There’s never been a game so directly named after the exact thing it is. Call of Duty? More like Usain Bolt with a gun. War? Pfft, more like Battlefield V.
If you’ve played Battlefield 1 from last year then it’s safe to say that Battlefield V doesn’t do anything drastically different from it. In fact, EA DICE has taken a safer approach by sticking to the basics and spit shining the already established game mechanics.
So how does it hold up in the end-of-the-year shootout? Let's find out.
War, war never changes
This year Battlefield has gone back to its roots of World War II which we’ve seen in Battlefield 1942.
Although EA had made ample clear about their intentions about single player games, Battlefield V’s War Stories is a great effort on the contrary. Albeit. It still feels like a chunky tutorial but hey, it's better than last time.
War Stories is a four-part anthology (with one coming in December) with each of them telling a story of personal sacrifices and endeavours from World War II. One of my favourites was Tirailleur where Senegalese units of the French Colonial Forces took up arms to fight for a country they never even saw. These intimate stories are really polished and a few factual pointers in the end will make you realise the impact of it all.
Much of these stories are completely solo rather than your group style combat expected from a Battlefield game but they’re definitely worth a try.
Stick together team
Battlefield’s idea of multiplayer could scare away potential newbies and seasoned veterans of the game will dive head first into a 64 player online ruckus. This has always been the case and might even continue to be so, but this year’s minor yet meaningful updates to the gameplay might make it welcoming for everyone.
For instance, now anyone from your team can revive you so you don’t need a medic in your four-man squad. Although a medic can revive you faster than anyone else in the team. These customizable classes compliment each other by giving bonuses when achieving goals together. So Mr. Soloridah94 will actually not benefit from drifting away from the squad. This forces players to play together and if you already have a four team squad then you’re in for a treat.
Maps are very well detailed and made to bring out the best of each class without favouring any of the other classes. The aerodrome is one of my favourite maps where tank battle and sniping is a lot of fun. The deep valley cuts along with an uneven surface which means you cannot completely dominate the map just by sniping and the centralised aerodrome structure can shift the game tide easily because of how heavily fortified it is to attack and defend. So Support and Assualt classes can easily dominate inside it. Meanwhile, snipers and tanks are usually pointless there.
Every map is purposefully built. From mammoth sized structures in Twisted Steel to tight infantry focused combat in Devastation. All of the maps offer some unique way to change gameplay style and wreak havoc. Panzerstorm is inspired by the first major tank battle of World War II and will be the first DLC map to come.
Modes of War
Of course, war brings chaos and Battlefield’s modes try to focus that chaos into something worth fighting for.
The classics are all here with Team Deathmatch, Conquest and Domination making a return and forming the bread and butter of the multiplayer experience. Whereas the Operations mode is back too and renamed Grand Operation which starts with parachuting off a plane and securing the site. The results from this carry on to the next round where you attack and defend objectives along with tanks and other vehicular support, and then finish off the game with the last man standing where each player only gets one life and limited ammo.
This creates a new degree of tension and makes the game more intense and the team more focused. An actual Battle Royale mode will be coming to Battlefield V in March along with Combined Arms, a great take on four-player co-op without the stress of facing the pros.
A Glorious War
As captivating and engaging as the gameplay modes of Battlefield games are, the graphical grandeur is one to be reckoned with. Even last year’s Battlefield 1 was a pixel marvel and this year’s game looks and feels a whole lot better.
The sense of scale and audio supporting its pixel fidelity is quite remarkable. You’ll find crisp autumn leaves drifting across by wind or explosions (obviously) while bullet tracers ping across the skies in a marvellous fashion. At any given point if you stop and look around (if you’re lucky enough to not get shot in a second) you’ll find tanks blasting off concrete walls, fighter planes whizzing below safe levels to bombard infantry holdouts and troops yelling and fragging in the distance. Explosions and gunfire have a weighted feel and are well supported by the impeccably distinct audio profile of each gun, explosion and vehicle.
It’s a gorgeous chaos and like all our PC game reviews, we played it on our 4K testbench with a steady 60PFS running on the Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti with Ultra settings. Our system could keep up with the tenacity of graphical demands of this game and luckily enough, Battlefield also happens to be the first title to full support Ray Tracing. A shining feature of the Nvidia RTX 20-series GPUs and with DXR enabled (Ray Tracing) the game looks fantastic. The Rotterdam map is a special treat for anyone using Ray Tracing. Polished and sunlit interiors of buildings reflect light so naturally while the metal and glass of the cars pick up reflections so perfectly that it’s hard to tell you’re playing a game and this is happening in real time. Adjusting the level of DXR from low to Ultra is a slight upgrade but we could see a noticeable difference between DXR off and on.
Obviously, all that real-time ray tracing is taxing on the hardware so don’t expect 60FPS at 4K with DXR enabled. We happily lowered the resolution to 2K to get more framerate because that’s what matters more in an online shooter.
Processor: AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1920X 12-Core (3.5Ghz) liquid cooled by the Thermaltake Floe Riing RGB 240 TT Premium Edition
RAM: 16GB of Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro (3200MHz)
Motherboard: Asus Prime X399-A
CPU Case: Corsair 570X
Keyboard: Kingston HyperX Alloy Elite RGB
UPDATE: Ray’s Anatomy
It’s very selfless of EA to start dishing out meaningful updates without charging us a kidney and half. Jokes aside, the recent partnership with Nvidia didn’t meet with expectations in the graphical department. Don’t get us wrong, Ray Tracing looks absolutely gorgeous and to see it happen in real time got our nerdy senses pinging faster than Spidey but it came at a performance cost. That’s about to change.
The new update from Nvidia and EA DICE bumps up the frame rate performance of the game with DXR on (Ray Tracing). We got around 60 frames on 2K as promised by the update but only on certain maps. Graphical stunners like the Rotterdam map chipped away our frame rate to 50 and even 45 during explosions. If you’re gaming on Full HD, 60FPS is a guarantee even when Ray Tracing is set to High.
Another thing is that now there’s a noticeable visual difference between the lower and the higher settings for Ray Tracing.
Battlefield V: verdict
Without a doubt, Battlefield V is the strongest title in the series. Partly because EA DICE played it safe by adding no extra gimmick to the gameplay and also because of Tides of War. A fancy term for continuing support to the game well after launch with DLCs and additional content that will be rolling out over the course of time. Wait, don’t hide your wallet just yet, EA DICE says it will be FREE! Yes, you read that right and now your EA memes are no longer funny.
Brilliant multiplayer and weighted game mechanics make the Battlefield world very interesting and quite ripe to dig into the 64 player sandbox chaos. War Stories, on the other hand, is compelling to play but it won’t satisfy everyone because of its ‘oh this is an elaborate tutorial’ nature.
The customizable classes and maps are very well balanced but the menu could be tricky to navigate. It’s quite layered and requires prior knowledge or trial and error to understand.
So if you’re torn between which of the two shooters to pick up this Christmas then know that both are quite different. CoD is fast paced with more emphasis on solo kills and achievements but if you’re looking for a slow and strategic sandbox shooter experience then look no further than Battlefield V.