Battlefield V returns to World War II and brings it’s most intense and well-designed special brand of open warfare to date. However, it also launches with some of the most limited content in the series, and while future update will all be free, does the package as it stands hold enough to keep you entertained during the wait for more?
The Battlefield series’ strength is derived from the open warfare facilitated by its maps. The very best allow for multiple strategies to be concocted and explored, for each soldier class to make a difference. But the real thrill comes from the smaller battles that occur as part of these larger engagements; the emergent gameplay moments that feel personal. That tank you managed to destroy against all odds, those enemies you conquered despite being out gunned and out manned, that absolutely unbelievable maneuverer you pulled off in an aircraft. The best Battlefield titles allow for these moments, and these occur frequently in Battlefield V.
This is partially because of the well-designed maps. These theatres of war are large enough for personal battles to play out in isolated areas and for the vehicles to make a big difference in the overall battle. Meanwhile, excellent elevation provided by terrain and buildings gives enough cover to avoid devastating firepower, to perch if you’re a sniper, and to get up close and personal with other soldiers if your weapons are more effective that way. This is further enhanced by the excellent new ability to build fortifications, allowing you to shape certain areas to fit with tactics and help defend, utilising sandbags and walls. That these maps facilitate long-range, short-range, and vehicle combat so splendidly is indeed a terrific accomplishment.
The era of World War II also helps. There’s a simplicity to weapons and vehicles that’s no longer the case in modern settings. Fire rates are slower, vehicle speed, especially in the air, are slower. All in all, is feels like a fairer battle and one more easily understood and broken down. This allows for the aforementioned strategies and tactics to take form more quickly, for failures to pass and mastery to begin without having to worry as much about unlocking and studying the mechanics.
This is further helped by the fact that Battlefield V has red dot sights unlocked immediately. No longer do you have to toil away with iron sights until you unlock better alternatives. Although, additional weapon and add-ons are still gradually unlocked, alongside aesthetic options, but in keeping with simplicity, there’s less of them and their impact on your potential performance is also reduced.
Battlefield V feels like the product of thoroughly tested and thought-out concepts and designs, and this is evident from the maps, the unlocking of weapons, and even the crouch ability, which now allows you to lay on your back and fire forwards, so you know where your legs are, and they don’t otherwise betray your location. This is the Battlefield we all know and love but polished. This does, however, mean it all feels fairly predictable. The multiplayer will largely surprise no one, consisting of: Conquest, Domination, Breakthrough and Frontlines, which all revolve around capturing and holding points, and Team Deathmatch concentrates on purely killing. Grand Operations mixes things up a little in how these modes are delivered. Very much like Operations in Battlefield 1, Grand Operations have you fight across different maps, fulfilling different objectives as part of a larger campaign. This mode helps make progress feel more gratifying, with success in each mission granting rewards such as increased respawns for your team, and vice versa for the opposition.
Outside of multiplayer there are three War Stories to experience solo. These tell unknow tales for soldiers in France, Norway and North Africa, and provide an excellent look at the personal conflicts experienced by people whose tales are seldom told. They do, however, struggle to find compelling mechanics to match their intriguing stories. All the stories revolve around moving between battles, overtly or sneakily, then winning and/or holding an area. The Battlefield style of combat, and therefore the maps of the singleplayer mode, are simply not designed to facility the concentrated and linear storytelling focus that’s really required here.
Indeed, Battlefield V excels at creating spectacles of large-scale battles that you can truly feel a part of thanks to a well-realised concept of small cogs fulfilling their duty as part of a larger war machine. This allows for excellent variety through different solider classes and vehicles, as well as a nice variety of terrain in the maps, and cleverly designed areas within these maps for a myriad of emergent gameplay scenarios to unfold.
However, what hurts the experiences a little is, ironically, the road map of content due to supplement Battlefield V over the next year. As Battlefield V stands, it feels complete enough, with a small variety of expected modes and maps but well-designed and implemented ones. Knowing that more is coming makes it feel less complete. This is especially so because of the much-anticipated Battle Royale mode due in March 2019.
Ultimately, Battlefield V is the best in the series so far and fans of this kind of experience will find a lot to enjoy here and even more to come over the next year, with all the new content coming for free. However, not launching with the latest hot mode: Battle Royale, doesn’t do it any favours, especially when the competition are also delivering strong on their own special brand of war fighting.
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