The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games, academia and life dare to converge

Battlefield V: A Reflection on the Open Beta

“This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” —Winston Churchill

While Battlefield V may have been hampered by a sub-optimal marketing campaign, its biggest selling point lies within gameplay. The closed alpha was a fantastic opportunity to see how the new weapon mechanics and gameplay elements, such as attrition and squad play, functioned, although Battlefield V itself was evidently still in development at that stage; various bugs, such as being unable to spawn, falling through the map, being unable to change squads and performance issues were prevalent. As well, many features simply were not present in the build: the game’s progression and customisation system was a no-show in the alpha, for instance. By the time of the open beta two months later, Battlefield V has come a long way — the game handles very smoothly, and the stutter I experienced in the alpha, especially when being revived or spawning onto teammates, had been rectified. The classes have also undergone some changes, with the assault being assigned longer-range weapons for medium range, precise combat, and the medic class gaining access to submachine guns to fit their role as close-quarters support for squad members. Each class also gains a unique ability: assault players regenerate health faster, medic players can revive any teammate faster than squad members can revive squad mates, support players can build heavier fortifications, and recon players can run faster when damaged. The emphasis on unique class roles is carried over from Battlefield 1 — in conjunction with the fortifications and attrition elements, Battlefield V handles quite differently than its predecessors, forcing players to be even more mindful of their surroundings than in previous instalments of Battlefield. While these new elements seem quite daunting, they are woven into Battlefield V neatly, and ultimately, offer a new way to experience Battlefield, bringing tactical elements into the game and encouraging players to explore their environments in more detail than before.

At the end of the day, however, Battlefield V is a first person shooter, and as such, focus remains predominantly on the weapons and their handling. Battlefield 1 was frustrating with its random bullet deviation, which reduced the potency of skill in a firefight; players with sure aim and mastery of their weapon could still occasionally miss shots from this, and the time to kill was also quite lengthy. Battlefield V‘s closed alpha had a Battlefield 4-era TTK, allowing skilled players to drop enemies exceptionally quickly, and with some weapons lacking recoil and the insufficient damage indicators, meant firefights were somewhat frustrating if one did not get the drop on their opponents. By the open beta, it seems DICE has gone with a balance between the two extremes: TTKs are faster and more satisfying than those of Battlefield 1, but slower than the closed alpha’s allowing players to duck out and escape fire if they chose to. The open beta continues to show that Battlefield V is a game of methodical team play — my best games were experienced by moving together with my squad and picking my engagements. I had no trouble topping the scoreboards and maintaining a positive KD ratio when I played this way. By comparison, in games where I became impatient to try out a newly-unlocked gun, I was slaughtered. If Battlefield V intended its players to cooperate and master its mechanics over aggressively charging into a scenario and counting on no-scopes to win the day, it has certainly succeeded in doing so. While the open beta proved quite enjoyable, the insight it provides into Battlefield V‘s progression system leaves much to be desired. Battlefield 3 and 4 had a solid system, unlocking new weapons, gadgets, attachments and weapon camouflages. Different weapons, gadgets and attachments allow players to very precisely pick their play style, giving a sense of immersion. This disappeared in Battlefield 1, and while Battlefield V‘s progression system does incentivise players to advance their classes and weapons, the decision to split weapon customisation into cosmetic and functional aspects does not make sense. In particular, that weapons have a progression tree that continue to improve the weapon’s performance does not make sense: once one unlocks all of the upgrades, their weapon will be outright superior to the player who is using that weapon for the first time. By comparison, Battlefield 3 and 4 introduced the notion of side-grades, where every attachment offered a benefit in exchange for a disadvantage. A heavy barrel might improve weapon damage at range at the expense of hip-fire accuracy, and a compensator can help some unruly weapons with horizontal accuracy, but increase muzzle flash and make a player more visible. It meant tuning a weapon was an involved and fun task, and this is something that I miss from the earlier Battlefield titles. Similarly, with the archetypes still absent, one must wonder what roles they’ll play in the full game.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • It’s been a shade more than two years ago when the Battlefield 1 open beta ended, and I ended up with two separate posts detailing my experiences. At the time, I remarked that I would buy Battlefield 1 if it ended up with a solid launch, and two years later, with 195 hours spent in the game, I feel that the open beta proved to be a valuable contributor in helping me decide whether the game was for me or not. At present, the open beta for Battlefield V has concluded, and while there are many factors that need improvement, overall, my experience was a very solid one.

