Is this Battlefield light? Or the full-fat version?
Title: Battlefield V
Platform: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One (Reviewed)
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Price: £50/$60 (across all platforms)
Release date: Out now
TL;DR: Multplayer focused, World War 2-themed, first person shooter.
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Sing along with me. War! – what is it good for? Absolutely nothing, except selling video games.
Playing soldiers is what kids have done in school playgrounds for decades, and although war is definitely not something to celebrate, its influence on the first person shooter genre is undeniable, especially World War 2, and the march of the Axis across Europe. In Battlefield 5, you get to control avatars of infantrymen in battles that no sane human being would ever want to find themselves in. Instead, war is turned into an afterthought, as players pitch themselves against friends and online strangers/cannon fodder.
Battlefield 5 is the latest instalment in a long line of Battlefield games. It’s not the first in the franchise to be themed on WW2, but after going full circle from future wars to the present day, to Vietnam, to World War 1, we are back in the 1940s for a revisit to Hitler’s war machine, as countries from all over the world unite to fight fascism incarnate.
Now it’s hard to write a completely unbiased review on a particular franchise that I have enjoyed immensely over the years, but I will do my best. I won’t gush over how great Battlefield 5 is, because I can tell you now it’s not my favourite, but I am enjoying it. There are things I dislike and some changes that I really enjoyed, and it would be interesting to see how many of you agree or disagree with my experience of the game compared to your own, or what your thoughts on Battlefield 5 may be from other reviews or content streamers from various platforms.
So let’s start with the campaign. Unlike another AAA shooter that recently released, Battlefield 5 continues to come packaged with a single player story mode. Following in the footsteps of Battlefield 1, the campaign consists of several short war stories, which feature different characters and their struggles during the conflict. They’re short and sweet, but have the advantage of not being a crap story that is drawn out for far too long until it reaches the point of boredom, with my only complaint being that they are a little too easy, even on the hardcore difficulty. You have the option to go guns blazing, or stealth around the levels; there’s no right and wrong way of doing them. As long as you make it to the specific checkpoint it automatically saves, which means there is no real sense of loss if you die.
At launch, there are three war stories: “Under No Flag,” which is set in North Africa and features the army recruiting a rather haphazard bank robber to undertake missions for the Special Boat Service (SBS). An amusing point, that I’m not sure is a coincidence, is that one of the characters is called MASON – could this be a small joke aimed at Call of Duty: Black Ops?
The second story and my favourite of the three is Nordlys. With the Germans producing “heavy water,” in the race to build an atom bomb, it’s up to a mother and daughter – members of the Norwegian resistance – to save millions of lives and destroy the shipment before it can be shipped back to the motherland. This tale has the best narrative and emotional resonance, complete with awesome set pieces, snowy vistas, and skiing, with an ending that’ll have you reaching for the tissues.
Tirailleur is the last of the three currently available chapters, and deals with the topic of racism on the Allied front, as soldiers from the French colony of Senegal fight for a country that they have never been to before, having to try and prove themselves in battle to earn the respect of their sovereign country. Each of the campaign stories can be completed in under two hours, but the good news is that there is more to come. Slated for December 4 is The Last Tiger, which lets us experience the story of a lone Tiger tank crew from the perspective of the Axis forces.
Although I enjoyed what campaign stories were available, I felt that they weren’t as good as the tales told in Battlefield 1; I mean it is tough to beat having a firefight on an exploding Zepplin over London. Also, the musical score wasn’t as emotionally charged either. I remember listening to “Dawn of a New Time,” for the first time and having goosebumps as the haunting vocals kicked in.
As for multiplayer, the usual modes are there, Conquest, Team Deathmatch, Grand Operations, Domination, Breakthrough, and Frontlines. There is no Rush mode as such, although it’s kind of included in some of the stages of other modes like Grand Operations. The full range of maps aren’t available at launch, which is a little annoying, but there is more than enough to be going on with. And the best news of all is that with no more season pass this time around, EA are perhaps looking to turn around the massive player drop-off rates when the DLC maps release and not everyone forks out for it.
