It feels like the Battlefield franchise has been fighting a war of its own over the past few years. From concerns about microtransactions to unfair backlash for being inclusive, developer Dice has weathered a barrage of criticism, releasing one capable first-person shooter after the next.
Now Battlefield V is here to silence the haters.
Set during World War II, BFV's blend of photorealistic graphics and exhilarating gameplay leads to white-knuckle, late-night gaming sessions that you're sure to lose hours of sleep over. With excellent pacing, tons of customization and beautiful map designs, BFV is the best entry in the series since Bad Company 2.
Return to the Battlefield
Dice didn't stray far from its roots with Battlefield V, but the improvements to that winning formula make it the best entry in years. Conquest, a relentless version of Capture the Flag and a staple mode of the franchise, returns with the option to play against up to 64 players.
That may not seem like a lot in the era of the 100-player Battle Royale genre, but you'll never find yourself straying far from the action, even on the largest maps. If anything, gamers new to the series might want to dip their toes into 32-player rounds or risk being overwhelmed in dense firefights.
Battlefield V fixes the biggest issue I had with its predecessor, Battlefield 1. As breathtaking as it was visually, 2016's WW1 shooter emphasized historical accuracy over the dynamic action you find in an arcade shooter. Tanks made it frustrating to play on foot, guns felt underpowered, customization was lacking and the slower pace sapped the fun out of the game.
Battlefield V doesn't suffer from these same pitfalls: weapon handling is vastly improved and player movements feel more responsive. That being said, Battlefield V still isn't a run-and-gun shooter like Call of Duty — rather, BFV rewards strategy, decision making and, most of all, teamwork.
Subtle changes not only bring excitement to the gameplay but also add to this appropriately brutal portrayal of war. Attrition, or having limited resources to work with, adds a new dynamic to the franchise. Each of the four available classes — Recon, Assault, Medic and Support — has its role to ensure that squad members stay alive and never run out of ammo.
Battlefield V takes destructive environments to the next level. Gunfire can chip away at barriers, explosions shatter walls and entire buildings crumble to nothing. Conversely, fortifications, like sand barriers or barbed wire, can now be built to replace missing structures and provide cover.
Gunfire can chip away at barriers, explosions shatter walls and entire buildings crumble to nothing.
Most of the adjustments made to BFV are solid improvements over its predecessor, but I'm torn about the new bleeding-out animation. Instead of dying and respawning after you lose your health, your soldier will lay injured on the ground for a few seconds, begging for help.
On one hand, this brief phase can be extremely frustrating, and there is no way to skip it (you can, however, speed up the process). On the other hand, the transitional state effectively encourages cooperative play, because only medics and fellow squad members can revive you.
Another way Battlefield pushes you to work together with teammates is through squad respawns. Just be careful, though: Spawning on less cautious players can get you instantly killed. I noticed that 90 percent of the matches I played in conquest came down to the wire. If I had to guess, these close scores are because squad respawn allows you to group up on various locations throughout the map, making it easy to steal capture points with team members.
Grand Operations is the main game mode in Battlefield V. This ambitious multiplayer mode showcases a variety of maps and modes in one experience. In Grand Operations, players are thrust into a four-day mission inspired by historical events in which each day — represented by a round played on a certain map and mode — has an impact on the next.
So, for example, if you dominate Day 1, you'll start Day 2 with tons of supplies and vehicles. Struggle, and you'll be at a disadvantage for the rest of the mission. Within Grand Operations is Airborne, which tasks the attacking team to destroy artillery cannons; and Final Stand, an intense, tie-breaking round of battle royale to determine the victor in close matches.
There is a game mode for everyone. Conquest Assault is a twist on Conquest, where one team holds every base at the start of a round. In Frontlines, a mix of Conquest and Rush, teams fight for one control point at a time to gain access to the enemy's main base. Domination is another spin on Conquest that emphasizes infantry combat, and there is a standard Team Deathmatch mode.
Maps and Customization
Clever map design is one of the main reasons why Battlefield V 's multiplayer mode is so satisfying. From the snow-topped Scandinavian mountains to the arid deserts of North Africa, BFV deploys you to a variety of environments, each meticulously crafted to satisfy every style of gamer, from snipers to close-quarters machine gunners.
This is the first Battlefield game in which none of the eight maps at launch felt like duds. I have my favorites, but I never rolled my eyes when I saw what map I would be playing next.
From the snow-topped Scandinavian mountains to the arid deserts of North Africa, Battlefield V's maps are meticulously crafted to satisfy every style of gamer, from snipers to close-quarters machine gunners.
Along with first-rate audio engineering, Battlefield V is one of the most visually breathtaking games ever released. On Fjell 652, a standout map and the best since Strike at Karkand (Battlefield 2), the Norwegian mountainside was depicted with practically photorealistic accuracy. As my friend and I scaled a narrow ridge on the edge of a steep cliff face, I couldn't help but look out at the vast landscape underneath me. There were moments when I wished Battlefield were an open-world exploration game so I could wander around aimlessly, or that it weren't so ruthless, preventing me from taking even a second to throw down my gun so I could stare out at the beautiful horizon.
