‘Battlefield V’ Review: Once More Unto The Breach
I’ll admit I wasn’t too excited when EA and DICE announced in May that Battlefield V, the next installment of the iconic shooter franchise, would once again be set in World War II. In my opinion, WWII has been done and done and done again, to the point that there’s really no need to revisit these battles or this era. Activision’s Call of Duty series even tackled the war last year, so the era has been recently covered and there wasn’t a demand for more WWII games. But the thing I didn’t take into consideration was how DICE would execute the game, adding those much loved elements that make the Battlefield series one of the best multiplayer shooter experiences on the market. I may have been apathetic in spring, but now, after fighting all over Europe for the last couple of weeks, I can say that Battlefield V is the best shooter of 2018, without peer.
Battlefield V doesn’t try to change the game. It doesn’t need to. DICE has been creating memorable multiplayer experiences for decades now, and that continues here. But before we delve into the hearty MP modes, let’s look at Battlefield V’s story/campaign mode, War Stories. Building upon what was first introduced in Battlefield 1, War Stories are smaller episodes of three acts that focus on one aspect of the greater war, many of them “untold stories.” These chapters each have a beginning, middle, and end, and they are emotionally charged and very satisfying. In fact, I prefer these bite-sized campaigns over a prolonged story, as the player really connects with the character and the events happening, and since they bounce around to different time periods and locations, more story can be told without shoe-horning an infantryman into a tank regiment for the sake of showing off vehicular warfare.
In Under No Flag, the player controls Billy Bridger, a bank robber who is conscripted into the SBS, or Special Boat Section, the precursor to specialized teams like the SAS and the Navy SEALs. Billy and his CO are tasked with infiltrating a German base in North Africa to wreak havoc, and Billy does so in his own unique way, creating a fun and informative chapter that has equal amounts of stealth and gun-blazing chaos. This story is the most outright fun of the three, as the following stories take dark, emotional turns.
In Nordlys, players control Solveig, an 18-year-old resistance fighter in Norway. This story emphasizes stealth the most, and Solveig even has a stealth one-shot knife throw move that I used almost exclusively until the story called for me to be more — violent. The frozen forests of Norway also made for an amazing map to play on, as Solveig skis, shoots, and sneaks onto a German base to free a fellow freedom fighter.
In Tirailleur, a fighting unite from Senegal is brought to France for Operation Dragoon, and this story is all about warfare. The Senegalese troops storm German front and after German front for an epic and very amazing play experience. This story also had one of the most emotional ends I’ve seen in any war-based FPS and its a story I’ve played again and again. Each War Story ends with a bit of real history, making them informative as much as they are fun, and taken together, there’s 8-10 hours of story here with more coming.
A fourth story, The Last Tiger, will be released on December 4 and will focus on a major tank battle. The War Stories mode also kicks off with a prologue, My Country Falling, that serves as an introduction to Battlefield V as a whole and is fun to play. Players will fly, drive tanks, storm encampments, and take the battle to the enemy in small segments giving you a taste of all that is to come.
Battlefield V Multiplayer is once again the gem of this game. Again building upon Battlefield 1, DICE took the Operations mode and expanded it greatly into Grand Operations. This mode is a three day event, which sees armies in prolonged conflict on four different maps. Each day can last between 15 to 30 minutes or more, and a full Grand Operation has lasted well over 90 minutes for me. That’s a long time to be playing one mode, and I loved every second of it. Objectives are laid out for both sides and the battles are fierce and epic. Grand Operations are attrition battles that test the players’ resolve. This is the mode I’ve played the most of for the epic, wide-screen battles and that true sense of accomplishment — or failure — at the end of the three days.