  • There are a total of forty screenshots in this post, and while it has been past tradition for me to open with me scoring a melee kill, the gunplay in Battlefield V is superb. When I spawned into my first match on Rotterdam, however, most of the combat was actually opposite to where I was, so I found myself exploring the map and trying to get to one of the capture points before dying to an assault player from around the corner. I subsequently hopped into a Panzer IV and shelled enemies trying to capture the train station.

  • The Panzer IV is likely in its Ausf. D form, and with its upgrade tree, I imagine that there should be no trouble in giving it the equipment needed to make it resemble the Ausf. F2 that Miho and her friends operate. Vehicle gameplay in Battlefield V is more skill-based than its previous counterparts: tank turrets are slower to rotate and have some inertia to them, meaning that one cannot simply look and immediately begin firing at enemies: the turret has to “catch up” to where one is looking before one’s shots begin landing.

  • Battlefield V‘s sniping mechanics are a return to the days of Battlefield 4 and 3, where center-mass shots were unable to kill in one shot at any range. Emphasis is returned to headshots, and sniper rifles again have different handling characteristics, whereas in Battlefield 1, bolt action rifles were largely differentiated by their sweet spot ranges and bullet speeds. The open beta starts recon players with the Lee-Enfield No. 4 Mk I, which has a ten-round capacity, a lower bullet velocity and a quicker firing rate compared to the Karabiner 98.

  • The medic class got the least use during my time in the open beta: I only reached rank two with the medic. While medics no longer carry a syringe gadget and thus, have a slot free for another gadget. I’m not sure if it was a bug or not, but I found myself resupplying teammates with the medic’s bandage pouches. This could simply be a UI error, although the absence of a dedicated syringe tool took some getting used to.

  • We’ve still yet to see all of the available weapons for Battlefield V, and I’m still hoping that the iconic MG42 will be available as an infantry-portable weapon for the support class. This would allow me to emulate the Karlsland Witch loadout: the weapon was infamous for its high firing rate and was nicknamed “Hitler’s Buzzsaw” for the distinct sound it made. On top of this, the weapon was incredibly reliable and had a quick-change barrel. With all of the sophisticated, detailed animations in Battlefield V, I would not be surprised if overheating an MG42 would result in the player manually replacing the barrel, which could be an innovative way to offset its high firing rate.

  • Having tried them with a greater frequency, I feel that reinforcements replace Battlefield 1‘s behemoths. This is quite welcome, since it means that players contributing to their team will have a chance to further assist with resupplies and powerful weaponry, but without needing to be on a losing team. The Sturmtiger was one of the reinforcements available to the German forces in the beta and the vehicle itself was originally intended for infantry support. I went on a short killstreak with it before getting over confident, driving it to point B and then watching as other players smashed the Sturmtiger with Panzerfausts after I got stuck.

  • Returning to Narvik, the dialed-back particle effects are noticeable, and the map looks a lot clearer now. Here, I take Darjeeling’s tank of choice, the Churchill Mk. VII, for a spin and blast enemies for a double kill. Because of turret inertia, limited ammunition and the presence of effective anti-tank weapons, tanks are no longer invincible monstrosities: I vividly recall Battlefield 1‘s FT-17 during the open beta, which was so overpowered that I went on a 21-streak with it. By comparison, the best kill-streak I’ve been on during this open beta was a more modest 9 with the Valentine Mk. III, and my Battlefield 1 record is a 13-streak.

  • Bolt-action rifles have taken a major reduction in effectiveness with center mass shots to the point where a body shot at range does around 55 damage (and 70 in close quarters). This is taking it a little far: raising their maximum damage to around 80-90, as per Battlefield 4 and having it trail out to 60 past 100 metres would make the rifles more powerful without decreasing the value of headshots. When headshots do connect with bolt-action rifles in Battlefield V, however, the results are incredibly satisfying.

  • It took me a little while to warm up to the progression system; weapons no longer need a currency to buy and unlock automatically once a class rank is reached. I immediately purchased the Gewehr 43 again and put the medium optics on it, as this configuration served me particularly well during the closed alpha. In fact, it was a little too effective, and for the beta, its vertical recoil was increased. Damage was also reduced slightly, but the weapon remains exceptionally effective.

