Like the war the game is based on, Battlefield V was met with incredible backlash and skepticism when it was announced earlier this year. Unlike its predecessor that took the FPS genre and the series to a new and virtually unexplored era, Battlefield V was heading back home to its World War 2 roots, and the expectations on DICE were massive.
“Historical accuracy,” and “Historical authenticity,” became the battle cry of a community that expected something DICE hadn’t even promised. Thread after thread, comment after comment, everywhere Battlefield V was, so were the people angriest about its direction. They said the game would fail. They rallied around its supposed low pre-order numbers. They relished in the outrage that many of them would probably denounce if it were some other subject. It seemed to plenty of people that the ones criticizing the game forgot that it is just that — a game. But is Battlefield V a good one?
War. War Never Changes
Since Battlefield 1, DICE has opted out of its cliché, and disastrous single-player campaigns of past Battlefield titles (They sucked, and that’s a fact) and have decided its far more entertaining and relevant to tell the stories you don’t hear about in documentaries, TV shows, and movies. These War Stories, as DICE calls them, tell the tales of incredible feats by the underdogs, and in Battlefield V, it’s no different.
DICE does a beautiful job of executing high action and emotion in an anthology-esque single-player campaign. With excellent voice acting and mo-cap, I felt like I was watching an HBO series produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg. That’s not to say it’s the best single-player portion of a shooter of all time, but it is the best single-player portion of any Battlefield game to date. Quick side tip for those who hate playing the single-player of a game mainly focused on multiplayer: You can unlock unique weapons by completing those chapters.
Soldiers Never Die, They’re Just Missing in Action
Let’s get to the bread and butter of this review – The Multiplayer. After spending 10 hours of gunning down Nazis, hearing the agony of being shot, the cries for a medic, and being wowed by the locations this game goes to, I have to say upfront that this is the best Battlefield multiplayer since Battlefield 3. DICE took what Battlefield 1 did right, but gave it that addicting “I want to play this game until the sun comes back up,” feeling that only Battlefield 3 had. You might ask yourself how this can be, and I’m surprised by my feelings myself.
This is coming from someone who has had a love-hate relationship franchise ever since Battlefield 3 launched. I spent a lot of time praising the game, and it’s what pushed me to join Battlefieldo as a staff writer because I loved it so much way back in 2013. But then Battlefield 4 came out. It was a disaster. I despised my colleagues in the press for rating the game so good because they played it as a press event instead of a live setting, so their review didn’t reflect at all the broken state the game was in and stayed in for six months.
So as someone who has been branded as an “extremely negative hater” by some in the community, I think it’s incredible that DICE has finally created a Battlefield title that has restocked the adrenaline I get when playing the multiplayer.
This Is My Rifle
Gunplay in Battlefield V is so incredibly satisfying, and I’m shocked at how balanced it feels given that the alpha and beta builds of the game seemed so lopsided. It’s clear that the rock, paper scissors balancing philosophy that DICE uses is finally executed in a meaningful way. What’s great about being a newcomer in the game is that the initial weapons that you get for each class feel powerful and balanced. In previous Battlefield titles, it felt like the default weapons that you got before you unlocked anything else were awful and underpowered.
What compliments the gunplay are the specializations and customizations. Each weapon comes with benefits that you can unlock and equip in the Armory section of the main menu. Want your machine gun to have better hip fire because you suck at aiming down your sights? There’s a specialization for that. Love aiming down your sights, running and gunning with ease, but you want to run faster? There’s a specialization for that. You can even have the best of both worlds with specializations because DICE continues its philosophy of letting players run wild with how they choose to utilize the tools they’re given.
Which Type of War Would You Like to Order Today, Sir
Battlefield V’s game modes are nothing but intense and fun, and it’s clear DICE have found the sweet spot with them too. Team Deathmatch, Conquest, Operations, and Domination all make their return while bringing along two new game modes, Breakthrough, and Frontlines, to the mix. Out of all of these modes, Operations, now re-branded as Grand Operations, is still the best new game mode to enter the series since Rush in Battlefield: Bad Company 2. Intense firefights, jumping out of freaking airplanes into battle, and a mix of conquest and rush make this game mode the staple of this game by far.
Help Me Get One More
Battlefield V keeps the same formula as previous titles with four classes that players can choose from; Assault, Medic, Support, and Recon. Some might say it’s a tired formula, that you can’t teach an old class new tricks, but DICE makes the game so they don’t care what some might say, because they’ve revamped these classes to not only better suit the game’s setting, but to also improve the quality of life of players when they choose those classes.
I won’t get into how all of the classes are improved, but so I’ll focus on the one that makes all the difference when holding the line: The Medic Class.
DICE has finally hit the sweet spot with this class by giving players the ability to revive people without sacrificing a gadget slot. No longer are you playing in games with people who are medics and refuse to run defibs. But don’t fret, players who want to play the medic class a knock-off assault class, DICE still lets you choose how to utilize the tools they provide you. How? With Combat Roles.
