BAT­TLE­FIELD V

Not a fully trained trooper… but there’s plenty of po­ten­tial here

PlayStation Official Magazine (UK) - - CONTEN - @AndyHartup

Will it be a medal or a court mar­tial for the con­tro­ver­sial lat­est Bat­tle­field?

Bat­tle­field V isn’t fin­ished. The whole thing feels in­com­plete; work-in-progress; a few bul­lets short of a full clip. If this were a sin­gle-player ex­pe­ri­ence, de­signed for play­ers to fire up and for­get eight hours later, it’d be a crush­ing dis­ap­point­ment. As it stands, it gets a pass thanks to the wealth of po­ten­tial woven through­out. Its most com­plete as­pect is its solo cam­paign al­though, hi­lar­i­ously, a quar­ter of the sin­gle-player is miss­ing at the time of writ­ing. What you get out of the box is the Pro­logue, plus three other War Sto­ries. It lasts about ten hours, so it’s a de­cent chunk of game, but we’re still miss­ing the ‘Last Tiger’ mis­sion, which goes live this month. The Pro­logue is a neat mood-set­ter; its som­bre voiceover nar­rates a se­ries of bat­tles that you fight in un­til your sol­dier is killed in any num­ber of hor­rific ways. It’s a com­ment on the bru­tal­ity of war, which is tonally at odds with the gam­i­fi­ca­tion in­her­ent in the rest of Bat­tle­field V, but as its own slice of in­ter­ac­tiv­ity it’s mov­ing.

CHAP­TER AND VER­SUS

Bat­tle­field V’s War Sto­ries are all en­ter­tain­ing in dif­fer­ent ways. Nordlys fol­lows Solveig, who is at­tempt­ing to res­cue her mother from a Nor­we­gian ‘heavy wa­ter’ plant. The of­fi­cer hold­ing the pris­on­ers is pre­sented as a hu­man be­ing, rather than a face­less Nazi, and Solveig as a re­luc­tant re­sis­tance fighter. There are some neat game­play mo­ments, and a sat­is­fy­ing con­clu­sion to the story. The ac­tion is open-world, kind of. You get to play through large hub ar­eas any way you choose – al­though stealth, all-out-ac­tion, or a mix of both are the only true op­tions – and strat­egy plays as big a role as shoot­ing.

The other sto­ries are vari­a­tions on the theme. Un­der No Flag is a buddy story fo­cused on the Bri­tish Spe­cial Boat Ser­vice (SBS) and fea­tur­ing some ter­ri­ble Cock­ney ac­cents. Ti­railleur fol­lows Demi, a French-African con­script who’s been sent to fight for a coun­try he’s never even vis­ited. Of all the War Sto­ries Ti­railleur is the stand­out,

its set-pieces more ex­plo­sive, its story beats more poignant, and its char­ac­ters more like­able. Bat­tle­field V’s sin­gle-player stages are well made, smartly paced, and enjoyable. Hope­fully, that can be said of the Last Tiger too.

MORE IS HELL

But Bat­tle­field’s rep­u­ta­tion is built on its on­line mul­ti­player – and that’s where the prob­lems lie. Even get­ting in and out of mul­ti­player to the main menus is flawed; once I had to wait over a minute for the main menu to load, and an­other time it crashed com­pletely. Load times when nav­i­gat­ing the menus are un­ac­cept­ably lengthy, even af­ter the Day One patch. The XP/cur­rency sys­tem is more con­fus­ing than it needs to be, and there are shades of Star Wars Bat­tle­front II’s overly com­plex pro­gres­sion sys­tem here.

This is the sort of stuff that will be patched in com­ing months, but for now it cre­ates the il­lu­sion that you’re play­ing a posh beta rather than a £50 fin­ished game. This be­comes more ev­i­dent when you no­tice many of Bat­tle­field V’s on­line fea­tures are cur­rently ab­sent. Tides Of War isn’t ready at launch, there is no Com­bined Arms co-op mode, and most of the Live Ser­vice fea­tures feel very place­holder. What you do get is a raft of core Bat­tle­field mul­ti­player modes, with a few new ones thrown in, and a slick on­line shoot­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

On­line the ac­tion is fast­paced, and more deadly than in Bat­tle­field 1. Res­pawns are fre­quent, al­though the new re­vive me­chanic – where any­one can heal a fallen ally – keeps the ac­tion mov­ing.

