Following in the footsteps of the massively acclaimed Battlefield 1 was never going to be an easy task, and although it gets a lot right, Battlefield V just doesn’t have that same impact that its immediate predecessor relayed. With the stains of Battlefront II still haunting EA, the push to release a fully realized and robust, well rounded package, is a pressure that EA undoubtedly felt. It doesn’t help, mind, that whilst Battlefield 1 released alongside the shoddy Infinite Warfare, Battlefield V is sharing a pool with Treyarch’s critically successful Black Ops IIII.
I say that because it’s important. I mean, when it comes to picking a shooter that’s going to see you through until next year, you want to make sure that unless your picking more than one, your choice is one that you’re happy with. That said, Battlefield V is a worthy addition to your FPS library, but there’s clearly something off about its presentation. Unlike its predecessor, a game that pulled us back to The Great War, the newly released Battlefield V focuses its material on World War II; a setting that’s equally as brutal, yet undoubtedly just as historically important.
Let’s start with the campaign, or what little there is of it. It’s spring in the year of 1942. Churchill has just issued a new crack-force, the likes no one has seen in the army, a team with no banner and no flag. Players take on the role of Mr. Bridger, a con who just so happened to be serving time for trying to rob three banks beforehand. Bridger is practically forced into joining the task force, and is shipped off to Africa to rid the Germans of their supplies and their planes. Immediately, the campaign is off to an excellent, intriguing, action-packed and explosive start.
If the first war story was to highlight the game’s banging moments, the second is clearly attempting to show off its stealth elements. Here, players assume the role of a female soldier that’s out to rescue some Norwegian allies. There’s a very James Bond-esque vibe here, being that you approach your targets on skies as you slide down the edge of a mountain. Much like the first story, this is every bit as engaging and every bit as interesting throughout. I especially enjoyed making use of the rather funky throwing knives, and marrying them to the sneaking.
If anything can be said about the campaign, it’s that it knows exactly what a good pace is. I found that on several occasions I was taken aback by not only its visual splendor, but how well everything comes together to promote such a rich (if again, short) offering. Each story does particularly well at pushing you into some tight spots, whilst giving you the tools to overcome each scenario however you see fit. I’ll say as much about the third war story. Set in the 1944 Provence, you follow the infantry of Operation Dragoon; playing as an African troop that’s entering unknown ground.
This mission is focused around the landings in the south of France. Primarily, the unimpressed forces have you doing little more than filling bags with sand, however, before long, a vote sees your squad selected to undertake what can only be described as a suicide mission. Much like war story one and two, the story beats in war story three remain sensationally gripping. Constantly relaying a story of endurance and daring. I’m being purposely vague here, because without spoiling too much at all, this is really something that you have to witness first-hand.
Each mission will last you roughly an hour or so, with the incentive to re-run each mission over and over again to nab collectibles and complete challenges along the way. That said, there are indeed only three missions available at launch. There’s a fourth on the way, but this isn’t set to touch down for a small while yet. Compared to the robust and fleshed out war stories found in Battlefield 1, Battlefield V feels rather bare on this front. There’s never really much time to get truly invested with it, and although I have commended the design of each, it’s a thin campaign.
I daresay that in its current form, it almost serves as an elaborate tutorial that feeds you into the basics of play; run here, blow this up, kill him, capture this – mission done. Perhaps the focus on campaigns in online shooters are starting to take more of a back seat, but in my opinion, if you’re going to do one, make sure that it at least feels complete. Here, despite all of that ingenuity and all of that excitement, it feels like a step back rather than a step forward – or at least when comparing to its predecessor. Fun and massively entertaining, yes, but hella short.
I will credit the developer for something I quite enjoyed. The troops in the story mode are of different classes, a bit like how multiplayer works. This means that the AI will go out of their way to aid their allies, such as German medics healing their fallen comrades. It pushes the player into a zone that has you truly checking your corners, and overall, sits well with the game’s difficulty curves. Battlefield V’s campaign is indeed decent, that much goes without saying, but it’s lacking in aspects that Battlefield 1 excelled in. Make of that what you will.
Though, let’s be honest, it’s the multiplayer that many of us are here for. This has always been a massive part of the franchise and this game is no different. Note: if you didn’t get the memo, DICE’s battle royale mode has been delayed until next year. Nevertheless, Battlefield V is at its strongest in this department. Those of you that relish large scale battles with the series’ iconic physics across its expansive maps, will feel right at home here. What’s in the box? Let’s start with the game’s smaller modes and work out way up. The first of which is Infantry Focus mode.
