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Battlefield V Review – The South African PC Experience

Battlefield V PC

Battlefield V on PC delivers exactly what it should. Yes, it is a different game than any of its predecessors, and for the most part that is a good thing. Fans of the series can either embrace the changes – and experience an incredibly rewarding and fun game – or resist it and find it an incredibly frustrating and boring experience.

The improvements from Battlefield 1 is very noticeable; be it gunplay, squad mechanics, business model or graphics, it is definitely the better game. Does it outshine Battlefield 4? In terms of launching without glitches and bugs or server issues, then yes, by far. Competitive players might have a few things to say about whether it is the better game, but when it comes to pub play, it gets another yes from me.

I had a very different experience playing Battlefield V on PC than what Marco had on the Xbox One X. According to his review of the Xbox One X version “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.” I’ve been playing Battlefield V since November 9 and from the first moment I’ve played until today I’ve had no technical issues. None. Then there are the servers that have been only a pleasure to play on. I’ve had no disconnects and no latency issues (except for a few hours on day one). Read about my initial impressions and experience playing on South African servers.

We’ve already covered a lot about Battlefield V in our first impressions and Xbox One X review, so for this article, I will focus on the PC experience as well as aspects we’ve not talked about in previous articles.

Battlefield V screenshot

Battlefield V The PC Experience – Graphics & Spectator Mode

Playing Battlefield V on a beast of a machine forms the foundation of having as positive an experience as I have had. DICE could make the best Battlefield game they have ever developed, but if you’re going to play it on a PC that doesn’t meet the requirements, then you’ll experience the game as a buggy mess. Secondly, there is also a massive difference between playing it on minimum and recommended specs. I never realized how much of a difference this makes after playing the Beta on minimum specs, and then playing the full game on recommended settings.

Thanks to Evetech I had the pleasure to play Battlefield V on a fantastic machine coupled with LG’s 24GM77 gaming monitor. My specs:

My one regret is that I didn’t experience the LG’s 144Hz refresh rate and the 1ms faster response time as we couldn’t get the cable required for it. I played Battlefield V at the standard 60Hz which already proved to be a fantastic experience. It’s also the first time I’ve played a first-person shooter with a Nvidia GPU, and AMD CPU. The above combination works like a charm, and I can highly recommend it to any gamer. It delivers a PC gaming experience that is for lack of a better word, perfect.

The PC version allow you to change the graphics between the standard; low, medium, high, and ultra resolutions, with two extra settings, to play Battlefield V at maximum fidelity, or at minimum latency.

Battlefield V is a graphics-intense game, and you need a decent machine if you want to experience in full what the game has to offer.

On PC, you have a magnitude of settings to tweak, let alone all the customization and Specializations options you have for your soldier. I’ve played Battlefield V two ways; first with all the beauty that comes from playing it on the ultra settings, and secondly on low graphics settings to improve gameplay. The difference between these two is massive; the one showcases the extraordinary graphics of the game while the other gives a better FPS and visibility experience. However, I want to highlight that the ultra settings still delivers great gameplay if you have the specs.

I’ve used JackFrags’ Tryhard guide as the baseline for making the changes from ultra to better FPS. Note that some of these tweaks are only available on PC. The Tryhard settings remove things like motion blur, any extra noise/voice/text info, and special graphics sets. You’ll play with most of your graphics on low, but the payout in terms of fps is so worth it. I’ve mostly played Battlefield V on ultra settings because I have the specs to do so without compromising the 60fps. Battlefield V’s beauty is something that I will always return to.

That being said, if you want to play a proper round of Battlefield V, meaning you’re only in it to win, and you don’t care how it looks, and you want the best possible fps, then I recommend the Tryhard settings.

Below is a video of the first time I played on most of JackFrags’ Tryhard settings, then another video on the same map (Twisted Steel) played on the Best Fidelity setting which in my case is ultra on every setting. Comparing the two shows the massive difference in visual quality as well as reaction time. I have to say, although I love the pretty visuals, I now prefer playing on Tryhard. I find the visual quality of ultra a massive distraction; the exposure is distracting because of the vibrant colours and I find it to be disorientating and overwhelming. I sometimes struggle to spot enemy soldiers between all the colours and prefer the bland look of Tryhard. You’ll notice my ‘distracted state’ clearly in the second video. Reaction time is also slower and the improved fps makes all the difference.

As you’ll see with the Tryhard settings, the game doesn’t look pretty, but man does it play well. I’ve mostly played Battlefield V as Medic and it’s the first time I’ve scored at the very top of my side throughout the match. I got great kills, was able to come out mostly on top in one-on-one confrontations, managed to escape alive with almost every revive and so on. Both videos also show some great squad play between locals.

The Tryhard settings put a greater emphasis on visibility and removes that ‘clutter’ from the ultra settings. Once you’ve tasted Tryhard you won’t want to play Battlefield V on the best possible visual settings, you’ll prefer better fps. That being said, what the max-fidelity video does accomplish is showcasing the extraordinary beauty and great gameplay of Battlefield V when played on a beast of a rig. You can also play on the minimum-latency settings but I found that it didn’t make as significant an impact on gameplay as Tryhard.

