that ammo and med crates don’t have an area of effect like in previous entries. Now, players need to manually pick ammo and health bags up from crates, which means more button presses, more time looking for ammo and so on. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve been killed by looking for ammo, which is annoying since that wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for these new gameplay changes.
Health is the same way, though is a bit more forgiving. Health regens only up to a certain point (35-40 health), and not fully. This means players must be more tactical and conscious in engaging with enemies, since you’ll need a medic or be near a med station in case you take significant damage.
It’s definitely a mixed bag at this point, and I’m curious to see how the game plays out once DICE figures out how to balance the attrition stuff out.
All Tanked Out
If there’s one vehicle I always loved in Battlefield games, it’s the tanks. I can’t fly for shit, but boy can I wreck stuff up with tanks. Well, I was in for a rude awakening in Battlefield V! In the beta, tanks ran out of ammo, which you needed to replenish (easier said than done). Not only that, but they seem to move a whole lot slower, too. This meant that not a lot of people used tanks (or vehicles for that matter) in the beta since it was harder than usual to kill enemies given the ammo restrictions, and so on.
Another thing to note is that there are animations for entering and exiting vehicles now! It takes some getting used to, and I’m sure some people love the realistic feel of it, but it adds a second or two to overall entering and exiting, which means it’s more trouble than it’s worth.
We’ll reserve judgement on the overall vehicle gameplay until we’ve had a chance to see and play it properly on a proper map with jets, tanks, and more.
Guns Are Roses
If there’s one thing that I can be certain on, it’s that the gunplay in the Battlefield V beta felt fantastic! While the time to kill (TTK — more on this in a bit), was a big departure from past Battlefield games, the actual gun-on-gun action was a definite step above compared to Battlefield 1.
Helping to aid the fantastic feel of the gunplay is the addition of new moves like being able to shoot on your back, new mantling animations and more. In the BFV beta, each bullet hit feels visceral and has a nice thud that lets you know that you’re doing damage. Gone are the guesswork recoil of Battlefield 1, and is replaced by the BFV beta’s predictive, more skill-based recoil and gun handling.
Of course, there’s a little (subjective) dark cloud to this bright sky, and I’m referring to the time to kill (TTK). In the BFV beta, enemies will drop a lot faster compared to past Battlefield games. Now, this is either a good or bad thing depending on your point of view. Personally, I felt it was a bit too fast, since it didn’t give the player a chance to react usually. Couple the new health regen system, and well, you’ll find that this makes some gunfights very frustrating.
One class that benefits from the gimped health regen, and high TTK are snipers. It’s now easier more than ever to snipe people, which is a fact driven home in the BFV beta since almost everyone wanted to be a sniper to rack up kills. Oh, did I mention that you can’t 3D spot now? Yep, it’s gone. It helps make the game more tense and skill-based since you’re not always shooting at Doritos, but these give snipers another edge — something they don’t need.
Shake It Off
Battlefield V is in an interesting spot: on one hand, it’s bringing a lot of new gameplay ideas into the franchise, but on the other, it’s deviating too much that some fans might be turned off by it. It’s a hard act to balance, but with DICE seemingly willing to compromise and listen to player feedback like never before. there’s a very big possibility that they’ll be able to pull it off.
A little nip and tuck on the whole attrition system, and maybe revise the gun upgrade system a bit (which is something DICE isn’t opposed to), and DICE could have something special in their hands. Let’s hope the studio can find the perfect balance on giving Battlefield V an identity all its own, and placating the rabid player base the game has.
Battlefield V beta early access beta code supplied by EA for hands-on purposes. Played on PS4 Pro. Battlefield V is set for a November 20 release on the PS4, Xbox One, and PC.