Watching the timer tick down to the start of the Battlefield V reveal, I had a vague idea in my mind of what to expect. The same tired formula of a historically set shooter with one or two new additions and some cosmetic graphical upgrades. I was sorely wrong, or at least seem to be at first glance.
DICE and EA have cooked quite the package, coating it with very much the same immersion brush applied to Battlefield 1, and in the vein of previous Battlefield games the developers opted to explore the ‘untold, unplayed, unseen’ as they so aptly put it. That isn’t to say many of the habitual features aren’t returning, they are, but there is a clear reliance on untold stories that gives Battlefield V a refreshing allure.
Battlefield V is, as expected, set during World War II, yet instead of relying on revisiting overused tropes like the Normandy landing or very much allied-focused event, the game hones in on more obscure facets of the conflict, especially for its War Stories vignette-style single player mode.
The most stand out of which is Norway and the struggles of the local resistance fighters as they face the advancing Nazi threat. In this case, rather than relying on a battle-based narrative, DICE explain they are approaching the story from ‘a more intimate perspective: saving your loved ones’. Here, we have a young resistance fighter who must protect her family at all cost while braving the unforgiving climes of the arctic circle.
Another setting is the desperate, but ultimately unsuccessful, attempt to halt German progression into Northern France at the start of World War II. The reveal trailer is a great example of this verdant landscape ravaged by conflict and the advance of a relentless occupation force in the form of paratroopers dropping from the sky. DICE promises other locations such as the arid lands of North Africa, as well as ‘in fields and swamps, on bridges and canals, and among the rubble of devastated cities. Wherever you choose to battle, you’ll do so in locations that were pivotal, though somewhat forgotten over time’.
Battlefield V also has a co-op mode dubbed Combined Ops. Four players can team up in this mode which sits comfortably between the War Stories single player mode and classic multiplayer. The squad works together to reach shared goals and get handsomely rewarded in the process, though limited supplies hinder progress and teamwork is essential for survival.
DICE also introduced a mode named Grand Operations, which is similar to Operations in Battlefield 1. Essentially, the mode is multiplayer with a heavy reliance on crafted stories that players weave through as they play. Game play wise, two squads divided into offensive and defensive teams compete against one another to reach certain objectives or defend a position. The battle can span up to four days (in-game time) with the events of the previous days having an impact on the match moving forward. Grand Operations is therefore dynamic and the length of the match depends on how well teams do. If no winner is crowned by the end of the third day, the fourth day introduces a Battle Royale-inspired sudden death round called Last Stand. With supplies exhausted and bodies fatigued, players go into battle with limited ammunition and can only die once.
To rounds of applause we also found out that the much-scorned Premium Pass won’t feature in Battlefield V. All maps and content from day one and moving forward, bar purchasable skins, will be available to all players. In line with this, Battlefield V features what is called the Tides of War mode, which is essentially a running service of brand new missions, objectives, and challenges that change from day to day as well as through larger multi-day chapters. By completing Tides of War content, players are rewarded with exclusive cosmetics and gear. For the moment, EA have announced four chapters for the first year after release, with each one centered around a specific narrative loop.
The classic 64 player conquest mode is of course returning with some upgrades. Heavy artillery can now be moved around the battlefield to help protect positions. Squad members can also be moved around if injured and there seem to be some exciting new mechanics involving airborne grenades. Explosions now emanate shock waves that affect players by knocking them back or propel them upwards.
Many smaller snippets were detailed during the reveal, of which fortifications was the most game changing. In a fashion vaguely similar to the building mechanic in Fortnite, players in Battlefield V are equipped with a tool enabling them to fix and fortify structures for defensive purposes. Conversely, building are far more susceptible to destruction and the way in which they collapse depends heavily on the firepower of the weapon employed. In other words, a V1 bomb will cause much more damage than a burst of machine gun fire. Battlefield fortifications are also being implemented for deployment such a barbed wire and trenches.
Finally, EA made the repeated point that Battlefield V was all about working as a squad or as they put it, a company. Everything can be customized running from vehicles, all the way to the appearance of soldiers. Every time you return to the game, you will settle back into a unique set of equipment that is singularly yours. There is also a suggestion that weapon customization isn’t only visual, but also in how they function on the battlefield.
The trailer is a frantic clamor of brutality that if true to what the game will realistically be like, truly sets the stage for an epic adventure. Spot the one-handed women, the falling cars, exploding V1 rocket, and the first person view of a player shooting while lying on their back. Oh yeah, remember that mustached soldier from the tease? Well he was up to no good and you’ll be pleased to hear he gets deftly bludgeoned in the head by one of your fellow company members.
Battlefield V will be released worldwide on October 19 on PS4, PC, and Xbox One. Tune in to EA’s E3 showcase on June 9th to see the Grand Operations mode in action. In the mean time, you can watch the reveal live stream here.