When you want to take good screenshots or play around with Spectator Mode, then revert to Ultra settings. Battlefield V offers two options for capturing epic footage and screenshots; Spectator Mode being the preferred method, and secondly by simply removing the HUD details (press H). I wish I had more time to play around with Spectator Mode as it requires hours to wait for that perfect moment. That being said, I’ve captured some amazing screens just with HUD removed (like the first image shown in this article).

On PC, you can tweak Spectator Mode in seven categories; Preferences, Director Mode, Camera, Post Process, Screen Effects, Screen Overlay, and Video. Much of the settings remained the same as Battlefield 1’s Spectator Mode. You can change weather effects from a sunny day to snow, to foggy – only you see these weather effects. You can add official Battlefield V logos, a vignette, borders, a film grain, and lens distortion. You can choose to follow a player in first or third person mode, or look at the battlefield through a stationary camera or top-down mode.

Battlefield V moments

BFV

Battlefield V camera

Capturing an exceptional Battlefield V moment isn’t easy as you’re trying to take stills of constantly moving targets. If you have the time and some video editing skills, then Spectator Mode would be perfect to make a Battlefield V video.

Battlefield V – Squad Play on Local Servers

We’ve already discussed much around this topic so I won’t go into all the details again. At the heart of Battlefield V is its squad play – understand that, and you will love the game. If you think it’s the same as in previous titles, then you’d be wrong. It is more refined, more focused, and a lot more fun. I know that some Battlefield 4 players dislike the reduced squad size, but for me, it works extremely well in Battlefield V.

I’ve never liked playing Squad leader in any previous Battlefield game, and it changed completely with Battlefield V. It is simpler and so easy to use. Few things are as rewarding as being chosen as “Best Squad” after a round, and much to my delight I’ve collected quite a few of those. Every round of Battlefield V provides its unique moments and learning curve as a squad leader, and for me, it has become another reason to continue playing the game. The beauty of it is that you don’t need to play as a pre-made squad to be successful in Battlefield V. If all members keep to their roles, follow commands, and look out for each other, then four randoms can play as a very successful team.

If you’ve not yet bought into Battlefield V’s squad-focused gameplay, then you won’t experience everything the game has to offer. For me, it’s the reason I keep on coming back because it is so rewarding and fun. I’ve played with some epic locals, and I thank them for making what is already an exceptional game even better

The above Twisted Steel videos are examples of some decent squad play, and although we were all just random casuals, and in video one our side lost the round, it was one of the most enjoyable I’ve experienced to date. Again, because playing as one tight unit is how Battlefield V is meant to be played. Winning a map is always cool, but I’ve been in plenty of those, and none of it remained with me. The rounds I remember fondly and with pride are those where I’ve experienced proper squad tactics.

Like that time we won 1/0. We were behind but slowly crawled back as we played more and more as a unit. Not that our squad made the win, but we contributed to it.

Battlefield V epic wins

The last thing about local servers – when Battlefield V launched the advanced search didn’t work, but it’s fully functional now. You don’t have to use Quick Play to find a match; rather use the advanced search to set your server filter to Africa so you can see a list of all the game modes and maps in rotation. On PC at least, most of the servers are filled most of the time. The only mode that South African battlefield players still have no love for is Grand Operations.

Battlefield V – Maps, Modes & The Company

If anything, Battlefield V released with too many modes (eight). Conquest remains the favourite by far, and with a small community, as we have in South Africa, it’s the one everyone reverts to. I’ve played some Grand Operations on European servers, and although the game still looked good and gameplay remained mostly smooth, it is not how I want to play the game. Those few seconds you’re behind because of your lag does make a big difference. If I could change one thing it would be to have more locals try Grand Operations. It’s not a mode I want to play every day, but now and then would be great.

Some maps also lend itself better to specific modes, for example, because of its massive size Hamada can be a bit frustrating depending on the mode. Breakthrough, Domination, Frontlines, and Conquest are all fantastic to play on almost all the maps. I also enjoy swapping between the 64 player and 32 player modes. Battlefield V’s map variety is another plus an improvement from its predecessor. It’s easy to play every map decent if you stick to your squad, but to master, each map could take very long.

For me, Battlefield V focuses less on vehicle warfare and more on infantry – another point towards its strong squad play. I can understand that a lot of fans would see this change as negative as we’ve always associated Battlefield games with massive maps, lots of tank warfare and frequently getting killed by skilled pilots. There is still that, but I would argue that it is more balanced now and places a higher demand on skill. Again, if you play properly as a squad then you can call in tanks, so that’s one-way DICE evens out the lack of vehicle warfare.

Visually, my favourite map is Rotterdam Devastation because of its vibrant colours and striking setting. Did you strike the bell near C point? Have you played Hamada and Aerodrome during a sandstorm? Did you take a moment to look down the length of the massive canyon under Hamada’s main bridge or paused a moment at the Easter Egg at point B? Have you experienced Fjell 652 and Narvik during a blizzard? The France maps take my breath away with its enormous steel bridge in Twisted Steel and the gorgeous quaint village of Arras. I love the different weather effects, locations, and challenge each of the maps deliver.

