Played for Review on Playstation 4 Pro
Battlefield V is the most recent entry in the long-running Battlefield first-person shooter franchise and takes the series back to its World War II roots. BFV has been surrounded by controversy since it was unveiled, and deservedly so. But if you can sift through all the politics and rude publishers, Battlefield V is an entertaining shooter experience.
DICE spent time tuning the game-play, delivering what feels to be the best playing Battlefield game since the third entry. The added mobility options, such as more natural vaulting and sprinting while crouching, really help to speed game-play up and help you maneuver a lot better. The latter is especially useful, as it allows you to make yourself into a smaller target while not sacrificing movement speed. Shooting feels fantastic, as usual with DICE games; the recoil system is manageable, while each gun feels distinct. Further, each gun feels impactful, and your shots register very clearly and satisfyingly. Weapon selection at launch is a little wider than Battlefield 1, but not by a whole lot. There is plenty to keep you occupied for a while, but I’m definitely hoping that the planned post-launch content contains a healthy arsenal for us to play with. Old WWII favorites are missing, such as the M1 Garand and the BAR, but we DO have old familiar weapons like the M1911 and Thompson submachine gun. Aside from frontline combat, Battlefield V features a decent offering of vehicles to play with, ranging from jeeps to tanks, fighters to bombers, each handling pretty well and being a satisfying additions to combat.
I do want to take a second to touch on team dynamics and squad play, as I think this is the best iteration of the squad system yet. More than ever, squad play has been incentivized, not just by challenges to help level your class up, but by ease of play. Now every member of a squad can revive a teammate, but medics can do it a lot faster. They also managed to make the assault class feel even more intrinsic to taking out vehicles with their rockets, which do massive damage to armor and jeeps. You’ll still find yourself dealing with lone wolf teammates that refuse to help you out, but less so in my experience.- Map selection is rock solid, with plenty of open fields and bombed out cityscapes, as well as snow-capped mountains and the like. I personally really dig the city of Rotterdam, with its close quarters battles, and Frostbite’s destruction engine is on full display, with detailed particles flying everywhere. Devastation is also fantastic, as it showcases some truly disturbing imagery of destroyed buildings, and its church creates a high focal point for battles. Air Field is a great one, as it blends close-quarters fighting with long-range sniper duels, but unlike Battlefield 1’s maps, I don’t generally feel like I’m just being picked apart by snipers as a lowly medic.
The game modes are pretty fun for the most part. There are some usual suspects here, like Conquest, Domination and Team Deathmatch, but this time around DICE has added Grand Operations, replacing the similar mode from the previous iteration. Grand Operations, as the title suggests, is a grander mode than the last version, with conflicts split up over multiple in-game days. These are some really long matches at times, but they’re entertaining and offer vast battlefields and freedom. Frontlines is also a new addition, featuring both teams fighting over one objective; the victor unlocks another goal to overtake until they reach the opposite team’s base, where they must blow up objectives to win the mode. I like this mode less, as it seems like the clock runs out and the match keeps going in a tug of war. This makes battles monotonous and seemingly endless until one team just gives up the ghost to be done with it. Breakthrough is essentially Operations from BF1, so if you enjoyed it there, you’ll enjoy it here.
Battlefield V brings back the War Stories mode from Battlefield 1 but does a better job telling the stories and opening up the battlefield a bit more for players. In the various stories, you’re given more choice to decide how to attack your objectives than most FPS campaigns give you. The order of objectives is often left up to you, and you can attack it either as stealthy or guns blazing. My only issue still remains that, if you’re going to go with the sneakier option, you can only play the stealth by their rules. Oftentimes, if you try to create a distraction for enemy soldiers to go after, they instead are instantly alerted to your presence and exact location, even if your weapon was suppressed. Not only does this break with the more grounded tone, but it’s frustratingly limiting; guns blazing gives you better options. You can often just snipe people openly, ride in on vehicles, and utilized mounted armaments to destroy your enemies. The stories themselves are a lot of fun, but my favorite still remains Nordly’s. Skiing around and destroying Nazis in the snowy mountains of Norway is just too much fun. The main heroine is also pretty cool. I’m still a big fan of Under No Flag, which I appreciate more now than when I initially covered it in my first impressions. It really plays like some kind of buddy-action picture that might have been directed by Guy Ritchie. I’ll still agree that some of the dialogue can be cringe-worthy at times, but I think a lot of people are making it out to be a lot worse than it is. Overall, barring the announcement of Battlefield: Bad Company 3, I’d like DICE to stick to this format for their campaigns moving forwards because I think they’ve finally figured out their own style. I will say that they aren’t particularly difficult, and they aren’t full-length campaigns. That doesn’t bother me too much, but it’s something to bear in mind.
DICE is usually the king of visual fidelity, and Battlefield V is no different. The Frostbite engine delivers high-quality visuals and performance, and the level of detail is impressive, even on console. I didn’t notice anything that was debilitating, and any loss in frame rate was minor and didn’t inhibit my experience in the slightest. The lighting, fog and dust effects look stellar; fire effects are great too, with some nice particle effects to boot. The biggest graphical/performance issue has to be some of the glitches. As stated in my first impressions, some are harmless and entertaining, such as killing an enemy player and watching their body rag-doll and launch into the air (I’m easily entertained, what can I say?). However, some glitches can pose an issue, such as players poking through their cover and out of buildings, opening themselves up to a cheap death. There also have been some latency issues, although I haven’t had significant problems since they’ve been patching the game. As much as they have improved mobility, it is still possible to become stuck on the geometry at times. While technically glitching can be frustrating, as per usual, the sound design is impeccable. Each gun sounds throaty, booming and impactful. I usually play shooters with my surround sound headset on, and it can be legitimately nerve-wracking with the volume jacked up. It sounds truly immersive and terrifyingly real; the explosions, in particular, had me jumping out of my skin.
Now, for the proverbial elephant in the room: let’s talk about female soldiers and the controversy around their inclusion in the game. This isn’t particularly a big deal to me. I don’t really care about historical accuracy in multiplayer shooters. Female British soldiers are no more unrealistic than infinite parachutes or regenerating health. That being said, I understand people WANTING historical accuracy. In that case, you can either very easily choose to play as a male soldier or not pick up the game; both are perfectly fine, especially after how dismissive and rude EA was to the people criticizing the choice. So I won’t tell you to align yourself in one camp or the other; do what you want.
Overall, do I think you should pick up Battlefield V? That depends on how much you like historical accuracy and how much you require it, even in the multiplayer mode. If you can stomach just switching your character to a male, then its definitely worth the purchase. The game-play is probably the best since the franchise’s third numbered entry, the visuals are incredible as always, the sound design is stellar, and the story mode is tons of fun. If you can’t get past the historical inaccuracies, you probably weren’t picking it up anyways.