Two decades after the war to end all wars came to a close, another global conflict flared up, threatening to envelop the world in chaos once again. For more than half a decade, millions of people fought and died in almost every location imaginable, bringing the horrors of a new age of war to places like the deserts of Africa, the freezing cold land of Russia, and the islands of the Pacific. It is in this terrible time period that DICE set their latest game. The whole of Battlefield V hopes to shed some light on battles overlooked by the history books.
As such, you won't be storming the beaches of Normandy in this iteration of Battlefield, much to the understandable dismay of some. Instead, Battlefield V's campaign revolves around the actions of the covert British Special Boat Service in North Africa, the Norwegian resistance, and French colonial troops in southern France. It should be noted that a chapter where you play as a German Tiger tank crew is still coming soon. Predictably, the core gameplay is much as one would expect, filled with plenty of gunfire and explosions.
Unlike most other games in the genre, Battlefield V's campaign is a bit more compelling, or at least more informative. Beautiful cutscenes and thought provoking factoids help set a somber tone for each chapter. The music is excellent, and the fact that the main characters speak in their native language is a nice touch. The missions themselves offer a degree of freedom typically not found in other FPSs, with plenty of chances for stealth and stabbing. Other missions will let you complete the objectives in any order that you want, in any manner that you want. For example, one mission tasks you with finding some medicine and destroying a radar installation and some supplies. You can choose to knife your way through the radar facility first and then sneak your way through the rest of the level, or you can head to an airfield and steal a plane.
If you just want to shoot your way through a mission, you may notice that the AI is a step above cannon fodder. They will try to revive wounded allies, some can fire rockets at you, others will call in artillery, and so on. This makes Battlefield V a bit annoying on higher difficulties, but the AI thankfully use their new abilities rather sparingly. Unfortunately, you may notice that for being in a World War, you are also quite on your own.
The majority of the campaign feels like a rejected Wolfenstein game complete with a one-man murder machine protagonist. This causes a domino effect, drastically impacting the pacing in a way that makes it feel rushed and somewhat sloppy. It's especially jarring during the last chapter where your character inspires the rest of the French colonial troops to keep fighting. Despite this, you inexplicably start the next mission by yourself in some random forest, only to magically pop up next to your allies by the end of the mission.
Seeing as how most people are probably going to buy Battlefield V for the multiplayer, chances are that the campaign's pacing is going to be somewhat irrelevant. Once again, the multiplayer's core gameplay is quite easy to grasp. You pick a class, run around, and shoot people. Compared to the last couple of games in the Battlefield series though, Battlefield V feels slightly faster. The average time to kill is somewhat slower than what it would be in previous games' hardcore servers. This is partially due to the removal of random bullet deviation. Fortunately, recoil is a very real factor, meaning that people generally aren't going to be accomplishing much by spraying and praying at anything more than five feet away. It's not quite a "shoot first to win" game, but it definitely helps to have a quick trigger finger.
On the flipside, because it only takes a couple of bullets to get a kill, staying behind cover and or moving together with your fireteam is almost a necessity. It's possible to lone wolf it behind enemy lines, but so far it seems like the threat of machine gun fire discourages such actions. In addition, you can't magically heal yourself back to full health through sheer willpower, as most classes can only self-heal up to a certain point. To heal back up to full health, you need a medic. All in all, the gunplay is solid, satisfying, and a little floaty at times. Still, you'll need a nearly indisputable degree of skill to get far.
Speaking of which, Support class aficionados will likely enjoy the overhaul that the class has received. No longer are you going to be an ammo bot. Instead, you can build pre-placed fortifications located around the map. These range from supply stations to full-blown sandbag and barbed wire fortresses. In addition, machine guns of all varieties are terrifying thanks to their built-in bipods. These add-ons stabilize your machine gun onto a flat surface like the ground or a wall, negating a lot of the recoil normally associated with such weapons. As such, you can get kills far outside the range of most other automatic weapons, or at least suppress people so that your teammates can finish them off. With practice, you could theoretically rival snipers too. Still, it's not the best idea long term since you're completely stationary and asking to take a shot to the face.
Strangely enough, for a game series that prides itself on vehicular combat, Battlefield V's tanks are rather disappointing. This may be due to everyone starting with tanks that lack even the most basic perks. As a result, tanks feel clunky, their weapons have poor range and firepower, and they are generally quite impotent. They certainly aren't fearsome machines of war. That may change as people practice and unlock more perks and more tanks. Judging by the perks available, they become far more powerful as you upgrade them. However, the grind to get such perks is going to be a real slog. On the other hand, planes feel fairly balanced (from a foot soldier's point of view anyway). They can inflict a lot of damage, but ground-based AA guns are powerful enough to ward off spawn bombing.
Of course, no modern EA game would be complete without a bit of controversy. You may have heard a bit about the pay to win microtransaction thing with DICE's Star Wars game last year and something about female cyborg commandos in Battlefield V's debut trailer. Embarrassing, to say the least, but it seems like EA and DICE learned their lesson this time around (for now). Perks and guns can only be earned through gameplay, and all weapon customization options are seemingly purely cosmetic. All currently available character customization options are also far more reasonable in nature. Aside from a sole outlier that mostly consists of a Union Jack painted over a gas mask and some writing on a jacket, every customization option resembles an actual uniform. You don't have to worry about wearing 20 pairs of goggles and you can change your gender if such a thing is a concern.
Battlefield V's gunplay is excellent, even revolutionary in some areas. You'd think that alone this would make this the best Battlefield game ever. In some aspects, it's an accurate statement, perhaps an understatement. However, one can't help but feel as if the game was rushed. If only because it doesn't live up to its full potential. Parts of the game are not available at launch. Additionally, for all their talk of exploring the forgotten battles of World War II, huge chunks are missing. Similarly, the lacking number of maps at launch is another real concern.
Battlefield V may not be winning any Game of the Year awards, but it does offer a solid multiplayer experience. Few other games can provide the same satisfying gunplay. Fewer still can make it seem like every firefight is a battle for the ages. That DICE has made some vital feedback driven changes to the game since the beta is a good sign. My only major complaint is that the campaign is a step back from Battlefield 1. If you can overlook that, you'll find a fun and exhilarating game. If only for the next couple of months before the novelty wears off and everything starts to feel too familiar.
TechRaptor reviewed Battlefield V on Xbox One with a copy provided by the developer. The game is also available on PlayStation 4 and PC via Origin.
Battlefield V is a beautiful game that introduces some interesting new mechanics into an otherwise familiar genre. Combat is lethal but thrilling, and teamwork is more important than ever. The campaign is adequate, but you're not missing much if you skip it.
- Excellent Cutscenes and Music
- Fast and Decisive Combat
- Reasonable Customization Options
- Stellar Graphics and Sound Design
- Scattershot Campaign
- Lackluster Starter Tanks
- Paltry Map Selection