Never in the field of human conflict, has so much, been owed by so many, to so few!

Winston Churchill

World War 2 saw what is arguable some of the fieriest and horrific actions known to mankind.  Gaming thrives on moments like these.  We see many games pushing the envelope when it comes to wow-ing the audience.  Many FPS titles desensitize the player from what is happening making it out as if one man with a gun and bravery can single-handedly change the course of history and that life is nothing more than waiting a few seconds to respawn or going back to a checkpoint and trying again.  Battlefield 5 wants you to experience what it feels like to be one of the many soldiers during this time.  Battlefield 5 makes you experience the futility of being just a number.  Battlefield 5 shows you the atrocities of war!

Many developers have decided to drop campaigns, such as Call of Duty Black Ops 4 did to rather focus on what is popular at the moment, which is battle royale.  The few games that do decide to include a single player aspect, can often become more of a tutorial to the more popular multiplayer section.  Battlefield 5 however decided to keep the campaign, and looking at the massive production value that was put into BF1’s war stories it was only right to assume more of the same when it came to BF5.  The war stories of Battlefield 5 are very much like those of BF1.  They feature unknown stories and tell the untold stories of brave men and women who fought in the great war.

 

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War Stories

The 4 chapters which all are roughly around 2 hours long, will take you on a whirlwind adventure through some of the most beautiful scenery ever seen in the Battlefield franchise.  Battlefield has always been known for its large-scale warfare and being a run-and-gun shooter with weapons and ammo everywhere.  This is why it is strange that 2 out of the 4 chapters of the war stories are predominantly focused around a just-okay stealth system.  Also another strange aspect is that most of these missions are fought on foot instead of using all the vehicular warfare that BF has become known for.  Apart from the intriguing stories that these chapters have to offer and the stunning surroundings and environments you will be fighting through, the BFV war stories, unfortunately leaves a lot on the table in terms of possibilities.

The first chapter, Under no Flag, sees a former bank robber being recruited to join a “special” group of soldiers by a veteran soldier.  Their mission, sabotage.  Their missions take you to Northen Africa with rather linear stealth missions to start later turning into a final stand.  The storyline is rather cliched but the acting and many humorous dialogues between the two really strengthens their characters during the rather short time you spend playing with them.  During the second mission is where the world opens up allowing you to tackle each objective in any order you please.

 

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Nordlys, the second campaign take you to a Nazi occupied Norway where you take control of a young female resistance fighter.  The best part of this chapter is the ability to jump on snow skis and silently skiing past unsuspecting Nazi’s killing them silently with throwing knifes!  As you progress through the frozen masterpiece that is Norway, with spectacular views of the northern lights as well as spine-chillingly spectacular snow storms, DICE employed a new mechanic which requires you to warm yourself to avoid freezing.  The longer you stay out in the blizzard the slower your movements and reactions will become.  This chapter is great in itself but due to the resistance fighters being Norwegian this meant subtitles.  What also adds to the punch of this chapter is it showcases what many non-soldiers were willing to do to save their own countries which DICE does a great job of portraying the feeling of being a single person trying to overthrow the might of a Nazi Germany.

 

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Chapter 3, which probably is the best of the chapters available at launch, called Tirailleur which showcases the costs of human bravery, sacrifice and ambition.  Seeing many non-French natives coming to fight for a country they have never seen.   Not only does it showcase the mentioned topics it also deftly deals with the topic of race during the liberation of France.  Apart from all the racial and political ties during this chapter, this is the first time that you feel you are part of a platoon during a war, rather than a super – call-of-duty-esque- soldier.  From the start you are fighting next to your fellow soldiers who get cut down right next to you on either side.  For the first time you feel vulnerable, which is what it must have been like, your life can be ended at any moment by a stray bullet, and that is what is achieved in Tirailleur.  Seeing autumn leaves blowing over the corpses of your friends really hits home the atrocity of war! This is also the chapter that shows you a glimpse of what Battlefield is known for, large-scale warfare!

 

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The fourth and final chapter is The Last Tiger which has you take control of a non-Nazi German who has been assigned to a tank crew.  The Last Tiger being spectacular as expected with lots of tank warfare which is really well done giving you the sense of power of being in a Tiger tank yet the large target placed on you in any battle but even more so it tries to give the view of a non-Nazi who is thrust into a war he does not necessarily agree with.  DICE has gone to great lengths to make their rather short campaign have some significance with the stories they tell.  Battlefield V does a really great job of that building from the great playability of the BF1 campaign and adding an emotional connection to it.  Telling us how terrible war really is and how many unnamed people lost their lives to protect what we have today.

 

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   Multiplayer

 

DICE said right from the beginning that the multiplayer experience in BFV would be more team orientated.  Gone are the BF1 glory days of simply grabbing your Helreigel and annihilating the enemies to the point of having a score card with players sitting on 40 kills for 0 deaths, no, this has changed dramatically for the better.  DICE has taken the default mechanics and moved them a few steps closer to hardcore.  Health regeneration has been drastically changed and is now limited as well as the hotly debated TTK ( time to kill) has also been reduced making you take less bullets before you die. And the spotting system being almost entirely removed apart from a few applicable gadgets sees BFV lend from other more tactical shooters such as Rainbow 6 Siege, making for a better  all-round experience.  Snipers deal less damage which leads to a much snappier feeling of gunplay without buffing and nerfing other classes.  The removal of the spotting mechanic encourage you to spend more time being engrossed in the superb environments rather than being stuck staring at your HUD.  On a whole, all these changes have created a team-oriented experience, more accurate gunplay which makes hitting that headshot so much more satisfying which, in turn, creates a more satisfying experience.

