Battlefield 1 was a shakeup for a series that had been losing its luster. Unfortunately, its followup Battlefield V doesn’t feel as refreshing. This is partially due to the change in setting. While the previous game explores Word War I, Battlefield V returns to the tired era of World War II.
As with most of EA’s online games, patches have filled it with content since its release in 2018. Not every franchise needs to reinvent itself with each sequel, but Battlefield V doesn’t do much to alter the formula. Thankfully, a number of nuanced tweaks and improvements make this game feel like a worthwhile successor for fans of the series.
For starters, it looks great. Battlefield 1 only hit shelves in 2016, but Battlefield V features a noticeable visual upgrade. Of course, this is to be expected. The series is known for its spectacle and scale, and this game is no different.
It’s hard to ignore the adrenaline when fighting on the frontlines of an online match, especially with new dynamic weather and the series’ destructible environments.
The stellar sound design hasn’t skipped a beat either. Beautiful scores that enhance the experience and help immerse the player even further. The aesthetics never seem to take a step back, which is definitely a point in Battlefield V’s favor.
Perhaps the most noticeable gameplay update is the newfound emphasis on teamwork. DICE’s “Attrition” system has made every player more vulnerable in an effort to encourage this. Ammo and health regeneration are extremely limited, so working with teammates to heal and resupply is critical in combat. Items that acted as passive bonuses, such as medkits and ammo boxes, now have to be interacted with at will. Even vehicles need to be resupplied, so don’t get overconfident and charge into enemy lines just because you have a tank. Players need to rely on each other to win, now more than ever.
The series’ trademark class system has been tweaked to account for Attrition, with a focus on specialization and the game’s squad system. For example, while only a “Medic” can efficiently revive downed teammates, every member of a squad can revive each other regardless of class. The “Support” class used to be good for suppression and resource replenishment, but now it can build cover and fortifications. Minor tweaks like these go a long way to encourage teamwork and make a noticeable difference in larger battles. You can further personalize classes with “Combat Roles” as well — unique class specializations conducive to different playstyles. Some players may not care for the additional teamwork-centric features, but they do create a renewed sense of strategy in online matches.
Customization has also been overhauled. Not only do classes have more weapons, gadgets, and attachments to choose from, but now even physical appearances are fully customizable. Even individual weapon parts have more cosmetic options.
Of course, this increased personalization comes with a downside: microtransactions. A “Battlefield Currency” was implemented in the latest update. While it can’t be used for gameplay advantages, it can be used for cosmetics as well as progression.
Feel like skipping the grind and paying your way to a higher level? The “Time Savers” you can purchase are one of the many turn-offs that come with microtransactions.
War Stories return from Battlefield 1, acting as V’s campaign mode. Not much about the mode has changed, either. War Stories are still fairly brief vignettes. They are engaging enough to try, but they won’t be worth the price of admission. The levels feel longer — or more accurately, time-consuming — because most of them focus of stealth mechanics. Naturally, creeping around enemies takes more time than gunning through them. Regardless, the War Stories have their moments, but they aren’t the game’s biggest selling point.
Like every Battlefield game, the real experience lies in the multiplayer. One of the most anticipated multiplayer additions was added to Battlefield V in March 2019: Firestorm mode. Firestorm is a battle royale game type, seemingly obligatory in modern-day shooters. It’s not as accessible as competitors like Fortnite, but it actually plays pretty well.
Players parachute in and scavenge loot on the ground, with the goal of being the last soldier standing. It’s all relatively standard, but Firestorm’s artillery and vehicles are what really distinguish the mode from other royale games. These advantages really shake things up. Never has a royale game felt more tense than when you’re a lone player with weak gear trying to hide from a fully-armed tank. Firestorm is likely only a distraction for veteran players, but it does provide some variety to the classic list of game modes.
Aside from a few new additions, Battlefield V is what you would expect from the series. It’s another Battlefield. It’s a solid follow-up to Battlefield 1, but does it distinguish itself enough? This really depends on how well individual players appreciate the renewed focus on teamwork.
As a fan of the series (and as someone who finds it preferable to most other big-budget shooters), this sequel feels like a step in the right direction. However, if you aren’t enticed by the slight gameplay changes, then there isn’t much else to experience here that can’t be found elsewhere. Fans of the series should pick this up, but anyone on the fence might want to wait for a price-drop before diving into another solid, but mostly typical Battlefield.