Battlefield V takes on Black Ops 4 for the first person shooter crown this holiday season. Both titles are difficult to compare, but not for the reasons you might think. Battlefield V is out now for PC, Playstation 4 and Xbox One.
A lot was said about Activision’s decision to strip the single player experience out of Black Ops 4 and focus strictly on multiplayer. It’s perhaps the most striking difference between Black Ops 4 and Battlefield V, at least on the surface – and for those interested in single player it’s a huge bonus on the Battlefield front, even though the campaign isn’t groundbreaking when compared to previous editions.
Battlefield V shifts the action back to World War II after last year’s Battlefield 1 went back to a century ago and previous versions favored the modern combat era. Obviously WWII lends itself really well to campaign-like storytelling on account of its historic impact and how known the period is in our collective minds, and DICE realizes this.
DICE doesn’t recreate the famous events we’ve seen in recreated in previous shooters though, but instead focuses on lesser known arenas of war – and the game divides the action between three short story campaigns, each one about two hours long. Expect to travel to northern Africa and the cold Norway environment for two relatively unexplored areas – unless you played Sudden Strike 4’s expansions. The third campaign has a more familiar backdrop for WWII aficionados, as it plays out in France.
Each mini campaign is broken up into three levels/missions, with most of the single player action placing you in situations where you’re all by yourself and have to rely on stealth to not be overwhelmed – you don’t really join up with squadmates until you start playing the France-based missions, so single player Battlefield V is definitely a stark contrast to its multiplayer mode in that regard. Gameplay-wise it’s similar to previous campaigns, with some interesting story direction and delivery as well as gorgeous visuals with some in-game shots that really show off the engine in a way you don’t really get to see during multiplayer.
It would be silly to grab Battlefield V on account of its single player campaign though, as it’s too short to warrant the price tag it comes with. And that’s considering that another mini campaign called Tides of War is supposed to be added post-launch as well. And therein lies Battlefield V’s biggest issue.
Although the single player portion of Battlefield V feels excellent and up to par with what we saw in previous releases, you can’t help but shake the feeling that the game was rushed out the door to make sure it could compete during the holiday season rather than wait until all its potential was realized. This isn’t at all bothersome in the single player portion of the game as the upcoming DLC just feels like a bonus, but in multiplayer there’s the lack of a battle royale-like modus that would have pitted Battlefield V directly against Black Ops 4’s strongest mode – and it’s a mode that’s coming post-launch.
While that might leave a bitter taste, or cause people to wait, it doesn’t mean Battlefield V is a poor game. Actually, it’s quite the opposite – it offers very polished gameplay that emphasized group-based play and introduces interesting new mechanics through its fortification system. The latter is an especially nice innovation, as it gives you the ability to place things like sandbags and razor wires on the battlefield to slow down the opponent or solidify your position while on the offense. You can only place them in predefined spots, but it’s a tactical layer that’s more than welcome.
Battlefield V gets basic multiplayer right, including its division of skills between character classes. Sniping isn’t just about sitting on a high perch and taking down enemies, it’s also part of teamplay where you call out enemy’s positions to your squad members, who rely on you for this. It’s a sign that DICE focused on what they were able to get done in time and that they made sure they got it done right, rather than rush in every game mode they had planned.
Having said that, there are still bugs and balancing/instability issues – though they’re exceptions and not the norm. Battlefield V is still a great game and I have no doubt that it will eventually overtake Black Ops 4 as the superior shooter of 2018, I’m just thinking it might not happen until some time in the new year. That doesn’t make it easy for people looking to invest right this second though….