Is Battlefield V's Trailer Just a Bad Trailer? A Look at EA's First Impression Foul-ups

Published: Tuesday, May 29, 2018 - 12:00 | By: Anson Chan
Developer
DICE
Publisher
Electronic Arts
Release Date
November 20, 2018
Monetization
Cosmetic DLC, One Time Purchase
Purchase (Some links may be affiliated)
Amazon

As you no doubt may have heard by now, Battlefield 5's debut trailer has stirred up quite an amount of reasonable and rational discussion. Or at least that would be the case in another reality. In this reality, however, people are evidently quite content at yelling at each other simply because they can. In any case, the crux of the issue at hand is that some people are quite concerned about the presumed quality of Battlefield 5 now that the world has seen what EA and DICE have been working on for the past couple of years or so.

If you were to disregard all other factors, the Battlefield 5 trailer is, frankly, a mess, and you can probably see why people are up in arms over the supposed new direction that the Battlefield franchise is going. The pacing is all over the place, there is so much emphasis on making stuff explode that it may as well be a trailer directed by Michael Bay, and none of it makes sense if you think about it. Why are the main characters trying to clear a house that is then subsequently leveled by their allies who are advancing in the opposite direction? Where are all these flying vehicles coming from if the bridge has already been blown to smithereens? Why is everyone advancing in seemingly random directions to the point that on two occasions half a German squad literally pops out of the grass next to the main characters? The whole trailer's tone can be set by one singular scene when the main character shoots a grenade out of the air to blow up an implausibly low-flying plane.

 
 

Then you have the more controversial parts of the trailer that revolve around the appearance of a British woman with an accent that is so stereotypical that it would make Tracer from Overwatch blush. On top of that, she only has one arm. To be perfectly clear, her other arm is a prosthetic that somehow, despite the fact that Battlefield 5 will be taking place in the 1940s, has no apparent effect on her ability to shoot people with rifles and submachine guns, wield a cricket bat as a melee weapon, and not fall off her arm during the entire battle. Her compatriots are slightly less out of place, but it's still pretty hard to imagine that there were British paratroopers running around the Netherlands with golden katanas or tank tops instead of actual uniforms. If anything, they look like the cast of some kind of weird collaboration between God of War, Metal Gear Solid, and Suicide Squad, which is going to be quite jarring if you're expecting a pseudo-authentic/somber World War 2 game.

The trailer did show off some interesting new mechanics that might make it into the game (i.e. towed weapon emplacements, a wider range of environmental destruction, player-made sandbag fortifications), though chances are that the rest of the trailer drowned out such relatively nuanced details. All in all, definitely not a trailer that most people would've expected given that the game is based around World War 2. Needless to say, if you're trying to sell people on a product that is based on what was one of the most stale and oversaturated themes in gaming, you need to show off what makes your product different. Rub it into people's faces if you must, but you can't have 1% of your trailer show off genuinely new and exciting features while the other 99% consists of the usual run and gun action hero scenes that everyone has become accustomed to.

battlefield v logo cover main art image
There is a huge difference between a character like this, who is visually appealing and stylized yet grounded in reality and alludes to real-life inspirations, and female Captain Hook

Perhaps the worst part is that, despite the importance of first impressions in this day and age, the Battlefield 5 trailer ultimately tells us very little about how the game will actually play. True, great games have had terrible trailers before and vice versa, but half the trailer is obviously not actual gameplay and the other half is so scripted it may as well be a cutscene. What the trailer does allude to is that EA will double down on cosmetic microtransactions and target a far younger audience, which, given Battlefield's history, is bound to confuse and even enrage some people. By contrast, great, memorable trailers make it instantly clear what kind of tone to expect from the game (i.e. Halo 3 Believe), how the game will play in an rough and idealized but clear way, or both (funnily enough, Battlefield 1's Apocalypse trailer).

As a consequence, EA must be clear on what Battlefield 5 is intended to be. Is it going to be a serious game with wacky cosmetics a la Rainbow 6 Siege? Is it a wacky game where these characters would actually fit into the universe and thus would be far less controversial? Are these crazy characters going to be quarantined in their own little separate playlist? With the trailer giving off so many mixed messages, it should be unsurprising that half the people who watched the trailer and care to do such things disliked it on YouTube. People would likely be more accepting of such relatively drastic change if they knew the context behind it, but alas, we will undoubtedly have to wait until EA Play/E3 2018, possibly even late 2018 when the game is released for more answers. Yet, by allowing so much time to fester between the official release of information, speculation will only rise, and when this speculation is already tainted by the Star Wars Battlefront 2 debacle, the promising premise of Battlefield 5 may very well be in danger of yet another PR disaster.


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Staff Writer

Hi everybody! I've been playing all kinds of games for decades now, from FPSes to city builders to the occasional platformer, and if nothing else, it's taught me that games are the ultimate form of art.