Also On: PS4, Xbox One
Developer: EA DICE/Criterion Games
When it comes to Battlefield games, many things come to mind. For me at least, I think massive open maps, incredibly realistic sound design, large scale destruction and meaningful story lines. While Battlefield V manages to hit all of those key notes for me this year, I also found it to be lacking. Gone seem the days where a AAA shooter manages to have an outstanding campaign AND incredible multiplayer packed into the same game. Games like Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and the Bad Company series are gone. Now, you have games like Overwatch (top of the line multiplayer, no campaign), Black Ops 4 (high quality multiplayer offerings across multiple modes, no campaign), Wolfenstein II (Unbelievably good story mode, no multiplayer), Doom (bad-ass demon slaying campaign, unbearably drab multiplayer) and now Battlefield V. Battlefield V delivers the most emotional, gut-punching and high quality story mode, albeit a bit too short, in over a decade.
The campaign is hands down the best since the original Bad Company, but lacks the length and replayability that make those other single player focused titles so successful. The War Stories format from Battlefield 1 makes a return, so the campaign is split up over three 2 hour storylines. These stories focus on lesser known aspects of WWII, split across three different characters on different fronts of the war. These stories are dark, gritty and atmospheric. They manage to capture the scope of other Battlefield games with large sweeping areas and impressive structures, while also capturing the tight corridors and stealth elements of creeping up and sticking a knife into your opponent.
These stealth style missions are an interesting change for the Battlefield series, but one I feel would have paid off in smaller doses. It feels that in their hurry to change the formula up, they abandoned some of the cooler things that Battlefield usually brings to the table. Tank combat, plane combat and really vehicular combat as a whole has taken a back seat to more ?boots on the ground? combat, which seems to be the current terminology craze. There are opportunities to hop in a vehicle and go, but they are few and far between. The opening level/tutorial has more big vehicles than the rest of the campaign entirely.
Even with the quality of the three stories that Battlefield V has at launch, 6 hours seems incredibly short. There is a fourth story planned for post launch, but that just leaves you wanting more at the end of the campaign. Knowing that another story is planned almost cheapens the three that are already present. While they are short, the War Stories manage to pack an incredible amount of character into them. Each story makes you care about your character and the characters around you, while managing not to make it feel rushed and shoved on you.
At the end of the day though, the War Stories are a great look at dark, gritty, lesser known stories from WWII. Battlefield V really feels like DICE did the legwork and delved into the history and the significance of the conflicts that they chose to include in the game. Each of the three campaigns is different enough to differentiate itself from the others and adds something of its own to Battlefield V as a whole. The War Stories are definitely the highlight of Battlefield V.
When it comes to multiplayer, the mode that was on a lot of people’s minds prior to launch was the upcoming Battle Royale mode, Firestorm. Prior to launch, it was revealed that Firestorm was going to be delayed until March of 2019, a full 5 months after the launch of the game. This hurts, whether you are a fan of Battle Royale or not, the fact that the game launched with an entire mode missing, and nearly half of a year away hurts. With this year and this season in particular being so full of games to play and with Battle Royale being the hot item, and with Battlefield V going up against Black Ops 4 and their outstanding Blackout Battle Royale mode, this hurts.
The multiplayer elements that are here at launch do manage to scratch the Battlefield itch. You have Conquest, the Battlefield staple mode, with 64 players competing on teams of two to take and hold flags while killing the enemy and holding out for as long as possible. These are your standard, 30 minute average games that one expects from Battlefield. Grand Operations makes its debut, building off the foundation set by Operations in Battlefield 1, bringing large scale, cinematic battles to the multiplayer. The battles take place over multiple days and multiple fights, with each day setting the stage for the conflict on the next day. Once you reach the end, you enter the Final Stand portion of the game, with no respawns and limited resources to finish out the game. Finally there is the ?Infantry Focus? playlist, mixing Domination, Frontlines and standard Team Deathmatch. These are smaller, 32 player battles with a focus on more ground based combat.
I have many pros and cons with the multiplayer, which I spent my time with on PC. The biggest pro here is graphics. Battlefield V looks beautiful, running very well on my GTX 1080, and it supports my monitor with the ridiculous 34:9 aspect ratio it requires to fill the screen. The incredible graphics, coupled with the very realistic sound design make for one of the most immersive shooter experiences out there. While other shooters have a lot of great features, I never feel as immersed in them as I do with Battlefield. Battlefield V continues that tradition, however it is not free of bugs and glitches. Falling through the map, game timers failing to work and going on forever, insane physics glitches all rear their ugly heads to mar an otherwise gorgeous offering. Guns feel great, and the progression and challenge system seems much less arbitrary and really incentivises players to login every day and play.
While the multiplayer feels solid, it too feels like it is lacking, not quite finished in some regards. Battlefield V feels rushed, and again, with so many stellar multiplayer shooters out there, Battlefield V really needed to deliver a top notch experience. At launch, it feels more like an early access title, with more features and game modes to be added later, additional campaign missions and new aspects to be added later. I am all for post launch DLC, but when advertised features that players truly wanted are slated for 5 months after launch, a lot of players will choose to wait until next year to make the purchase, and they won’t be wrong. If you are not an absolute die hard fan, even the incredible 6 hour campaign is not enough to justify a full $60 purchase. If you?re ok with buying now and getting the rest of the game later though, the content at launch is worth playing.
Note: EA provided us with a Battlefield V PC code for review purposes.