Battlefield V Review: Once More Unto the (Slightly Incomplete) Breach
It’s surprising how some of this holiday’s biggest hits are leaving people divided. People [...]
It's surprising how some of this holiday's biggest hits are leaving people divided. People either really love or hate Fallout 76, depending on where they're playing; and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is a huge hit, despite some folks longing for a single player campaign. And then there's Battlefield V, EA's latest example of a game-as-a-service, which is missing the Battle Royale mode, Firestorm (coming in March), as well as its big multiplayer component, Tides of War (due on December 4).
Does that mean players won't get their money's worth out of the game? Certainly not. Battlefield V still has a lot to offer, including some good single player content with the War Stories. It's just that without all its components in place, it does make the game a little difficult to review. Like giving it an average score and going, "Welp, hope it gets better."
So here's what I'm doing. I'm reviewing the content that I was able to experience up to this point with the game; and in a few months, I'll give it another look once everything else, including Battle Royale, drops in, and we can see how it fares. Sound good?
With that, I can honestly say that, with the content that's here already, Battlefield V is far from disappointing. In fact, this almost feels like a culmination of the good stuff players have experienced in the series over the years, including the Bad Company sub-series. The War Stories are worth their weight in gold, despite some questionable design choices; and multiplayer, as always, is a beast just begging to be dominated.
War Stories, and Awesome Vehicle Handling
Perhaps what makes Battlefield V so damn good with what it currently has is its gameplay. Shooting actually feels authentic, as you actually have to struggle with aim sometimes when firing -- just like a real soldier would. That said, the weapons are still accurate enough; and getting behind a more powerful gun and mowing down enemies still feels like a million dollars.
For that matter, vehicular controls are on point. It feels absolutely great getting behind the wheel of a tank and unleashing fiery hell on your adversaries. The aerial combat is something else, thanks to precision flying and actually being able to line up foes in your sights. There can be a slight challenge when enemies stack up on you, but that's just the way these battles can be sometimes.
That leads to that "design issue" I mentioned earlier. While the War Stories are well structured in terms of storytelling (loved the "It's a Long Way To Tipperary" sing-along) and feature a dynamic open-world set-up, they seem to rely quite a bit on stealth. And that can be frustrating. For instance, when you try to sneak up on a camp, you'll have a few soldiers already waiting for you. And if they pull the arm, the numbers can get greater very quickly. It can be quite unfair, even on the lighter difficulty setting.
Also, I would've liked more War Stories than the handful we were given here. If I recall, the number's slightly greater in Battlefield 1; but we are getting an extra one in December before DICE focuses solely on multiplayer. It's not really too bad here, though -- some multiplayer content is better than none at all. Right?prevnext
Get Your Friends, Because Multiplayer Is (Mostly) a Blast
Fortunately, however, you can approach these missions any way you see fit, thanks to the open-world structure. Want to barrel in with a tank? Have at it. Feel like driving a car and then detonating it for good measure? Be our guest. Or maybe you just want to try your luck on foot and get the "sneak up" on some folks. Again, all you. This kind of approach remains very cool within the Battlefield universe. Just remember -- practice makes perfect.
And if you think single player is a tough run, prepare for multiplayer. While I admit it's a bit odd that the game is overrun with pros that know a thing or two about Battlefield territory (I just spawned, guys -- c'mon), it's definitely an experience. You just have to again show patience here, but once you do, you'll be able to level up and unlock some cool stuff, including new vehicles and content for your soldier. And with different classes and weapons to choose from, you can experiment with something that works best for you.
Grand Operations is probably your best bet, a mode that has two teams of 32 facing off against one another. To some, it may not feel like a total revolution over what previous Operations had. But it's still good; and likely to be the top draw for fans. The Airborne portion of the mode is a lot of fun as well, starting with a drop into certain positions and leading to some heavy firefights.
Final Stand is a fun mode as well, and kind of ties in with what the Firestorm mode might have to offer, with 64 folks vying for a first place position while the area shrinks down. I'm not sure where it'll expand from here, but this is a good place to jump in as well.prevnext
More Multiplayer, and, Wow, Those Visuals
Of course, the traditional modes are still a blast as well. Conquest continues to be as dependable as ever; Team Deathmatch and Domination are still intact; and Frontlines, lifted from Battlefield 1, is good stuff. That said, I would've liked to have seen more than eight maps. I mean, they're fantastic maps and give you lots of room to run around and strategize, don't get me wrong. More than likely, we'll see more terrain introduced in the months ahead -- especially when Tides of War rolls around.
Oh, just one quick note -- watch your health. The game will challenge you to stay alive since you'll need to track down health patches to get back to full strength. You still recover a little bit if you duck and cover, so it's not the end of the world; but I assume that DICE wanted to balance things a bit more so the game had a little more realistic. The only downside is that may turn off some players that just want to jump back into the battle with full recovery. Sorry, Charlie, not happening here.
As far as visuals go, Battlefield V is breathtaking, about on the same level as Battlefield 1. The environments are truly astounding, recreating some of the best locales from the World War II era; the frame rate is steady throughout; the ability to have first and third-person views with vehicles is a nice touch (best to go with third so you can watch your sides, but that's just my opinion); and the explosive details are staggering. That said, the Xbox One version did have a noticeable issue with some of the cinemas restarting in some places, but these have probably been fixed with a patch already. That said, only the lengthy loading times get in the way of such a compelling looking experience -- especially on the Xbox One X. Wow.prevnext
A Fun Round of Battlefield For the Fans, and More's On the Way
Audio-wise, DICE went to great lengths to recreate World War II and nailed it. Weapon fire is truly authentic, right down to the tanks firing shells onto the ground as they obliterate enemies; the voiceovers are excellent, particularly Mark Strong, who provides narration in certain places; and the music is swelling, wonderfully composed and really lending to each area you visit. Sometimes it can even be a little heartbreaking; but then you have that "It's a Long Way To Tipperary" moment and you're all good.
So, thus far, Battlefield V is a jam-packed entry in the series. Not my favorite and not perfect, by any means -- I would've preferred a better approach to combat with some War Stories, as well as a little better balancing with multiplayer difficulty. But it's got an excellent presentation that holds up in about every corner, along with gameplay that delivers for both single and multiplayer. And there are modes aplenty, provided you've got some good friends to play with -- some of these random Battlefield experts may leave you feeling a little bit of misery.
Is it worth it right now? I'd say so. Like I said, I'll revisit in a few months and see if the value of the package changes any. But between some good War Stories and a strengthened multiplayer component, there's more than enough bulge in this battle to keep you busy.
WWG's Score: 4 out of 5.
(Disclaimer: A review code was provided by the publisher.)prev