I believe that many of us, the core fanbase of the Battlefield audience, is just like me. People in their mid 20’s or early 20’s who grew up consuming World War II media and for us, who grew up in the 2000’s have a very specific view of the conflict. That specific view of World War II comes from those films and video games that we grew up playing and watching. Games like Medal of Honor, Call of Duty, Brothers in Arms and films like Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers and that is the type of experience that we wanted out of a video game like Battlefield V.
When we think of World War II, we think of the Greatest Generation and the fight for the free world. Men in standard uniforms, Russian women fighting in the cold streets of Stalingrad in the Winter of 1942, the storming of Berlin, men wading ashore on D-Day on a mission to liberate Western Europe and bring the war to an end, Paratroopers dropping behind the Normandy beaches in the early hours of the morning to destroy the batteries, US Marines storming far-off islands in the Pacific to bring the fight to the Japanese, and many other scenarios. World War II is the greatest conflict that mankind has ever known, it is one of the greatest conflicts that we as a nation participated in to defeat true evil. It was the last conflict that truly mattered and when you have a game that is just as divisive and confusing as Battlefield V, you wonder what went wrong? What happened? World War II is as easy as it gets so what happened?
World War II games have been at the forefront of gaming consciousness since the 1990s with the arrival of Wolfenstein and Medal of Honor but the genre exploded in the 2000’s with games like Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, Call of Duty, Call of Duty 2, and other games but in recent years, the genre faded away into existence until recently with the new generation. This was supposed to be the rebirth of World War II, especially when you consider the Battlefield franchise. The Battlefield franchise had the best option to create an authentic and immersive vision for World War II, especially, when you consider many of the events that took place within the conflict itself and how large scale many of these events were, from the Battle of Kursk on the Eastern Front to the Anzio landings in 1944 to the Siege of Berlin in 1945. These iconic battles alongside many of the smaller battles that I’m sure would’ve been a part of this unique game would’ve been shown in a pretty awesome light: Men in standard uniforms fighting across an immersive landscape but we didn’t get that. We got something more. So what happened? In order to understand what happened to Battlefield V, we must take a trip back to the very beginning of the game’s lifecycle. Back to the beginning.
PART I: Original Trailer & “If you don’t like it, then don’t buy it.” Mentality: May 2018
The original trailer says everything that needs to be said. 12 million views and half a million dislikes. The original trailer for Battlefield V is the worst received trailer since Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare in 2016 and it’s pretty clear to see why. It’s utter and complete garbage.
When you think of World War II, what do you think of? I think of men wading ashore on Iwo Jima, Marines fighting in the jungles of the Pacific, British paratroopers dropping into Arnhem and Russian soldiers storming Berlin in a fight reminiscent of the fighting at Stalingrad in 1942. Eye for an eye. The original trailer brought WW2 down to a Fortnite level and mocked the war, mocked a conflict that is considered to be the greatest fight we have had in the past 80 years.
The original trailer garnered the most backlash, especially the female soldier with the prosthetic arm. That single character suggested that the war was fought by women alongside men when it never happened outside of the Red Army and numerous Partisan groups across occupied Europe. This single event stated it was more of a political statement than trying to honor the source material that your product is based on and it felt forced which nobody likes.
After the reveal trailer, Patrick Söderlund told Gamasutra that “the people who complained about the female soldiers within Battlefield V are uneducated and that if you don’t like the direction that we’re going then don’t buy it. I’m fine with either or.” and this blew up which caused further outrage and this statement sealed the fate of the game. While the statement isn’t technically wrong, you can’t say that to your consumers and to your fans who have supported the franchise since the beginning in 2002. If your sole intention is to make money and sell the highest amount of your product, you shouldn’t be saying a statement like that and a statement like that confirmed what everyone was thinking that adding females was a political decision. After this decision, Wall Street investors and EA stockholders were upset and Patrick Söderlund left EA that summer.
PART II: Preorders are down 85% behind Call of Duty: Black Ops IV & Marketing Campaign & Launch: Summer-November 2018
In the summer of 2018, CNBC reported that preorders for Battlefield V was way below that year’s Call of Duty, Call of Duty: Black Ops IV, which sealed the fate of the game even more. It led to the conclusion that was no interest in Battlefield V and led to the thought process that the game was looking a lot like Medal of Honor: Warfighter, it would be the first game to flop in the franchise and flop it did.
