Bat­tle­field V

EDGE - - GAMES - De­vel­oper DICE Pub­lisher EA For­mat PC, PS4, Xbox One (tested) Re­lease Out now

PC, PS4, Xbox One

Bat­tle­field V as it stands is a game of ab­sences, for bet­ter and worse. There are the re­as­sur­ingly per­ilous open spa­ces of its eight mul­ti­player maps, which reach across WW2 Europe from Nor­we­gian slopes to the shim­mer­ing plateaus of North Africa, and which rank among the best DICE has ever cre­ated. The ra­di­ant Ha­mada map, in par­tic­u­lar, is al­most off­puttingly un­clut­tered, its north­ern­most Con­quest flags sep­a­rated from the oth­ers by a gorge which gives snipers the drop on any would-be Mont­gomery fool enough to rush the bridge. In the French vil­lage of Aras, mean­while, swathes of yel­low canola pro­vide a lit­tle more cover when hur­ry­ing to­wards the barns at the map’s cen­tre.

There are also the va­can­cies left by the game’s new for­ti­fi­ca­tion sys­tem, with holo­graphic sand­bags and barbed wire thick­ets wait­ing to pop into be­ing around each flag, as a wargame de­fined by ter­rain de­struc­tion be­lat­edly dis­cov­ers the abil­ity to re­build. These tem­plates can be filled in by any player class, though only En­gi­neers can raise more com­plex struc­tures like ma­chine­gun nests. Ca­pa­ble of scores of vari­a­tions per point thanks to their mo­du­lar de­sign, for­ti­fi­ca­tions are an ex­quis­ite ad­di­tion to an al­ready strate­gic shooter, pro­vid­ing your team is wise enough to utilise them.

Less for­give­able are the gaps left in Bat­tle­field V’s fea­ture set by DICE’s shift to­wards an Early-Ac­cessstyle re­lease for­mat, with the bulk of the game’s con­tent to be added after launch. There is no co-op mis­sion suite at the time of writ­ing, and the cur­rent sin­gle­player of­fer­ing con­sists of just three hour-long episodes. This spaced-out ap­proach would be one thing in a free-toplay shooter, but in a full-price game there’s a def­i­nite sense of hav­ing one’s cake and eat­ing it.

Bat­tle­field has never been cel­e­brated for its sin­gle­player, and the fifth game’s War Sto­ries do lit­tle to im­prove its stand­ing. They’re es­sen­tially a thinly nar­ra­tivised in­tro­duc­tion to mul­ti­player gad­gets and mode rule­sets, spiced up by a fo­cus on less-known aspects of the war but too ham-fisted to do their oc­ca­sional prom­ise jus­tice. The opener stars Billy Bridger, a bit-part from a straight-to-VHS Cock­ney heist movie who is some­how re­cast as a spe­cial forces hero. A se­ries of stealthy search-and-de­stroy mis­sions against dim-wit­ted Ger­mans, his mis­sions are as te­dious as the voice-act­ing is hys­ter­i­cal.

Things pick up in the sec­ond episode, which fol­lows a Nor­we­gian re­sis­tance fighter as she tracks a spe­cial­weapons project across moun­tains. A few nods to The Long Dark aside, it is no­table for an ex­hil­a­rat­ing ski­ing me­chanic which sadly hasn’t made the leap to mul­ti­player (yet). The third chap­ter ex­plores racism and colo­nial­ism through the eyes of a Sene­galese sol­dier, and is a loose play­ing-out of Break­through mode, with play­ers cap­tur­ing po­si­tions in lin­ear or­der. All of the mis­sions are fairly open-ended, with mul­ti­ple at­tack vec­tors per en­emy po­si­tion and a gen­er­ous spread of weapon pick-ups, ve­hi­cles and weapon em­place­ments. As such, the lack of co-op sup­port is rather bizarre.

If Bat­tle­field V’s cam­paign is too lonely for its own good, its mul­ti­player has never been more so­cia­ble. Play­ers now spawn into a four-head squad by de­fault, re­gard­less of mode, and while you’re free to range at whim, there are pow­er­ful in­cen­tives to stick to­gether. As in pre­vi­ous games, squad­mates can spawn on each other, shav­ing pre­cious mo­ments off the trip from base to front­line. They can also now re­vive each other re­gard­less of class, though Medics are able to do this faster and heal peo­ple out­side their squads to boot.

Com­plet­ing squad ac­tions such as re­sup­ply­ing friendlies earns points to­wards squad-lim­ited streak re­wards, called in by your squad leader, from V1 strikes to a spe­cial four-seater ar­moured ve­hi­cle. The im­pact on en­gage­ments is rarely dra­matic, but one ef­fect of quest­ing for those re­wards is a greater sense of in­ti­macy within Bat­tle­field’s of­ten over­whelm­ing army en­coun­ters – and a gen­tle de­gree of ri­valry with al­lied squads. This new layer of team­play sits nat­u­rally along­side the rhythms cre­ated by Bat­tle­field’s proven class sys­tem, as Re­con play­ers tag foes for al­lies while Sup­ports sup­press at­tack­ers with light ma­chine­guns, only to be flanked by nim­ble As­sault play­ers. One quirk of this Bat­tle­field’s launch map line-up is its fond­ness for bridges. On Twisted Steel, a mas­sive, half-wrecked sus­pen­sion bridge rears above a sullen river and boggy farm­land. In Rot­ter­dam, train cars snake be­tween el­e­gant if bat­tered ter­raced apart­ments, while an­other, ru­ined rail­way bridge spews ship­ping crates across the docks at Narvik. These struc­tures give each map an ob­vi­ous hook, some­thing to gun for on first spawn. They also dis­guise the sump­tu­ous in­tri­cacy of the sur­round­ing ter­rain, ev­ery cor­ner of ev­ery for­eign field of­fer­ing its own, en­gross­ing play of sight­lines, routes and cover spots. Many of the de­tails are un­earthed by the modes, which ex­pose each map to dif­fer­ent en­gage­ment cri­te­ria.

Such nu­ances aside, Bat­tle­field V feels more sig­nif­i­cant for its ad­just­ments to DICE and EA’s busi­ness model than what it ac­tu­ally achieves at the level of play: it’s more a ques­tion of stretch­ing the same com­po­nents across dif­fer­ent pro­duc­tion time­frames than mean­ing­fully chang­ing them. The pos­si­bil­i­ties of for­ti­fi­ca­tions and the re­ju­ve­nated squad sys­tem will be al­ter­ation enough for re­turn­ing fans, but won’t at­tract many new con­verts, and the sin­gle­player is a wa­tery af­ter­thought. What’s here is enough to be go­ing on with, but we’ll have to wait till next year’s up­dates and in par­tic­u­lar, that pos­si­bly seis­mic bat­tleroyale mode, to dis­cover whether this is truly a Bat­tle­field that stands apart.

The pos­si­bil­i­ties of for­ti­fi­ca­tions and the re­ju­ve­nated squad sys­tem will be al­ter­ation enough for re­turn­ing fans

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.