Battlefield multiplayer shines from its heavy reliance on squads; the cooperation of your teammates can make or break the end result of a game, as having a bunch of players going gung-ho and solo will quickly lose you the match. Some subtle changes to the classes have meant that there is a slight more reliance on your team, with a mix of classes offering the best utility when out in the field.
You no longer automatically heal over time, but instead have to use bandages to replenish your health – you only get one of these, and refills come from either the Medic class or a supply station. Medics can also resurrect any fallen ally in a couple of seconds, but squad members can also raise each other at the cost of being locked in a vulnerable four second animation that leaves you susceptible to enemy fire. Support classes can lay down suppressing fire and mark enemies, as well as resupply ammunition to the squad. The Assault class has the heavy firepower to take out vehicle and buildings, but need to refill ammo on a regular basis. Snipers are probably the most self-sufficient of the bunch and can camp at a range, but have too many of them and you have no presence on the capture points, and with no line of sight or heavy weapons they become a liability.
Another change and my favourite of the bunch is fortifications. Players can now fortify capture points and partially rebuild destroyed cover and buildings. If done correctly, this can hold off the enemy perfectly, with a negative being that you can also spend a while fortifying a position, only for the enemy to come along and reap the rewards of your constructions. Or a bomber or V1 rocket waltzes in and nukes the lot. But that’s what makes the game fun – the ever-changing ebb and flow of the fighting means you have to be aware of what’s happening in the battle and act accordingly.
Weapons all seem fairly good once you get used to them and their particular recoil patterns. I can’t say I’ve found one yet that I would truly go out of my way to avoid. The progression and unlock system is standard, with assignments available for each weapon as you level them up. You can change the specialisation of your weapons to modify certain aspects of them, grip or stock, recoil buffer or barrel bedding, are just some of the options that adjust attributes such as aiming from the hip versus static aiming. These “perk,” like changes are gated behind the weapons rank, and each weapon has to be equipped and used for it to level up.
The maps available are well designed, and you will recognise the set pieces from some of the campaign chapters. There’s no denying this game looks absolutely gorgeous. The visuals are crisp in 4K and framerates are smooth. Some of the scenery in the maps is utterly breathtaking, although I do miss the big map changing dynamics of environmental changes. Instead of just little snowstorms and sandstorms, it would have been cool to see some avalanches that change pathing or offer different firing positions, like the destructible skyscrapers and warships beached from violent tsunamis portrayed in earlier Battlefield releases.
Bugs do exist in this game, but from what I’ve experienced, it’s mainly minor things like ragdoll physics on death animations, graphical anomalies like floating church tower bells after the tower has been destroyed, scope sights not matching up with the target reticule of some weapons, and the machine guns on certain tanks staying static whilst you’re firing around the screen. None of these are game breaking like putting a silencer on a QBU88, which would mute the entire server in Battlefield 4.
Battlefield 5 feels more like it has drawn inspiration from the recent Star Wars Battlefront games, with faster paced gunplay than previous titles, and slightly smaller maps. Customisation for your characters and weapons are unlocked via Assignments and Credits earned through play rather than loot boxes which is a godsend, and far more rewarding. There isn’t a great selection on offer at the moment, but hopefully, that’s something that will be addressed in future content updates. And speaking of content updates, the advertised Battle Royale mode “Firestorm,” was not available at launch, and will not be available till at least March 2019. This is a large letdown, and I can certainly understand the criticism surrounding the idea that EA-Dice released a game that feels like it is only 80% finished.
Overall, I’m personally very happy with the game at the moment. I’m hoping the promise of regular content is fulfilled, and that new weapons and maps are released over time the same as previous DLC outings. Battlefield 5 is a solid shooter, but in my opinion, it’s just not as good as BF1, BF3, or BF4.
- Solid shooter.
- Squad Utility.
- No more season pass.
- Lots of missing content at launch.
- The usual smattering of Battlefield bugs and glitches.
- Battle Royale mode MIA.
ESRB: M (17+) Blood, Strong Language, Violence. PEGI: 16, Contains Violence and Swearing.
The theme of this game is war, and although not overly gory, the campaign deals with death and loss of life, so this game is not suitable for the very young.
Disclaimer: This review is based on a retail copy of the game purchased for the purpose of this review.