Battlefield V (PlayStation 4) Review

By Gareth F 25.11.2018

Review for Battlefield V on PlayStation 4

Over the years, the Battlefield series has steadily built up a reputation as a reliable purveyor of chaotic, large-scale vehicular and squad-based warfare, thanks in no small part to its capacity to effortlessly generate one jaw-dropping moment after another. It seems, then, a genuine shame that recent times have seen DICE's great work marred somewhat by a few controversial decisions. The Stockholm-based developer rightly caught ire for the grind-tastic 'pay to win' loot box system that was implemented in its previous title, Star Wars Battlefront II, and while admittedly this particular act did have publisher EA's stink all over it, it has at least been remedied since. More recently, the inclusion of female soldiers in the Battlefield V reveal trailer rattled the collective cages of some of the whinier keyboard warriors lurking on the Internet, who moaned how this made a 'videogame' where the possibility of getting run over by a friendly tank and emerging unscathed at the other end... seem less authentic. Nothing wrong with wanting to showcase a bit more diversity, right? Well, it all seemed to go horribly wrong from this point on, as instead of attempting to placate the pitchfork wielding mob, EA management went ahead and poured a bit more oil on the fire. Pffft... gamers, eh?

Battlefield V is set during World War II, an era that is no stranger to the "occasional" videogame (not to mention Call of Duty last year) but it's a choice that makes perfect sense, really, given that Battlefield 1 had a World War I setting. The relatively lacklustre multiplayer beta showcased a game in need of a bit more work doing, which, subsequently, led to a delay to the scheduled release date. While this may have given some cause for concern, the good news is that DICE made good use of this additional time to tend to some of the more urgent matters that got flagged up. That's not to suggest that Battlefield V is without any issues, as there are a veritable plethora of bugs, glitches, and minor annoyances that will manifest during both the campaign and multiplayer. There is no need to panic; this is par for the course with the Battlefield series. In fact, it would be minor miracle if a game that contained as many moving parts as this didn't have any issues. However, the rush to hit the market during the lucrative run up to Christmas has seen this title shipped with a few sizeable components omitted and tagged as 'Coming Soon' in the start menu. This kind of situation is never really ideal but it's not the catastrophe it could have been... but, more on that later.

There's been a long running joke with the Battlefield series that the only time the single-player campaign gets played is when the multiplayer servers inevitably conk out during the release window period. It's perhaps a bit unfair as DICE has always delivered a technically solid single-player experience, even if it's fallen a bit short in the narrative stakes. With that said, Battlefield 1 actually stumbled across the perfect format with War Stories, a series of smaller, bite-sized tales highlighting courageous acts of valour and personal sacrifice. It fit the tone and theme perfectly back then, so, naturally, it makes good sense to repeat the formula now. Currently there are three mini campaigns available in Battlefield V, with a fourth arriving a couple of weeks after launch, and each of them manage to avoid the clichéd WW2 stories that usually get peddled out as classic videogame fodder. Under No Flag follows a failed bank robber with a penchant for explosives after he gets recruited into a top secret mission to stealthily blow up a series of German Air Bases located in the North African desert. Tirailleur follows a unit of Senegalese troops enlisted in the French Colonial Forces as they attempt to liberate a French homeland they have never actually visited. Last up, Nordlys tells a deeply personal tale of a young resistance fighter struggling to liberate her own country, while ensuring the safety of her loved ones. They are all fairly short in length but serve well as a garnish to the main event. With that said, there isn't really enough content here for anybody planning on picking this up purely for its solo manoeuvres.

Screenshot for Battlefield V on PlayStation 4

Speaking of which, the biggest selling point of the Battlefield series has always been its multiplayer component, which has never failed to deliver on its promise of combat on an impressively large scale. Battlefield V has built on the already solid foundations laid out by its predecessors by making use of a new and improved physics-based modelling system for its destruction, which turns out to be a real showcase for what the Frostbite 3.0 Engine is capable of. In previous iterations, the continuous pummelling of a structure would lead to an eventual collapse using a pre-set animation, which was always impressive in its own right. However, using a physics-based approach takes into consideration the material being shot at, as well as the trajectory, power, and velocity of the shells being fired, so, for example, a tank firing a shot through an open door of a house (which takes some doing) will see the debris of the opposing wall blast outwards realistically. This tosses an entirely new layer of dynamic realism into the mix and is a major contributor to the overall feeling of bedlam during the course of a match. It has to be said, too, that Battlefield V has got fantastic visuals (especially on the upgraded PS4 Pro) as DICE has managed to capture the desolate, understated beauty of a landscape ravaged by war, which is something that often gets overlooked during the ensuing carnage. The consistently excellent sound design that the series is renowned for is second to none, and covers every eventuality from the 'thwipp' of a sniper's missed bullet embedding in the earth nearby, to the rumble of a tank through a rubble-strewn street, or even the feeling of dread instilled as the motor of the overhead V1 Rocket suddenly cuts out.

