'Battlefield V' puts players into World War 2

Photo: supplied
Photo: supplied
Hayden Meikle reviews the latest in the popular Battlefield series.

Battlefield V
For: PS4, Xbox One, PC
From: Electronic Arts
Rating: ★★★★ out of five

Once more unto the breach, dear friends.

EA knows it is on to a winner with its Battlefield series - the only genuine rival to Call of Duty in the first-person shooter genre - so it is just cranking them out.

Barely two years since Battlefield 1 took us into World War 1, or at least a stylised version of it, Battlefield V (confusing, but technically this is the sequel to Battlefield 4) presents an opportunity to embrace the challenge of World War 2.

A slightly risky move, really, given Call of Duty only had its own take on that war last year, but the huge Battlefield fanbase was always going to hook into it.

Like its predecessor, BFV is largely based around its various multiplayer modes, but it also includes a perfectly pleasant single-player mode called War Stories. There are only three, but more will be coming as DLC drops.

In each chapter, you step into the shoes of a character in a story "inspired by'' real-life events.

"Nordlys'' is set in occupied Norway, and follows a young resistance fighter battling for her family and country. (Yes, HER. And imagine how some of the worse fanboys reacted when they learned a WW2 game would, gasp, have a female character. Get over it, chaps.)

"Under No Flag'' starts with a slightly cringy, but mildly humorous story of Billy Bridger, an English geezer who finds himself plucked from a jail cell to get a second chance in a special forces unit.

"Tirailleur'' skips to France, where Senegalese units of the colonial forces defend their "homeland''.

All three are engaging and highly playable. All are too short, though, and some form of motivation to replay the missions should have been provided.

So, into the meat of BFV, the multiplayer modes. All the old favourites are there, including the popular Conquest, while Grand Operations, Domination and Frontlines offer varying degrees of satisfaction and challenge.

You can play as the familiar four roles - Assault, Medic, Recon and Support - but character customisation has been fleshed out nicely. Within those classes, you can tinker with all sorts of elements, and the levelling up and unlocking processes are easy to follow and rewarding. No reliance on the dreaded micro-transactions, either. And no premium pass - everyone will get all DLC.

Inside the game, the eight maps at launch offer plenty of variety. And graphically, this is by far the most impressive Battlefield game. From cities turned to rubble, to fields pockmarked with craters, the scenes are intense, backed by a moody score.

Game developer Dice has now fully harnessed the Frostbite engine, and gameplay feels smooth and accessible. There's a huge variety of guns and equipment, and endless opportunities to see what works best in which setting.

BFV is not totally intimidating for the solo gamer, but there's no doubt it is best experienced with a squad. There are still some server balance issues, but so far my online experience has been totally fine.

 

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