Battlefield V on Xbox One
Battlefield V is equal parts frustrating and great. This is mostly thanks to the incredibly high bar that its predecessor, Battlefield 1, set a few years ago.
I was a huge fan of Battlefield 1. The setting, World War I, was incredibly fresh, as was its approach to trying different and new things in both its campaign and multiplayer modes.
I get tired of most FPS campaigns before they are finished, and breaking it up into bite-sized chunks taking place all around the world, was a great choice on DICE’s part.
The large scale Operations mode in Multiplayer was also a blast. Pretty much every design choice made in Battlefield 1 was a home-run.
While Battlefield 1 was daring at the time, Battlefield V feels very safe by comparison. There’s not a lot of major design differences between the two games and there are a few places where Battlefield V actually takes a step back.
Let’s start with what was especially disappointing: War Stories. War Stories in Battlefield V feels more like an afterthought. They are shorter, with less story and character development, and there are fewer of them.
They each have their moments, and I enjoyed how they took place in some lesser “glamorized” fronts such as Norway and Africa, but there’s only three total available at launch.
Those three, plus some other more signature moments from WWII would have been a great mix. Instead, War Stories feels hollow compared to Battlefield 1’s effort.
The mission structure also gets tiring very fast. Where in Battlefield 1 every War Story felt quite distinct from each other in terms of objectives, in Battlefield V they all follow a similar pattern for the most part.
There’s an action-heavy mission, a stealth section, and an open-ended multi-objective mission. The latter, although it allows you freedom to approach the objectives however you wish, also heavily encourages stealth.
By the time I reached the final War Story in France, I just couldn’t stomach yet another stealth mission.
It’s not that the stealth in Battlefield V is terrible but, come on, this is Battlefield and World War II, not Assassin’s Creed. I expected way more of the big, action, movie-like sequences than what was present in the campaign.
As long as you weren’t planning on playing Battlefield V just for its single-player, it fortunately redeems itself through its multiplayer.
Battlefield V’s multiplayer will feel extremely familiar to anyone that played Battlefield 1. It features the classic Conquest Mode, of course, along with (now Grand) Operations.
The formula for all of Battlefield V’s multiplayer really isn’t messed around with for the most part. The most notable new-thing is the Attrition System.
Boiled down to its simplest form, the Attrition System makes it so that ammunition and health come at a premium now.
Damage to your health bar can be permanent, and you’ll only regenerate that part of your maximum health back if you use a health pack provided to you by a Medic or scrounged from the field. You get one pack for yourself on respawn, but after that, you’ll need a Medic.
And, as I alluded to, ammunition is much more scarce than what fans of the previous games in the series are used to. If you’re spraying and praying, expect to run out very quickly unless you’re hanging out with a Support teammate.
The Attrition System guides players towards teamwork and playing the objective more than ever before. You are at a disadvantage if you lone wolf it, or have an unbalanced squad.
Battlefield V heavily rewards you for playing nice with your squad. Squad-based EXP bonuses are doubled, and you’ll rack up a huge score if you work together to complete the objectives.
Squad leaders can set their own squad specific objectives and – new to Battlefield V – if they score high enough from playing the objectives, they can earn special scorestreak-like bonuses such as V1 rockets.
While many people prefer the simplified classic game modes like Conquest, I continue to appreciate the effort that goes into Operations, which began in Battlefield 1, and now have been upgraded to “Grand” as of Battlefield V.
Battlefield has never been historically accurate when it comes to how the action plays out, but the Grand Operations are effective in instilling an added sense of gravitas to what you do in-game.
Rather than just trading control points back and forth, pushing through a coordinated defense to plant an explosive on an objective is way more heroic and fun.
The nature of Grand Operations also adds way more replay value than your normal competitive game mode. Attacking and defending on each map are contrasting experiences, each with their own goals.
Even repeat games on the same side can play out quite differently. The match plays out over days, and if you did well or poorly you’ll be rewarded or penalized accordingly.
So in some matches you’ll be trying to coordinate desperate last ditch attacks and defenses and other times you’ll get to reap the benefits of a plan that is coming together well.
The main issue is that you’ll have to wait a bit before Battlefield V reaches Battlefield 1 in terms of quantity of content. The gameplay feels quite similar, even though they take place in different time periods.
So although stuff like the Attrition System and Grand Operations are neat, the core of Battlefield V’s multiplayer isn’t vastly improved to the extent where I’d say it’s absolutely necessary to switch to Battlefield V right away. You’re basically paying for a lot more of the same, but less of it, if that makes any sense.
However, if you’re patient and plan on sticking with the game for the long haul, you’ll be able to see how DICE’s plan for adding new content through what they are calling Tides of War will play out.
It hasn’t started yet, so we can’t evaluate it properly, but the idea that new content will be added to game by mirroring how the actual war played out is intriguing for a history nerd like myself.
Visually, Battlefield V is very impressive and immersive when it isn’t being glitchy.
The normally picturesque countryside that was flipped into a living hell during World War II is portrayed beautifully in Battlefield V thanks to the Frostbite engine which still fits the Battlefield series like a glove.
However, at the time of early access play at least, there were still some glitchy animations present. I frequently clipped into surfaces, reload animations would get really wonky, I couldn’t climb things that I should have been able to, things like that.
Nothing though was game breaking, it was just immersion ripping at times, is all. Other than that, Battlefield V looked, ran, and played great.
I enjoyed my time with Battlefield V a lot, I just can’t confidently say that it’s a major improvement (if at all) over my personal favorite in the series, Battlefield 1, at least not yet.
For example, its highly anticipated battle royale mode, Firestorm, won’t be ready until next spring. Battlefield V still has a long way to go, but at the same time, at least you know that support for the game will be busy for a while.
So then, it’s not a must buy by any means if you’re still getting bang for your buck in the last game, especially considering BFV still has a way to go before matching the amount of content that BF1 has.
What I can say with confidence, though, is that Battlefield fans now have two great current-gen shooters, one set in each of the World Wars to choose from. If you skipped Battlefield 1, or don’t mind paying to jump to what will now be the actively supported game in the series for the next few years, Battlefield V is definitely worth picking up at some point.