Weapons are pleas­ingly var­ied, al­though cer­tain classes feel slightly anony­mous. There’s lit­tle real dif­fer­ence be­tween the Medic and As­sault in terms of pri­mary fire­power, and be­cause any­one can re­vive the Medic feels un­der­pow­ered. Maps al­low much more scope (pun in­tended) for the Recon class to shine, and Sup­port gets the abil­ity to build, which feels re­dun­dant in a game that re­lies heav­ily on res­pawns and chaos.

In terms of modes, Break­through is the new­est. It’s ba­si­cally Rush on a wider set of maps, plus the op­por­tu­nity to take back ob­jec­tives. Rush re­mains the bet­ter mode be­cause of how per­ma­nent it is to lose an ob­jec­tive, de­spite the fact that Break­through feels less like you’re bat­tling down a nar­row cor­ri­dor of death. Re­tained from Bat­tle­field 1, Front­lines is a neat mode that still feels un­bal­anced. Once mo­men­tum is with one of the teams, it’s tough to stop, and the in­evitable grind to de­feat is rather de­flat­ing if you’re on the wrong side.

Smaller modes like Team Death­match and Dom­i­na­tion are back, and just as com­pelling as in pre­vi­ous games. How­ever, it does feel like the Dom­i­na­tion maps are a tad too big – prob­a­bly to help the Recon play­ers feel in­cluded – and as such the tight, close-up na­ture

“A STUM­BLING START FOR A GAME THAT’S MADE PROM­ISES IT CAN’T KEEP.”

of the game­play is less chaotic than in pre­vi­ous games. On a larger scale, Con­quest re­mains king, and the large-scale ac­tion is as much of a treat as ever. Even the slightly anony­mous maps can’t spoil the fun.

THAT’S GRAND

The other new mode is Grand Op­er­a­tions (we’re not count­ing the forth­com­ing Battle Royale mode be­cause – sur­prise! – it isn’t fin­ished). It’s an ex­ten­sion of Op­er­a­tions from Bat­tle­field 1, and of­fers large-scale con­flict with more of a story and fresh ob­jec­tives. It’s here where the game has the most po­ten­tial to be­come great, but right now Grand Op­er­a­tions doesn’t feel as co­her­ent as Con­quest or as com­pelling as Break­through. When Tides Of War starts to add new Grand Op­er­a­tions, and mix up the rules, it’ll be bril­liant. Again, though, that’s a few months down the line.

Over­all, Bat­tle­field V is a great shooter with a lot of prob­lems to patch out. The War Sto­ries de­liver a size­able sin­gle-player of­fer­ing that sat­is­fies far more than any pre­vi­ous solo ef­forts from Bat­tle­field. And while mul­ti­player feels rough around the edges, the core game­play is en­gag­ing, won­der­fully vi­o­lent, and nicely bal­anced. New maps and modes are un­spec­tac­u­lar, but Con­quest and Dom­i­na­tion still shine.

It all feels like a safe, yet stum­bling, start for a shooter that’s made prom­ises it can’t keep. How­ever, DICE is known for the sup­port it has given past Bat­tle­fields and it seems cer­tain that six months from now this will be a dif­fer­ent, rather bril­liant war game.

VERDICT

Ripe with po­ten­tial but rid­dled with prob­lems, the new Bat­tle­field will be bril­liant six months from now. Right now, how­ever, it’s merely a good shooter. Andy Hartup

INFO

FOR­MAT PS4 ETA OUT NOW PUB EA DEV DICE

Right You’re re­warded for play­ing as part of a squad, so team play­ers will end up with more points than lone wolves.

Left Pre­pare to die a hell of a lot on­line. Bat­tle­field V’s con­flicts are ex­tremely chaotic.

Above Flick­ing through the cus­tomi­sa­tion menus, most stuff looks the same.

Right You’ll be sur­prised by just how tricky some of the sin­gle-player mis­sions are.

Above Bat­tle­field V tells emo­tional hu­man tales through War Sto­ries.

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