STAFF REVIEW of Battlefield V (Xbox One)

Wednesday, December 12, 2018.
by Jennifer Dingle

Battlefield V Box art As a long time Battlefield veteran, I’ve played nearly every game in the series, such as 1942, 2142, Bad Company, and even Battlefield Heroes, so I am somewhat excited to play DICE’s latest entry in the series. I love the historic battles, the huge maps and the epic destruction that a Battlefield game offers, so I had very high hopes for Battlefield V. It’s a fantastic multiplayer experience, but the controversy surrounding the lack of content at release is very hard to ignore (Editor’s Note: Since this review was written, a free Single Player DLC episode was added).

This latest entry into the franchise offers a short single player campaign that is told through three War Stories. These brief narratives offer an emotional experience and tells some lesser known stories of World War II, like the occupation of Norway by the Germans, and the struggle of the Tirailleurs in Northern France. Each story was approximately just over an hour long in terms of gameplay. While these stories were interesting enough, and deserve to be told in my opinion, I found there was a lot of repetition. I suppose it’s difficult to come up with new gameplay ideas in a World War II single player game, but it was very repetitive throughout. The gameplay, and narrative, felt too familiar, as I’ve played these types of objectives in numerous other games. Such things as having to take out the artillery guns, hold the headquarters, etc., are common themes in games like this. Some variation would have been appreciated! Completing these stories gives you access to special melee weapons, and there is high replay value with collectibles to be found. There will be another War Story released in the future as well.

Multiplayer is the big draw for any Battlefield fan, and Battlefield V hasn’t strayed far from its’ standard formula. Massive maps filled with vehicles and walls to destroy with numerous objectives to capture. It’s very strategic, and communication is of the utmost importance for success. Unfortunately, a good chunk of the player base is focused on kills instead of working as a team, which can be extremely frustrating when attempting to capture an objective. The lone wolf may survive, but ultimately your survival depends on your squad mates. Battlefield V forces players to work together as you are instantly placed in a squad when you load into a game, it may just be filled those who choose not to communicate. Difficulty will be had should you, or your teammates, not talk to one another during play.

Something I really enjoyed in the multiplayer aspect is the progression system and how points are awarded in Battlefield. Sure, killing other players will certainly heighten your score, but even players who have a terrible K/D ratio, like me (I’m a veteran but not very good), can make a difference by contributing to capturing an objective, spotting other players, healing squadmates and using your class specific skills to aid others. It’s extremely satisfying when merit points pop up on the screen after capturing an objective or following a specific order. And there is great motivation to return to battle each day, as there are daily point rewards, such as heal 5 teammates or get a specific number of points in a certain game mode.

The online game modes, except for Team Deathmatch, are all seemingly different variations of Conquest, and while I do wish for a bit more variety, I’m also totally OK with this. For those unfamiliar with Battlefield’s awesome multiplayer experience, Conquest is massive populated all-out-war. Capture and hold flags (spawn points) on the map while attempting to eliminate the other team. Veterans of the older games will be happy to know that the points system has also returned. Each team starts with 600 points. As players are killed off, or when the enemies hold all the points on the map, your team’s tickets begin to reduce, and the team who reaches 0 tickets first will lose. Interestingly, if a team is losing, they will begin to capture points faster near the end of the round, giving them the opportunity to rebound, making for some close matches and epic comebacks.

Grand Operations is a new massive multiplayer experience and similar to Operations in Battlefield 1 that spans over four days (in game, not real time!). It uses multiple modes and maps for an intense multiplayer experience. In Breakthrough, the attacking team captures sectors while the defending team desperately attempts to hold them off. Frontlines is a combination of fan favourites Rush and Conquest, as both teams fight to capture objectives, closing off sectors on the map once the enemy base is opened at the end game. This mode adds explosives for a heart pounding race to the end.

