I also wrote a guide on playing the multiplayer Here.
Battlefield V is the next installment of the long-running Battlefield series. It is a game that has always focused on large-scale multiplayer warfare, mixing up infantry, armored and air combat in epic battles.
In a lot of ways Battlefield V evolves the series, or perhaps it devolves it back closer to its roots from older Battlefield titles. For a number of years, Battlefield chased Call of Duty’s success, imitating its fast-paced gunplay and instant gratification design. It wasn’t the only franchise to do this, for years, many games tried. I believe it has contributed to this gaming generations lack of attention spans and need to constantly be knee deep in ball busting action. For better or worse.
Battlefield V slows it down a bit, it’s still faster paced than the oldest Battlefield titles. But its more tactical and has a methodical pace. Rushing and running around is just going to get you gunned down. You need to use cover, think about what you are doing and work with your teammates to succeed in V. It’s a pleasant change but it requires the entire player base to adapt to it, some already are, many aren’t. It is far too early to predict how the player base will evolve overtime.
The games weakest point is its single-player campaign. While there is nothing inherently wrong with the gameplay, it’s just uninspired and a painfully sub-par shooter experience. The single player titled war stories, are split into four mini-episodes with a fifth one coming soon. Battlefield is at its best in large-scale warfare scenarios, and the game’s introduction episode captures this perfectly. It puts you in the shoes of different soldiers, in different years and battles in World War 2.
One moment you are parachuting in and charging an enemy front line, the next you are a tank commander in a massive battle. Then suddenly you’re in the boots of a sniper attacking a convoy, or a pilot engaging a bomber squadron. Each one feels suitably intense and epic. The field is full of allied soldiers and enemies battling it out and the atmosphere actually makes up for the average gameplay.
Unfortunately, past that episode, it all goes downhill. Two of the episodes puts you alone in a small sandbox area and focuses on stealth. Gone are the battles of epic proportion, the charging allied soldiers, exploding artillery fire and planes buzzing overhead. Instead, you are tasked with a set of objectives in a free-roaming space and are expected to do them using stealth. You can technically go in guns blazing, but you are alone, and it feels like a run of the mill shooting gallery if you do.
Despite the focus on stealth, the game doesn’t really have any systems in place to support it. You can crouch, and one episode gives you throwing knives. That’s it, that’s the extent of how stealth works. One episode does give you a set of skis to move around the snow-covered landscape. It is admittedly enjoyable but does little to make up for the rest of a boring slog.
The third episode, while not to the scale of the intro, is focused on an actual platoon versus defensive fortification battle and is far more enjoyable for it. It actually feels like a battlefield. The AI is pretty dumb for both allied and enemy soldiers though, some of them take cover but many simply charge straight at you.
The enemies, however, do have classes which adds a bit of variety. Medics will try to pick up fallen friends for example. Big flamethrower guys will tank a lot of damage, and snipers will, of course, snipe you. Each episode has its own characters and stories and while they aren’t terrible. They don’t last long enough individually to really develop the characters or make you care about them.
Overall, the War Stories feel tacked on. They aren’t particularly engaging, but due to the games slick controls, they aren’t awful either. Just underwhelming. They do offer difficulty settings which always a great thing in my book, and if you are into that sort of thing, there are a lot of collectibles to find.
The real meat of the game is its competitive multiplayer. Battlefield V offers a good variety of modes and eight maps with more to come later, for free. Gone are the season and premium passes that inevitably split the player base apart. It is too early to say whether the games as a service method will work for V or not. But the first update is already due December 4th so we can cross our fingers and hope.
The gunplay is extremely responsive, and each gun handles differently and can be customized extensively, both in function and form. The moment-to-moment gunfights feel better than they ever have before in a Battlefield game.
Your weapons recoil patterns differ, but your bullets do what you expect them to when fired. No random deviation like Battlefield 1 had. The time to kill is pretty short, but it feels good and when you aren’t affected by a bug (more on this later). You should have time to react to an attack unless you are hit in the head.
