BATTLEFIELD V [Review]: Put This One On Ice.
Because somebody had to.
Now, look.. Battlefield 1 was in my Top 5 of 2016. The single-player campaign, War Stories, was worthy of the game purchase alone and it didn’t hurt that the multiplayer was epic as hell, that coming from a non-PvP guy. This year, EA DICE has been off to a rough start, smartly pushing this year’s Battlefield V out of the October death-spot crunched between Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII and Red Dead Redemption 2. But, they didn’t push the game far away enough.
War Stories returns and has its positives. I’ve never seen wind look so realistic in a game, with spectacular Blizzard effects in the second mission that make great use of the Xbox One X. Each of the three (so far) 2-3 hour campaign missions tell a fairly decent war story not yet heard before, though longtime Battlefield diehards will be confused by DICE’s choice of gameplay function. Stealth? Twice? Really? If I wanted to do that I would have kept the Hitman 2 code instead. Since I’m on the more impatient side of stealth players (minus when it really counts, like in Tomb Raider for instance), constantly running and gunning lone wolf wasn’t the greatest. I hardly used any vehicles either, which has always been a key factor in choosing BF over CoD — even more ridiculous when the first mission involves the UK’s Special Boat Services in.. the African desert (with no boats in sight).
Under No Flag also took me to First Blood-like levels of nuttiness when asked to man turrets solo (with my disgruntled chaperone sorta snipe-helping in the process) against tanks, jets and hordes of Nazi’s. Unless you’re going to make Jason Statham the hero here, going to war with a larger group shouldn’t always be saved for multiplayer. For story #2, Nordly’s, it makes me wish our own Norwegian game critic Daniel reviewed this mission but brilliantly chose to review Hitman instead. This story definitely chose to grab the heart with its mother/daughter dynamic, although having to constantly read subtitles in the midst of war isn’t the easiest of tasks. As mentioned earlier, the ferocious wind and snow effects are cool and skiing downslope while chucking knives and capping Nazi’s is.. something else.
Just as I was about to completely write off Battlefield V — and I haven’t even gotten to the MP stuff yet — here comes the French, with Tirailleur, easily the best, most heart-wrenching story of the bunch. Though a case of too little, too late, this war story feels like a continuation of greatness from Battlefield 1, as your hero is joined with a full army in tow — even if the A.I. for your fellow brethren and foes is a little shaky. The stakes also feel higher, as the protagonist has several things to prove for his own race and his country. There’s a lot of layers to this story, so it pleases me that playing through it physically was nearly as intriguing as it appeared mentally. The last campaign, The Last Tiger, will be available December 3rd. Um, yeah.
Now, onto the part of the game I’m definitely not into, but respect, the multiplayer. If you’re someone who’s lived and died by BF’s online community in the past, you’re probably going to enjoy this part of the game no matter what I say. But for lone-wolf or campaign players wondering if Grand Operations and the other collective are worth hopping into, well, in time. I say that because–like many video game releases–these days, BFV is unfinished, unpolished and in need of patches. There’s a ton of bugs, as expected in a game capable of honing 64 players or more, but I wonder if the release delay had more to do with the competition than any major fixes than needed to be done.
There are 8 maps at launch with many more promised along the way. Since bridge combat isn’t something you see so often, Twisted Steel, was definitely a favorite. The gun variety in both SP and MP is great, with SMG’s, MMG’s and LMG’s all feeling rewarding and seemingly at the right time. I didn’t get to do too much customizing, but setting the appropriate sights and recoil reduction didn’t have to come at a price. Cool-looking weapon cosmetics make all the online grinding worth it, too.
As expected, there are some frame-rate physics issues and glitches that can take the fun out of the wartime experience. I didn’t notice too many of these issues in SP (although they do indeed exist), but just about every 2 or 3 online matches had some strange shit take place. There are no Stormtroopers in this “BF”, so seeing enemies get stuck or launched a lot further than a sci-fi imagination in a WWII setting isn’t for the best. And more casual online players like yours truly are sure to feel the frustration of limited health regen and reducted sniper strength. If we suck, we use 3D spotting, accept a more relaxed TTK (Time To Kill) and maybe occasionally camp and snipe, yet those elements don’t exist in any of the online modes available at launch.
With many of our favorite titles approaching the more “games as a service” model, the jury’s still out on this WW2 gunner. The campaign is a step back from the greatness of BF1, and current online modes are presented to the more hardcore, while Battlefield‘s first ever Battle Royale mode, Firestorm — perhaps the title’s most welcoming of MP options — won’t be here ’til the Spring. That said, BFV is still a good game that will absolutely get better. If you’ve been a big fan of the franchise in the past (and can find it at a nice price this Black Friday), you may want to consider making a return to this field of war. 3/5 Bibles.
EA/Dice’s Battlefield V is out tomorrow.