  • A good set of optics on the Gewehr 43, and a healthy sense of caution means that with it, one can do very well at medium ranges. The trick is not to spam fire, and instead, place one’s shots more carefully. The skill ceiling for the Gewehr 43 makes the weapon a powerful all-around weapon, but during the beta, I saw many folks continue to run around with the StG 44, which has more recoil but otherwise remains superbly effective.

  • The support class was easily the weakest in Battlefield 1, but in Battlefield V, their machine guns gain the ability to penetrate soft cover like wood, and overall, the weapons are much more reliable at medium ranges. Playing support at close range is not viable like it was in Battlefield 3 and 4, where I ran around with the M249 and hip-fired like a madman, but with high accuracy at those medium ranges, one can consistently hit more distant targets than was possible with the LMGs from Battlefield 1.

  • My performance in Battlefield V has been consistently good from a KD perspective: in most Battlefield games, my lack of patience is the cause behind most of my deaths, and is only offset by the fact that I am very focused on objectives and team-oriented tasks, which earn enough points so that I can reach close to the top of the scoreboard despite a smaller number of kills. However, for Battlefield V, the attrition mechanics, and the advantages of a more cautious play-style means I adopt a defense-drive strategy, sticking around and fortifying a capture point until teammates arrive, and then capturing new points only with help.

  • The class-specific ranks return from Battlefield 1 and 3: in Battlefield V, class ranks unlock weapons, whereas in Battlefield 4, using a weapon class unlocked weapons. This system was a minor gripe I had with Battlefield 4, since it meant that weapon classes I rarely used, such as the marksman rifles, would be more difficult to unlock. By comparison, Battlefield 3 tied weapon unlocks with class usage, making it relatively simple to earn new weapons.

  • Ribbons in Battlefield V are still a bit of a mystery to me: while they must work similarly to how ribbons worked in previous Battlefield games, the criteria for unlocking them are not yet known. Here, I earn one ribbon for capturing points on Rotterdam, a map that is considered to be the Amiens of Battlefield V: an urban location with narrow streets, courtyards, a harbour and a rail bridge, it offers a bit of everything in terms of combat environments and each class is useful in its own right in different parts of the map.

  • After unlocking the Bren gun, I immediately gravitated towards it. Compared to the closed alpha, the Bren in the open beta has less recoil. While hitting for less damage per shot, its strength is accuracy, making it a solid weapon at medium ranges. Its main detriment is a lower firing rate, making it quite unsuitable for close quarters combat: during pinches where I encountered a medic or assault player up close, their Sten gun or StGs melted me after I got a few shots off.

  • Of course, against unsuspecting enemies at close range, the Bren is quite powerful, and inspection of my screenshots show that I am running with the AA sights. These unobtrusive sights make it much easier to aim the weapon at medium ranges, and a major benefit of a World War Two setting is that more weapon accessories can be used. There is a better selection of sights in the game that make it much easier to use many weapons; one of my weak points in Battlefield 1 was that I was ineffective with iron sights and so, I tend to avoid iron-sight weapons.

  • Bullet drop is much more noticeable in Battlefield V than it was in Battlefield 1: at ranges past 80 metres, one must begin compensating for gravity to land headshots on distant foes. Besides more pronounced bullet drop, the recon class of Battlefield V is also strongly affected by changes to the game mechanics. Spotting has been modified so that only the recon can spot enemies on the mini-map with their binoculars and flares. This increases their value in providing reconnaissance to their team. 3D-spotting is also absent, forcing players to visually recognise enemy soldiers.

  • Planes were left with a severe disadvantage with the changes in spotting, and while they’ve been given additional equipment to spot players on the ground for longer periods, other players have remarked that planes were much less effective. I had the chance to fly for a short period before going out of bounds and exploding for deserting: the planes handle more smoothly than they did in the alpha, but the small number of planes in the sky means dogfights are rare, and while I never tried for myself, strafing ground targets is also tricky. By comparison, tanks are very effective and enjoyable to use: here, I shell an enemy while trying to capture D point.

  • The FG-42 is a new addition to Battlefield V, being a high rounds-per-minute automatic rifle with a correspondingly high damage output and smaller magazine capacity. It is functionally similar to a battle rifle and in World War Two, was a limited production weapon intended for use by the Fallschirmjäger airborne infantry. Highly advanced for its time, the FG-42’s gas-operated mechanics influenced the systems used in the American M60.