Battlefield V Arras

Fjell 652

 

Battlefield V Hamada

The Company is where you customize your soldier and change weapon and vehicle specs. It’s cool to change your soldier’s appearance, but it’s not a feature I gravitate towards. The opposite is true when it comes to Specializations. I want to kick myself for not paying closer attention to it from the start. I fell into the trap of enjoying the STEN with all its unlocked Specializations too much and not testing the rest of the weapons I unlocked along the way. A piece of advice, try it all, especially the guns you unlock the further you progress. I only very recently started playing with the MP34, and I am in love with it.

The differences in recoil, sound, handling, magazine size, damage, and accuracy make a world of difference in how you experience each weapon. The synergy between these attributes results in each weapon ‘feeling’ different in your hands. If there is one thing you need to use in the weapon customization options, it is to select sights as it is available from the start.

Weapon and Vehicle Specializations offer two paths, and no one is better than the other, it depends on your play style. You can also re-spec and change to any unlocked weapon in your Company during a match (every respawn). It’s easy to use and fast, so changing to a weapon you’ve already specced in your Company is a great feature. You might suddenly find you need a gun that packs a punch at close range like the Sumoi but you have the STEN equipped – just swap it when you die. I have mentioned this before, but picking up an enemies’ gun (pressing R), is a great mechanic to change gameplay on the go. As a Medic, I always hang back to keep the squad alive, but that moment I pick up a powerful Recon or Assault rifle, I become a bit more daring. It’s a great way to add variety to gunplay without changing your core abilities. Another way to add variety and change your pace is by changing your class spec. For Medic, that’s either Field Medic or Combat Medic. The abilities and features are vastly different and offer enough of a change to want to master both.

The one negative I have is that for some reason my male soldier repeatedly changes back to a female soldier. I’ve customized it/her/him over and over, but the female always dominates. This is not a joke. I would love to know if the same thing happens to other players or some advice on how to get rid of her. I have nothing against the inclusion of female soldiers, but I do sometimes find that shrieking female shout annoying. The pre-launch controversy around The Company turned out to be something like bringing a knife to a gun fight. It’s a fantastic feature that benefits your play style tremendously, and as far as character customization goes, I have yet to see a World War II abomination.

Battlefield V best squad

The terrible thing in the above image isn’t the soldier customizations but the reaction of some players on the losing side. The character customization feature isn’t overboard (so far), and adds a nice change to the battlefield for those who enjoy such things.

Battlefield V – War Stories

I adored Battlefield 1’s single-player campaigns and had high hopes for Battlefield V’s War Stories. Those expectations were exceeded in some aspects, and in others, I felt ‘cheated.’ Let’s start with the negative first. The prologue shouldn’t count as a War Stories chapter as there is almost no participation required from the player. What it is, is a beautiful display of what to expect from Battlefield V.

That leaves us with Under No Flag, Nordys, and Tirailleur (The Last Tiger becomes available later), and I felt it wasn’t enough when compared to Battlefield 1. Each War Stories should’ve either been a bit longer, or DICE should’ve added at least one more chapter.

Battlefield V War Stories

Besides the above, I felt each War Story delivered a brilliant display of visual splendour, superb gameplay, excellent voice acting, and a captivating story. Each character made me care about their story, and I loved every second of playing through each one. Every campaign delivered something outstanding and memorable.

The highlight of Nordys was the skiing; especially collecting the Letter hidden on the ship frozen in the middle of the lake. For a moment I forgot about the story and just enjoyed skiing across the lake. Under No Flag delivered two very enjoyable characters and some epic combat moments. Tirailleur managed to draw me into its story on such a deeply emotional level that I cried at the end.

The different locations are also a treat for the eyes; Under No Flag taking us to the exquisite landscapes of the African desert. Nordys with the endless beauty of snow, and Tirailleur with its warm autumn coat that highlights the brutal bloodshed of war.

It was all just over way too soon.

In closing, Battlefield V on PC delivers an exceptional experience. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and it’s a pity that one such part (Firestorm) only releases months after the game launched. Something also has to be said about the fact that you can play Battlefield V’s deluxe edition for only R200 via Origin Access Premier. You can unsubscribe when you’ve had enough of the game, or you can purchase it at a discounted price.

Battlefield V is a game that I could easily play for months. After each round, there remains the desire to return and play your Class better, or contribute more to the squad, or to unlock this weapon or that gadget.

Battlefield V compels you to improve and entices you to return.

Depending on Tides of War and Firestorm it could very well turn out to be the best Battlefield game in the series.

BFV review score

Available On: PS4, Xbox One & PC  | Reviewed On: PC | Release Date: 20 November 2018 | Price: R950

Han Cilliers

Han Cilliers

Lola puts the cobalt back in all things blue. An active, but odd master of the unorthodox, with more than three decades of sore thumbs under her belt. Oh cat! Writer at Glitched Africa
Han Cilliers