The Americans are coming, the Americans are coming!
After what seemed like an eternity, EA and DICE's commitment to the games as a service model for Battlefield V has finally bore fruit. The island-hopping conflict between the United States and Japan during World War 2 makes its modern debut in the appropriately titled War in the Pacific expansion. As such, you will be able to play as the United States Armed Forces or the Imperial Japanese Army as they fight over two new maps. You will also be able to get your hands on five new weapons (one of which you will have to unlock), two new power weapons, four new tanks, and two new planes. By the end of the year, even more weapons and maps will be introduced to the game, all of which will be free.
Of course, this is not the first bit of post-launch content to release for Battlefield V. It is easily the most significant, however, being that it is representative of what most people would expect from a Battlefield expansion and a sign of what DICE is capable of. Though there are only two new maps (with Wake Island coming in December), these two new maps are massive. On top of that, they demonstrate just how powerful the Frostbite engine is, featuring a wide variety of environments like dense foliage, cave systems, trenches, bunkers, and more, all asking to be blown up, shot, or set on fire. Over the course of a regular match on Pacific Storm for example, the chain of tropical islands can and likely will be turned into a sandy version of the Moon's surface. The same can be said with Iwo Jima, even if the map is larger and thus the destruction is less concentrated.
It certainly helps that with the introduction of the legendary Sherman tank, you can equip a wide variety of weapons to lay waste to basically everything. Of course, you have to level up the tank to begin with, but as you do you can mount flamethrowers, larger main guns, and more onto the iconic vehicle. You can even call in a variant that launches rockets once your squad has enough points. In fact, all of the new Battlefield V War in the Pacific vehicles have much more room for customization. The tanks in the main game usually feature a three column skill tree with four rows of specializations. The Sherman by contrast has six rows of specializations. The same comparisons can be made with the planes, with a similar divide between the base game's skill trees and the Pacific version's expanded skill trees.
The new weapons unfortunately don't have the same explosion of specializations, but it doesn't stop them from being very powerful. Indeed, the M1 Garand and the M1919A6 are viable right out of the box without the need for perks. The Type 100 SMG and the Arisaka rifle are a little less impressive, probably due to the fact that SMGs and bolt action rifles are not generalist weapons in Battlefield V. As far as power weapons are concerned, the katana is amusing, if predictably suicidal to use. The flamethrower, on the other hand, is a visually glorious instrument of death that literally melts people and foliage. The damage appears to be mildly inconsistent unfortunately, likely due to a bug or some damage calculation shenanigans.
In any case, the War in the Pacific really feels like a lesson in small incremental changes adding up to be something much greater. Individually, the new weapons and vehicles and whatnot are far from exciting. Releasing the American faction individually months ago would've barely made much of an impact. Yet when they are all combined with the new maps which are both visually appealing and fun to play, it almost feels like a new game.
In some ways, War in the Pacific is a new game when compared to the Battlefield V experience at launch. You're not playing in some desert or a city anymore, locations that have been done to death by now. You're playing on maps that are clearly based on the islands that saw intense combat, filled with trenches and bunkers and all sorts of hiding spots. The little details matter too, as evidenced by the new music and factions. The voice lines for the Japanese and American forces are certainly... intense. It's definitely not typical for a game to make you feel bad for getting shot to pieces.
Unfortunately, reality is a harsh mistress, and as much fun as War in the Pacific is, it also highlights the rough life cycle of Battlefield V. Had War in the Pacific been launched in its current state much sooner, the game would've likely been able to dispel many of the doubts that people had. Instead, for whatever reason, the developers spent time and effort into creating a battle royale mode that doesn't really fit the theme of the game and piecemeal additions like skins and melee weapons that weren't exactly exciting.
Even so, War in the Pacific is not technically complete either, as Wake Island is supposed to launch in December with another round of weapons. Granted, it's a little hard to tell what makes a complete expansion anymore with games-as-a-service business models. For what it is though, War in the Pacific can be considered a step back on the right track for Battlefield V. Whether it's too little, too late is up to interpretation, yet it's hard to deny that the expansion is fantastic on its own merit.