  • German weapons of World War Two were among the most sophisticated in the world, and many of their elements made their way into modern weapon systems. The StG 44 is one of the most notable examples: the notion of firing intermediate cartridges in automatic combined the range of a rifle with the close-quarters efficacy of a submachine gun, and the StG 44 directly influenced the Avtomat Kalashnikova line of rifles, whose family and its derivatives have become the most widely-produced assault rifle in the world.

  • Without the blowing snow on Narvik, the map has a much cleaner feel to it and is reminiscent of some of Battlefield 1‘s In The Name of The Tsar maps. Volga River and Brusilov Keep were particularly enjoyable, and I became familiar enough with both maps to excel with all classes. This is my own metric for what makes a map fun: a well-designed map will allow all classes to be effective on it, featuring enough choke points, narrow corridors and open spaces so that players can choose their engagements and move in a more tactical manner to reach their destinations without a single class being dominant over others.

  • In both Battlefield V maps during the open beta, the only class I struggled with was the medic class and its submachine guns. Traditionally, I excel with these hip fire machines: PDWs were among my favourite weapons to run in Battlefield 3 and 4, and in Battlefield 1, submachine guns dominate my list of most-used weapons alongside the bolt-action rifles. For some reason, Battlefield V‘s submachine guns were not as effective in my hands, and this is probably because I became accustomed to playing at longer ranges.

  • We’re very nearly halfway into September by this point in time, and readers will have noted that I’ve got very few posts out. Besides a single post for Harukana Receive, and now, this post on Battlefield V, this blog’s been remarkably quiet. The reason for this is because circumstances in real life have led me to prioritise other things over blogging for the moment. For the first week of this month, I was in Winnipeg, Manitoba on work-related matters.

  • The work itself was quite challenging, but not from a technical perspective; every day left me exhausted. Even after I returned home, I’ve still been putting in non-standard hours and working on weekends in a bid to try and finish my assignment, and the end result of this is that I’ve been much more tired and dejected of late. Being of this mindset is certainly not conducive towards writing good blog posts, and I made an exception for Battlefield V‘s open beta because it was a welcome and enjoyable escape. While in Winnipeg, I was carrying my MacBook Pro; while a reliable and capable machine, it’s not capable of playing the shooters I typically partake in.

  • When things get challenging, I cope by breaking things down and taking everything one step at a time, as well as setting milestones to look forwards to. In Winnipeg, a good meal at the end of the day was that milestone. I am striving to conclude this project to the best of my ability and hope that there will be a bit of a breather before I return to my current work. Back in Battlefield V‘s open beta, towards the end, I figured out where weapon attachments could be added and so, put one of the sights on the StG 44. The result was a fun boost in performance that included a neat double kill here.

  • Having good sights is the difference between night and day, making it much easier to track targets. Of all the cosmetic changes, sights are the one that are worth looking into, since they directly affect one’s performance by helping improve visibility. Insofar, I’ve not seen anything to suggest that Battlefield V will have side grade style weapon attachments that positively impact performance in one area at the cost of another. The weapon tree gives weapons straight upgrades, which leaves players at a disadvantage.

  • Of course, with DICE pushing back the release date to November 20, there remains time to tune some concepts and features, so my final verdict on whether or not I’ll get the game will be made once I learn more about the final product. On the topic of release dates, Metro Exodus will be releasing in February 22, 2019, and DOOM: Eternal will be releasing somewhere in 2019. The Divison 2 will release on March 15, 2019, and there could be an open beta to try the game out come February 2019, as well.

  • Here, I wield the M1A1 carbine, which is a fast-firing semi-automatic rifle that deals less damage than the Gewehr 43 and is better suited for close quarters engagements than long range. It’s a bit of a fun weapon to use, and the high firing rate means it is more forgiving of missed shots in close range. In a few screenshots earlier, I fielded the ZH-29, a self-loading rifle that functions as a designated marksman rifle and can kill with two shots. This weapon is better suited for snipers who prefer a more aggressive role in capturing objectives and pushing alongside teammates, although it can hold its own in longer range engagements, as well.

