Battlefield 5 is the latest entry into EA’s illustrious franchise, bringing things back to the franchise’s roots in WW2. Amidst one of the worst ad campaigns in recent memory, is the end product actually worth a slot in the ration book?
Battlefield 5 has had a turbulent launch. After being pushed back to November, the title released in waves, with EA Access players getting early time, then Deluxe Edition owners getting nearly a week extra, followed by the general player base. Add the features that got pushed back, as well as the rest of the ‘controversies’ that I’d rather not burn 3 hours covering here and you’ve got yourself a bit of a marketing nightmare. It’s a real shame because, at its core, Battlefield 5 is the best Battlefield title we’ve had since the landmark title, Battlefield 3.
The single most important feature within a Battlefield title is the gunplay, and Battlefield 5 has the best gunplay you’ll find this side of 2011. Time-to-kill has been brought closer to titles of old, with faster kills allowing for skilled players to get the drop on players caught out of position, and clean up more than 1 or 2 kills before being noticed. A big issue in Battlefield 1 was that the time-to-kill simply didn’t allow for these flanks, as players were forced to land so many shots that it was far easier for them to be turned on.
Now, this has been a topic of potential change following some players taking a disliking to the faster TTK. Sadly, a lot of this has stemmed from a current issue with the titles time-to-death. While this might seem to be identical features, the issue comes when there is a discrepancy between the two. Right now there is an issue where shots will register in one lump, also known as a one-frame death. A cause for this, a simple bug, that needs addressing, as well as EA’s insistence on not launching new titles with 60hz servers. Thankfully, DICE has said that any changes will be tested with the community and focused on fixing the TTD, keeping the title’s best feature alive.
While we’re talking gameplay, Battlefield 5 implements vehicles into its gameplay in a fantastic way. Tanks are as fantastic as they were in the Beta, powerful in the right hands, but very much at risk when they’re left alone, and infantry have more than enough firepower to pose a genuine threat to vehicles on the ground, and in the sky if you’re after one of those “ONLY IN BATTLEFIELD” moments. The new system of limited ammunition works wonders for keeping tanks moving and needing to resupply, removing that age of problem of an Abrams camped on a hilltop. Tanks still have more than enough to defend themselves with, and the more skilled players will feel right at home here. There’s some real variety with the land vehicles also, with both sides offering light, medium, and heavy tanks, field cars, and anti-air tanks all with their own lines of progression. You’ll find what works for you here, with every option having its own strengths and weaknesses to keep them nicely balanced.
Thankfully, the woeful aircraft of the Beta is a thing of the past, With a complete overhaul to their handling now leaving the fighters feeling like the agile machines they truly are. As with the land vehicles, there’s a nice variety here, with fighters, dive-bombers, and light bombers available for players, with additional seats in the latter 2 for gunners and players looking to drop into the action below. At the moment, bombers are a little broken, with their being a 3D reticle in 3rd-person flight allowing players to deliver their payload with incredible accuracy, at the start of a round. This means that a lot of rounds start with the almost immediate death of 12 players on each side. DICE has stated that they’re working on a fix for this, thankfully.
Now for the game modes. You’ll be finding no Battle Royale here because it’s been delayed. Honestly, I wish they’d never announced it. I highly doubt the lack of it is a lost sale to many and stating its inclusion only serves to look bad for the title upon its delay. That’s the thing, there’s more than enough here for players to sink their teeth into already. Gone is the naff conquest system implemented in Battlefield 1, and instead the old, better system is here, but with one twist that kinda fucks it. Currently, the mode has a system that allows the side of the losing end to capture objectives faster, while the winning team has a bit of a harder time. The system works nicely to give teams a chance to bring back some of the tougher games to closer margins, but also allows a close game to be rapidly swept out of the winners’ hands. In classic fashion, a fix for this is on the way.
