We are officially in Year Two of Battlefield V.
Battlefield V has had a rough go as of late, this year has been really tough for the game which has tested its merits and to be fair, I feel like this year has really tested its mettle and it has improved over time since launch. Back in my December 2018 review, I found it to be one of the most entertaining games in the franchise since Bad Company 2 and was very intriguing as this was the first time something like this has been achieved. DICE took the licking it needed but a year on, it seems right to revisit the game so I will do this review in three parts: Launch, Season 1, and Chapter V.
Launch was very rough for the game.
Battlefield V returned us to the roots of the franchise, dialing the timeclock back to the Second World War and setting the game up as a sequel to 2016’s Battlefield 1, the game that put The First World War on the map. It’s campaign takes the form of self-contained vignettes known as War Stories, just like in Battlefield 1, where it highlights certain parts of the war; the original launched with three War Stories, but the fourth one, titled The Last Tiger was the highlight of the campaign.
The Last Tiger stands on the other side of the war, you see the crumbling of the German war machine and the destruction of Nazi Germany through the eyes of a German tank commander as the Americans breakthrough the western border of Germany. During this story, the characters begin to question the motives of their own country are the right ones to be following and this is all happening as the American Army begins marching into Germany on their mission to win the war and bring an end to Nazi Germany. It’s a much more darker and gritter story, one that stands apart from the rest of the game including its multiplayer. Its strikes the tone that Battlefield V should’ve struck from the moment it was revealed. This game still has an identity crisis and I don’t think DICE knew what they were doing when it comes to this game and that led to a mishmash of ideas that were horrible; on one level this game wants to be a funny WW2 game with a bunch of historically inaccurate cosmetics and women running around on the frontlines, while on the other side, it wants to be a historically accurate game with accurate cosmetics and a dark and gritty palette and this is reinforced by the Last Tiger.
The Last Tiger feels out of place considering the game’s lighter tone when it comes to the rest of the game. It felt a little bit odd when it stood against the rest of the War Stories and the rest of the game, including its multiplayer component. That said, though, the Last Tiger stands out from the crowd because it struck the tone that Battlefield V should’ve struck from the very beginning, however, Battlefield V would be okay without the single-player aspect as DICE focused so much on the single-player that it came to the detriment of the rest of the game.
Multiplayer was a completely different story. In an attempt to revolutionize the World War II multiplayer era, Battlefield V did something that should’ve worked and while it was a good idea, it was an idea that was questionable; Battlefield V went back to the very beginning of the Second World War, beginning with the Fall of Europe, and would try to give us the full journey of the Second World War, from the German conquests of 1940 and 1941 to the Fall of Nazi Germany in 1945 through a live service. While a good idea, it was questionable and a complete missed opportunity as everyone wanted the big classic battles of the Second World War like storming the beaches of northern France, fighting through the ruins of Stalingrad, defending the American frontline in Belgium during the Battle of Bulge, and storming the beaches of the Pacific as the US Marine Corps and not fighting through the lesser known battles of the war.
Battlefield V’s multiplayer at launch began with the German conquests of Western Europe in 1940 and has taken us through that early period of the Second World War where Germany had conquered all of Europe. At launch, it had 8 battles across the globe and brought something new and refreshing to the franchise with its more teamwork oriented gameplay that was a callback to its more hardcore-oriented gameplay mechanics of such games like Battlefield 2 and Battlefield 1942 and the multiplayer at launch was the biggest detractor yet with a bunch of new bells and whistles that returned the game back to its hardcore mechanics.
The game’s launch was rough as it was short on content but it was the most robust multiplayer experiences I’ve had in quite a while. The amount of features and revamped mechanics like spotting and health made this Battlefield one of the more interesting games in the franchise since Bad Company 2.
Where the launch package promised something good, all of that promise was shot down throughout most part of the year. Season 1 was not good in any sense, Season 1 really made the game hit rock bottom through controversies and failed promises that really killed the game.
Season 1 began with the launch of Overture and lasted through Chapter 4. It brought some new things to the game like maps and weapons but most importantly, it brought features that DICE were talking about for almost a year since DICE revealed the game; it brought in Firestorm and Combined Arms.
