After seeing Call of Duty reinvigorate the once overdone WWII era with the shining story of Call of Duty: WWII, it wasn’t surprising to see EA’s DICE studio announce that the next Battlefield title would be taking a stab at replicating that same war and era. After all, with Battlefield 1 providing a rather believable take on WWI, WWII was a natural step, and whilst the person in charge of naming the title was clearly having a bad day with Battlefield 1, Battlefield V – V for Victory – was something I was extremely excited for.
In recent months however, Battlefield V hasn’t always had the best reception. With videos depicting soldiers with futuristic looking limbs, there was a big panic that DICE were going to attempt their own alternate universe rather than sticking to the more simulated and realistic nature the series is well known for. Having spent upwards of 20 hours with Battlefield V though, it’s safe to say that DICE have listened to the fans and any fear of this futuristic nonsense has been scrapped. This instead leaves us with a WWII adventure that looks rather fantastic – but a fantastic appearance isn’t everything when the overall adventure comes incomplete.
I’m a big Battlefield fan, I’ve played every title in the series for what feels like hours, weeks, months and maybe even years. I’ve killed thousands upon thousands of unsuspecting players in the multiplayer and maxed out everything on offer every single time, enjoying it all thoroughly along the way. No matter how much time we all inevitably spend getting sucked into multiplayer though, for me the story is always the first port of call.
In Battlefield V, the story is broken down much like that of its predecessor Battlefield 1, with short War Stories making up the campaign rather than a fully-fledged multiple chapter outing. I wasn’t exactly a fan of this method in Battlefield 1, but with the story proving powerful and engaging I went along with it and appreciated that which was being told at the end. Battlefield V on the other hand has done nothing to impress upon that and instead has left me with a sour taste in the mouth. There are numerous reasons for this, but the first is one that initially left me feeling frustrated – Battlefield V isn’t a finished product.
There are meant to be four unique War Stories in Battlefield V along with a Prologue that make up the overall story, with each of these telling the tale of the war from different perspectives of those on the frontlines. Whilst they do a fairly decent job of this, it’s not quite a Battlefield story. There’s an overly heavy focus on stealth throughout these missions and whilst it may be seen as realistic to have players creeping up on enemy soldiers, it does take away from the fun when you’re quickly overrun by going in trigger happy. Of course, should you have some luck on your side it can be done but more often than not, going in guns blazing will see you shot down before you have the chance to even find cover, let alone get behind it.
The main issue I have when it comes to War Stories however is the fact that whilst there are four within the game, only three are currently accessible with The Last Tiger set to arrive later in December. Currently this is accompanied by the irritating ‘coming soon’ message.
Now I know what you’re thinking, patience and all that, and usually I’d agree as most Battlefield titles usually have more than enough content requiring your attention to even warrant worrying about what’s to come later. In Battlefield V though, this isn’t the case, and it’s also not the only thing with an irritating ‘coming soon’ message attached to it.
As for the gameplay itself, besides the overbearing stealth factor used throughout the game’s War Stories, what is available is generally what you’d expect from a Battlefield title. It’s fast and fluid, the weapons feel weighted and realistic, and the game looks absolutely amazing – especially when played on an Xbox One X.
In the multiplayer side of things, this is a gleaming positive. Battlefield V’s multiplayer, for what it’s worth, does retain the feel of a true Battlefield experience with its huge maps once again cleverly crafted to bring competitive battles. These take place across modes such as Conquest, Breakthrough (the new name for Rush), Frontlines, and Grand Operations, with Domination and Team Deathmatch thrown in for good measure.
Even weapon choice is better this time around, with a decent selection of renowned and legendary weapons along with some decent sights and scopes all available from day 1, rather than the poor and overly limited selection seen last time out.
Disappointingly though this is another area that comes incomplete with the Hardcore modes nowhere to be seen, and the widely advertised Battle Royale mode – Firestorm – not even expected to arrive until later next year. Meanwhile, the Tides of War that has been talked about so frequently is also met with a message that says starting December 6th, the Combined Arms co-op missions that were promised are not yet in the game, and even something as simple as the Practice Range isn’t going to arrive until early December.
Something else that infuriates this time around is the levelling system. One of the reasons many players like to frequently dip into the Battlefield multiplayer is to go through the vast levelling system that usually accompanies each Battlefield game. Battlefield 3 and 4 saw the average player take hundreds of hours to reach the maximum level, Battlefield Hardline then eventually introduced multiple ‘prestige-type’ progressions to extend the longevity further still and whilst Battlefield 1 didn’t keep it, it still took countless hours to reach the end of the multiplayer progression, leaving plenty to be achieved long after the story was complete.
In Battlefield V however, whether it stays that way or not, the current maximum rank players can achieve online is limited to level 50, and whilst that may sound like a lot, there have been some players already achieving this in the days between the Deluxe Edition release and that of the Standard Edition. Sure it’s only a minor thing when you look at how enjoyable the multiplayer is still to play, especially if you have a team willing to jump into your squad and play their assigned roles to help you out in battle, but with just a few story missions to go on, one of the most anticipated modes not even arriving until 2019, and multiplayer progression done and dusted after just 10 – 20 hours of multiplayer, it’s hard to see what is going to keep the veteran Battlefield fans coming back for more.
What’s more, vital components of previous games – such as the vehicle customisation – is another feature that is set to arrive later on, and with several patches arriving during my time with the game so far to balance what is currently available, it goes without saying that Battlefield V, as fun as it is, has released way too early.
One feature that is complete – I think – is that of the Armory in which players can customise their weapons, soldiers and classes as they see fit with numerous skins and appearances available for the Sartorial minded out there. They will need purchasing though and whilst EA have learnt from the Star Wars debacle and haven’t included loot boxes this time around, you will still need to complete enough challenges to earn the points to buy the outfits and skins you desire the most, with Special Assignments and Daily Orders available every day.
Another feature to note in Battlefield V is one that takes us back to multiplayer side of things and is one that can be deemed as a positive in what is otherwise a rather disappointed view of this year’s Battlefield title. The feature in question are the attrition points that can be earned in battle and utilised by Squad Leaders. Squad play in this year’s title has improved ten-fold, with limited health regeneration making the Medic a revered member of the team, limited magazines in each weapon creating a need for a Support Class member amongst your squad and team play being rewarded by granting valuable points to the team which can then be spent by the Squad Leader to call in additional resources, such as Air Strikes that can help change the tide of the battle in your favour when in a sticky situation. They aren’t cheap though and it will take consistent teamwork and a fairly decent effort to earn enough to call in the extra resources, but it’s definitely something that many will welcome with open arms.
So, we’ve talked about the War Stories, we’ve covered the Multiplayer and I’ve had a good rant about everything that’s missing in Battlefield V, but there is one final area worthy of a mention, and you’ll be happy to hear it’s rant over as I’m ending this with another positive – the audio.
The Battlefield series has never been one to let us down when it comes to creating a quality audio experience to go alongside the gameplay, and whether you’re taking to the skies to pilot the planes of war, jumping into the seat of the numerous vehicles or firing the many weapons into the field of battle, there is nothing that doesn’t sound like it belongs in a World War environment. With triple-A titles, this is usually an expectancy, but with many failing to achieve the expected, it’s nice to see at least something in this Battlefield title that doesn’t have a negative point to it and from start to finish the audio provides the wow factor.
Overall and if you’re a fan of Battlefield then there is every reason to jump in with this year’s title, but if you want to experience the game as the developers have obviously intended, I suggest you hold off, enjoy the other amazing games released this year and come back to Battlefield V in about six months’ time when it’s no longer in its current state of being a glorified beta with a triple-A price tag.