I did run across a few visual hiccups that disrupted the otherwise immersive environments. The shadows on some maps are so dark that it's impossible to see enemies. I was gunned down more than once by someone content to sit at the base of a tree or in the attic of a building. There were also moments when I got stuck on invisible artifacts, or my character took ages to climb up onto an elevated surface.
Battlefield V is one of the most visually breathtaking games ever released.
Customization has also been revamped. You can now alter your soldier's appearance by changing their face paint, helmet, uniform and even gender. Weapon customization is equally diverse, giving you the ability to change the skin, stock, barrel and muzzle of each gun. Add-ons, like scopes, can improve your zoom capability, but everything else is cosmetic. The same goes for vehicles, which you can customize with paint and accessories.
Ranking up will unlock skills, like improved hip-fire accuracy or better breathing control, giving you the edge over opponents. Dice is making a point here: Every new weapon and customization can be obtained by playing the game and ranking up, not through microtransactions. Also, no one can pay for an unfair gameplay advantage.
Despite what appears to be months of unlockable content, it is too easy to max out your class level and unlock all the guns. After 6 hours of multiplayer gameplay, I had already earned every Assault weapon and ranked up my weapon to its maximum level.
There are other areas where the game feels lacking in content. For example, I find it baffling — especially for a game that prides itself on historical accuracy — that players can fight as only the British and German factions in the multiplayer modes. Remember, Russia, which Dice has prominently featured in many of its previous games, suffered more military deaths than any other country. The United States isn't included, either, and the Pacific War was ignored altogether.
MORE: Most Anticipated Games
Additionally, there aren't a ton of guns to choose from — 30 at launch — and many of those were carried over from Battlefield 1. And while the eight maps currently available aren't lacking in quality, previous Battlefield games launched with 10 stock maps and a roadmap that promised to add 16 more. Gamers can only cross their fingers that Dice will pull through with its promises to push out new content — otherwise, Battlefield V could suffer from a poor replay value.
An Interesting But Unnecessary Campaign
There's a reason I didn't start this review with the single-player mode. While I appreciate its inclusion, I don't find the campaign to be a necessary addition. Frankly, I would prefer that the resources that went into the story mode be reallocated to multiplayer. I have no doubts that Battlefield V would be more critically and commercially successful if it launched with Battle Royale in place of its single-player mode. That's not to say the campaign is bad — it's not — but most players are just better off sticking with multiplayer.
Called War Stories, the campaign contains four vignettes (including a prologue) that are based on lesser-known heroics in World War II. Dice purposefully avoided the low-hanging fruit — Normandy and Stalingrad, for example — to highlight unique stories you may not be familiar with. I was raised by an army soldier who is big on history, and I still learned a lot from the campaign. The harrowing subject matter is handled with care, but the somber tone lies in stark contrast to the lack of compassion from your character as they rack up a body count.
The individual chapters last about an hour and a half, so the total campaign at launch is a brief 6 hours long. Each of the stories, which are set in the U.K., Norway and France, is compelling, and dramatics certainly aren't lacking. However, at times, the dialogue can feel clunky and the AI, even at hard difficulty, isn't especially smart. There were times when soldiers would wander around, even as their nearby comrades were pinned down under a storm of gunfire.
Because of the poor AI and lack of cooperative play, the single player feels bland compared to any of the multiplayer modes. But if you think of Battlefield V's campaign as a tutorial to the multiplayer or as an extra mode entirely, you shouldn't take issue with its inclusion. However, you shouldn't purchase Battlefield V strictly for the campaign.
An Evolving War
Keeping things fresh in Battlefield V is Tides of War, an initiative to provide a continuous flow of content to players. Some might argue that the upcoming maps and game modes — including the hotly anticipated Battle Royale mode Firestorm — should have launched with the game. That's a valid complaint, but rest assured that Battlefield V feels like a full game at launch, with enough content and a solid set of maps and modes to keep you busy for the next few months.
The good news is that the Battlefield V you can play at launch is only a fraction of what it will be by the end of 2019. Best of all, the upcoming content is completely free, so the community won't splinter off, with some players having access to maps and modes that others don't. No more microtransactions, no more Premium Pass.
Because of the poor AI and lack of cooperative play, the single player feels bland compared to any of the multiplayer modes.
Post-launch content includes a four-player co-op mode called Combat Strike (January to March); the Battle Royale mode Firestorm (starting in March); new missions for Grand Operation; and at least two more maps, one in Belgium and the other in Greece.
Battlefield V takes the gritty realism of Battlefield 1 and combines it with the frantic, pulse-pounding action the franchise is known for. As a result, this latest entry has something for Battlefield diehards and newcomers alike.
Per usual, the Frostbite engine works its brilliance in Battlefield V. Maps are jaw-droppingly gorgeous, player movements are responsive and the destructive environments add another dimension to the FPS genre. While the single-player campaign is largely unnecessary, there are plenty of other game modes to cut your teeth on. Best of all, Battlefield V will only get better over time, and you don't have to spend a penny for the incoming updates.
Credit: Tom's Guide