b att lefield v

Epic, top-qual­ity WWII shooter ac­tion – with bits miss­ing at launch

XBox: The Official Magazine (US) - - CONTENTS - Steve Boxer

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.

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