Battlefield V ships with eight maps in total that vary wildly in locale, climate, and terrain, each a vast sandbox capable of engagements on land, air, and water. Initially split between four territories (Norway, Holland, North Africa and France), each map possesses unique qualities that force differing tactics, ranging from ferocious urban conflict in the alleyways and canals of Rotterdam, to the arid mountainous terrain and harsh verticality of Hamada. There are also eight different game types to dip into, with playlists for both large-scale 64-player Conquest type modes, to the smaller 32-player 'Infantry Focus' game types that include more traditional Team Deathmatch / Domination matches that, despite being scaled down, still offer intense, fast-paced bouts of gameplay. The popular Operations mode from Battlefield 1 has been re-worked and makes a reappearance as Grand Operations. This new version takes place over four days and, instead of just giving the attacking side three attempts to win, it actually creates a dynamic narrative meaning that failure to meet the objectives in one match will impact on the next day's mission. There's also a much improved progression ladder at play, which is tied to the player's in-game ranking. This gradually unlocks access to weapons, equipment, and gadgets, with an additional levelling up system in place for each individual weapon, which unlocks attachments and camo customisations with each step met.

Screenshot for Battlefield V on PlayStation 4

The four regular Battlefield infantry classes once again report in for active duty, although this latest addition to the series has brought with it a number of tweaks that impact on the whole squad dynamic in some interesting ways. Each class has been subjected to one further split, giving each specialist area two distinct disciplines within the role. The Recon class, for example, has always performed as a long distance operator with a variety of scoped, bolt-action rifles at their disposal, so anybody planning on just getting entrenched in an area for a good old fashioned camping session needs to select 'Sniper' as their default combat role, which enables the 'Eagle Eye' and 'Expert Marksman' traits to enhance performance. However, there is also the option to opt into playing as a 'Pathfinder' instead, which sees the previous two traits replaced with 'Advance Scouting' and 'Vanguard,' which enables him/her to make use of any spawn beacon laid down by any other squad in the team prior to laying down a beacon in the same area for fellow squad mates to congregate upon. It's the perfect way to usher in a steady stream of fresh reinforcements when mounting an assault on an objective.

All the classes now have the ability to heal downed teammates and, initially, this feels like an odd design choice, as it appears to make the Medic class entirely superfluous to requirements. In practice, though, this really isn't the case as, naturally, the Medic can revive fallen allies much quicker than non-qualified personnel, and they have the additional responsibility of doling out medical supplies, so injuries sustained in the field can be treated on the move. Troops are only issued with the one First Aid kit, so those of a more Hippocratic persuasion can still do brisk business on the killing fields. Every soldier is equipped with a hammer that provides the option to fortify strategic chokepoints, overlooks or objectives, which, if managed effectively, can really hamper the opposing forces' progress. Being heavily entrenched in a defensive position can take a toll on the munitions level but, thankfully, both the medic and support classes can construct healing and ammo stations at owned objectives, as well as stationary / mounted machine guns to ensure that the ground forces remain healthy and effective.

Screenshot for Battlefield V on PlayStation 4

What exactly, then, is missing from Battlefield V, and what are the timescales at play? Well, it's probably worth noting at this point that most of the components that are listed as 'Coming Soon' aren't series' staples, and didn't actually make an appearance in Battlefield 1. Billed as 'The Tides of War,' it's a new way of unifying the player base and ensuring that everybody gets access to the same content as and when it appears. This does include all future maps at no additional cost. DICE is to be applauded for getting rid of the Season Pass altogether, and the fact that even EA itself has started to move away from deploying walled content propped up by a revenue stream, shows that maybe all hope isn't lost just yet. Try hopping on any of the older Call of Duty titles to find a match being played on one of the DLC maps and it's almost impossible, so there's definitely an argument against dividing the player base up.

The first content drop is due a couple of weeks after the release date and it includes the aforementioned fourth War Story, as well as a new map called Panzerstorm (tanks in Belgium... what's not to like). January sees the classic 'Rush' game type make a welcome return, alongside Combined Arms, a brand new four-player co-op mode that provides an additional way to hook up socially and blow stuff to smithereens. March brings yet another new addition to the series with Operation Firestorm, DICE's take on the ubiquitous Battle Royale genre, and this is accompanied by an expedition to Greece... to shoot other people in the face. Therefore, there's plenty coming up on the immediate horizon and, while condemning a game for being light of a mode or two at launch would be the normal course of action, it's hard to get too disappointed knowing that the steady flow of planned expansions won't cost a penny more.

Screenshot for Battlefield V on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Even in its current state, Battlefield V succeeds in delivering that familiar, core experience in spite of missing some content, and while the thought of an incomplete game might deter some from pulling the trigger on a purchase, those eager to enlist will still find plenty to keep them occupied. Sure, it can occasionally be a bit rough around the edges, but this doesn't stop those epic 'wow' moments from coming thick and fast. Gorgeous visuals; incredible sound design; unprecedented levels of destruction - DICE is firmly focused on long-term player engagement here and its decision to scrap the Season Pass altogether is definitely a refreshing step in the right direction. Well played, guys.

Developer

Dice

Publisher

EA

Genre

First Person Shooter

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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