Swedish game developer DICE has taken Battlefield V back to the familiar territory of World War II for this sixth instalment in the main series. The centrepiece, as always, is the online multiplayer which spreads six different modes across eight large maps loosely drawn from history. There are two in the marshlands of northern France, two in the snow-covered peaks of Norway, two in the cramped urban jungle of Rotterdam, and two in the dusty barrens of North Africa.
In an attempt to encourage more teamwork during matches, players start with less ammunition for guns, so four-player squads must stick closer together. Players also no longer have to play as the Medic to revive squadmates, though it will take significantly longer to do so as another class.
One new mode, Airborne, has players parachuting into the map from planes after each death. Another, Grand Operations, has players competing for the same handful of control points as other modes, but spaces it out across three different rounds that are meant to simulate three days of battle, with the team ahead given extra supplies to use for the next round. Unfortunately, these updates feel marginal.
Inside each match, players may find themselves repeating dreary mundane tasks just to feed the game’s expansive levelling system. Even minor actions like squatting beneath a capture point or piling sandbags gives experience points, which are need to unlock new uniforms and other cosmetic items. Thankfully, microtransactions to buy in-game currency is limited to cosmetic items as well, and there is no way to “pay-to-win”.
The game’s single-player campaign is an anthology structure with three unconnected chapters. One follows an English prisoner set free and sent to Libya to fight for the England. Another follows a Senegalese man in the French infantry as part of the “tirailleurs,” units recruited from colonies and sent to the front lines. The third follows a stealthy young woman as she tries to save her mother, a resistance fighter kidnapped while spying on a Nazi programme to develop a nuclear weapon. They are over-the-top heroic fantasies that let the player single-handedly turn the tide of war, and are serviceable if forgettable.
The visuals in this year’s update are noticeably more beautiful, but do not add much to the gameplay. For fans of expansive player-vs-player team shooters, this is more of the same. But those looking for a character-driven plot and engaging storyline will be disappointed.