Battlefield V Review - Still Good in 2020?

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Indecision: A soldier wonders if mediocrity is worth fighting for


Battlefield V is finally where it should have been - but is it even worth the bother?

I've been a fan of the Battlefield franchise since the first Bad Company. Since then, I've purchased each release, some more than once. So, while it might be my favorite franchise, there is still just as much to criticize than there is to praise, if not more so. It's only because of how much I wanted Battlefield to succeed that I can give you all the good, the bad, and the ugly.

About Battlefield V

Battlefield V is a first person-shooter (FPS) that allows players to fight on large, World War II battlegrounds in up to 32 vs. 32 combined-arms combat. Released on November 9th, 2018, it was developed by DICE, a high-pedigree studio out of Stockholm, Sweden, with almost three decades in the industry. 
Battlefield V had one of, if not, the worst launch receptions in DICE's history, maybe video games entirely. Despite this, there is still quite a sizable audience, with over 440,000 monthly active players on PlayStation 4 alone. PC player counts are suspiciously difficult to find.

EA executives themselves admitted that Battlefield V was nowhere near their optimistic sales projections, and as of Q3 2019, Battlefield 5 has sold 7.3 million copies worldwide. It's pretty evident that the game's terrible marketing, a beast in and of itself that deserves its own novel by this point, made a significant impact on sales performance.

EA is keeping official numbers very hush-hush, a sign to many that higher-ups see the sales figures as something best kept to themselves - a smart move if somewhat disingenuous.

Battlefield V was in development somewhere over two years, or maybe even less. Upon release, many relented that the game felt rushed and critically unpolished - crashes, game-breaking bugs, poor design choices ran rife throughout the first few months.

Battlefield V Story

Menu: The main splash screen before selecting a narrative, depicting most playable characters.

Battlefield V doesn't have a single, unifying narrative; instead, the single-player campaign is a series of "War Stories" that explore multiple perspectives from both sides of World War II, especially the less well-known conflicts. 

The Battlefield V stories as a whole aren't anything special, and it's pretty apparent DICE put most of their effort towards the multiplayer aspect. Another criticism is you don't get to spend much time with the characters, what with switching perspectives right when the player is starting to develop some form of attachment. It might have done DICE better to cut down on the variety of narratives and instead flesh-out the more engaging stories.

Also, perhaps instead of super-soldiers DICE could instead focus on instilling the feeling of being a small part in a unit, working together within a squad.
For example, in "Nordlys" you play as a young resistance fighter in Norway, which sounds exciting at first until you halfway through you realize it’s the same one-man-army, mediocre-stealth gameplay from Battlefield 1. You get to ski circles around Nazis while cutting them down with throwing knives but combined with weak AI and boring objective design, the single player just feels hollow.

The same can be said for most of the single-player War Stories, the only exception being "Tirailleur." A decent chunk is played along with AI squamates in a sprawling French countryside, which along with the chaos in the background, makes it feel like you're in a real battle; however, the mission returns to the similar one-against-the-world gameplay found throughout the rest of the single-player.

The real standout mission is "The Last Tiger," which garnered a small bit of controversy letting you take on the role of a German tank commander - albeit a commander disillusioned with the Nazi's grand objectives. Despite DICE's attempt to give players a glimpse into less-explored World War II scenarios, none of the missions are all that memorable apart from their surface details.

 

Battlefield V Gameplay

Battlefield V Gameplay

Character creation in the Battlefield V's multiplayer is quite robust and comes with a sizable amount of options (both paid and free) to choose from. Players start with a base model, from both male and female options, of which they can't change the facial features or physical stature - only clothing/face paint is customizable. All characters have a slot for headgear, torso, and leg options that can be purchased through in-game currency earned by playing or with "premium" currency that is bought with real money and is used to unlock special outfits and weapon cosmetics. Accessories themselves are locked to their piece of gear, so players can't add or remove things like gasmasks or ammo pouches to/from a piece of clothing they like.

There are four classes in multiplayer: Assault for spearheading objectives, destroying armor, and general frontline-play, Medic for close-quarter-combat, reviving teammates, and keeping them alive with health items, Support for laying down suppressive fire, building advanced fortifications like anti-tank guns, and maintaining ammo supply, Recon for finding and marking targets and long-range sniper-support.

Players can expect to find themselves as part of four-person squads in large-scale operations that take place over multiple rounds or more traditional arena-like gameplay typical amongst first-person-shooters. At its core, Battlefield V is a sandbox where there is no "right way to play." All the tools are given to the player so they can play how they want.