Why should you focus on squad play?  Here is why.  Health regeneration does not regen past a certain point, unless you use a medikit, of which ( unless you are a medic) you can only carry one.  When spawning you will be issued with significantly less ammo, above that ammo supplies are less abundant, meaning your support-class player has become extremely valuable.  These adjustments make you consider your actions more carefully.  No more running into situation mindlessly.  Any class can now revive a downed team mate but with less effectiveness than a medic can, another incentive to both have a medic on your squad as well as sticking with the said medic.  The revive action has seen a much needed nerf by means of making the animation somewhat slower.

 

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The weaponry of BFV feel great.  Apart from the new customization features that feels a lot closer to Battlefield 4 customization level, the overall recoil and feel of the weapons are much more predictable and manageable compared to the spray of BF1.  Classes, apart from the medic which only wields SMGs, are not limited to one type of weapon.  Support class can wield from shotguns, LMGs and MMGs.  What makes this even more magical is that each of these weapons feel unique enough to have them feel like they each have a use for different situations.  Another big change is the fact that scopes now come unlocked from rank 1.  No extra grind is needed to unlock the basic sights.  This is a very thoughtful change as there is nothing more frustrating as unlocking a new weapon but having no sights to use on it yet which sees you becoming useless for some time as you are required to run around using no sights until you can unlock them.

2 new features in the weapon system is the weapon progession and aesthetic customizations.  Weapon progression allows you to customize your weapon to your play style as you rank up the weapon giving you options to reduce recoil or be more accurate from hip-fire for example.  This way you can setup each of your weapons individually over time.  The second customization feature is aesthetic skins which are unlocked by performing certain tasks.  Not only is this a welcome feature it is also fun to be able to see a fellow soldiers skins and appreciate what needed to be done to acquire said skins rather than randomly get them in loot crates.

 

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The vehicular warfare, as Battlefield is known for, is somewhat dwarfed by the fact that, unlike BF1 where vehicles were less, you will find yourself force-picking assault class just to try and manage the sheer number of tanks or planes.  In BF1 tanks and planes were a menace but you knew that there were not that many of them.  But that was World War 1 and so we have progressed to a more mechanical age and the increase in vehicles make sense, but I can’t help but feel that the relationship between infantry and vehicles is somewhat binary.

 

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Battlefield maps are notorious for being magnificent specimens of gorgeously crafted environments that possesses the ability to make destruction seem magical, and BF5 is no different.  The 8 maps that are available from launch will take you through the war-torn streets of Rotterdam in the Netherlands.  The next map, also in the Netherlands is Devastation which showcases the destruction that was left during the battle between the Dutch and the Germans.  Devastation also features dynamic destruction so expect it to change significantly after a few explosions.  Twisted Steel will take players to the serene fields of France, with open fields which are great spots for aerial bombardments as well as sniper choke points.  Yellow fields is another French map this time taking place around a little village with lots of close quarter battles as well as artillery playing a big role in this map.  Hamada takes you to North Africa which saw many large scaled tank battles.  DICE has said that Hamada will require good teamwork in using tanks and vehicles to capture the objectives.  Airfield is the second North Africa map and sees a destroyed airfield with many burnt out planes play host to all our warfare.  The last two maps are situated in the snowy mountains of Norway, dubbed Narvik and Snow Mountain.  Narvik takes you to a ( once) beautiful mountainside village that has seen serious war,  lots of cover is provided by the war-torn buildings with a rather large bridge playing host to many a long range enthusiast .  Snow mountain, as the name suggests, wil have you battling around and in the mountains, not much in the way of vehicular warfare but do expect the occasional bombardment from above.

 

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Not all these maps transpire well to all the available game modes in BF5 but these will certainly be tweaked and corrected with future updates.  New and noteworthy additions to the already long list of game modes that we saw during BF1 are; Grand Operations which will as in the past expand as the (free) DLCs arrive over time. Conquest and Domination are likely to be the popular modes and DICE’s take on the Battle Royale, Firestorm is sure to be a hit among most players when it launches some time after the launch of BF5.

 

Verdict

Battlefield 5 is a good game!  Delivering what has become expected from the franchise and improving on it.  There is no embarrassment in borrowing ideas from other games like Battlefield has done.  But firstly DICE will need to take drastic measures in curbing the amount of glitches which are abundant at the moment.  If DICE can clean this up and listen to their audience in terms of doing what the audience want they will have a hit!  Graphically the game is astounding even on the Original Xbox One without HDR or 4K.  The campaign is rather short but not many people who have bought Battlefield 5 would have been buying with the campaign as their only reason for buying!  Firestorm which has not yet been launched will play a massive part in the longevity of Battlefield 5.  Multiplayer is where the magic happens and to be honest at the moment the magic is slightly underwhelming.  Yes the ideas and changes are great but they have not been executed to their full potential just yet.  Battlefield 5 is a very formidable game and if DICE do the future updates right, Battlefield 5 has the potential to trump even the likes of the legendary Battlefield 4.

Please DICE, don’t let this become another Battlefield 1, rather spend some time fixing all the little niggly bits and give the battlefield-family what they truly want!

 

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Thanks to Prima Interactive for supplying the review copy

 

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