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Letters from the Front

Moving in a new direction can be hard at times. With Need for Speed and the Burnout set of games, Criterion built its portfolio on racing games that went down in history. Now, with Firestorm, Criterion has thrown most of what it’s built over the course of a decade, for now, to come help on a game that is in desperate need of saving and they pulled it off magically.

Although set within the world of Battlefield and Battlefield V, Firestorm is set in southern Norway at an unspecified period in World War II and has the tools of the trade that makes it stand apart from the rest of the games within the genre. This design sounds like an unbalanced mess or something chaotic given how the Battlefield formula works. However, the Battlefield formula works well within Firestorm and Criterion’s gambit has injected life into Battlefield V and also has resulted in a fresh take on BR thanks to that formula that we all know and love that makes the experience accessible to not only newcomers but fans of Battle Royale as well.

On the surface, Firestorm sounds a lot like your traditional Battle Royale or something that is inspired by PUBG but that couldn’t be further from the truth, Firestorm is not your traditional Battle Royale. Your squad or yourself drop onto the map and, upon landing, scatter around the landing area to grab weapons and gear before engaging. Most of the time you will be waiting in houses or crawling through the mud, waiting to engage the moment you hear footsteps. However, there is something that makes Firestorm stand out of the pack that gives these quiet moments quite engaging.

There are 12 major areas around the map that are filled with loot and unlike PUBG, Fortnite, or Apex Legends, these areas hold safes, lockboxes, and underground bunkers that hold extremely powerful weapons that can turn the tide in your favor. Open a safe? You can get a rare flare gun that calls a vehicle in or calls in an artillery barrage or a smoke barrage to conceal you and your squad to either engage or run away from enemies. Open an underground bunker in time? Get access to powerful vehicles like a Panzer IV to help the tide. All of this adds tactics to the Battle Royale genre.

Thanks to the revamped gunplay that Battlefield V now sports, combat is extremely satisfying. Movement is fantastic, sliding, vaulting, and jumping over obstacles feel great like in the base game. The weapons, especially, feel good and feel powerful no matter their rarity level. The addition of vehicles like the Panzer IV and the Tiger I amongst other smaller vehicles can up the tense factor in an already intense firefight as the ring of fire closes in. Yesterday, a group of friends and I went into Firestorm and landed close to an underground bunker where we got into a tank and rolled through an entire village and knocking out an enemy squad in a smaller Panzer tank and then our fuel ran out. We got out of the tank and proceeded on foot to the final ring of fire where I launched a V1 Rocket against another tank and we won the round. For the first time since I started to play Battle Royale games, Firestorm produces this sort of memorable scenario where you can sit down with fellow gamers and talk about your experience in this or that game more frequently than other Battle Royale games like Apex Legends or PUBG, the reason for this is because of the vehicles and the unique reinforcements that you can randomly find across map.

The level of destruction that the franchise has always revolved around since the original Bad Company on top of vehicle play and the ring of fire sets Firestorm apart from the rest of the Battle Royale genre. Calling in a V2 Rocket strike against a tank in the final ring, calling in an explosive artillery barrage on a small fishing village swarming with other squads, driving a Panzer IV through a village and knocking out an enemy squad in a Panzer 38t as the ring of fire closes in is exciting and does something new within the Battle Royale genre.

Firestorm’s foundation is a strong one, filled with potential thanks to what Criterion has built. It does have a few cracks in its wall, however, its status as a mode to Battlefield V and not a standalone free product like Apex Legends or Fortnite might give players pause for a second. In this new era of freemium games like Fortnite or Apex Legends make Firestorm a tough sell, especially a tough sell when it comes to base Battlefield V, a game that doesn’t have the best of luck going around at this moment in time.

Firestorm has the potential to do great things, especially when you have the Battlefield formula at your disposal but not making it free is a tough sell. I’ve put a good amount of time into Firestorm and haven’t had the desire to stop playing it, especially now in the wake of the roadmap. The combination of all out warfare in a ring of fire, squad-based teamplay, and a mindblowing gunplay system have elevated Firestorm. Firestorm not only has changed my mind about Battle Royale games but it is my go-to Battle Royale game from now on. You should definitely give it a shot if you own Battlefield V.

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