'Battlefield V’ is a buggy, yet totally fun return to World War II

Entertainment

Battlefield V has finally arrived, and we’re shipping out to fight the Second World War, again.


There’s a lot to be said about the franchise’s return to World War II — something its main competitor tried last last year — but where Call of Duty: WWII felt overdone and bland, Battlefield V is refreshing, while still very much a Battlefield game.

The newest addition in the series delivers the total war we’ve come to expect, while at the same time paying homage to the game that started it all 16 years ago: Battlefield 1942. I didn’t realize it, but I really did miss wreaking havoc in a Tiger tank, and shrugging off small arms fire with impunity — though, I can’t say I missed having my rampage come to a flaming end thanks to some guy with dynamite.

Some things change, but war in Battlefield seems to stay the same.

Task & Purpose had a chance to preview Battlefield V on Xbox One, ahead of its Nov. 20 release, so it seemed like a good idea to highlight some of the new features — and frustratingly predictable issues — with DICE’s latest installment in its popular first person shooter franchise.

Though BFV includes a number of single player mini-campaigns which span a broad cast of characters and battles, the main draw is multiplayer, so we’ve kept this list focused on that.

It’s a newly released Battlefield game, so you know what that means: Bugs.

The newest installment has a number of minor technical glitches. If you remember the troubled launch of Battlefield 4, this isn’t surprising.

Here are a few examples: Weapons will sometimes appear blocky; your avatar may not fully load, leaving your rifle floating in the air in front of you; shadows and reflections appear and then vanish abruptly; when starting a new match your vision will occasionally be blurry, as if your soldier left his BCGs at home. The rendering issues can be a real pain when you’re low-crawling over rubble and trying to get a shot off during an already cluttered and massive battle: Is that an enemy soldier hiding over there, or a random glitch? Wait it’s gone. No, it’s back. Oh shit, it was a sniper. I’m dead.

The destructible environment, a staple of the franchise, is still there, but it behaves unpredictably. You can blow up a reinforced enemy position with a single frag grenade, but fire a rocket at the side of a house, and nothing happens until the the soldier hiding inside pops out and shoots you in the face. Then there’s the way debris or wreckage from an explosion will sometimes fly across the map in implausible ways.

After spending the last week playing the Battlefield V, I didn’t run across any glitches that utterly ruined the game, but it does make the whole thing feel a bit unpolished. That said, DICE has a good track record of fixing these kinds of problems with updates, so it’s unlikely these issues will remain for long. My suggestion: If you’re not in a rush to play BFV, wait a few months before shelling out $60 for the game.

It’s total war like you’ve never seen before.

Glitches aside, Battlefield V delivers on scale, with up to 64 players duking it out on eight massive maps that span North Africa and Western Europe, and with a number of its tried and battle tested standbys, like Conquest and Team Deathmatch. The maps themselves are beautiful; each one feels distinct, and also deadly: More so than other games in the series, you now absolutely have to look every which way (including up and down), when you’re moving around the map — there’s just that many places for an enemy to hide.

Oh, that's a nice tank down there... sure would be a shame if something happened to it.Battlefield V

When it comes to the game modes, the real standout is Grand Operations, which is like a sampler platter of World War II, taking place over multiple matches, with the outcome of each impacting the next. Depending on which Grand Operation you’re in, players get a mix of tense street-to-street fighting; tank combat and sniper warfare across arid deserts; brutal slogs through muddy fields, as you’re forced to navigate razor wire and machine gun fire from entrenched defenders; or shoot down incoming aircraft to stop an airborne invasion.

At launch, the game covers only the early years of World War II, and is limited to German and British forces, but the free expansions (yes, you read that correctly, no more premium passes) will move the timeline forward, and bring along new maps, weapons and armies.

You can run while crouched, build fortifications, and call in score streaks.

With Battlefield V, there are tons of changes in gameplay mechanics, some subtle, others dramatic. You can now dive into the prone from just about any direction, and you can run while crouched, which adds a level of twitchy gameplay to BFV that used to be the domain of shooters like Call of Duty.

Any player can revive a downed member of their squad in "Battlefield V."Battlefield V

Some other changes include adding fortifications to the game so players can toss down sandbags or build barriers, and DICE has removed randomized bullet drop, so where you shoot is where you hit, which might take away from realism, but adds to playability. You can now revive members of your squad even if you’re not a medic — though medics can revive anyone on their team. And lest I forget, you can call in score streaks like the V1 rocket. Sorry, I meant to say "squad reinforcements" which cost points that you and your squad mates rack up during a match… you know what, let’s just call them what they are: They’re score streaks.

Battlefield V has score streaks now, accept it.

Fight the war your way, just don't expect to do it with an M1 Garand.

While Battlefield V still limits what weapons each class can use, they’ve made some changes to how the classes work. Each of the main classes — assault, medic, support, and recon — now has a choice of two roles. Take the assault class, which you can play as either light infantry, or as a tank buster, with passive perks that aid each style of play. They’ve also made some tweaks to which kits get what gear, for example: The assault class is now the default rifleman, and the medic has taken over as “that one guy who only ever uses submachine guns.”

Additionally, there’s now specializations for weapons, which work like a mix between perks and attachments: Some improve rate of fire or magazine size, while others allow you to switch weapons more quickly, or aim down the sights faster.

On the whole, Battlefield V has potential, but it’s not there yet. With luck, it’ll improve over time as new expansion packs drop in the coming months. If nothing else, I’ll keep playing in the hopes that they finally add the M1 Garand, which is inexplicably missing in action.

Battlefield V is out now for PC, Playstation 4, and Xbox One.

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