When you think big fights in historical settings, you think Battlefield games. From the very first Battlefield 1942 to the World War I-focused Battlefield 1, the DICE folks have the mass FPS warfare 64-players-or-bust genre down to a science. The only thing the devs have to focus on is how to present it in a new yet aesthetically war-torn fashion.
Battlefield 1 was different because it was set in a war not many games tackled. But World War II has been done to death. So DICE opted to focus on the lesser-known battles and, well, battlefields during this disastrous period.
And the urban warscape that the era thrives in game-wise? The latest Frostbite engine makes sure that players like myself get immersed and feel the thunders and rumblings of cannons, artillery shells, and gunfire either during the game’s trademark mass-scale multiplayer mode or the single player campaigns. If anything, DICE and EA spared no expense in delivering a war-torn-yet-beautiful visual splendour.
But how’s the overall game though? Well, it’s solid, if you don’t mind playing the waiting game.
Come And See
The Battlefield series is still at its best at delivering large-scale FPS team-based fights on a grand scale. DICE did this with Battlefield 1 to much acclaim, and Battlefield 5 amps it up further and refine it with changes that may please some, but infuriate others. Close-quarter fights and vehicle-driving are still just as great and epic to control and experience.
The art of spotting is now reserved for the Recon class so you can help your company/squad suss out the opposing army in the grey and black charred landscapes. At the same time, you can hide easily from enemies who don’t use their Recon classes to the fullest.
Teamwork is more important in this game, as squad leaders can earn requisition points via on-the-fly objectives and summon arms and vehicles with said points. All classes can revive squad members, though the Medic does it the fastest. You can also build fortifications at select spots to help defend and resupply your team.
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While not as fast-paced as your current military shooters like Black Ops 4, it makes it up with scale and plethora of combat options. Maps like Norway’s Fjell 652 favour infantry vs infantry skirmishes, while France’s Arras gives you a lovely flower-filled field with ample bushes to hide/camp in, a rustic town to wreak havoc upon, and a clock tower that’s a perfect spot for snipers/sniper-baiting.
Best of all, if you want to play an even longer game, Grand Operations mode let you string a series of maps into one big match. Fun! This and the default Battlefield game mode Conquest will be the only modes players will care about and play to death.
And herein lies the bad side of EA and DICE turning the franchise into a “games as a service” model. Battlefield 5 feels like it’s missing a few components. It’s not a completely stripped-down experience, far from it, but you get the sense that you’re paying money for a game that’s almost out of beta but not quite. I’ll explain.
Days of Glory
Battlefield 5’s longevity plans include EA and DICE rolling out content on a monthly basis. Come next week (5 December), we’ll get a new story mission. We’ll also be getting a battle royale mode called Firestorm next year. I stress on the future tense here because as it stands, there’s not much content to play around with.
We have 3 War Stories, which is half of what Battlefield 1 had to offer. There are 8 maps and 4 classes to play around with right now. For the fifth game in the series that’s going back to its roots, I was hoping for more variety and a dearth of content.
Speaking of story missions, the ones we get are leaning towards the “video game Oscar bait” side of things. Which is good and bad; I enjoyed the heck out of Tirailleur and Nordlys, but the overall tone feels a bit…sanitized. Think Pearl Harbor (the one with Ben Affleck & Michael Bay) levels of history-washing, but not as obnoxious, thankfully.
I won’t say much since these campaigns are short and kinda sweet, but don’t expect them to be at the same level as Battlefield 1’s gritty and gut-punching War Stories. The standard problem of less-than-impressive AI in these campaigns also take away the gravitas of these tension-filled fights when you can more or less be a one-person army.
Oh, and the less said about the stability of multiplayer from my side of the world, the better. 3 out of 5 times, I’m getting ping levels of 200 or so, which is less than ideal for a mass multiplayer shooter like Battlefield 5 that relies on online to grow in Southeast Asia. EA, please set up a Southeast Asian server if you haven’t already.
Life Is Beautiful
I think EA and DICE couldn’t get this out next year because 2018 needed a big EA game. Hence, the Tides of War release plan and the game I’m playing right now: it’s kinda finished but it needs some more time in the metaphorical oven before it’s ready to be served in full.
I’ll be sure to update this review once the other modes and updates are done, hopefully in early 2019. Right now, Battlefield 5 is a solid massive multiplayer shooter that still needs a few more modes to separate itself from military shooter pack that’s currently dominated by Black Ops 4.
At least the upcoming stuff is free and not gated with some paywall bullcrap. Score one for consumers who lashed out at EA for their Star Wars Battlefront II stunt, eh?
-Methodically-paced shooter with solid controls & feedback.
-Highlight maps like Fjell & Arras make for excellent playfields of war.
-Stellar production values.
-Fun War Stories single player campaign…
-…even if it feels sanitized at times.
-Missing key modes like Firestorm.
-Could use more maps & class variety.
-Online stability is a crapshoot (Malaysia boleh!)
FINAL RATING: 6/10 (for now)
Battlefield 5 was played on a Dell Alienware 15 on the highest framerate and settings.