Battlefield V: A Powerful Rendition of War
Platforms: PC [reviewed], Playstation 4, XBOX One
Release Date: 20th November 2018
There have been rumours endlessly circulating throughout various Youtube channels and online magazines about what the dedicated Battlefield fans should expect from this installment of this popular franchise. Battlefield has always been able to differentiate itself from that other titan of of the First Person Shooters – Call of Duty – through it’s attention to historical detail and a slower paced game mechanic. Battlefield has never encouraged gamers to run around shooting aimlessly but instead to take a more careful, methodical approach to combat. I’m pleased to say that none of this has changed in the latest incarnation of the series. Players will find themselves swept up in the intricate stories of the lesser known campaign fronts of World War II and the competitive multiplayer has become a more refined product that has been seen before.
Battlefield is once against split into two separate modes, the single player “War Stories” which focus on bite size stories from around the globe. These evoke a sense of a docu-drama mood, told far more seriously than any of the Call of Duty campaigns. Each of the War Stories is designed to educate the player on one of the war’s fronts, In a novel move, Dice have chosen to focus on lesser known aspects of the great global conflict. This has given the developers the opportunity to focus on some unique flavours of missions, from the stealth-heavy chapter of a Norwegian Sniper. A cautionary tale starring Senegalese soldiers fighting in France and a brilliant chapter featuring a British bank robber turned Special Ops agent. There is one more campaign due for release around December 2018 featuring a German Panzer unit. For the history buffs amongst you, I caution that the events are not historically accurate but they do evoke a sense of the authentic feeling of the World War II setting. This is very much a fictionalized narrative revolving around historical events. These last two sentences can not detract from the fact that as a combined whole, the War Stories provide a fresh perspective regarding a conflict which game developers have gleefully milked for years. I applaud Dice’s narrative team for the manner in which they treated each story with respect.
The experience of playing through through the single player campaign is a little less consistent. I found that I didn’t enjoy the stealth sections as much but found the frontline combat and vehicle sequences enthralling. Some of the stand out moments of the campaign happen as you find yourself frantically fighting out wave after wave of enemies. In the British campaign, you find yourself attempting to fend off heavy tanks, trying to mount a strong defence against the oncoming storm of metallic behemoths. The sneaking elements of the Norwegian story didn’t seem to really gel, I found them frustrating. However when the gameplay elements align, you will be pulling off deadly sniper ambushes through the trees and slitting plenty of Nazi throats as they are caught unaware of your presence.
Each story features incredible audio and stunning visual design. I watched as the snowstorms raged and each flak was captured as it danced in the wind beneath the Northern Lights. The hot sands of the Libyan desert are kicked up as I ran across them, the tire treads of tanks clearly visible indicating a previous conflict and current danger ahead. Soldiers cry out in French and German, as a player it’s difficult not to become swept up in the authenticity of the environments. At times as I was playing through the campaign, I swear I caught a glimpse of what it must have been like to have been truly there, in that dreadful conflict. The wind awash with the coppery smell of spilt blood and your ears ringing with the gunfire.
The second game mode is of course Multiplayer. This has been tweaked significantly since the previous versions and as a result is a faster pace. Players can more more agile and deadlier on the battlefield. Vaulting over sandbags is speedier than ever, players can fall to their backs and fire their weapons forward – which is slightly faster than going prone. Aiming down the sights also takes significantly less time than in Battlefield 1, making it easier to engage multiple enemies back to back. These new rhythms made some adjustments as to how I played but once I embraced them, I found the experience to be fresh, useful and exciting.
There’s also adjustments to the team class system, these changes emphasize co-operation and camaraderie. The usual class options make a return, the weapon proficient Assault soldiers, team-reviving Medics, ammo tossing Supports and the awesomely powerful Sniper wielding Recon troops. Battlefield has made some tweaks to ensure that each role is more valuable than in previous series. This was especially noted regarding the scarcity of ammunition helping make the Support class an essential part of the team’s structure. Spotting enemies is now more complicated than just pressing a button, it requires focusing on a target and in some cases hitting them with a shot. Recon players can more accurately tag enemies for others to see. These changed mechanics make team play essential and help build a new form of synergy in a squad.
Outside of combat, Battlefield V’s multiplayer features an intricate web of progression systems and customization trees which some Battlefield veterans may feel is too ‘arcadey’. Each weapon has it’s own individual experience tree and level, these increase through repeated use. Each player class has a maximum level of twenty with new equipment being unlocked at each point. You can also spend in-game currency which you acquire as you play to purchase weapon enhancements such as faster reloading or reduced recoil.
Battlefield V is a tremendous amount of fun which affords space for deep narrative cohesion. The graphics and audio bring the world at war straight to your screen and you can’t help but feel fully immersed in the beautifully crafted environment. The Multiplayer features a host of modes including the expansive Conquest mode which sets the player in a series of maps telling the story of one of the campaigns of the era.
This game is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher