The Battlefield series has always strived to deliver a stellar multiplayer experience with a small single player segment and a heavy emphasis on realism. Battlefield V had some big shoes to fill especially with the controversy surrounding the game’s reveal, EA’s loot box fiasco and of course, the delay of the battle royale mode into March 2019. Right now, Battlefield V stands as an incomplete game with a lot of promise but it is also the most buggy, and technically challenged one I have ever played.
Battlefield V feels like it has been toned down greatly compared to the likes of Battlefield 1. This spans across game modes, maps and even gameplay mechanics as a lot of missing. In some ways, these missing features feel like a return to the core gameplay experience but in others, one cannot help but feel as if you just expect more from an average gameplay session with the game. Guns feel limited to the point where everyone is running around with either a sniper or an SMG. Everyone can heal themselves now and everyone can revive fallen teammates and these new changes make the world of difference in a multiplayer match.
When it comes to single player, the same is said here. A lot has been toned down and there is a great emphasis on these story chapters where you take on the role of an iconic war veteran/character during World War 2 in an explosive story sequence.
Battlefield V’s multiplayer works when it wants to. The game often feels like an early access build with bugs present in every corner of the experience. Guns floating in the air, ADS not working while mounted on a gun, entire locations not rendering and bodies falling through the floor. These are just a few issues I came into contact with while playing the game. Some of them did not affect the overall experience but others, like the inability to aim down my sights while mounted on a weapon, resulted in me spraying the battlefield with bullets to try and kill an enemy shooting me with a rocket.
Of course, we are looking at Battlefield V’s future promise and with the game offering free DLC in the form of maps, modes and even single-player story chapters, one can overlook some of the technical issues as this game was clearly released unfinished. Where the game does shine is in its fantastic 64-player matches and all the new gameplay features and small tactical tweaks add up to deliver a solid multiplayer game. It is almost like DICE actually listened to fan feedback and changed the biggest issues we had with Battlefield 1.
Health regen is a lot slower than ever but you can now self-heal too and although it is slow, it forces you to take a step back, hide behind cover and readjust your approach to the enemy on the other side of the bridge spamming you with his ZH-29. Speaking of snipers, they now deal a lot less damage which has drastically changed the battlefield. Time to kill is also a lot shorter making the confrontation between players a much faster and intense moment, again playing into that realism that the game is trying hard to deliver. Spotting has been revamped too. Now instead of just spamming the button to target your enemy, you can place a marker nearby him even if you miss the actual targetting of the player. Although this is not the best change in terms of gameplay, the realism comes into the mix as instead of shooting at a red dot on someone’s head, you will scout that spotted area for the enemy your teammate saw creeping.
But for every new feature and quality-of-life change comes the truth that Battlefield V is meant to be played in a squad. Everything that has been improved, removed or added is better or only works in a team with communication. You can get away with joining a random team with people but I succeeded a lot more playing in a squad with friends who all had strengths and talents in specific roles in the game. Someone took a sniper and covered our sixes while I ran around healing and reviving players. Don’t be afraid to experiment with all the classes as they all feel great and have a good selection of weapons and gadgets. It also does not mean you won’t get a good score if you play as a Medic as the game’s score system benefits those that kill and those that play the objective and support the efforts of their squad. I even topped the log with a medic with eight kills but my support by targeting objectives, healing others and spotting enemies contributed greatly to my score.
The new attrition system also forces you to work with your squad. Ammo is scarce and the average weapon could kill two or three enemies before running out of it. You have to scream out for ammo and health and it all works pretty well. This is no Call of Duty, this is a tactical multiplayer experience that is slower and a lot more enjoyable if you do it right. Overall, the squad system is the shining star here and each class’ loadout and combat role feel great in the field. The more you dedicate to each class the better you will get with it and the more gadgets you will unlock. Each class also now has a combat role that offers different tweaks and buffs depending on which one you choose. The Medic, for example, has Field Medic which gives you more score for giving health to squad members while the Combat Medic lets you sprint faster when you have lower health.
If you played Battlefield 1, you will be quite familiar with the weaponry in Battlefield V. There is no much new here and a lot has been cut out of the game too. If anything, the loadout system feels as if it is lacking quite a lot of content and instead of going with a plethora of equipment to choose from, you have around seven weapons and five gadgets per class. There are some great things to use and weapons feel fantastic. The Spawn Beacon, for example, is the Recon’s gadget that lets you spawn on the device wherever it is placed. This allowed for faster respawns on a zone thanks to my squad mate hiding this gadget away in the corner of a room.
