It’s official. Battlefield V is taking the series back to where it started: World War II. Instead of simply retreading familiar ground, though, DICE has promised to explore untold parts of the Second World War. Despite a lack of sleep, I somehow managed to roll out of bed early this morning to watch the Battlefield V reveal live and scribble down some notes. Below is everything I gleaned from that presentation with producers Andreas Morell, Lars Gustavsson and Ryan McArthur, as well as design director Daniel Berlin and UX designer Natalie Ek.
Battlefield V single-player: War Stories
The anthology approach to storytelling in Battlefield 1 returns in Battlefield V. Also like Battlefield 1, the single-player War Stories mode will tell the tales of both men and women. Gustavsson mentioned these stories will be human, relatable and from “eyes of people who changed the world”. One such story is from the perspective of Norlese (I likely butchered the spelling of that name; apologies), a Norwegian Resistance fighter, which is described as a family story.
According to Morell, expect these War Stories to visit unseen locations, tell untold stories, and create those signature Battlefield moments in “a World War II experience that no-one has ever seen before”. When the game launches, players should expect to play as both German and British forces, according to Gustavsson (I’m assuming that means single-player as well as multiplayer).
Specific locations that were rattled off include Scandinavia, Rotterdam in Norway, and “ragged deserts” in Northern Africa. Thanks to gameplay improvements, Gustavsson also commented that player agency will be key in forging those aforementioned Battlefield moments (whatever that means). DICE also noted that it’s important to tell believable and honest stories that maintain a connection to the world.
Battlefield co-op: Combined Arms
It’s weird to say that co-op is back, given it was only really part of Battlefield 3, but DICE is catering to fans of cooperative play in Battlefield V with Combined Arms. Up to four players can jump online (“online” was specifically mentioned, which means it sounds like splitscreen ain’t in) and play as Pathfinders. This means dropping in behind enemy lines. Gustavsson teased that players will be able to decide whether they should push through scenarios or extract early, suggesting this will be a challenging mode. His phrasing reminds me of the risk/reward of The Division’s Dark Zone, but that's me reading between the lines.
As far as I can tell, the gameplay teaser (which you can watch at the bottom of this page) portrays a co-op scenario.
While single-player and co-op are all well and good, the real longevity of any Battlefield game is its multiplayer. This will, of course, be a big part of Battlefield V. Operations return from Battlefield 1, except this time they’re called Grand Operations (have it in the server browser at launch, pls). This mode is set to take place over four fictional days in different modes and with the potential to take place on four maps. Berlin said Grand Operations offer “an hour-long narrative journey from historical battles”.
The example of how that might look is one team tasked with parachuting in to destroy enemy artillery, while the other team defends. An all-new fortifications system, set to replace the gas mask button—which, mercifully, suggests gas won’t be returning in Battlefield V—lets players construct items. Reading between the lines, it sounds like Bad Company 2 levels of destructibility are coming back, but players will have the option to rebuild and add to the environment.
Back to the example, the outcome of whether the artillery is destroyed will determine what happens on the next ‘day’. Players might then be taken to a new location and play Conquest Assault mode. If the first three days lead to a stalemate, a fourth and final map offers a final stand. If this happens, Morell said players can expect to spawn with limited ammunition and fight to the last player standing. Resources will be limited, too, and if the first three days don’t end in a stalemate, you might not see that fourth map.
Berlin made a point of highlighting the immense arsenal potential of World War II, which includes iconic planes, epic tank battles (Morell specifically mentioned the Tiger I and I spied a Sturmtiger and Churchill tank in the art), and a tease at secret weapons (which I’m glad they’re talking about from the start because that greatly expands the potential for new content). He also said the new fortification system is designed to offer a deeper level of strategy for defending and advancing.
Fortifications were specifically mentioned in terms of players who like to play the objective. Reinforce destroyed buildings on or near objectives, build foxholes, and set up machine guns to hold a chokepoint. Gustavsson specifically mentioned rebuilding and fortifying, which I’m very interested to see, but I’m more interested in the option to not only build additional fixed machine gun emplacements but also AA guns. If you play Battlefield 1 today, the aces are all too familiar with the default AA locations, so this'll put an appropriate amount of fear into those who camp plane spawns/respawns.
More interestingly, Battlefield V is set to expand its destructibility to include a greater depth of bullet penetration. Higher-calibre weapons, like the MG-42, will reportedly tear through walls, while pistol rounds won’t penetrate. In terms of modes, Morell said you can expect to see the return of Conquest as well as a new Airborne multiplayer mode (and other new modes).
Battlefield live service
The other big mode reveal is Tides of War, which is described as a journey through World War II in ever-evolving and diverse gameplay. It’s set to take place over multiple months, and players can expect monthly, weekly and even daily events that lead up to Grand Operations, with special assignments for extra goodies. A slide during the presentation revealed Tides of War rewards include new vehicles, new weapons, timed events, dog tags and emblems, face paint, as well as soldier and weapon skins.
This is all part of the Battlefield V live service, which means the Battlefield Premium has been abolished in favour of all new content being ‘freely’ available to players. It’s great to see the community will be kept together after launch, but that live service has to be funded somehow.
Out of the gate, Morell said Battlefield V is not pay-to-win and all gear is unlocked by playing the game. It sounds like DICE isn’t letting monetisation go anywhere near gameplay-impacting items, so I’m guessing cosmetic items will be for sale, either individually or in loot crates (if I’m right, fingers crossed for the former over the latter). Battlefield V launches in October and these live services are said to kick off in November, with the first focused on the fall of Europe.
The Company is a new feature that lets players seemingly fully customise the look of their character. There were also hints that players could “level up” their guns and suggestions of gameplay-impacting choices. Ek teased that the choices you make for your Company matter, which may be hinting at a bigger metagame.
There’ll be a stack more Battlefield V news in a few short weeks when EA shows off more of its 2018 shooter at EA Play. Battlefield V has a worldwide launch date of 19 October, and if you’re one of those triallers who wants to play 10 hours ahead of time (and are willing to pay for the pleasure), that’s available from 11 October. As per usual, I’ll be covering all things E3 from 10 June, and as a big Battlefield fan, expect to read more about it on the site. I know it’s only a tease, but from what has been said and shown, I think Battlefield V has the potential to be the best of the series.