The popular first-person shooter video game franchise Battlefield, which made its debut almost 16 years ago, will return to its World WarII roots this summer. Battlefield V was unveiled this week in an online presentation hosted by comedian Trevor Noah, who sat down with the game’s development team and discussed what gamers can expect when the title arrives this fall.
One surprise is that with Battlefield V, publisher Electronic Arts will not use its “premium pass” release structure for downloadable content.
With recent games — including Battlefield 3, Battlefield 4, and Battlefield 1 (the most recent release despite the moniker) — gamers could buy a basic game at launch but then had to pay for the DLC, which included new maps, additional weapons, and new game modes.
Dice, Battlefield V’s development studio, has opted to do away with that practice. Instead, it has promised an experience that won’t leave some gamers behind as new content becomes available.
Modern Take on World War II
When the original Battlefield 1942 arrived in September of 2002, it was the first big-budget gaming title to offer sprawling maps that allowed players to take charge of vehicles, including tanks, airplanes, and even battleships.
Based on this week’s reveal, Battlefield V offers both a bigger experience with plenty of nonstop action and greater intimacy, making teamwork crucial to victory.
Being a lone wolf is very much of a thing of the past. Upon entering a Battlefield V match, players are assigned to a squad. The developers have suggested that the motto for Battlefield V will be “stay with your squad, play with your squad.” There will be incentives to work as a team.
Battlefield V will carry over the popular “Operations” mode that was introduced with Battlefield 1, but it has been refined. In Grand Operations mode, players once again can either take a defensive stance or take the offensive. However, as the attacker moves forward, time passes — and with each passing day, things simply get tougher.
Day four in Grand Operations is the “final stand.” Each player gets only one life with no respawns, as well as one primary weapon, limited ammunition, and a do-or-die chance to win or lose. This has the potential to create a high-stakes winner-takes-all scenario rarely experienced in first-person shooters.
Another new mode that Battlefield V brings to the genre is “Tides of War,” a continuous online campaign mode reminiscent of battle royale games and online roleplaying games. Players can assemble their squad, and each soldier can be customized with weapons, attire, gadgets, and abilities.
Throughout the campaigns, players can upgrade their equipment and vehicles — so that if a squad starts with a basic tank, they can expect to get upgrades for success.
It is for these reasons that Dice was able to convince publisher EA to ditch the premium pass. With this new approach, squads that stick together don’t have to fear losing a valuable member who didn’t buy the latest expansion.
This form of gameplay could be far more intense than past games, but that could be a draw for longtime fans.
“The Battlefield franchise has never been considered the over-the-top franchise. It has typically been regarded as a more realistic game when compared to, say, Call of Duty,” said Reggie McKim, gaming analyst at Super Data Research.
“Battlefield tends to be more realistic in both gameplay and setting,” he told TechNewsWorld.
Return to World War II
Although the World War II setting is familiar, what could be different with Battlefield V is that gamers could live out the war in a sense — maybe not in real time but at least in a linear progression, based on what Dice’s team said during the reveal.
Upon its arrival this fall, the game will start in Europe with the German invasion of Poland, followed by the Low Countries and France, the developers hinted. New content will follow, adding the invasion of the Soviet Union and later the United States’ entry into the war.
Gamers can expect very different experiences as the game progresses, as the weapons and equipment available in 1939 were vastly more primitive than those introduced by 1944 and 1945.
“It feels like a natural progression from the Battlefield 1 setting, World War I,” suggested McKim.
However, Battlefield V is returning to World War II just a year after rival Activision’s Call of Duty series also went back in time, following a jaunt to the future.
“The game still looks and plays like a typical Battlefield game, and fans will pick up and play Battlefield V, but EA will have a hard time coercing new players away from Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII, Red Dead Redemption 2, Fortnite, etc.,” suggested McKim.
However, it is possible that there is modern warfare fatigue — not least because it could strike too close to home.
“My sense among the people I know who play a lot of these type games is that they are growing a little weary of the SpecOps scenarios,” said military history consultant Captain Dale Dye, USMC (Retired).
“WWII games offer a greater variety and less ambiguity regarding enemies, and from a Hollywood/filmmaker perspective, I can tell you that the mass audiences for WWII stories are still out there and hungry for the type of everyman, familiar, easily identifiable heroes that the genre celebrates,” he told TechNewsWorld.
“Very few of us can be high-speed, low-drag rock-and-roll Tier One operators, but almost anyone can be G.I. Joe battling the straight-ahead forces of darkness,” added Dye.
The game’s take on World War II could take as many liberties with history as Battlefield 1 took with the First World War –and while perhaps intense, it could veer far away from being a truly realistic take on the conflict.
“The trailer had about as much to with WWII history as Captain Marvel does,” said John Adams-Graf, military history author.
“It appears that the designers simply needed a backdrop onto which they could project their larger-than-life depictions of man-to-man combat,” he told TechNewsWorld.
“WWII still holds a fascination for a large number of people, but whether those people will buy this game probably doesn’t factor into it,” Adams-Graf added.
A bigger issue for EA/Dice could be how home players react to the core changes to what largely has been a fan favorite for its multiplayer experience.
“A seemingly larger focus on single-player modes and removing paid expansions/DLC may bring players new to Battlefield into this game,” said McKim. “We are still expecting an announcement of a ‘battle royale’ mode, which may also bring in a new subset of players.”