Battlefield V: What Went Wrong?

battlefield 5 animated

Following DICE’s announcement last week that Battlefield V (also called Battlefield 5) will be getting “one more” standalone content update and that’s it, the Battlefield community has — understandably — voiced their displeasure at this news.

With no new Battlefield game announced, it seems that for better or for worse, Battlefield fans will either need to come to grips that no new content is coming to Battlefield V after the next content drop and be happy with it, or just go back and play the older titles in the series. Having said all that, we here at MP1st decided to take it a step further. We’ve reached out to Battlefield YouTubers to seek their sentiment on the current situation, how we came to be in this state in the first place, and more.

Joining us for this Battlefield V dissection of sorts and what went wrong are: DannyonPC, TheTacticalBrit, and Westie.

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Why do you think Battlefield V ended up the way it did now?

DannyonPC: Lack of devtime, far less than two years, and absolutely no direction. Also the bad PR didnt help. While it isn’t wrong to think if you dont like it dont buy it, its not smart to say it out loud if you try to sell a game.

Also, trying to please multiple people at the same time, one part wants the game to be more realistic and the other side wants it to be more fun and like BF3 .

TheTacticalBrit: The saying goes if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Battlefield V for me kept trying to fix until it found itself in a predicament that was untenable, probably resulting in the decision to shelve the game a little earlier than expected. Early when the game launched it had a core identity as a more hardcore WW2 experience, guns were punchy, the TTK was fast but ultimately the gameplay loop felt decent. It needed tweaking and tuning but there was something there to come back to. But as we have seen with DICE, the mantra is dial it up 200% or half it. There is no in-between tuning which arguably does work more effectively at finding the middle ground solution, but when patches take so long, it simply isn’t worth doing. The game seemingly was being tugged into many directions, lower TTKs, trying to make the game feel more sandbox-like, authenticity versus something different and it ultimately, in my opinion, left the game lacking an identity, a master of none. It started out as an excellent core gameplay and gunplay loop and self-sabotaged into a mess. It had bright points, but those weren’t enough to redeem damaged community trust.

Westie: There are many reasons Battlefield V ended up this way. I think it begins with a significantly shorter development window, where the team simply didn’t have the time to properly build and implement the systems they needed or wanted. Shortcuts were taken, making things harder to work with and ultimately fix in the long run. Take Ribbons for example: the whole system has been disabled because a fix would require a complete rebuild. Assignments is another: only four can be tracked at once and you have to back out of servers to track new ones. These choices aren’t normal and they lack common sense in their implementation. These are choices made under pressure and time constraint.

Battlefield 5 body dragging

Could the game still be “saved?” in its current state?

DannyonPC: Not really, atleast not for me due to some really poor gameplay decisions DICE doesnt want to get rid of. But I honestly think it should have been fixed because this will reflect very poorly on the next game. They couldnt even finish BF5, who says they will do the same with BF 2021?

Also, do you really think BF1 would’ve sold as much if BF4 was never fixed?

TheTacticalBrit: No, I feel the man-hours would be better served with a new title. In order to build and save a title, you need a core philosophy and direction to make strides toward a greater end. BF4 did that exactly, a fun sandbox experience with solid land, air and sea elements. BFV lacks that identity, a core structure of what it wants to be and you can only bend something so far until it breaks. I personally would love to see the development team move over to BF 2021/2 and really craft a refined vision of battlefield with a stronger identity.

Westie: In it’s current state, yes, if we were still in November 2019. The launch of the War In The Pacific chapter marked a big change for Battlefield V, bringing a content expansion into a new Theatre of War that actually felt like it could have been based on World War 2. The invasion fantasy, more authentic uniforms for the American and Japanese factions, iconic weaponry, recognisable locations and a focus on reigniting the Battlefield sandbox. However, after another botched attempt to change the weapon balance and TTK of the game, I don’t feel Battlefield V could have been “saved,” and by that I mean hold a consistent player base and potentially expand it with new players. The mistakes, backtracks, cancelled features and delays, they weren’t going away.

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What’s the main hurdle devs and players went through with BFV?