The real let-down here is the Grand Operations mode. Voiced as Operations 2.0, we were expecting the standard operations experience but with some nice changes towards the objectives. Sadly, despite a promising introduction in the Beta, it hasn’t really delivered. The real issue is some of the modes implemented within the mode. Conquest assault really doesn’t work here and makes very little sense in the grand scheme of one team attacking while the other defends. What’s worse, is that the only round that matters is the last one. While before, the defending side would win if they could stop the attacking forces, the maps progress regardless. This does mean you can play every map, but the ‘attacker bonus’ system does little to reward defenders that hold out for the first 2 rounds.
Sadly the story of Battlefield 5’s multiplayer modes can be summed up with the phrase “it’s on the way.” There’s a lot here already, with Breakthrough, a new mode that players will recognize from Battlefield 1’s Operations mode, frontlines, and the more infantry focused modes all here and ready to be conquered. It feels a lot like EA and DICE screwed themselves by trying to do way too much. Sometimes, less is more, and simply not speaking about stuff you can’t be sure you’ll drop at launch might well be better. Especially considering the Tides of War, Battlefield 5’s DLC replacement, is the perfect venue for dropping such things into the title. Surprise me, EA. Don’t tease me and make me wait.
Despite these drawbacks and blunders, The multiplayer experience in Battlefield 5 is arguably the best in years. Weapon balance is solid off the bat, with SMG’s and Pistols being the only real concern, which in true DICE fashion, is set to be addressed in an upcoming patch. The developers are listening to fans to make this the best title possible, and the communication of these changes has been clear and thorough. Multiplayer is full of those “only in Battlefield” moments and has enough variety to really get yourself engrossed in what’s on offer.
As for customization within the Multiplayer, you can of course play as a female if you so wish, something which formed the basis of much of the controversy around the title. I’m just going to mention the female Russian snipers who were credited with hundreds of confirmed kills, and move on. You can customize the uniform of your Company, with vehicle customization coming in the near future. Why isn’t it here? I wish I knew. There’s a lot of skins for weapons also, which can be combined with all elements of the gun interchangeable in a really nice system that allows you to create some unique weapons in your own style.
The biggest disappointment within Battlefield 5 is the War Stories. After being introduced in Battlefield 1 as a fantastic addition with real depth and story, the ball has really been dropped this time around. There are currently 3 War Stories available with a fourth, you guessed it, coming soon. While interesting, they’re far too short to really tell much of a story. Just as things get going, they’re over. You can finish all three in 2-3 hours quite comfortably. It’s a real shame because War Stories do offer a great insight into some of the lesser-known aspects of the war, yet they’ve really missed the mark when it comes to how much they cover and develop. You’ll also notice a fair amount of copy and paste from Battlefield 1, with many weapons coming across into the single player. Some have also made their way into multiplayer, but all handle different and are at least correct to the start of the war.
Graphically Battlefield 5 is what you expect from DICE. Gorgeous. While it’s not an improvement over the previous release, it’s not unpleasant, and there are enough visual effects here to keep you engrossed and engaged. These also have an impact in the gameplay, with explosions creating enough dust and smoke to give you cover and give you a hard time finding where the tank went. It’s a nice mechanic, and it’s nice to play a game where the soldiers don’t stand out from the world like a sore thumb. As always, the skyboxes are stunning, and weather effects have such an impact on the map that other titles would ship it as a separate map all in itself…
If you’ve played a Battlefield title from the past 5 years, you’ll know what the menus are like, and they work just fine. This is probably their best implementation, without delays and bugs, just the occasional slow loading of character models that does affect their look but thankfully has no effect on their function. Frustratingly, the title does restrict some of these features between and during games forcing you to back out of a server to make certain changes. Thankfully DICE plans to address this in the future. Go figure.
Ultimately that’s the story of Battlefield 5. What’s there is incredible, and when it comes to stability, it’s the best release in years. Unfortunately, a host of unfulfilled promises and dodgy EA rep have tainted the release, and while the content that’s here is grand, unfulfilled promises of more have left a bit of a sour taste.