These unique class modifiers aren’t exclusive to the Medic class, but they are unique in what buffs they provide. From faster sprint while low on health to spawning on beacons outside of your squad, Combat Roles offer players a play style they can take advantage of that isn’t reliant by how well the squad does overall. The only issue? There’s not enough. Only two Combat Roles exist for each class (unless I missed something) and while that might be enough for some players, I’ve found that it isn’t enough for me. DICE missed the opportunity to allow Support players to build fortifications with extra strength, Assault players to carry extra ammo for their rocket launches, for Medics to quick revive squad mates, etc. These are all things that would have made Combat Roles a staple in the franchise and allowed for more diverse play style. DICE has said that more Combat Roles will be added post-launch but we’re basing our impressions on what was available.
When I said the multiplayer for Battlefield V had been the best since Battlefield 3, I meant it. But there’s a caveat not mentioned, and that’s the vehicle portion of the multiplayer. It’s not good at all. Plane handling is historically accurate. They’re clunky, un-intuitive, and I wonder why they’re even included in the game given that they feel worthless and underpowered. Fighters and bombers need to be extensively reworked so that they feel like a problem the team needs to focus on because at the moment they feel like fruit flies that you swat away with occasionally rather than mosquitoes you must kill at all costs.
Tanks are no different. DICE took the approach of the video game World of Tanks with some mechanics, like turret rotation on a set speed that you can’t change, and finite ammo. These changes are welcomed ones, but again, they don’t feel powerful enough, and I almost never see them traverse the battlefield anymore because of this. DICE attempted to fix the problem of infinite shelling objectives by having limited ammo, which you need to resupply at ammo depots. However the plan did’t work since tanks just don’t wander too far from ammo depots, and just continue lobbying cannon fire as usual.
The one good thing about vehicles? You can still choose which class of vehicle to take.
What About Muh Historical Accuracy?
Probably the most controversial bit of Battlefield V is the customization in the game because you can customize just about anything (except vehicles which will come post-launch), including gender and race; a surprise, to be sure, but a one that’s welcomed by some (including me). Many in the community loathe this change because they expected the game to be historically accurate in looks, but I’m incredibly happy that DICE have stepped away from believing that only their majority male audience needs to be catered to. Women, people of color, and more have made it apparent that they are players too, and that representation in a historically fictional piece of entertainment is important. That last part is essential for some readers to understand because it gives context and reasoning to why DICE has gone this direction. This isn’t a period piece, it’s a video game and needs to be treated like one.
DICE thinks the same way because the character customization I mentioned before is beyond what I imagined. Overcoats, masks, helmets, and… Characters? Yes, characters. You can choose from a wide range of characters to play as in the multiplayer, all from different races and genders.
Tickets for the Theaters of War Now on Sale
Even though DICE didn’t include iconic locations and battles that one would expect for a World War 2-based game, the ones that they did include are mesmerizing. Each map has its own personality and beauty that only the Swedish developer could have created, and that beauty comes with a side of good map design too. Each game mode has flow and consistency with almost no stoppage whatsoever, which makes playing modes like Grand Operations immersive and fun.
That’s where the sound design comes into play as well. Sure the map might be beautiful and plays great, but you can’t be immersed unless the sound can transport you, and holy shit, does it do that. Head to your audio settings right now and choose “War Tapes” for the classic Battlefield sounding experience, or if you want to hear every footstep, every crack of a shot, turn on 3D Headphones, which gives players a Dolby Atmos-esque positional audio experience that is the best new feature added to this game. It’s offensive knowing that this isn’t in any other Battlefield installment.
For those of you on PC, you’ll be happy to know that the game runs like a champion and comes with a ton of settings for you to customize both in the controls and in the graphics section of the menus. You can even select presets for minimal latency and maximum fidelity if you want to either take the game seriously or eat up that eye candy that the maps give you for free.
The Side Effects of War
One of, if not the biggest, issues I have with this game is the fact that DICE has once again failed to launch Battlefield with features it has announced before launch and features expected to be included with the game by default. What are these features? Vehicle customization, a rental server program for community managed servers, body dragging soldiers, iconic locations and battles like D-Day and Operation Market Garden, the rest of the main factions that fought in World War 2 like the Americans, French, Japanese, and Russians. These things coming post-launch is not only annoying but pure madness for a game literally about a war that the entire world was fighting in.
EA and DICE’s decision to run with a games-as-a-service model has been questionable. Vague information floats around to what it even is, if it’ll also include any of those factions, and if the game will last more than three years. Communication from the company has improved incredibly over the past few years, but it is still falling short.
Welcome Back, Soldier
DICE’s Battlefield V sets a new bar for World War 2 shooters by having an incredible arsenal of maps, player customization, weapons, and gameplay features new to the series, despite its shortcomings in many areas players would expect to see on launch day.
- Fantastic gunplay
- Map and sound design are incredible
- Grand Operations is the best new game mode DICE have introduced to the series
- Class changes give players more freedom to play how they want
- A vast amount of great customization
- Fortifications aren’t good
- Vehicles seem like an afterthought, aren’t powerful enough
- Lack of iconic locations, battles, and factions
Battlefield 5 review copy provided by publisher. You can read MP1st’s review and scoring policy right here. All credit for the headline goes to iRAWRasaurus of ResetEra and their excellent OT which can be found here.