Combined Arms was a complete disappointment of a feature and ultimately, Battlefield V didn’t need this and it harmed the game even more. Combined Arms promised to be the return of co-operative in a Battlefield game since Battlefield 3 and promised to reinvent co-operative with daily missions, a mission generator that would immerse you into the setting with original missions but when it launched, it had none of that and launched with four missions and it ended up being a complete waste of time that didn’t add anything to the game. It felt like DICE forgot about the mode until they remembered that they promised a co-operative mode and rushed to finish it.
Moving on to March 2019, Criterion released Firestorm, the promised Battle Royale mode that was announced at Gamescom 2018. Set on Halvoy in an unspecified period during World War II, Firestorm took the large environments and realistic World War II weaponry and vehicles the franchise always revolved around and placed it in a Battle Royale environment. Firestorm was a more polished and less distinctive version of what PUBG pushed but that was the whole point in the end and did a fantastic job, however, that effort was also killed off.
That effort was killed off because it came too late and failed to make a mark on the Battle Royale scene. The Battle Royale genre is brutally competitive and if you don’t have the guts then your version of Battle Royale will be swallowed whole by the likes of Fortnite and PUBG and now Firestorm is in limbo as DICE is focusing on the rest of the game and bringing it up to speed; this maybe due to the low numbers the mode is generating and matchmaking wait times are regularly long now and the mode has been largely forgotten. Firestorm is a great mode and is a successful first run at having Battle Royale in Battlefield but, unfortunately, it’s just not in the same league as something like Fortnite or PUBG. Firestorm is a game inside a game where games like APEX or Fortnite are their own games in their own right. I think this was the reason why Firestorm couldn’t hold its own alongside its 60 dollar price tag.
When it comes to Multiplayer, Season 1 brought a handful of maps and new weapons and continued this timeline of the Second World War in order through the different maps and themes that Tides of War revolved around. We went from the German invasion of Greece to the British retreat on Crete to the fighting in North Africa and beyond like Commando raids in Norway and German occupied France.
That controversy that Battlefield V had at the very beginning was very much present in its first year of release and it’s only now that something is happening behind the scenes to try and fix the game. From bugs to glitches to delayed content and cancelled content like a competitive mode and soldier dragging which was advertised at the reveal was cancelled and during this period, it was really difficult to be a fan of Battlefield V because the game was frustrating and boring to play but something changed after the summer.
Most of the major issues were patched after the release of Update 4.2 and majority of the issues have been sorted and the game is and was in a much better state but Chapter 4 really destroyed the momentum but that momentum has been brought back with Chapter 5. Season 1 of the game tested its merits and tested the game’s resolve that I hope doesn’t falter as we enter 2020.
Season 2 just began with the launch of Chapter V: War in the Pacific and places us in a different part of the world, the Pacific. As war in Europe begins again with the arrival of the Allied forces in Europe after the Normandy landings, the Marines are fighting tooth and nail in the Pacific against the Imperial Japanese Army.
This piece of content drop has really turned the game around and has turned the reputation of Battlefield V around. This is a massive update that has been in the making for a very long time and its clear to see why DICE has been struggling to improve their game before this update arrived, War in the Pacific is a huge update that overhauls the entire game as it brings new factions and a new theater of war. This update brings the US Marine Corps and their vicious enemy into the game and we currently have two maps that will be expanded upon in December and 2020; these maps are Iwo Jima and Pacific Storm brings what Battlefield V desperately needed which was large scale conflict and a sandbox where you can do anything you want.
This expansion might as well be a different Battlefield game as it brings so much that the rest of the game doesn’t have, but, it also reinforces that identity crisis that this game has. It begs the question why wasn’t this the mindset from the very beginning? Why the Battlefield V we got at launch was so devoid of this and so wacky? Why was it missing this gritty feeling that the Pacific has? Where was the authentic customization? Where was the authentic WW2 feeling that Battlefield V was missing? Why wasn’t there any classic WW2 locations? What was Battlefield V trying to be back in 2018, because, sure as shit, it wasn’t trying to be a World War II game.
One thing, for a certain, is that the game is a whole lot better now than it was a year ago or even several months ago. If DICE takes that mentality and now apply it to the rest of the game and push into 2020 with more confidence then Battlefield V is in for a great year. Is it worth your money? Yes, if you’re looking for a fun multiplayer component but other then that? No, not really unless you can skip over a good portion of the game like the unauthentic WW2 setting, the very safe and politically correct stance the game has which is weird and the very clear identity crisis the game has. This isn’t your WW2 game and it isn’t my WW2 game but it can try to be which is fine but it will never be the WW2 game we wanted from the very beginning.