Battlefield V Review

Screenshot from Battlefield V
Just me and a bunch of mates charging through a field

  • Reviewed by: Mark Goninon
  • Developer: DICE
  • Publisher: EA
  • Release Date: 20 November 2018
  • Time played: 104 hours

What is it

The Battlefield series has come full circle since we're now back to World War II, the theatre of war that featured in the very first Battlefield game released in 2002: Battlefield 1942. The series has been going for 16 years now and there have been just as many games, with Battlefield V being the sixteenth instalment in the series.

The game attracted controversy even before it was released, thanks to the game featuring women in front line combat roles as well as the then Chief Design Officer, Patrick Söderlund's response to the backlash which was to tell potential players to accept it or don't buy the game.

An open beta was held in September which I tried out and I found the game to be promising. The game was released the following month on the 20th November 2018. The game has received generally favourable reviews on Metacritic with a Metascore of 81 on PC. The story (as expected) is quite different with the user reviews where the average score is 2.8 based on 2,064 ratings.

On the surface, Battlefield V plays similar to previous iterations in the series where the multiplayer game modes on offer usually have you in one team of 32 players pitted against another, vying for dominance over the map using a combination of weapons, vehicles and aircraft. You've got classic game modes like Conquest but also new ones like Grand Operations (which is an evolution of the "Operations" game mode in Battlefield 1). The game brings new War Stories to the table (similar to what was on offer in Battlefield 1) as well as new aspects to multiplayer such as building fortifications, calling in Squad Reinforcements and specifying Combat Roles for each of the classes. Finally, the game does away with Premium and introduces free regular content for every player through Tides of War; this means the player base is no longer fragmented due to players owning different DLC.

A co-operative mode is set to be released in the coming days as well as a Battle Royale mode called "Firestorm" next month.

How I got it

I liked what I saw during the open beta so I decided to pre-order the game for both me and my wife, especially when JB Hi-Fi was offering it for $49 (sadly, the game is now $69 at JB Hi-Fi, but that's still cheaper than buying it off Origin – although if you want a good deal right now, get it for $57 off EB).

Screenshot from Battlefield V
War Stories cover parts of WWII that aren't often covered in the media

What I like:


War Stories

The game comes with four "War Stories" which are single-player missions that feature combat from perspectives not normally featured in WWII media such as the Norwegian Resistance, the Senegalese Tirailleurs, the British Secret Boat Service and the crew of a German Tiger tank in the final days of the war. While the missions themselves aren't historically accurate, they are based on true events and were interesting enough to inspire me to learn more.

Audio

Battlefield games tend to shine is in the audio department: Battlefield V is no exception and manages to authentically capture some quite chilling sounds, such as the Jericho Trumpet sirens wailing as a Stuka performs a dive-bombing run, or a V-1 rocket's engine just before it hits its target.

Soundtrack

Battlefield 1 composers Johan Söderqvist and Patrik Andrén return to deliver an orchestral score for Battlefield V and it's phenomenal. Most of the tracks incorporate elements from either the main Battlefield theme as well as themes from Battlefield 1. "Tirailleur" is a particular favourite of mine.



The soundtrack has also one of the most beautiful renditions of the British patriotic song "I Vow to Thee, My Country" I've ever heard (although Geoff Knorr's version in Civ V is arguably just as good).

WWII Era Weapons and Vehicles

Battlefield V launched with only two factions: Britain and Germany, but more will be added later on. Unlike Battlefield 1, it seems that vehicles and aircraft available to each faction are ones that were actually used by their respective nations such as Churchill tanks and Spitfire fighters for the British, and Tiger tanks and Stuka bombers for the Germans. Amongst the infantry weapons you'll get access to Kar98s, Bren Guns and Stg 44s.

Tides of War replaces Premium Pass

Battlefield V seems to have taken an approach similar to Rainbow Six Siege where once you've purchased the game, you'll have access to all maps that will be released and they'll be introduced over seasons. This means the community will no longer be segregated by those that have certain DLC and those that do not. Tides of War also introduces unique weekly challenges where completion of the challenges rewards players with new weapons and cosmetics; it can definitely get addictive at times so it seems to work as a means of bringing players back and keeping the game active.