Here, you can enjoy the intense combat that Battlefield is known for, but on a smaller playing field and without vehicular warfare. It’s a 32 player game of 16 vs. 16, encompassing the likes of TDM, domination and frontline. These modes play out a lot faster than most, coming with just a fifteen minute timer in total. Still, that’s plenty of time to rock-up with an STG 44 and wreck shop. It’s especially ideal if you prefer your action in short bursts. That said, if you’re in the market for something more grand, then the fittingly titled Grand Operations mode is for you.
This functions exactly as it always has; large scale fighting that sees you and your team pushing forward to take parts of the map. In order to win, you’ll need to push through all of the checkpoints to slowly achieve victory. However, your team only has a set amount of tickets (lives), so it pays off to play it carefully. Matches in this mode may indeed be short at the best of times, but they’re explosive and fun nonetheless. That aside, that takes us onto Conquest – the biggest mode of the lot – a single match lasting around thirty minutes per-whack.
Each team has a total of 500 tickets each, again, forcing you to play it safe so that you’re not chomping away at your respawn count. Much to be expected, this is the most action-packed mode of the lot. The maps are huge, varied and stunningly detailed for the most part, with vehicles of all types constantly patrolling territory. This is where you want to be if you’re looking for a pace that no other console shooter can quite deliver; 64 players, tanks, planes, heaps of varying weaponry and much, much more. It’s your one-stop spot for all-out bloody carnage.
The game does a good job at refining the series’ mechanics at the same time as introducing new concepts. This includes the likes of specializations. Here, you’ll have the ability to upgrade each weapon for added benefits; quick aiming, faster reloading, custom stocks, recoil buffers, and so on. Every gun is different and the more that you use it, the more that you can unlock for it. It’s a solid system to say the least. This sits on top of leveling up classes and vehicles, giving you more than enough breathing space to create some distinct and unique customizations.
There’s a lot of fun to be had here, whether you’re competitive or not. The shift to a World War II setting means that there’s more weaponry and tools to select from than before, and I’ll credit the game for actually making the player feel like they’re in the thick of a battle at every turn. The game’s visuals hold up magnificently well, with all the usual screen effects and animations returning in a more refined presentation. Elsewhere, Battlefield V looks sensational. Character models are pretty decent throughout, with the vehicular and weaponry designs equally as such.
I’m excited to see what DICE brings to the game during their support of it. The current maps are some of the best maps in a Battlefield game in recent memory, designed in such a way to introduce opportunities at every hurdle. I want to particularly commend the game for its gun-play, being that firing weapons and making contact, actually (and finally) feels like it should. The audio design sits perfectly with that, as do the game’s fluid, easy to understand controls. It’s just a shame that in its current form, Battlefield V doesn’t feel like a complete experience.
Sure, the multiplayer is as exciting and as engaging as it ever has been and easily stands as the game’s selling point. Though with the lack of battle royale, together with the short campaign, something just feels a bit off. I daresay that in a few months time, once additional maps, modes and more of the campaign is fed into the game, it’ll be a much easier title to recommend – at least as far as its value goes, that is. Though as it stands, Battlefield V is asking for a lot of money for just a moderate amount of overall content.
On the topic of money, let’s talk MTs. These will be present in the game, but EA assures us that they’ll be cosmetic items only. That, despite what you think of MTs, is much better that what we’ve seen from EA before. Want to earn credits and earn content that way? Why not. Want to bypass that and spend even more money? Well, it’s your money! So long as it is indeed kept cosmetic-only, the game’s balance will remain on point. Let us all hope that EA have truly learned from their mistakes and utilize this attitude for all of their games.
The bottom line in all of this is that Battlefield V is a game that’s worthy of your time. The content that it does offer is compelling and engaging, but I would have needed to have seen more than what’s included to give it a high-end score. If you, like me, are an absolute Battlefield-nut, this is a no brainer. There’s a great structure here, that goes without saying, but DICE needs to ensure that they build upon it correctly. If they do that, this may well end up being one the finest Battlefield games yet, but until then, it falls slightly short of the mark.
Battlefield V’s content depth may indeed be lacking, though even so, the content that is on offer remains explosively robust from the onset. The campaign is relatively engaging and emotional, and the multiplayer is every bit as action-heavy as it ever has been. That said, if you’re looking for a varied shooter, you may want to hold off until DICE adds in its additional story, its battle royale mode, and its extra maps.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.