Battlefield V Multiplayer modes also include Battlefield stalwarts like Conquest, Domination, and Team Deathmatch, and Breakthrough and Frontlines take objective battles a step further. There are eight maps at launch, and the maps vary the terrain. One map, Arras, is in the french countryside and tall yellow grass becomes a killing field as the enemy can easily hide and kill unsuspecting squads. There are two maps in the frozen snow, the seaport Narvik and the mountains of Fjell 652, and weather plays a role in the latter. I’ve been caught in a blinding snow storm while battling on the mountain, and it created a new level of chaos for all players. There are two urban maps, Rotterdam and Devastation, that create plenty of opportunities for players to hide and snipe, and really pushes the need for a squad to work together. The Hamada map feels like the biggest map in the game. In classic Battlefield style, vehicles play a huge role in getting troops to locations to fight, and tank battles, aerial dogfights, and gun battles can all be occurring at the same time all over this map.
Squad play is the key for success in Battlefield V, and the revamped classes help make the game fun and fair for all players. The four classes: Assault, Medic, Recon, and Support all bring something important to the table. In prior FPS war games, I would never even entertain playing a medic role, but in Battlefield V, it is, by far, my favorite Class to play. I get to run around shooting things, reviving fallen teammates, pass out bandages to any and all who need it, and I feel like I’m a major part of the war effort. And since I earn XP for doing my job right, I’m more inclined to hang back, provide cover with my SMG and heal when needed.
The Support class works kind of the same. Support passes out ammo (both ammo and bandages are in short supply upon spawning, making these two classes as important to any run-and-gunner in the greater war effort) and can quickly build fortifications around objectives, or repair vehicles and even build static gun placements. I’ve spent entire rounds just building fortifications and traps around flags while my squad mates took the fight to the enemy. Again, this Class gives me a role I can play where I feel like I’m contributing, letting those in my four-person squad who excel at FPS games rack up kills while I make sure they stay alive and have the ammo to do their jobs. The emphasis on Squads and Class roles completely changes how I play Battlefield V, and I find myself completely and utterly addicted to this game.
DICE made it easy to manage your Classes with Your Company. This one stop menu allows you to tweak each class’s kit, looks, and vehicles — for both Axis and Allies, and makes it easier to make sure the class you choose in-game is up-to-date with new unlocks and skins. Daily and Special assignments are given out that rewards in-game currency to purchase new skins, outfits and face paint, allowing for a decent amount of character customization. And I’ve yet to be able to add a robotic arm to any of my Company, so, I’m not sure what the controversy was from earlier this summer.
Battlefield V does so much right at launch, but it’s not resting on its laurels. The Tides of War is a new post-launch live service mode that brings with it new maps, War Stories, weapons, vehicles, and even new modes. Tides of War replaces any “season pass” and it is free for all players, making sure that the battlefield is level for everyone now and in the future. Perhaps the biggest post-launch addition is Firestorm, the battle royale mode. By staggering the release of Firestorm, DICE and EA gives players plenty of time to level up their company so when the battle royale starts, everyone is ready. We will be covering all additional content from Tides of War as its released, up to and including Firestorm in March, so be sure to check back in.
Battlefield V is a savior of sorts for fans of shooters this year. DICE has always excelled at massive multiplayer battles, and this game represents the evolution of the genre more so than any other franchise in event memory. New player movements and gun physics show that the famed developer is listening to players and while things aren’t 100% perfect, the tweaks and changes show that the series has room to grow. The game looks and plays fantastic, and the addition of fully destructible structures on every map makes this a game like no other. The fact that you can change the map in the middle of battle with a well-placed shelling, or TNT is just another reason to play this game.
As I said previously, I’m obsessed with Battlefield V and play it any chance I get. I traded riding a horse and robbing banks for driving a tank and raiding enemy bases, and I don’t miss the old west at all right now. It would take a game of Battlefield V’s magnitude to pull me away from a game like Red Dead Redemption II, and it has done so. That is probably the highest compliment I can give this game right now. Battlefield V is not just the best shooter of 2018, it’s one of the best game experiences I’ve had this year, and is a game I will be playing well into 2019 and beyond.
Battlefield V is available now for the PS4 and Xbox One and PC. This review is based off the PS4 version of the game, and a review code provided by Electronic Arts.
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