Battlefield V

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: DICE
Release Date: Nov. 20, 2018


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PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'Battlefield V'

by Cody Medellin on July 6, 2018 @ 2:30 a.m. PDT

Enter mankind's greatest conflict with Battlefield V as the series goes back to its roots with a never-before-seen portrayal of World War 2.

Pre-order Battlefield V

As is the tradition for the past few years, the E3 2018 reveal of a new Battlefield or Battlefront game is accompanied with a closed multiplayer session for selected public use only a few short weeks afterward. The case holds up here, as Battlefield V has a closed alpha to give people an idea of what to expect when the full game launches in a few months. We were lucky enough to get into the closed alpha, which featured two modes that take place on the same map.

Admittedly, the map chosen for the alpha is only memorable because it's snowing, so graphics aficionados can appreciate the light bouncing off the surface and the deformation of the stuff as people crawl, drive and walk over it. The layout of the map isn't that spectacular, as the presence of rolling hills and a few bombed-out train cars has been done to death. Having an otherwise pedestrian map like this puts all of the other game mechanics into focus, and your opinion of it will depend on whether you like the series' recent direction.

In almost all areas, the game feels faster than before. Firing is faster, since guns don't feel like they weigh as much as before. Movement speed is faster, as you can easily get into the thick of a battle without having to spawn in on your squad. Death also comes in faster, as you have bunches of snipers and support trying to use hills for cover. That "time to death" factor is increased when you add in vehicles, which, along with the support soldiers, introduce the idea of almost complete destructibility for just about every structure in the game.

BF5 also places a much stronger emphasis on squads. Going lone wolf is a surefire way to a quicker death, and the game automatically gives you the option to spawn with a squadmate over doing so at a base. Interestingly, the squad mechanic backfires if you're the last one standing, as dying here means you lose out on the ability to wait for someone to revive you. End-game accolades are also given to an entire squad over specific individuals who have earned milestones.

That use of teamwork and squads is further emphasized by the fact that you start with much less ammo than before. It doesn't take very long before your primary weapon runs dry and you're switching to a sidearm that also gets empty sooner than you think. As such, you'll constantly have to run across the field to find ammo boxes, reducing your need to stay safe in one spot and snipe away. If you still insist on taking that route, however, you have to hope that you have plenty of people in the field who are willing to hand out ammo generously.

As nice as all of that is, there is one sore spot already noticeable in the game: the overuse of long animations. Whenever you're entering a vehicle, you'll go through a whole sequence of opening the vehicle door, jumping in, and preparing everything before you can actually do anything. It looks nice, but because of the game's faster pace, this also means that you're more prone to dying. Reviving fallen allies also suffers from this issue, as you'll see the whole sequence of being helped up and being taken care of while people are constantly shooting at the good Samaritan. Again, it all looks nice, but aside from making people into easier targets, it gives the game pace a stop/start feel that doesn't flow correctly.

Though it is marked as a closed alpha, it should be noted that the game seems to be taxing systems more than Battlefield 1 did. While the performance drop isn't significant, you'll notice that the general frame rate is lower if you have tools running to measure this sort of thing. Also, the game is only really stable using DirectX 11. Trying to run the game on DirectX 12 led to far too many crashes when a match started.

Right now, the community's reaction to Battlefield V is split pretty evenly. Some people appreciate the emphasis on team play and the rampant destructibility of almost every structure you see. They also liked the scarcity of starting ammo, forcing you to rely on finding the supply posts in the field or the kindness of support groups to give you a pack. Others really hate the focus on animations breaking up the gameplay flow and much smaller map sizes compared to past games. It is hard to say which camp is right, but we're hoping to get a clearer picture of that as the game marches toward release.

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