No lootboxes

EA/DICE have apparently backed down with respect to lootboxes and will adopt a premium in-game currency which can be used for unlocking cosmetics (these can also be unlocked using a "grind currency" which I believe are called "Company Coins") so it's a bit similar to R6 Siege where you have R6 Credits (purchased with real money) and Renown (the "grind currency" of Siege).

Fortifications

Battlefield V continues to take inspiration from other games, such as Fortnite and Rainbow 6: Siege as it allows you to build fortifications (such as sandbags and hedgehogs) as well as board up windows near objectives. While some well placed explosives can often make short work of the fortifications, it does mean the enemy will be stalled as they advance; Support classes are unique when it comes to fortifications as they're also able to build stationary weapons such as machine guns, AA guns and anti-tank guns.

Variety of game modes

While I'm not a big fan of all the game modes (such as Team Deathmatch and Frontlines), there are currently seven modes on offer including classic modes such as Conquest. New modes such as Grand Operations are good fun as the games play out like mini-campaigns where success (or failure) on one map will influence aspects of the next map such as the number of tickets and spawn points.

Combat Roles

I miss the days when Battlefield had a whole bunch of classes to choose from such as Battlefield 2 where you could pick from seven. Over the years, the seven classes in Battlefield 2 has been condensed down to four although Battlefield V remedies this somewhat through the introduction of "Combat Roles". For each class you can pick one of two Combat Roles that offer minor benefits dependent on how you're going to play the class. For example, the Support class can pick between the Machine Gunner Combat Role (which can cause more and receive less suppression, as well as automatically spot fully suppressed enemies) and the Engineer Combat Role (which can repair vehicles and build fortifications faster; vehicle weapons that they fire also take longer to overheat).

Limited ammo and health regeneration

You now get limited ammo in Battlefield V which reminds me of the good ol' days of Battlefield 2 - however, there are ammo resupply stations situated at the flags, so it's not like you're going to be totally dependent on the support class. Health regeneration is now also broken up in stages so when you're on low health, you won't recover full health by just standing around. Again, just like the ammo stations, there are first aid stations situated around the map, so you're not completely dependent on medics. For an old Battlefield 2 veteran, it's a step in the right direction.

Squad Reinforcements

It's a poor man's Commander Mode, but again, another step in the right direction: you can now get squad reinforcements in Battlefield V which are deployed by the squad leader provided he/she earns enough squad points. Squad points are earned whenever your squad works together: accumulate enough points and the squad leader can bring in supply drops, a Churchill Crocodile flamethrower tank and even a V-1 rocket strike.

Screenshot from Battlefield V
Showing up on the Best Squad screen is a welcome sight

What I dislike:


The game still has bugs

It's probably no surprise (considering this is a Battlefield game) but the game was released with a myriad of bugs. Many of them have been fixed over the past couple of months, although some bugs still exist, including one that I still encounter every so often which has the game hanging during map transitions, and the only solution is to Alt+F4 and restart the game. While this isn't too much of a big deal any more, I used to have it occurring after every third map transition and during Grand Operations where you play at least three maps in a row, it was a showstopper bug.

The game is still incomplete

Despite the game being released two months ago, it's still incomplete and features are being added in an incremental fashion; features such as the final War Story ("The Last Tiger") and the Practice Range weren't available on release and were only added recently. BFV players are still waiting on the co-op mode called "Combined Arms" and the inclusion of the classic game mode, "Rush" (both should be coming out this month); "Firestorm", BFV's answer to Battle Royale should be coming out next month. There's also only two factions in the game so far and no word about other ones, but they'd be silly not to at least include the Americans, Russians and Japanese in future updates.

So, there are things coming in the pipeline but players have to place a certain level of trust in DICE and EA to deliver the goods.

Resource hog

This is also probably no big surprise considering it's a Battlefield game but it really needs a good PC to make the most of it; even my pretty recent PC which meets the recommended system requirements, isn't quite enough to run the game on Ultra (which are actually the recommended settings according to NVIDIA GeForce Experience – go figure). As a result, I experienced a lot of framerate drops or microstutter which I used to also experience in Battlefield 1. I tried many things including changing my Windows 10 power settings and tweaking the graphics settings through the NVIDIA Control Panel to no avail.

