The first closed alpha period for DICE's Battlefield V ended in early July and we played it daily, and are back in it this week for the second closed alpha session. We also got hands-on with the same one available map at E3 2018 but days versus one hour makes all the difference.
Battlefield V promises to be the most detailed, immersive, and intense World War II shooter yet and from playing it a lot, it lives up to the hype when it comes to its core gameplay loop, but there are a few new features that don't quite hit the mark. Keep in mind that this is a closed alpha test meaning there are bugs and certainly only a very limited amount of content available to explore.
The Battlefield V closed alpha sessions only feature one map that can be played two ways: the standard 64-player Conquest mode on the "Fall of Norway" Arctic Fjord map and a night-time Grand Operations version of this which includes two rounds (representing two days of the battle). The beginning of the alpha period was super rough since squad matchmaking wouldn't work, defeating the purpose of the core gameplay. It's matchmaking and issues with squad forming that are the focus of the second alpha which is working better, but still having issues with finding matches and server disconnects.
Battlefield V's Visuals Are Stunning
When in a game though, it's worth the wait. The Norway-set snowy map is gorgeous and highly detailed. Large ships can be seen in the waters, while the raising terrain leading to the hills in the North is chock full of points of interest and cover, so much of it destructible.
Again, there's only one map that's been playable but what's there is well-balanced in that there’s no long, open areas where players are endlessly running like in some of the Battlefield 1 maps. There's an abundance of diverse and detailed environments, aesthetics and verticality between objectives too but in a way that players are always in the action.
"Players are always in the action."
With an added layer of snowfall that blows across the floors and doorways of structures with the wind, and the snow build-up on rooftops (that can slide and fall from explosions), Battlefield V is uncanny. And it does all this with the only-in-battlefield explosive action where planes fly over (controlled by players) dropping bombs or parachuting players without a hitch in performance.
The player animations - something we learned a lot about just before the game was released - has been pushed a generation forward as well. As we detailed previously, character movement has been polished substantially so players can easily jump through windows (even smashing through glass - if there still is any) or over debris without slowing down too much. From another player's perspective, soldiers can be seen sliding on ice, trudging through and slipping on mud, wading through water, and stumbling slightly while sprinting on uneven terrain. Players move like soldiers would and it all works like you'd want with a few exceptions on trying to climb steep, rocky terrain.
A very specific update that's absolutely worth mentioning as it's something I've been championing for years (see link below) - that players actually get in and out of vehicles without teleporting. There's actual movement to enter and exit ground units like in Halo and Far Cry (for airplanes, you can only spawn in them seemingly). The same applies for players reviving downed teammates which is a very dedicated and risky action to take (note: the healing system is changed so anyone can revive a teammate but medics do it faster and can heal them up to full health).
As for team play, on the Arctic Fjord map it's essential in Conquest mode to work together since objectives are quickly taken between each team and intense skirmishes form around key points. Squads are limited to four players and we wish there was an option for six-player squads. We also do miss the Commander system since no one is organizing what squads do and they feel isolated at times, doing their own thing. Worse, squad leaders can be appointed and stuck in command without setting orders and there doesn't appear to be anything to do about it. That ruins the game and there's no way around it. A change from the first to second Closed Alpha session made it so that when a squad leader sets an objective marker, the other objectives vanish from the HUD, focusing them strictly on where they're ordered to go. It's an interesting test for squads playing to win.
Battlefield V's Fortifications System Is An Annoying Gimmick
Our other knock against Battlefield V, and there really aren't many at this point, is the highly touted fortification system. It hasn't seemed useful and seems rather punishing at times to spend time building up sandbags only to be shot while doing so since you're stationary. Given the shooter mechanics of the game and required movement, we haven't yet seen a real purpose to using this or a mounted machine gun since it makes players incredibly vulnerable to anyone with an accurate shot. This may change in other modes and maps.
Similarly, the squad bonuses are confusing at times since when summoning a squad super tank, we've yet to be able to actually locate it. As a result, every squad leader seems to save points to summon a large rocket a key points.
"As for the core gameplay, it feels oh so good..."
As for the core gameplay, it feels oh so good with a seemingly more lethal TTK (time to kill). Some many find it too modern in how accurate and well-handling the weapons are but after a year of battle royale games dominating the shooter space, it’s nice to see actually great shooting combined with triple-A design and performance.
Battlefield V looks and plays amazing, and could be a big push forward from the prior three main entries. The best part is, we got hours of enjoyment from just one map and two modes and the launch game will have much more - including a single-player story campaign, a co-op mode that generates new objectives as players play, and an ongoing live service where expansions and future DLC content will all be free. We're in. See you on the Battlefield!
- Battlefield V (2018 Video Game) release date: Nov 20, 2018