Battlefield V may be a disappointment to publisher Electronic Arts in terms of not meeting sales targets, but as months go by, it's becoming a disappointment in and of itself from a content standpoint. There's so much potential with Battlefield V, a game that generally runs well and looks beautiful, but in terms of features and content, DICE is lost. Or maybe just really rushed.
When it comes to Battlefield V's delayed Combined Arms co-op mode, both seem true since it's rather embarrassingly bad.
Releasing just two years after Battlefield 1 launched in 2016, Battlefield V didn't have a proper triple-A dev cycle. It had a year less than rival Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. BFV was so rushed in fact, that there are still missing features the developer teased and promised pre-release, things like the co-op mode they described to us, countless cosmetic options for player characters and vehicles, the ability to drag downed allies, and of course, the Firestorm battle royale mode. Even one of the single-player campaign missions wasn't available at launch.
We were told during a Battlefield V preview with the developers that Combined Arms would let players "go behind enemy lines" and live their "paratrooper fantasy" but there are no paratroopers in this mode, and you're playing the same maps as regular multiplayer. They talked about choosing to go for the final objective or extracting, but every mission ends in extracting. There's no choice as described. Creative Director Lars Gustavsson even described endless replayability through the game mode's apparent ability to generate not only objectives but "narratives."
"We have a new system called the mission generator. It creates dynamic objectives and narratives in order to constantly keep that cooperative experience feeling fresh and challenging."
Gustavsson continued, telling us that Combined Arms is really all about bringing friends or players together, but there's no matchmaker. They described it as a mode where players can "learn the ropes of Battlefield" but it debuted months after the main game did. And nowhere during the preview or official public reveal was it made clear that Combined Arms wouldn't debut until months after the game's release. There's a lack of transparency and honesty in the teases and explanation of this mode, and what players got after months of waiting, isn't good at all.
Combined Arms offers eight missions spread across five of the game's multiplayer maps, and there are four different objective types which are all basically the same. Destroy three things, kill certain enemies or a total number of them, steal three things, etc., and then extract. There's a lack of immersion of innovation here since Combined Arms uses existing maps but fills them with 'out of bounds' areas and weird, tight half-transparent walls when enemies attack during the final extraction phase. There's also no real reason or story behind the basic objectives.
There's no beginning or end to the missions and no promised narrative to speak of. It's incredibly generic and unimpressive, lacking variety or any sense of urgency. What's especially strange is how poor the main gameplay is where DICE took the approach of making enemies bullet sponges, rendering the weapons and their ammo limits out of balance and simply not that fun.
The glitches don't help either and little things like not being able to restock explosive ammo when standing beside more of that equipped explosive weapon, or the game not saving Combined Arms class loadouts. We even had a vehicle and soldier stuck out of bounds on more than one occasion and it seems the stats system is broken, combining multiplayer and co-op performance together.
There's also no matchmaker, so it can only be played solo or by organizing your own party and the mode doesn't scale based on party size. As for the bullet sponge enemies, their AI is generally bad and players can funnel them into areas or up a stair route and take them one after the other. When playing with friends, it's just too easy and dumb. When playing solo, it's too hard, and still boring. We're unsure of what happened here and how Combined Arms is such a giant step backward from what Battlefield 3 offered years ago, or how it came out like this after being delayed for months, but it's alarming that this is what DICE is offering a week after fellow EA online title free-to-play Apex Legends dropped, and there's still no sign of Battlefield V's Firestorm battle royale (which on paper, already sounds underwhelming and small).
We really enjoyed Battlefield V's core gameplay, but the content followup has been disappointing and there still feels to be too much simply missing, from its own promise, and from what prior Battlefield games offered. If only this game was scheduled for this fall, it'd have the time to (ideally) to be more grand, polished, and new. More missions are promised for Combined Arms as part of Battlefield V's Tides of War live service, but what the mode needs is a total overhaul of the main gameplay loop, not more of the same. It's just bad.
Battlefield V is playable on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.