Eventually I conceded defeat and just accepted the fact NVIDIA GeForce Experience didn't know what it was talking about, and after checking out a video online where someone had similar specs to my PC, I toned down the graphics to Medium, turned off DX12 and turned on Future Frame Rendering (FFR): this seems to have reduced the occurrences of the map loading bug quite considerably (I've only experienced it twice in as many weeks) and performance seems to have improved during matches as well.

Still, it'd be nice if things like this worked out of the box, right? Especially if you're trying to place your faith in NVIDIA knowing how well their video cards run on particular games… not to mention my PC has the recommended specs anyway...

Weird gameplay decisions

So yeah, the game still has issues such as the fact when you request a vehicle as a reinforcement, you have to actually spawn in it. i.e. it won't actually appear in the spawn until someone in your squad spawns in it and the vehicle will only be available for a limited amount of time before you lose the opportunity (which sometimes happens).

Also, I'm not sure if this is a feature that's going to be coming soon or is simply not working as intended but team balancing and the ability to switch teams seems to be non-existent. I can appreciate that removing the option prevents players from jumping ship when a team is losing but the current solution makes things worse. Now, players who actually want to help an outnumbered team, can't, and the losing team will often be losing for multiple maps since it becomes a revolving door of players joining and leaving the server.

Weapons don't seem faction based

Just like many of the recent Battlefield games, the infantry weapons aren't faction locked, i.e. you're just as likely to use an STG 44 as the British as you are a Sten gun as the Germans. However, as mentioned before, at least vehicles and aircraft are faction locked…

Can't customise tanker/pilot

If you spawn in a tank you become a tanker and if you spawn in a plane, a pilot. However, despite being able to customise the other classes you don't have the choice to do so with the tankers and pilots, which seems to be a lack of consistency on DICE's part. It's a minor gripe, but still something that annoys me at times.

No choppers

Okay, there's not much you can do with this since helicopters weren't really commonplace in World War II, although the lack of choppers (especially transport choppers) in a Battlefield game does have consequences, such as the inability to insert a squad or two behind enemy lines. It's probably a reason why you often see teams running around the map together as a swarm capping one flag at a time. The older Battlefield games set during the modern era didn't seem to suffer from this problem.

No Rental Server Program (RSP)

There's currently no plan to offer custom servers to the public, which means you'll only have the ability to play on the official servers, on official maps with official game modes. While I'm not too bothered by the decision, I can imagine it could be annoying to those clans that want their own safe haven or for those that like to tweak settings such as playing Hardcore mode (which I don't believe exists in BFV yet).

Fjell 652

Urgh. I really hate this map. It's just poorly designed. Whoever thought it'd be a good idea to allow bombers on a map filled with narrow mountain passes shouldn't be designing Battlefield V maps.

Score – 8/10 (Recommended)

Battlefield V has the usual launch issues that plague every Battlefield release and the game is still incomplete a couple of months later. However, the bugs are getting fixed and new features are being added all the time, so it's slowly getting better. What I like best about Battlefield V though is that it appears to be returning to its roots, and I'm not only talking about the setting but the fact the game is trying to focus on rewarding cohesive squads and teams in general, by creating scarcity of ammunition, health and vehicles, which makes each class more valuable to their squad and each squad leader, more valuable to their team. We still haven't seen the return of Commander Mode, but this is definitely a step in the right direction. I'm definitely enjoying my time with this game and I'm hoping that DICE are given enough resources to give the TLC this franchise deserves.

Is the game worth $89.99 AUD?: No. Not really in its current state. I managed to get the game for a cheap $49 and if you can get this game for that price, I feel it's definitely worth it. DICE has more planned for the game including a co-op mode and its Battle Royale Mode called Firestorm, along with more vehicles, weapons and maps being unlocked over the course of the game's lifespan. However, the big question is, how long is that lifespan? Anyway, as more and more things get added to the game and more of the bugs get fixed (probably over the next few months), I'll then probably feel that the $90 asking price is worth it.

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[ LINK: Official Battlefield V Website ]

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