After the success of returning to the Great War with Battlefield 1, EA and DICE have gone back in history again with the newest entry in the series Battlefield V taking players to the Second World War. It’s actually a return to the series’ roots with the first Battlefield title taking place in 1942, and it’s one that I gladly welcome with open arms following what has otherwise been a massive influx of modern day shooting over the last few years.
Thankfully, this return to the Second World War with Battlefield V still maintains DICE’s stamp of quality on the series, though it’s worth mentioning that it’s not packed with content right now. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty to see and do, but with certain game modes drip-feeding over the coming months players won’t have access to the full experience as of launch. All additional content is going to be free though, so at least it’ll do enough to keep players returning to the game for a long time and not at the expense of their wallets.
Whilst Battlefield V offers a decent single player experience (unlike the latest entry in its rival series Call of Duty), there’s no doubting that the main draw of the game is the multiplayer. This year’s entry doesn’t disappoint on that front, with up to sixty-four players able to wage war with rival players over a multitude of action-packed game modes.
‘Conquest’ sees players fighting across different locations with each team setting flags across each one. From there you defend said flags and control the battlefield, with the team with the most active flags deemed the victor. ‘Breakthrough’ has the map divided into sectors with teams fighting each other in order to obtain them. Team work is a must here, especially with so many sectors on the map to work for and a real co-operative approach is required to defend them. ‘Frontline’ only has one objective in place at a time in a specific location, putting players in a frantic battle in one spot as they compete with each other. It can be pretty strategic, but sometimes the chaos of all players heading to one spot can make for a more hectic showdown than in the other modes. ‘Domination’ is just like ‘Conquest’, though it’s on a smaller scale with a focus on using infantry on smaller map. If you prefer running and gunning in quick battles, this might be for you. Then you’ve got ‘Team Deathmatch’ which I’m pretty sure everyone knows about – it’s all about killing opponents to earn points.
These are all fun game modes that offer something different, with showdowns not typically lasting too long which allows for quick short-bursts with the game. However, the stand out multiplayer mode has to be the newly introduced ‘Grand Operations’ which offers lengthy and meaningful confrontations with your foes.
‘Grand Operations’ mix together the different game modes into one epic battle that spans over multiple in-game days (or rounds). There’s a narrative to go with each one too, which helps make you feel like you’re actually taking part in an operation during the Second World War and aren’t just in some meaningless multiplayer skirmish – it certainly absorbs you into the experience a lot more and adds stakes to the battle. They’re pretty long in size too with each one easily lasting around an hour, so you’ll want to sit back and get comfy before you head into the mode.
Each day is represented with a different battle with each success you have seeing the tide turn in your favour, which typically gives you something like extra resources or additional respawns for the battle that takes place the next day. Alternatively, if you see yourself losing a battle, the following one will be a bit more complicated with less resources given to the player. It certainly favours the victor in that sense, though it also properly showcases how quickly the momentum can shift during a war.
Whilst battles in ‘Grand Operations’ are made up of the individual multiplayer modes, there are a couple that are unique to the operations themselves. One is ‘Airborne’ which sees ground-based players defend themselves from incoming airborne forces, whilst ‘Final Stand’ sees players face off in one last battle with no respawns if the previous rounds have resulted in a tie. It’s in ‘Final Stand’ that you’ll see a player’s true colours, with some bravely heading into battle all-guns blazing and some simply hiding out and trying to survive. It’s a great way to cap off what is typically an epic battle against your opponents though and I actually found myself hoping that the rounds would be tied just to have this final showdown.
‘Grand Operations’ is certainly the best way to experience Battlefield V’s online modes though, especially when playing with a group of friends. It just adds a lot more purpose to the experience and each battle makes the player feel like they’re genuinely a part of the war – the fact that it also just so happens to be a hell of a lot of fun to play certainly helps too.
Whilst there’s plenty to do across these game modes, it’s hard not to find Battlefield V a little lacking in content. There is only a small selection of maps for starters, and whilst they’re all meaty in size there’s no doubting you’ll get used to seeing some locations after just a few hours play. Then there’s the fact that some modes aren’t available right now, with the battle royale-style mode ‘Firestorm’ not due until March next year and the fleshed-out multiplayer campaign ‘Tides of War’ not beginning until December 4th. It’s great to see that there’s plenty of additional content coming to the game in the long term, but the fact that it’s not there now is a little disappointing – especially since the additional content is due to bring some unique experiences to the game.
At least there are plenty of options in place as far as customisation is concerned in multiplayer, with both your gear and your look fully changeable. You’ll unlock more items as you progress through the multiplayer ranks, but some is purchasable using in-game currency. There’s no premium currency available for purchase just yet, but it’s due to come in the future.
I’ve never been the type of person to play around with different classes too much, but Battlefield V has an extended focus on class roles that’ll see players having to balance out their squad when heading into battle. You can’t just go around running and gunning without a care – Medics are more important than ever given that player’s health won’t heal fully any more for example, whilst Snipers are the only ones who can mark enemy locations for players. Balancing out all of these skills is vital to success and it adds more of a responsibility to players who are part of a squad to follow their roles carefully. It adds a more tactical edge to battles, but when everything comes together properly it makes for a really satisfying experience.
Of course, it’s not all multiplayer in Battlefield V, with the single player content found in the ‘War Stories’. It’s made up of three different mini-campaigns, with a third due to launch on December 4th.
Each story puts you in the role of a unique character who had their own role to play in the war, be it secretly planting their own special type of bomb to disrupt the German forces or just taking down countless German soldiers but having their named scrubbed from the records in the process. They play out across three acts per story that offer a different gameplay experience, with some feeling more linear in design by essentially putting you on a set path and others giving players a small open-world with different objectives to complete.
The open-world sections were a bit of a mixed bag. Objectives were often quite far apart and didn’t offer anything particularly exciting to do – sabotaging supplies or communication towers are the sort of side-tasks you’d expect to find in a typical open-world shooter, so the fact they made up the majority of one act of the game was a little disappointing. The set pieces that are found in some of the acts offer a bit more excitement and make for some really enjoyable gameplay sequences, but the open world travelling in between could just feel a little dull.
At least the dramatic storytelling and genuine intrigue that each story offers is great though, with each one showing a side of the war that isn’t typically common in the likes of movies or video games. It highlights the individuals who truly made a difference but aren’t always celebrated, with the game’s personal touch toward each story not only highlighting their plight throughout the war but also allowing the player to resonate with their struggles. I’m certainly interested to see how DICE have actually handled the upcoming fourth campaign, with it taking place from the German’s perspective for the first time. It’s supposed to humanise the foe and show how their perspective of the war changed over time as opposed to just portraying them as vicious Nazis, so it could really be interesting to experience.
One thing that I have to mention is some of the glitches I encountered in the game across both the multiplayer and the single player. Now I’ve read horror stories of gamers uncovering network issues and gameplay problems throughout Battlefield V, but I’ve been fortunate enough to have missed the majority of them. However, I have seen plenty of visual issues that don’t necessarily deter from the gameplay experience, but do make what is otherwise a beautiful game just look a little weird at times.
Between floating and shuddering corpses, pieces of the environment not loading in, textures looking blurry and weapons seemingly appearing off-screen in mid-air, it’s easy to see that Battlefield V certainly has a few issues at launch. I’m sure these are all things that’ll get fixed eventually, but for now it can be a little irritating – especially when it ruins the scene in what is otherwise a dramatic and action-packed battle against other players online.
Platform(s): PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC