The battle royale genre has exploded in the last few years with Fortnite and PUBG. In response, DICE introduced Battlefield V: Firestorm — a multiplayer mode for Battlefield V that brings battle royale to the long-running shooter franchise. While it’s not the necessarily the highlight of the series’ newest installment, Firestorm is yet another reason to jump into Battlefield V.
Already in Firestorm’s favor is the fact that it’s in a Battlefield game. The series’ best elements only enhance the experience. It’s gorgeous: maps are detailed and appropriately gigantic. And Battlefield V’s especially smooth controls are still gameplay highlights. The series’ large-scale battles fit the battle royale genre perfectly too, despite its more realistic feel.
What makes Firestorm unique amongst the industry’s sea of battle royale titles? Well, the differences are minor, and that’s a double-edged sword. Using Fortnite as a point of comparison, the immediately noticeable difference is the tone of the game.
While the goal of Firestorm is still about becoming the last one standing, the visual realism of Battlefield is obviously a vastly different aesthetic from Fortnite’s colorful, more accessible look.
Battlefield’s first-person perspective also shakes things up. While first-person maintains immersion, some players may prefer the wider range of vision offered in third-person battle royale games.
As a game mode, Firestorm mirrors its genre competitors. Players spawn in an aircraft hangar. They’re free to run around and kill time while the match loads and players enter the server.
Once the match starts, players are taken into Ju-52 transport planes to parachute into the game’s map: Halvøy. Halvøy is a Scandinavian peninsula made up of coastal towns, rolling hills, and snowy plains.
Battle royale levels need to be large to account for so many players, but this cannot be understated — Halvøy is massive. It is easily the biggest map in the entire series and crossing it feels like an endeavor.
Don’t expect a map you might find in Fortnite. Halvøy is gigantic, but less varied in its landscape. It doesn’t feel like a bunch of unique locations packed into playable borders. Instead, the locations feel a bit more organic in their layout.
Unfortunately, this does make it feel a bit bland — landmarks are few and far between, especially since Halvøy isn’t very dense. The open spaces do add some tension, though. Some players may even find that stealth is preferable to open combat, more so than in other battle royale games. A ring of fire encircles the area, creating the map’s shrinking boundary and forcing players to the center over time.
Of course, players drop into Halvøy without weapons. You must scavenge for weapons using the game’s new loot system. Battlefield has never had such a feature, but it works like you’d expect. Weapons are scattered throughout the map, and players must manage limited inventory space. They’re mostly strewn inside of buildings, but players may come across the occasional lockbox with slightly rarer loot. There are also resupply points around the map, which players must capture to earn better gear.
Weapons carry different rarities, accompanied by stat boosts and better attachments. Players can upgrade their inventory space and newly incorporated armor system by finding bigger backpacks and armor plates around the map. Ammo capacity is also limited, so players must manage the different ammo types. This system feels like a nice middle-ground between the complexity of PUBG and the simplicity of Fortnite.
Combat does feature some notable changes for the battle royale game type. Players spawn with 150 health points to account for the lack of regeneration, while shotguns and snipers do less damage than they would in standard multiplayer.
These are minor changes, but Battlefield purists might take issue with them. However, the franchise’s staple vehicle combat plays a role in Firestorm, which really distinguishes the game from competitors.
Common transport vehicles like cars and trucks are scattered throughout Halvøy, but so are vehicle lockups. These lockups contain combat vehicles like tanks, giving any player who finds one a major survival advantage. A squad with great teamwork can run the battlefield with these, while lone players will likely have to run and hide.
Of course, stealthy players can still take down tanks — mines and anti-armor weapons are aplenty, so this doesn’t ruin the game’s balance. It helps to keep some of these weapons on hand towards the end of the game, when the safe playable area is at its smallest. If somebody has a tank and there is nowhere to run, the game will not end happily.
It’s hard to summarize Firestorm without comparing it to similar games. Battlefield V is already a decent game in its own right. Firestorm feels like an afterthought — as if DICE simply wanted to hop on the battle royale trend. However, the game mode is a nice addition and it doesn’t feel particularly exploitative or half-baked.
Is Firestorm fun enough to warrant purchasing Battlefield V? Well, no, probably not. It’s nothing special. Battlefield V is fun enough to warrant a purchase without it though, so Firestorm is only another selling point in for already worthwhile experience.