The marketing campaign didn’t help the game’s case. There were no trailers, no information about the game for months until Gamescom where more information about Battlefield V was shared, but by this time, the game died before it even got a chance to release. By the time the game released in November of 2018, the game was dead on arrival.
By the time the game launched, there was barely any content and the game felt like it was under construction and the content in the game didn’t hit the mark as everyone expected. The cosmetics was trashed, the maps were trashed upon arrival, and the game just didn’t feel like WW2. Why was the British faction outfitted with American gear? Where was the American faction at? Where was the Russian faction at? Where was the immersion that DICE and EA was talking about in their marketing campaign? Where was the authenticity that they promised? Nothing they touted in their marketing campaign, much less the features they promised in the reveal trailer, was nowhere to be found and Grand Operations, the main feature in the game, was extremely lacking. There was nothing Grand about Grand Operations. Battlefield V failed on arrival.
PART III: The Tides of War: Battlefield’s attempt at a Live Service.
The Tides of War was Battlefield’s attempt at a Live Service. The Live Service promised to take us through the journey of World War II, starting at the very beginning of the war in 1940 all the way to its conclusion in 1945 but it never delivered on its promise and the live service never delivered.
Throughout 2019, DICE attempted to deliver the promises of their live service and it was just an utter failure which had its peak with Chapter IV: Defying the Odds. Features that were promised at the reveal, like Soldier dragging, were cancelled. A map was delayed from its original release of June 29th until September 26th, a competitive mode on the scale of Battlefield: Incursions was canned, and the maps that were scheduled to release for that competitive mode was now releasing for Squad Conquest, a mode that nobody really played. Modes like Combined Arms and Firestorm, the Battle Royale mode that was announced at Gamescom, came late and never made an impact. Combined Arms was a far cry from what was promised at the reveal in May of 2018 and Firestorm failed to make a dent in the Battle Royale genre despite being a really good attempt at a Battle Royale. Battlefield was made for Battle Royale but it failed.
At the end of the day, the Tides of War failed to make an impact and caused Battlefield V to have very few victories. Cosmetics were drip-fed, items were drip-fed, everything within the Tides of War was drip-fed. Cosmetics shown in trailers never arrived to the game, weapons like the Welgun and Welrod failed to arrive, this live service never amounted to what was promised.
Part IV: Lack of Identity & Political Correctness: The True Reason Why Battlefield V failed
Battlefield 1 was a game that was immersive and atmospheric and honored those that fought in the The Great War, a century ago and thanks to Battlefield 1, the Great War returned to the forefront.
Before Battlefield 1, The Great War was seen as an unsuitable setting for a military shooter as the conditions that the soldiers fought in wouldn’t have made a great game, it would bore the player to death. Nobody knew how to approach a setting like that, as opposed to World War II. DICE went beyond the mud-soaked trenches of France and Belgium and for the first time, the Great War was brought to life. Battlefield 1 was an outstanding hit. While, Battlefield 1 may not have been all that historically accurate to the time period, it was still somewhat accurate to the time period and the game was highly immersive and atmospheric. We expected the same out of a World War II Battlefield title, if DICE was ever going to go that route. We never got it in the end.
From women on the frontlines with factions that never had women in the first place, from wacky and weird cosmetics, from a lack of atmosphere and immersion, Battlefield V never really amounted to anything. The game lacked direction, lacked any sort of identity that didn’t scream “This is World War II”‘ , to rewriting history in the single-player campaign. The true reason why Battlefield V failed was due to political correctness and disorientation of the facts. Battlefield V felt safe, felt too on the nose, mocked World War II and brought the conflict down to being a silly thing when, in fact, World War II was no laughing matter. What should’ve been an easy game was brought down by Political Correctness, a lack of identity, a lack of numerous things that never helped the game and Political Correctness was the sole reason for this game’s failures amongst other things that never helped the game.
Was it right that Battlefield V was cancelled? Absolutely. There was nothing that could save the game, outside of more Pacific battles and hopefully some right moves but I doubt DICE would’ve done those right moves in the first place. It’s a shame what occurred, because, World War II is the dream setting for the Battlefield franchise. World War II is absolutely a right setting for one of the games and it’s a shame that we didn’t get World War II or anything that is associated with the conflict. A complete waste of resources, time, money, and potential.