The term “attrition warfare” describes the aspects of conflict where one side wears the other one down through continuous loss and degradation of resources... and it’s one of the design pillars for the upcoming WWII shooter Battlefield V. Through a careful refinement of gameplay elements (which they've dubbed internally as a "War of Attrition"), DICE is tweaking how player agency affects the tide of a specific battle or individual encounter, stripping some of the basic genre tropes they’ve come to expect by now and including an increased attention on ammo scarcity, looting, and health — all of which are key mechanics in modern day Battle Royale modes.
While Battlefield V might not contain an explicitly named Battle Royale mode, consider the history of their online gameplay systems. 64-player servers have long been a hallmark of the series — a notable figure which was cutting-edge in its early days — creating chaotic and immersive maps requiring an attuned sense of situational awareness from its best players. Games like Fortnite and Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds cap at 100, but neither game can boast the engrossing, cinematic qualities of DICE’s franchise.
Which is partially why the new tweaks in development for Battlefield V seem so provocative. In the newest entry, DICE is changing the way players treat ammo and health, aspects which will greatly affect how they pursue specific objectives. Gone are the days when players can self-heal to 100% merely by ducking behind cover. Instead, players can only regain a portion of their health (an amount which is still being tweaked). This completely changes the approach to resource management, since they’ll need to find a medic, anticipate a friendly revive, or seek out health items to top themselves off before heading into battle... or avoid that battle altogether.
Additionally, ammo reserves will not be automatically refilled to maximum upon respawn. To counter this change, downed enemy soldiers will be lootable for small portions of ammo. What this means in practice is that pursuing the heart of battle or a specific target location will involve new considerations: do they risk attempting to kill a stray enemy to obtain some much-needed ammo, or divert to a resupply point and, therefore, slow their overall progress? Do they have enough health to make it to the next juncture, or would it be wiser to fall back and seek out a helpful ally first?
These strategic decisions are frequently present in games like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (or even more tactical games like Rainbow Six), whose own scarcity mechanics make a risky venture across a clearing absolutely necessary. Adding these aspects to the Battlefield V flow does seem to draw a meaningful comparison point to the Battle Royale style of play. DICE, thus, intends for players to comprehend the importance of fortifying a position, retreating, and coordinating defensive maneuvers to avoid the same old grind of repeated suicidal dashes into the fray. With these new stresses, dependable communication with your squad will often mean the difference between success and failure.
While no Battle Royale mode has been revealed for Battlefield V, it’s possible that the action on its regular servers may approach a similar gameplay feel... only in a uniquely Battlefield way that players know and love.
Battlefield V releases on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on October 19. A play first trial will launch October 11, and the deluxe edition of the shooter will release three days early on October 16.