DannyonPC:┬áNo direction, bad PR, confusing statements about everything, I remember DM’ing one of the CM’s (Community Managers) with many straight up errors in their blogposts, also overpromising and under delivering, All the time, From tank customization, to crash landings, to other things.

TheTacticalBrit: The lack of direction and identity. Battlefield is about big Battlefield moments, doing stuff that no other game can do. Battlefield brings the replayability of a BR (battle royale) into a sandbox arena. The only game where you can take down buildings and skyscrapers, launch a jeep into the air with C4, hit an RPG shot on a jet from hundreds of meters away. These are the core things that make Battlefield special and arguably, the only time that level of fun and return to a battlefield experience came in the pacific launch pre-TTK changes. Aside from that the switch to a live service certainly hurt Battlefield. It was a move that benefitted the community financially and installed a level of trust in the game, but was badly mishandled and took far too long to produce content and in some cases like the 5v5 maps that were ported in TDM maps, a mess.

Westie: I think it was franchise identity. The development team tried to pivot the franchise in a more hardcore, tactical direction. Initially, players appeared to respond positively to that, but when those things were put into action, I found that the experience was largely worse. Battlefield is an inherently casual, large-scale warfare shooter, and when you try and implement tactical features into that, the result is more frustrating than beneficial. For example, by removing passive health regeneration and implementing healing pouches, players would be able to instantly undo all the damage they just took for an enemy by diving into cover. That elongated gunfights and made gunfights feel less rewarding. Scarcity of ammo only sought to make gameplay more frustrating because you could only engage in one or two gunfights before needing to disengage and spend time trying to find bullets. Over time, DICE gradually walked back on most these ideas to where we are today, where most features have been returned closer to their Battlefield 1 or Battlefield 4 implementation, however there are still elements left that feel jarring: entry & exit animations on vehicles leaving you completely vulnerable to attack; Medic revive animations that leave you open to attack; the lack of a soldier dragging animation to alleviate the previous point… the list goes on. DICE tried to bring order to the Battlefield chaos, and the result was a watering down of the sandbox experience we know and love Battlefield for.

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Why do you think Battlefield 5 deviated so much from the past BF games?

DannyonPC: Following trends of super niche games? Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2019 did the same with more ”hardcore” gameplay.

Great for franchises build on it (Insurgency) bad (IMO) for more arcade/casual franchises.

TheTacticalBrit: I think each Battlefield creates those “wow” moments that make you fall in love with the franchise. Battlefield Bad Company 2, a bold new destructible infantry experience, BF3, Land, Air and Sea (The same with BF4). Battlefield Hardline, a fun urban shooter. Battlefield 1, the experience and atmosphere of all-out war. The list goes on really. For me, BFV never had that moment, that grand thing about it that made you go “wow” other than the visuals and that doesn’t constitute a good game.

Westie: DICE tried to take direct control of the emergent gameplay that Battlefield offers, and unfortunately you cannot take control of something that only occurs when left to its own devices. DICE has been trying since 2016 (Battlefield 1) to offer a clearer experience for players, an “official” experience if you will. This is in response to games like Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 4, where (depending on the server you joined, with whatever settings were running) you could have a wildly different experience. By trying to take more control, what DICE has done is shift all responsibility onto themselves; previous games like Battlefield 3 and 4 allowed the community to dictate what Battlefield was by applying modifiers to servers, running their own game mode and map rotations, implementing weapon rules to change the experience. I think DICE is trying to fix a problem that doesn’t need to be fixed. Battlefield is a sandbox; crazy things happen and they happen because of the unpredictable ways that 64 players combine, all doing their own thing. DICE tried to implement rules and controls into that environment, because they thought Battlefield didn’t have a clear experience to the end use… but the experience is clear: it’s chaos. Chaos in most cases would be considered a bad thing, and perhaps DICE convinced themselves of that. But in the context of Battlefield, chaos isn’t a bad thing. It’s a defining element of the franchise.

Do you agree with their statements? How do you think Battlefield V ended up the way it did? More importantly, what went wrong that it took DICE less than two years to stop pumping out new content for the game?

Note that aside from spelling and brevity, the answers remained as is from each individual.

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