b att lefield v
Epic, top-quality WWII shooter action – with bits missing at launch
EA’s Battlefield franchise has never quite managed to achieve the same mass appeal as Activision’s rival Call Of Duty, so despite being Electronic Arts’ flagship first-person shooter, it still manages to maintain an air of being a game for those in the know. And in particular, a game for those who prefer their multiplayer shooting to take the form of largescale, plausible warfare, rather than claustrophobic, close-in shoot-outs.
Last year’s much-lauded, World War I-set Battlefield 1 marked a change-up for the franchise, and the good news is that Battlefield V builds impressively on its good work. The World War II setting seems perfect for Battlefield: its weapons and vehicles are more sophisticated and controllable than
Battlefield 1’ s equivalents, without going over the top. It’s a technological marvel which looks astonishing, and developer DICE has really gone to town with its trademark destructibility.
When you’re deep into one of its skirmishes, with Spitfires and Messerschmitts spitting fire overhead, tanks rumbling around and the giant, impeccably designed maps bombed to rubble, it provides the sort of thrill, often spilling over into terror, that you could imagine those participating in the real war might have felt.
Missing in action
But there’s a catch. In its eagerness to show everyone what it would put into Battlefield V, DICE ended up overpromising, and the result is that big chunks of the game are missing at launch. Most notably, the Tides of War mode, a hugely ambitious live-service attempt to create constantly shifting large-scale campaigns. Firestorm, the game’s take on the battle royale format, won’t surface till March 2019.
Following Battlefield 1’ s lead, War Stories take the form of self-contained vignettes covering diverse (and off the beaten track) engagements from World War II. Under No Flag sees you play an East End gangster recruited to the nascent Special Boat Service. Nordlys, meanwhile, sees you playing a teenage, female resistance fighter in Norway, and manages to achieve a Scandi-noir vibe. And Tirailleur sees a troop of French North African soldiers push to liberate France.
The War Stories have a pleasingly open-world structure that lets you adopt any number of play-styles, and they give you a taste of various multiplayer modes. They are eminently replayable, which is just as well since none last longer than two hours, and there are only three at launch.
The standout multiplayer mode is Grand Operations. It mixes and matches various modes, such as Frontlines, in which the two sides vie to push each other back to different areas of the map. Grand Operations take place in one general vicinity,
“There’s one drawback: it’s only something like 70 to 80 per cent complete”
but play out over three days, which gives you a real feeling of being part of an operation that is developing according to how well you fight. And if, after three days, stalemate prevails, a fourth-day Final Stand is added, which is basically a no-respawns battle royale, complete with a shrinking map.
World at war
Battlefield V launched with six maps, all of which are simply impeccable. They are huge. Some of the modes, like Team Deathmatch, don’t use their full extent, but in modes like Conquest and Domination, you might have to try to gain control of as many as seven flags – pretty much requiring the use of vehicles to get around. Battlefield
V’s multiplayer modes should cater to pretty much all tastes, and are already sufficiently plentiful to keep you interested for the duration. They felt a tiny bit chaotic before launch, but DICE managed to organise them in a more logical manner in time for release. The classes are spot-on, too, with
Battlefield’s customary emphasis on support, opening the game up for those whose fast-twitch skills aren’t exactly the envy of others. The Support class, for example, lets you resupply team-mates with ammo and build fortifications – a crucial role when a map has been bombed to smithereens. Medics have a quickheal, which comes in handy at hotly contested pinch-points and in Team Deathmatches, in particular.
Progression-wise, Battlefield V is logical enough, rewarding you in particular for jumping between classes and making the most of vehicles. You earn in-game currency at a pretty glacial rate, though, and all you can really spend it on is shaders for your weaponry. As with its predecessors,
Battlefield’s matching feels pretty decent – helped by the fact that you’re generally in a huge battlefield with 63 other players.
Battlefield V is a very fine game indeed: you won’t find a more harrowingly realistic and convincing emulation of what fighting in World War II would have been like. We probably would have pegged it as this year’s best first-person shooter but for one glaring drawback: it’s only something like 70 to 80 per cent complete. It won’t have all its elements in place until March 2019 at the earliest – by which time, it’ll probably be cheaper to buy than it is now. So perhaps we’ll end up lauding it as 2019’s best first-person shooter.
left The action, for the most part, leaves you gagging for more.far left It can feel downright scary when you’re involved in one of these missions.
above A fourth war story will see you play as a German tank commander.