When it comes to weapons, the recoil system in Battlefield 1 has been replaced with a predictable recoil pattern in Battlefield V. You can now actually master the sway of your gun instead of just hoping luck was on your side during a gunfight. All classes have their own set weaponry with the support offering the most unique range throughout its class level system. You can get a shotgun, LMG and an MG gun that you need to mount in order to use.
The Medic class, on the other hand, can only wield SMGs so you need to master that if you want to stick to that class. Each weapon then has a unique specialization feature that lets you further tweak each weapon’s stats in a skill tree-like graph. You can choose the path you want and the different nodes you pick will impact the control of hip fire of the weapon. I never made use of this much as the feature felt unnecessary. The same system is then also used for vehicles and this actually matters. While I don’t use vehicles much in the game, the ability to change different parts of your tank to improve weapons and armour was great. You can even add a smoke launcher into your Panzer IV. This system, while pretty useless for weapons makes a big difference for vehicles.
I do wish there was a way to completely design your own loadout with any weapon, gadget and skill but this is Battlefield and that is asking a lot. However, the unique weapons and vehicles scattered across the four classes deliver great gunplay and mastering curve which is Battlefield’s greatest trait. But for every good, there is a bad in Battlefield and the sheer lack of vehicle variety in Battlefield V makes the entire system feel like an afterthought.
Tanks are now harder to destroy which forces you to venture out to find a way to kill them. Planes are always in the way bombing objectives and killing your team so you need to make a conscious effort to bring them down when they are in the air. The number of vehicles in Battlefield V also makes them feel like a major miss. With seven in total, including planes, the overall explosive battlefield we were used to in Battlefield 1 feels a bit dumbed down due to the lack of activities taking place in a map. There is no cavalry trying to slice you up and no small cars trying to run you over. It just lacks that variety and is a step backwards.
Battlefield V might skimp on vehicles and weapons but the maps are a plenty. While eight maps might sound like a small list, considering that you spend a good 20-30 minutes in a match on each of them is enough for me. From the chilly mountains of Narvik to the city centre of Rotterdam. The maps are fantastic. Every match delivered a different experience and witness a gorgeous hillside go from tranquil to a battlefield wasteland with giant holes in the ground and not one building standing is a true Battlefield experience and we would not want it any other way.
The maps change as FJELL 652 undergoes massive snow storms amidst battle which completely changes your approach to your fight. Rotterdam has a load of windows for snipers to pick your team off one by one so you need to be careful and Hamada’s bridge dividing the two mountains can be destroyed completely changing your spawn positions. No matter what map I played on, I was happy and there was never a moment where I left matchmaking because I was irritated by the map I was loading into.
You can also now fortify on the fly during a match. Every class can pull out a hammer and build cover and objects around the map to aid their defences. While this may seem like something simple, it is actually the complete opposite and the difference between an alley with fortifications in Rotterdam and an alley without could be the difference between your team taking a zone or not.
While everyone will probably end up playing Conquest most of the time, there are other game modes that you could or might enjoy. Frontlines being one very interesting one. It is a mixture between Conquest, Rush and Battlefield 4’s Obliteration Mode that sees both teams fight for control over an objective before pushing into an enemies base. Breakthrough, Domination, Grand Operations and Team Deathmatch are also there but good luck finding a local match to experience these games on. Conquest is the most popular and it will probably remain even after the battle royale mode launches in 2019.
Speaking of matchmaking, I had no issue finding local matches at all. If anything, I often had to wait in a queue for a good ten minutes because the servers were full. This is a great start to the game but I do hope we can add at least one extra server so we don’t have to wait so long to find a match. Of course, ping was great too with 3-10ms being the average I experienced in multiplayer.
Lastly, those looking for a single player game will find something here too. Battlefield V’s War Stories are chapter-based experiences that take you to various locations following the story of iconic World War 2 veterans. Every chapter is unique and plays out like a good old Call of Duty story campaign from the 2000s. Some of them take you large open world-like hubs where you have set objectives to complete. The four chapters have collectables to find and great cinematics to watch but you could probably finish them in about two hours and never feel the urge to go back and play them. I wish there was at least a co-op mode for these as a lot of the time they just felt lonely and the mechanics would have worked so well with another player.
Battlefield V is very buggy to the point where I had to often restart my game due to menus being stuck or sitting waiting to go into a match and it never starts. There is clearly a lot of work that needs to be done here and I hope DICE get to it post-haste. That being said, Battlefield does have a bright future ahead of it as all upcoming DLC is promised to be free. We have a story chapter releasing in December and modes and maps planned for 2019 and I cannot wait. Right now, Battlefield V is a fantastic multiplayer game with a strong promise to grow in the coming months.
This review is based on a copy sent to us by EA Games
Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC | Reviewed On: Xbox One X | Release Date: 20 November 2018 | Price: R999