With the Star Wars Battlefront 2 loot box controversy still fresh in the minds of many gamers, it’s understandable that some may be worried about developer DICE’s latest effort, the World War II-era first-person shooter Battlefield V. Fans of the franchise can rest easy knowing that there are no loot boxes or similar monetization practices in Battlefield V, but there are some other issues that they should be made aware of before they decide to buy the game or not.
First and foremost, Battlefield V is a little light on content out of the gate, and at times feels unfinished. The menus are dotted with game modes that won’t be available until later on, like Tides of War, co-op, a fourth War Story single-player campaign mission, and of course, the Firestorm battle royale mode. Some of this content will be available within the next few weeks, but in the case of Firestorm, players have to wait until March 2019 to try it out.
Besides the notably absent content, Battlefield V also comes across as somewhat unfinished due excessive bugs. In our time with the game, we ran into a technical issue or weird glitch of some kind in nearly every match. However, the vast majority of these bugs were not game-breaking, and some were even amusing. There is one common bug where mounted weapons will disappear, but soldiers can still “shoot” them, so it looks like bullets are flying out of their outstretched arms. Stuff like this can be funny, but the same can’t be said for all of the bugs we encountered.
Some technical issues in Battlefield V forced us to restart the game. There was a time when the game seemed to think we were in a menu, but really we had just loaded into a match. None of the face buttons on the controller worked, and everything was blurry, like our character was near-sighted. Sometimes we were able to correct issues like this by pressing the pause button, but most of the time this required us to close out of the game and relaunch it.
Other common bugs we encountered include dead bodies rising halfway in the air and then falling back to the ground, and invisible soldiers in the lobby. DICE has a solid track record of creating highly-polished shooters, so it’s bizarre that Battlefield V has so many noticeable bugs at launch.
Even with technical issues though, Battlefield V still delivers a thrilling, addicting, and constantly fun multiplayer experience. DICE’s expert work on the audio and visuals is unmatched, and is an experience all its own. The chaos of war comes to life in spectacular fashion in Battlefield V, with most multiplayer matches evolving into a symphony of explosions, gunshots, and screams. The destructible environments also impress, and it’s not uncommon for buildings to be completely demolished by tanks. It’s always interesting to see how the battles warp the multiplayer maps from their pristine state at the start of the match to burning rubble by the time it’s all said and done.
In typical DICE fashion, all of the multiplayer maps look gorgeous, and none feel out of place in any of the various game modes. The maps are all fine from a gameplay standpoint, though the Hamada map is the least appealing in the lineup. Thanks to its immense size, playing Hamada in the larger, 64-player modes can see players spending much of the match just running to the objective, which can get tiresome.
This is somewhat alleviated by Battlefield V‘s squad system, which allows players to spawn on a squadmate like in previous games instead of starting back at base. Another major benefit of the squad system is being able to revive downed squadmembers, which encourages players to stick close their friends in battle. Communicating and cooperating with fellow squadmates is key to victory, especially since the classes are designed to complement each other.
All of the classes bring something to the table, but most of the maps seem to favor snipers, and as a result we spent the bulk of our time with the game playing the Scout class over anything else. Snipers in general are commonplace in Battlefield V, and so players may rarely end up with a well-balanced squad unless they’re communicating with their team.
Luckily, one of the most helpful abilities is available regardless of class, with anyone in the game able to build fortifications. While they seem to be fairly underutilized online, fortifications let players create barriers and other obstacles to make life difficult for the enemy team. It’s a clever new addition that encourages objective play, as players can reach whatever point they’re trying to take and set up base to better defend it against potential attackers.
Objective play is encouraged in other ways as well, mainly through the squad leader’s ability to call in reinforcements. Points earned by killing enemy soldiers, capturing points, and completing objectives will go to a point total that the squad leader can spend on ammo resupplies and vehicles. Like fortifications, it can be easy to forget that this feature is even available, but calling in an armored truck at just the right time can really make the difference in some battles.
All of this comes together to ensure that Battlefield V‘s multiplayer has some of the most exciting minute-to-minute gameplay in franchise history. It’s fast-paced, with players almost always able to immediately jump back into the action after death, and all of the game modes are exciting in their own way. Whether players want to battle it out in the smaller-scale Team Deathmatch or fight in the multi-round Grand Operations mode, there’s something that should appeal to shooter fans of all tastes.
Some fans may have faith in DICE to deliver a strong combat experience, but may be more concerned about Battlefield V‘s customization options. There was some controversy before launch about the game’s cosmetics not being historically accurate, but it’s really a nonissue. Players are free to customize their soldiers and classes how they see fit, with each class having its own progression system. It’s a little odd that players have to customize both the Allies and Axis variants for each class separately, but otherwise the customization is fine.
Overall, Battlefield V nails the multiplayer experience, and for some people that will be enough. However, Battlefield V also has a single player campaign in the form of the returning War Stories, with three separate tales following soldiers in different countries and different periods of the war. While Battlefield 1‘s War Stories were rather engaging, anyone looking to Battlefield V to satisfy their craving for a quality single player FPS will be sorely disappointed.
Each of the three War Stories can be completed in about an hour when playing on Medium difficulty, and none of them are all that compelling. The stories are predictable, full of cliches, and lack the heart the Battlefield 1 War Stories managed to capture. From a gameplay perspective, they’re even worse off.
Two of the three War Stories put an emphasis on stealth, with players marking enemies and alarms from afar like in Far Cry. Players are then supposed to strategically move through the area, silently killing enemies and completing whatever objective they’ve been asked to do, usually sabotaging equipment or blowing things up. There’s nothing wrong with this in theory, but in practice, the stealth is inconsequential and poorly implemented.
Players can basically ignore the stealth and just run through the missions. As long as they don’t linger and try to fight enemies, they should be able to get through everything with minimal headache. The missions devolve into running from one objective to the next, with very little in the way of challenge or tension.
And like the multiplayer, the campaign also has its fair share of bugs. While we noticed far less when compared to the multiplayer, we did run into things like cut-scenes freezing and the like. Bugs were most noticeable during the second War Story, which features skis. Our arms disappeared at one point, and the skis themselves started operating like rocket boots, allowing for comically quick escapes from enemy encampments – even when going uphill.
Battlefield V‘s single player is almost a non-factor, considering how short it is. As previously stated, players can blaze through each War Story in an hour or so, and while there’s challenges to complete and collectibles to find, there’s no real reason to go back through it. Perhaps future War Stories will be more compelling, but we’ll have to wait and see on that front.
Battlefield V is flawed at launch, but it’s clearly a game that is only going to get better with time. Future patches may iron out the bugs we encountered, and this time next month, the game will have a lot more content, including the much-discussed Tides of War mode. And by the time the battle royale and promised Combined Arms co-op mode roll around, it’s likely that Battlefield V will be a must-have game for shooter fans. Anyone who can’t wait to play the online multiplayer shouldn’t hesitate to buy it now, but everyone else may want to hold off for future updates.
Battlefield V is out now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Game Rant was provided an Xbox One code for this review.