Battlefield V review in progress.

*at the time of this review, BFV was still in pre-launch, so some game modes and options were not available – check back in throughout the launch period for further updates.

Great game play meets inspired story telling.

Let’s be honest with each other here, every FPS is the same, run at that enemy, finish this objective, collect these achievements. For me the difference has always been in how a great story is told, and I’m happy to say that Battlefield V comes out firing!

From the moment the game appears on the screen and you are launched into the opening sequence of the cinematic experiences ahead of you, you can tell that DICE has taken an opportunity to make more than just a point and click shooter here.

There was a vision sold to a team here at one point, and it looks like every single person bought in. My screen and peripherals melted away from around me as I watched the first scene pan across the night sky to a snow-capped battlefield, and meet me on the ground as the character I was playing brought up his gun.

Scene after scene plays through moments in war-time, giving a brief introduction to a version of our history, and an opportunity to taste various executions of the game.

The voice over is strong with a tinge of sadness which perfectly matches a score executed to tell as much of the story as the dialogue.

All this before I’m even shown a menu screen.

WAR STORIES

Sounds like fun doesn’t it? Like something your dad might regale you with before bed, War Stories. These aren’t the sort of stories you read to little kids before bed-time, but damn did I enjoy them.

War Stories are the “campaign mode” of Battlefield V, each one puts you in the shoes of a different historical character, and tells their story through the battles you experience.

The stories range from a light-hearted British romp through North Africa, to an emotionally charged rescue and run mission in Norway, to France where you are faced with the ultimate reality of war.

At the time of playing there was also a locked story called “The Last Tiger”, given the picture that was behind the option I’m making an assumption that this mission may put you into the footsteps of a German soldier.

Each story plays out with pre-cursory linear runs introducing the main players through an almost ‘prologue’ style mission, before revealing a main act with multiple missions across a more open-world style landscape.

The main mission activities are what you would expect from an FPS, however each mission is littered with achievements, objectives, collectibles, weapons and vehicles – giving you a variety of ways to complete everything ahead of you.

It was difficult to put a number on the amount of game time you get out of War Stories because you can run and gun everything in a matter of a few hours, or you can take your time, chasing that 100% completion, which blows it out to 10+ easily.

Another big nod goes to the development team behind the landscapes, they’ve done their job in capturing the beauty of the different settings so well that you can find yourself taking a moment to stare at what’s ahead of you, sometimes it was almost so peaceful you forgot you were at war. I don’t know if it was ever DICE’s aim to achieve this but I found myself wondering if my thoughts ever entered the minds of the soldiers these characters are actually based on.

Incredibly sad if that was the case.

Battlefield V’s War Stories provide well balanced game play interspersed with inspired story telling. The story is what truly sets this apart from any other FPS and they’ve hit their mark when it comes to providing an emotional connection to what is happening on the monitor.

An awesome experience, and dare I say it – educational, taking opportunities to fill the gaps with facts and quotes from our own history which adds another level of gravity to the game’s message.

Finally, there’s one thing that hit me that I wanted to acknowledge as a master stroke by the dev team. When you die in the campaign mode, you’re met with a screen that shows your character’s birth and death date. Seeing those numbers gives you an understanding of how young these people were when they went to war, give yourself a moment to think about that.

Multiplayer

Multiplayer is separated into 3 options:

Conquest (64 players) – a “massive, all-out war style of game where you capture and hold flags across large maps.

Infantry Focus (32 players) – a series of smaller maps on high rotation with no vehicles, consisting of different objective based styles of game-play, but also including the simple team death match.

Grand Operations (64 lunch) – pack a swag and some lunch, this is a large scale conflict taking place over several days and multiple maps where each day’s outcome carries over to the next until the result is a Final Stand clash on the last day.

Each multiplayer mode also comes with a “list servers” option – I highly recommend this, it allows you to focus a heap of criteria to cherry pick a game mode. What I found most handy was being able to list the servers by “PING”, meaning I could find the best opportunity to resist lag while playing. The lower the ping, the better the connection time between you and what is happening on your screen. It’s an important thing for Australians as we’re often at a disadvantage joining international servers.

My first multiplayer experience was a bit of a romp. I joined my friend’s squad and we launched into Conquest – a 32 x 32 man capture the point mode, except in this there weren’t 32 men on the other team. From the in-game chat I could tell this was a consistent experience for people and that team balancing is virtually non-existent.

This posed two serious problems.

  1. It was too easy to take enemy strongholds
  2. You spent 70% of the match running from point F back to point A encountering no-one, and by the time you got to point A, the enemy was generally all gone.

The aim of Conquest is to capture the points as a team and hold them while stopping the enemy team trying to do the same. When you hold more points than the enemy your score ticks down slower than theirs. First team to reach 0 loses.

Suffice to say they reached 0 pretty damn quick, meanwhile our team was sitting at 473, from a starting point of 500…

We then moved on from this mode to Light Infantry, hoping for some closer combat and therefore more action.

This is where we encountered a really surprising match-making process.

The game mode is 16 x 16, we’re a squad of 3. After having to cancel and reset finding a game a couple of times we finally found one that would let us join, the only issue was there was only 1 spot available, but instead of holding all 3 of us out and trying to find a lobby for us all to join, it dragged in our squad leader only to fill the spot, while myself and the other party member sat for another 7 minutes waiting to join.

You are given an update by the game as to where you are in the queue of people waiting which I appreciated, it’s like being on the phone to Telstra.

Once we did get into the game to join our mate, the rotation of fresh games after each finished was quick and efficient. I’m going to put it down to the sheer volume of people clamouring for spots and the matchmaking system having to divvy those spots up among 1-4 player squads, can’t be the easiest process in the world but once you get your spot in a lobby – you’re in!

Light Infantry is by far and above my favourite way of playing. I want a fluid, fast pace game with high spawn rotations and this delivers in spades.

Gone is the huge map, replaced by closer quarters and a smaller area to play, and I felt this suited the game mode incredibly well given how often I was running into opposition players, you’re never far from the action.

***as Battlefield V is still pre-launch (November 20) this is an ongoing review and will be regularly updated, particularly after its full release.

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