You can drive tanks, pilot planes, try to sneak behind enemy lines, throw yourself into the throng and everything in between.
The flagship game mode, Conquest, puts players on a vast expanse to battle over strategic objectives on the map - the main goal being to bleed the enemy's "tickets" (respawns) down to zero by killing opponents and having the majority of objectives. There are also more traditional game modes like team deathmatch, domination, capture the flag, etc. - although these tend to be much less populated. 

Battlefield V also throws its own hat into the "Battle Royale" ring with Firestorm - pitting 64 players against each other as squads or alone in a last-man-standing deathmatch. Although, most can agree that Firestorm pales in comparison to different Battle Royale iterations such as Fortnite or Call of Duty: Modern Warfare's "Warzone" - both of which also happen to be free-to-play.

 

Conquest: Players secure a Flag and establish a beachhead with the aid of armored support.

Battlefield V's maps can range from huge expanses that cover many square kilometers with ton's options for mobility like jeeps and boats to small arena's where the enemy is never more than a stone's throw away. Although you'd be hard pressed to find servers running the now abandoned 5 vs. 5 game mode.

As of the latest update at the time of writing, version 6.2, many of the game-breaking bugs and design choices have been addressed but there is still quite a bit that could be worked on in the eyes of the community. Chiefly the level of immersion and authenticity present in the game - many feels as though DICE completely under-delivered, especially since the game was touted as an authentic experience during the game's marketing campaign.

A lot of the customization items are criticized for being whacky and outlandish, out-of-date, or just belonging to the utterly wrong faction. For example: having Misaki, a purchasable "Elite" Japanese character running around on maps such as Arras, which is set in the French countryside. 
Also, DICE's attempt to portray the lesser-known parts of World War II fell flat as players protested the lack of famous moments such as the D-Day Landings or the entirety of the Eastern Front. All of that and a clunky Assignment system with frustrating requirements, plus hackers are running rampant with little to no repercussions to boot.

Single-player itself doesn't have much in the realm of replay value due to linear level design, but there are collectibles strewn throughout for players who like to explore when the combat has died down. Multiplayer, however, offers a myriad of different playstyles to try, tactics, game modes, weapons, etc. - Which is the main reason people play Battlefield in the first place.

Battlefield V Combat

Battlefield V Combat

As of the 6.2 update, Battlefield V has returned to its slick, responsive gunplay that feels varied and tight. All the weapons have a ton of variety and feel good - as in when you pull the trigger, there's a 'weight' to the weapon that makes it feel deadly, unique, and useful. Players have a limited amount of health and ammo, both of which can be scavenged around the map or dropped by other players. Players can opt to spawn in tanks or planes, both of which come with multiple variants with their own upgrades and skill trees.

Character's themselves don't get stronger, instead unlocks and upgrades are earned for weapons and vehicles the more players use them, with the max multiplayer level being Rank 500. All these elements combined give the impression of being just a small piece in massive, large-scale operation where cinematic moments and intense gameplay happens organically instead of from scripted events.
As players use a weapon or vehicle, a skill tree will be unlocked where players can choose an upgrade path. Usually, these specialize in a specific play-style, e.g., tuning a rifle for longer range combat or kitting out a tank to focus on anti-infantry tasks.

Battlefield V offers a plethora of World War II weapons from almost every major faction. Players can expect the typical complement of FPS weapons like sniper rifles, machine guns, battle-rifles, etc. That all operate pretty much as one would expect them to. SMGs dominate in CQC, bolt-action rifles at long range, semi/automatic rifles control medium range - it's nothing players haven't seen before.

Tanks, fighter planes, and bombers that have light/heavy variants that can be customized just like weapons as well as map-specific vehicles such as boats and landing craft that can't be customized to such a degree but still offer a fast way to get around.

Battlefield V's co-op game mode "Combined Arms" has been lambasted as one of the laziest cooperative experiences in a Battlefield game. Up to four players can tackle objectives such as assassinating key targets, eliminating enemies in an area, destroying infrastructure, and stealing documents. The reason it catches so much flak is that there isn't much in the way of the story as it feels just like a generic campaign mission with bad AI - an afterthought.

For PvP, players have access to multiple matchmaking options to find games - either through quickly joining a random game or by going through a server browser so they can find one tailored to how they want to play. 

All the animations are slick and robust; each one carries weight, and player models move realistically. DICE's sound design deserves an award all on its own - the music, battle sounds, weapons, voice acting, explosions everything is top-notch. Nothing sounds weak, or fake and it all culminates into a beautiful yet somehow terrifying audio mix that keeps players immersed.

Battlefield V Assignment System 

Battlefield V's Assignment system has been a point of contention ever since its release. Players must select one from the Main Menu and then complete the requirements - usually something like getting X number of headshots in a single-game or something of the like. They typically reward in-game currency or customization items for weapon systems. The system has been criticized as being clunky and poorly designed from the bottom-up - with many feeling as though the designers never even bothered to test them before release.

