By now you've surely picked up the buzz on the Internet since Battlefield V was announced earlier this year, as well as gamers yelling about things being realistic and historically correct. If there are two things (except war) that have defined the conversations around the game during, it's these two aspects. Battlefield V contains women, a lot of women actually, both in the campaign and in multiplayer. The impact on playability? Zero. Did women participate in the war? Absolutely. Does it matter that they're in this game? No, not for us. Whether these things are important or not, we leave for you to decide for yourself, but this review is about Battlefield V as a game - not about gender or gender politics - and it's one heck of game. As a mandatory note, we were invited by EA and DICE to play Battlefield V for two days before the official servers were running, and this review is based largely on that experience.
Battlefield V is, in many ways, the direct sequel to Battlefield 1, despite the incredibly strange numbering, and the first apparent change is, of course, that we find ourselves once again in the middle of the Second World War. It is an era of familiarity to most of us, an event in our near history which still has many stories to tell. The difference between the First and Second World War at a glance (Battlefield 1 versus Battlefield V) isn't very big, but obviously, there are things like tanks, planes, and weapons constantly evolving. It's still raw and dirty, stuffed with suffering and death, just in some different ways.
Although it's easy to glance at Battlefield V and instantly recognise it, there's more than meets the eye when it comes to game mechanics. The core has been broken down at its foundations, and although it isn't obvious at first look, it feels completely different. The best way we can describe is that it feels more forgiving now. Weapons are handled in a way that feels more logical than before; feedback, recoil, and how the bullets land is easier to predict and gone is that feeling of randomness that was often present in Battlefield 1, something we truly appreciate. The speed of the bullets has increased too, and it's faster to aim and change weapons. The whole game feels tighter and, more or less, more like Call of Duty than ever before. This makes Battlefield V much easier to pick up and instantly start learning, but at the same time, it gives the best players the tools to master the game in new ways. It's a good thing, we think, but the side effect will inevitably be that the gap between really good and less skilled players increases significantly, something that should solve itself by the game's matchmaking systems as they separate players based on skill.
Two big new things in Battlefield V are the new Fortification mechanic and the fact that you constantly have limited resources in the form of ammunition and a life meter that doesn't recharge itself. The fortification mechanic is a clever feature that's used to reinforce strategic points to make it difficult for the opposing team to get through. Sandbags, barbed wire, armour protection, and stations for supplies can be built at designated locations to help increase your odds. Whether this feature will be as widespread as DICE hopes when the servers open is hard to say today, but certainly, it has a point, especially in some more control-based game modes.
To regain life on the battlefield, it's no longer possible to dive into the nearest bushes and wait until the life meter has recovered. Instead, like this year's Call of Duty, you're equipped with a life pack that you can heal yourself with. Then it's up to the team's medical classes to constantly throw the life packs on teammates to make it possible for everyone to continue. The same applies to ammunition; you don't start fully equipped with thousands of bullets which means you are rather limited and have to rely on different stations around the maps or on your team's Support classes who, like the medics, can throw ammunition boxes on teammates. This creates the constant feeling that things can actually end with you running out of bullets in the middle of a firefight, and it works well. It's another stress factor and tactical consideration that you need to take into account.
Along with the changes in how weapons feel and resources work, the game's classes have also been overhauled in terms of how they work and interact with each other. It's still the same structure - Assault, Medic, Support, and Recon - and the basic premise remains. It feels more important than ever to have a varied selection of classes to really take advantage of features such as marking enemies, blasting armoured tanks, or placing items that teammates can spawn on to quickly get back to an important position on the map so as to not lose ground to the enemy. The Assualt class is for run and gun types, and they're equipped with explosives to do damage to vehicles, while the Medic ensures that the troops are equipped with constant medpacks. Support can easily help and break protection, and Recon can mark and pick off enemies at long distances. It's possible to specialise each class to perform certain tasks more efficiently, and all told we thought that there was lots of depth and something for all play-styles.