Battlefield V has four classes that, like the weapons can be customized in both appearance and functionality. The classes are Medic, Recon, Assault, and Support. Each one has access to different weapon types and gadgets, but they also have archetypes that can affect how they play.
For example, the Support can be an Engineer, which allows them to repair vehicles and build fortifications faster, or a Machine Gunner which marks suppressed enemies. Combine this with the gun specializations and you have a lot of room to form your own playstyle. Recons aren’t locked in to being snipers, for example. Simply take a scope off of a self-loading rifle to be a frontlines scout. Put a scope on an assaults bolt action rifle to become a sniper with anti-vehicle capabilities.
Alongside your weapons and classes, you also level up and customize the many tanks and planes in the game. You can pick and choose between having more armor on your tanks, supporting gadgets such as flare launchers or a heavier gun barrel and more. Planes can be made more maneuverable, more durable or given different types of bombs and weapons.
Once on the field, you will find that you have a lot more tactical options than in previous titles. You can run while crouched, while slower than a normal sprint, your profile is smaller making you harder to hit. You can drag gun emplacements around the battlefield by hitching them on to a vehicle. And you can build fortifications such as barbed wire, sandbags and tank traps at numerous locations in every map. But the game’s biggest changes are its attrition and team play systems.
You don’t spawn with a ton of ammo and health does not fully regain on its own unless you use a health pack, and you start with only one. There are supply crates in some areas of the maps and more can be built around capture points. In the field, you need to rely on teammates to help keep you stocked. Supports can supply ammo packs and medics can supply the health. Furthermore, medics can revive anyone with their syringes, but squad mates of any class can revive each other with a slower animation.
3D spotting is gone, hitting the spot button instead marks the area you were looking at for your squad. I didn’t like this at first, but over time I began to see its benefits. With the old spotting system, your crosshairs had to be directly on an enemy to spot them. But when a squad mate spots an area, it is immediately visible on your HUD and mini-map. How many times has a friend said, enemies over there! Or a sniper on that ridge! And you have literally no clue where they are actually talking about?
With the new spotting system, you may not see the exact person of interest being marked by a giant red Dorito tag. But you know exactly where to look, right away and without error. It works really well. This also circles back around to team play, because the old marking system is not entirely gone.
Tank buster Assaults mark vehicles they damage, Machine Gunner Supports mark enemies that they have suppressed. But most importantly, the Recon has gadgets in line with its namesake. The Recon class can use a spotting scope to mark enemies just by looking at them. While enemies are always revealed on the mini map if they fire a gun, a recon can use a flare gun to reveal them within a certain radius until it expires.
This is super important for the pilots in your squad. Without normal 3D spotting, they are essentially blind to ground targets. However, if their squad marks areas or the Recon uses the spotting scope to aid them, the pilots can still be effective at bombing and strafing runs. Team play is key to using vehicles effectively as well, bombers can be an absolute menace on the battlefield but cannot evade fighters. So, either a friendly fighter or tail gunner needs to work with the pilot to be effective. Tanks are great at breaking stalemates but need infantry support to keep assaults from flanking them
Squad leaders make a return in Battlefield V and as in previous titles they can mark objectives to be attacked or defended and the squad gets more points for doing so. A new addition is the requestion points. Squads build these points up when following orders and working together. This allows squad leaders to use them to call in supply drops, rocket strikes or bring in faction-specific heavy vehicles such as the Crocodile or Sturm tiger.
These systems work incredibly well when the players adapt and use them, but that’s also the biggest potential flaw. Much of the design counts on players to slow down instead of rushing for that instant gratification. It’s not uncommon to see players take a flag, build fortifications all around it and then leave it completely unguarded so that a single enemy soldier can walk in, capture it and get all of those fortifications for free.
I’ve seen players jump out of a damaged tank so they wouldn’t spend five seconds respawning if they died, and in turn, handed that tank to a nearby enemy who jumped in and repaired it. The Recon class can turn the tide of battle by using the spotting scope, but that would require the player to stop trying nail headshots from a cliff 300 meters away with a sniper rifle.