The Assignments are all tedious and boring - or in the worst-case scenarios, they are incredibly frustrating and steer players towards playstyles that do nothing for the objective of the game. For example: in one life, kill ten enemies with headshots while in objective areas - which on the surface sounds like it could be geared towards capturing objectives but in practice just ends with players camping in an objective that doesn't need attention just to grind out the requirements.

 

Battlefield V Graphics

Battlefield V at Max Settings

Battlefield V's crowning achievement, besides its stellar sound design, is its visual presentation. Thanks to the Frostbite 3 engine, Battlefield V is one of the most beautiful games ever to be put out on the market - ever.

Personally, as with most DICE games, I think Battlefield V is an excellent example of just how far video game rendering technology has come. The lighting, particle effects, soldiers, vehicles everything is so detailed. The world is realistic for a video game. Battlefield, as a franchise, is known for the destructibility of its environment, and it's obvious that a lot of time and care went into representing the hellscapes that are World War II battlefields.

A brief respite: A player pauses to soak in the beauty - dynamic lighting, detailed skyboxes, and bloom effects give Battlefield V a cinematic feel.

Battlefield V Developer

DICE is the developer of Battlefield 5 - they've made quite a name for themselves with the franchise, and it is only recently that the communities doubts in the developers' ability to produce quality AAA experiences have arisen. Battlefield 5 isn't as bug-ridden as it used to be - and players who managed to stick it out have been rewarded with a relatively smooth gameplay experience - albeit many still find it lacking polish compared to previous titles.

Another key criticism of Battlefield V, or really DICE in general, is the lack of quality communication between developers and the community. Many hardcore fans feel as though their opinions are thrown by the wayside to tailor the game to reach the biggest audience possible.

There have been many reworks to the games core damage models - most of which were negatively received by the core audience before they were even implemented - yet DICE chose to ignore them anyway. It's only recently after the 6.2 update that damage values have reverted to the accepted original - after DICE patched and then re-patched the game, seemingly shooting in the dark as to what they want their game to be.

Battlefield V is marketed as a "games-as-a-service" item, meaning that new content is slowly dripped in its "Tides of War" expansions instead of being released all at once to allow players to experience everything before being bogged down in new content.

DICE does come through with regular content updates that add new maps, weapons, vehicles, and cosmetics - all of which are free of charge except for cosmetics, which is fair.  Despite the criticisms behind DICE's decision-making, no one can argue that they aren't trying. The updates come almost every month, but often the patches will fix one issue while creating two new ones. 

It's only with the last 6.2 update that there seems to be universal acceptance among the community - even though the update only really reverts most of the changes to previous states instead of adding anything new.

Battlefield V Price

As a standalone, Battlefield V costs $15.99 but can be found much cheaper if you sign up for EA's Origin Access - which gives you a whole library of games starting from $4.99 a month. Battlefield V is available on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One; as of the time of writing this article, there are no pay-to-win elements.
There are in-game-purchases, but they are only limited to cosmetic options that don't influence gameplay. Despite this, many players in the past have accused DICE of prioritizing the in-game store over more pressing matters that affect the core gameplay.

FINAL VERDICT: 7.5 (post the 6.2 update)

All in all, Battlefield V is a decent game now - I'd be lying to you if I said it was a good game from the onset. Thanks to the new content releases and DICE finally listening to some feedback, the game is in the state it should have been in at the time of its release, nearly two years ago.**Hopefully, the coming Eastern Front DLC will breathe in some new life**. It's hard to shake the nagging feeling that it might be too little too late.

Pros

  • A huge sandbox with a ton of options on how to play
  • Combined-arms warfare that encompasses tons of weaponry from all across World War II
  • Slick, responsive gunplay that feels satisfying
  • Tons of customization options to personalize soldiers and vehicles
  • Regular, free updates that add maps and weapons**
  • Beautiful graphics and sound design

Cons

  • Hit-or-miss updates that have the potential to ruin core gameplay
  • Poor communication between the community and developers
  • A shallow single-player
  • More famous moments from World War II are missing
  • Cheating/hacking rampant on PC
  • An inauthentic representation of World War II (which might not matter to those who aren’t invested in the history)
  • **No more new content after this summer

**Note: At the time of publishing this DICE announced that they would release one more content patch this summer. After that, they will no longer release any new Tides of War expansions or introduce new content, such as the Eastern Front.

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Jose is a left-handed techno-mancer with an affinity for IPAs, big dogs, and black-and-white movies. Rebels are scum, Empire for life.
Gamer Since: 2004
Favorite Genre: RTS
Currently Playing: Wargame: Red Dragon, Battlefield V
Top 3 Favorite Games:Wargame: Red Dragon, Metro: Last Light, Battlefield 4


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