The final mode I want to talk about, Domination, is my personal favourite. It is a smaller scale map with 32 players and no vehicles, with focus on gunfights and a much faster pace than Conquest. As expected in a Battlefield game, the maps are massive! Taking place in locations like Northern Africa, France and Norway, these maps are filled with swamps, trenches, desert-like conditions, decrepit bridges and the ruins of buildings that were destroyed in battle.

There are a few new game mechanics to note. Every player now has a toolkit to help build fortifications, and the spotting system has changed. Many see this as an improvement, but I must say I’m not a fan of the change at all! Instead of spotting an individual player with a tap of a button, you now indicate a general location where an enemy was recent spotted. I suppose it comes in handy when you see the flash of a sniper’s scope, or catch a glimpse of a soldier in the distance, but it’s difficult to use and I found that many of my team simply ignored it. Also new in the Battlefield series is that squad leaders can now call in support, like a supply drop or a rocket attack, depending on how many points the squad as a whole accumulate as a whole.

Unfortunately, those new to the series may struggle. It’s a tough game to master and the UI is not very well laid out at all. Even I found myself fumbling a bit. Battlefield V certainly isn’t a beginner friendly game. I highly recommend playing at least one War Story before jumping into multiplayer action to familiarize yourself with gameplay.

I was really impressed with customization of your character in Battlefield V. Your choice of class remains as Assault, Medic, Support, and Recon. The Company offers a great place to not only customize your class (Combat roles - like a subclass) and your load out, but you can choose what your character looks like. Change your gender (and play as a female thank you very much!), war paint, and even customize your outfit to your liking.

Visually, Battlefield V is absolutely stunning as EA and DICE have fully utilized their in-house graphics engine known as Frostbite. You’ll notice such detail, like the fall leaves that cover the path in the forest, poppies draped over brick walls in a village, to the the remnants of destroyed buildings (e.g. concrete wall chunks, wooden shingles, etc.). The environments truly capture the utter devastation of World War II. The sound effects really add to the immersive experience including the distant sound of gunfire on the battlefield, the drone of a plane propeller overhead, to such things as your squad yelling out or the clickety-clack of tank tracks nearing the capture point, the latter which adds to the heart pounding gameplay.

I suppose it wouldn’t be a Battlefield game if it wasn’t filled with bugs. I frequently found myself spawning in the absolute worst locations including such areas as the middle of barbed wire or in a wall, and while I was successful freeing myself, I watched as others met an untimely death as they struggled to leave the point. When I was placed right on the edge of the player area I found myself immediately faced with the return to combat message, and it was the game, not me, who placed me there. And all too often, I found myself in the map, yes, physically (glitched) in the map’s environment. I even had a body floating in the air, blocking my shot. There’s work to be done for sure. Does it take away from the overall Battlefield experience? Not really, but it’s rather frustrating and notable, and I hope to see some improvement.

Unless you are OK with playing variations of Conquest, there’s not a lot of content here. Sure, EA and DICE claim that there is no premium/paid content and that all DLC going forward will be free. But shouldn’t these game modes and war stories be included when released? Is it OK to release an unfinished game? I commend their commitment to making players happy, but it feels somewhat unfinished in the state that it’s in now. That said, the updated content will keep players coming back for months to come, especially with Tides of War, filled with timed events, new missions and allowing players to collect custom location and event gear (which is awesome!). And of course, the much-anticipated Firestorm, DICE’s answer to the popular Battle Royale genre will release early next year, which I have no doubt will be nothing less than amazing.

Admittedly, this has been a tough one for me to review. It has great potential, but it feels so incomplete. There’s still so much to come, and perhaps a postponed released date may have been a better option. But it’s still Battlefield, the immersive amazing multiplayer gameplay that veterans have come to know and love. It’s unfinished, but I’m highly optimistic that it will improve as new content releases and its Battlefield multiplayer at its finest, and that alone may sell the game for the longtime veteran considering what’s to come. I very reluctantly recommend Battlefield V in its current state, but I must stress my disappointment that EA and DICE willing released a game that feels kind of unfinished.

Overall: 7.6 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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