After Battlefield 1’s Stellar Campaign, Battlefield V Drops the Ball
The formula in recent military single-player campaigns has grown to be tiresome, so when 2016’s Battlefield 1 released with a fresh take, players were pleasantly surprised. After the precedent set by Battlefield 1, the expectations for Battlefield V were higher than normal, and understandably so.
Battlefield 1 did so much right. It ditched the traditional single-player tropes we’ve grown used to in recent years and took on a new approach with War Stories, several self-contained vignettes set in the WWI era.
It always felt like the stakes were high, with hardly ever a dull moment during its five to seven-hour total length. Having such a short length worked in Battlefield 1’s favor, giving you constant action, taking place over several unique levels.
One of the standout levels in Battlefield 1, one where you’re heavily armored almost like Iron Man, requires you to infiltrate and secure a base while mowing down a horde of enemies. It’s not the pinnacle of game design or anything, but it was exciting to walk around like a tank while feeling like a superhero in the WWI setting.
It also gives you options for how you want to approach certain situations. Sure, there are sections that require you to go guns blazing, but it was surprising how Battlefield 1 really made you feel like you were in control throughout most of your journey.
You get the idea: Battlefield 1 rocks. It isn’t perfect, but it’s got one of the most polished and memorable military campaigns of the generation.
That brings us to the newest entry in the series, Battlefield V, this time, taking place during WWII.
Initially, it was exciting, as the opening section of Battlefield V is quite thrilling. You’re quickly bounced between different areas, with various settings and vehicles to control.
Similar to what Battlefield did last time with War Stories, Battlefield V also includes a handful of shorter levels instead of a larger, overarching plot; a safe, yet welcome inclusion.
Sadly, after finishing Battlefield V’s campaign, it was hard to not feel disappointed and underwhelmed. But summing up the comparison in one sentence doesn’t do it justice, so let’s dive into why Battlefield V’s campaign drops the ball after Battlefield 1.
Even early on, something seemed off about this game, which is not a good sign. Thankfully (or not, depending on how you look at it), the campaign is remarkably short, so there isn’t a ton to suffer through.
That in and of itself is a problem, though. The single-player mode features only three levels, which is borderline insulting if offline is your primary focus. There *is* a fourth campaign level coming in early December, but that’s a clear sign that this package was still not entirely ready to release, despite being delayed once.
To be fair, Battlefield 1 wasn’t that long either, but Battlefield V’s campaign can be completed in roughly three hours, which makes its inclusion feel like an afterthought.
Aside from the sheer length of Battlefield V’s campaign and the issue of bang for your buck, there is more evidence to support just how incomplete it feels. From a design perspective, it seems like the developers were just going through a checklist.
Go here, kill some guys, capture an objective, rinse and repeat. It definitely feels like DICE and EA were only concerned with simply *having* a campaign, but not one that’s worth playing.
Gone are the memorable moments we’ve grown used to from the series. And don’t be surprised if you get to the end, thinking, “That’s it…?”
Given that there are only three levels to play through, the lack of diversity is clear, too. One takes place in a sort of a desert landscape, the next takes place in the snow, with the final one being in a traditional wooded area.
Those aren’t inherently bland, but Battlefield V doesn’t do a fantastic job making the most out of those environments. Without question, the most memorable level is the one that takes place in the snow, which includes a heartfelt family moment and an interesting mechanic that involves tackling hypothermia by staying warm next to a fire. Even so, this level doesn’t come close to the diversity and breadth found in Battlefield 1’s campaign.
The theme of feeling incomplete doesn’t stop there; in fact, it runs rampant throughout the experience. A common thread involved little things that would take me out of the experience and it happened way more than it should have.
It wasn’t uncommon to see floating enemies, levitating guns, and other unintentional ‘magical’ assets in the environment. For a AAA title of this caliber, it’s not okay for it to have released in this state.
It may sound nitpicky, but immersion is important, and seeing a floating tank looks bad in a game that’s supposed to be grounded in reality. Surly, EA wanted to get this game out by the holidays, so the prospect of another delay was probably not an option. However, it’s clear that Battlefield V could have used more time.
The immersion breaking bugs don’t stop there, though. Developers like to use little tricks that the average player wouldn’t notice in order to keep a perceived level of quality: things like hiding enemy spawn points behind a wall that you’d never see, or clever camera angles to hide pop-in. Unfortunately, Battlefield V doesn’t do a great job in this department, either.
Countless times, enemies would spawn right in front of me, or the exact opposite: there was a laughable moment when an enemy was coming full speed ahead, but then mysteriously vanished just before impact. It’s funny, sure, but it broke the immersion and wasn’t as enjoyable.
Aside from that, there were numerous times when enemies would clip through walls or other art assets in the environment. No game is perfect, of course, but we’ve grown to expect a certain standard from Battlefield games that just weren’t present in Battlefield V.
If you were expecting levels that allow you to fight alongside fellow troops in large-scale battles, you might be disappointed. Most of your time is spent playing solo or sometimes with one other companion, making it hard to believe you’re fighting in a grandiose war. It’s an almost lonely experience.
Of course, these are meant to be specific stories involving a few characters, but it rarely ever felt like Battlefield. Your actions don’t seem to be a part of a larger picture.
Where are the large-scale tank battles? What about maneuvering through trenches with your comrades? None of those are present here.
Another issue with Battlefield V’s campaign is the pacing and how it handles your time. The first two levels of Battlefield V have an identical section in the latter half that requires you to go to three points to destroy an objective – something that feels very copied and pasted, making you well aware you’re playing a video game.
Some other areas are downright boring, forcing you to trudge through snow or cover long distances between objectives. It gives the illusion that you’re exploring a grand and meaningful open area when in reality they’re empty and bloated. Other sections make you sit and wait for a timer to expire, or for a certain number of enemies to be killed while you secure a point.
Interestingly, despite its short length, Battlefield V has a lot of fat that could be trimmed. Although, if that were done, you could probably complete the campaign in two hours.
Battlefield V’s campaign does have its merits, with some intelligent design decisions sprinkled throughout. Nevertheless, it’s apparent it was rushed out in time for the holidays.
It seems like if Battlefield V had a couple more months to cook, it would have turned out better and wouldn’t seem so disappointing when compared to Battlefield 1. Ideally, the next iteration of a game should be an improvement, but sadly, Battlefield V feels unfinished, doesn’t respect your time, struggles to keep you immersed, and contains way too many bugs, making it a clear step back.