Tanks drivers rarely ever have secondary gunners, players spawn on the tank and immediately jump out, running off to find that quick endorphin boost. The game makes a strong attempt to incentivize the player to slow down and work together, generally, you get more points and actually see more action when you do. I’ve had numerous moments where I’ve set up a defensive line on a flag and waited ten seconds, only to be greeted by an enemy rush that I was able to gun down due to my advantage. Had I run off in lieu of defending, I would have maybe taken one down before promptly dying.
I’ve been an Engineer keeping a tank repaired and constantly dropping infantry attempting to flank the armored hulk. I’ve had longer kill streaks staying alive with my squad than ever rushing to the next point so I can pew pew my gun for two seconds and then die. But all the incentives in the world can’t actually force that kind of adaption, not when we are so deep into the era of instant gratification. Many players are learning and trying, but time will tell if Battlefield V lives or dies on these new systems.
The game ships with 8 maps and they are all well designed. Most of them lack ugly choke points to be filled with grenade spam like some past titles and they have many tactical avenues of attack. I was happy to see that all the maps had vehicles of some sort, playing to the Battlefields core strength of combined arms warfare. The maps are gorgeous to look at and some of them feature random weather such as snow or sandstorms.
Battlefield V offers a variety of modes, the two core ones being conquest and grand operations. In conquest, each side is fighting for control of several capture points on the map. Having more capture points than the other side slowly drains away their ticket count (alongside kills) and whichever side runs out of tickets first loses. It’s been a staple of the franchise forever and shines as bright as ever in V.
Grand Operations, on the other hand, plays out in a series of in-game days via rounds, on multiple maps and game modes. While I do love conquest, Grand Operations will often have one side on the attack, and the other on defense. This helps focus the players in on what they need to do to help win and lessens the impact of some of my prior complaints. Grand Operations feels pretty epic at times as the action is more compact and focused but loses out on the freedom of conquest.
Some smaller modes exist such as deathmatch, and while their inclusion isn’t a bad thing and I’m glad they are there for those who want them. You miss out on a lot of the games magic by lowering the player count and having infantry only combat. It’s not my cup of tea, I’m more of a coffee drinker myself.
It might go without saying, but the graphics of the game are gorgeous, and the sound design is on point. Dice really knows how to crank out the visuals of the frostbite engine and never disappoints in that regard. Battlefield V looks and sounds amazing.
I’ve sadly run into some bugs, a couple of them froze me so I couldn’t respawn and had to rejoin the server. Sometimes my guy would have trouble vaulting a piece of terrain. Most importantly is the game sometimes registers all the bullets fired at you at once. making it seem like you die far faster than your enemies without giving you a chance to react.
The panzerfausts which are an Assaults rocket launcher used to take down vehicles are currently hitting too hard, giving tank drivers a rougher time than they should reasonably be having.
The UI is somewhat awkward. You can access some of your customization options in the game, but if you want to look at or change your weapon or vehicles specializations you have to exit back out to the main menu.
However, it is important to note that most of these issues have already been publicly acknowledged by Dice and are set to be fixed December 4th. If I find myself satisfied with the patch, I will update my review score accordingly.
The core of the game is detailed, and its systems are well designed. Most importantly, it’s fun and addicting to play. If you have ever enjoyed Battlefield games or other competitive multiplayer titles, you will probably enjoy this. Just keep in mind, the game expects you to think your actions out and work with your team, not constantly dash to your death.
- Great and responsive gunplay
- Tactical new systems are fun and encourage teamplay
- Gorgeous visuals and excellent sound
- Classes and vehicles are varied and customizable
- Maps are very well designed
- Difficulty settings for War stories
- Some systems require the player base to adapt to a style of play that isn’t the norm. Time will tell.
- Some bugs and balance issues (That are promised to be fixed soon?)
- Underwhelming single player feels tacked on
- Soldier cosmetics are plain and uninteresting and vehicle cosmetics are not yet implemented.
- Weird UI design makes it so some actions have to be taken in the main menu.