  • The M1A1 is a variation of the M1 Carbine used by paratroopers and has a folding stock, and despite its designation, is unrelated to the famous M1 Garand. The M1 Garand is an iconic American service rifle widely used in World War Two, replacing the bolt-action M1903 in 1930 and used until the M14 was issued. With an eight-round clip, the weapon has a distinct pinging sound when the clip is ejected. Commonly portrayed in World War Two games, it would be quite surprising not to see this weapon in Battlefield V, and I am curious to see what DICE’s sound and animation engineers did for the weapon.

  • For me, the politics surrounding a video game do not have any influence on whether or not I will buy the game or enjoy it. While I consider myself moderately current with events around me, I feel that the various culture wars on the internet are not meritorious of consideration: life is much too short for one to be worried about taking sides in things that ultimately amount to nothing. The point of video games (and other forms of entertainment that often are scrutinised in culture wars) is to help folks relax, and so, I find that the worth of a game (and entertainment in general) is judged in how well it can help its audience relax and escape.

  • As a consequence, all of the debate surrounding the presence of female soldiers in Battlefield and unusual, steampunk-style customisations ends up being a waste of time. The merit of a game lies in how well it handles and whether or not it offers incentive to return. With this being said, I am of the mind that Battlefield V‘s marketing campaign was quite weak: Battlefield 1 managed to make me excited about the World War One setting, and a powerful campaign trailer ultimately helped make the decision to buy the game an easy one. Released on September 27, 2016, the trailer created a sense of respect and admiration for those who gave their lives in World War One.

  • The campaign trailer for Battlefield 1 was set to Really Slow Motion’s “Sun and Stars”, and with the end of September approaching, I am curious to see what kind of trailer Battlefield V has for its campaign. On the whole, Battlefield V‘s reveal trailer was the weakest, and newer trailers do create some excitement in the game for me. However, for most, first impressions matter, and DICE’s marketing team has struggled to recapture interest in the game following its disastrous reveal trailer.

  • Here, I call in the Allied equivalent of the Sturmtiger: this is the Churchill Crocodile, a heavy flame tank that featured a flamethrower in addition to its QF 75mm main gun. In Battlefield V, the flamethrower has a shorter range than the original tank’s 110m, and it is operated by a passenger. When I first called one in, it was moments away from the end of a losing game, and no one bothered to sit in the tank, but I managed to score some kills with it.

  • As far as major bugs go, Battlefield V still has an issue where the game may occasionally treat players as alive when they’re killed, and on one instance, I was unable to spawn back in, forcing me to quite and re-join the server. Beyond this, my experiences have been very smooth, and even on my computer, which is five-and-a-half years old now, the game still runs very well.

  • While sitting in the front gunner’s seat in a Tiger I tank, I somehow managed to blow up a light vehicle with the machine gun. While drivers are constrained by ammunition, secondary gunners have unlimited ammunition, making them powerful support for tank drivers: an observant secondary gunner can provide some covering fire for a driver while they are reloading or capturing a point.

  • Like the Battlefield 1 open beta, my best kill-streak was accomplished in the driver’s seat of a tank: it was the FT-17 in Battlefield 1, and in Battlefield V, it’s the Valentine Mk. VIII, an infantry tank that proved durable and reliable. The Mk VIII variant has a six-pounder, and in Battlefield V, it is quite manoeuvrable: I had no trouble in dispatching players who had flanked my tank with the aim of placing dynamite or AT mines, although the enemy team eventually brought Panzerfausts to the party, ending my streak at nine.

  • Towards the end of the game, I scored enough points to call in another Crocodile and single-handedly captured point B. I called in one V-1 rocket during one of my early matches to help clear a point on Rotterdam, but the close quarters environments and buildings make the V-1 (or the Allied counterpart, the JB-2) less effective than in the open spaces of Narvik. This brings my Battlefield V open beta post to a close: altogether, I spent around nine-and-a-half hours in the open beta and tried out many of the features. I did miss out on unlocking the M30 Drilling, a triple-barrel weapon with two shotgun barrels and one barrel for a rifle round. Overall, the beta was enjoyable, more so than Battlefield 1‘s, and if the launch is smooth, I may consider buying Battlefield V. For the near future, however, I will be returning my focus to anime, and the next post will be on Harukana Receive‘s penultimate episode this Friday.

While a step in the right direction, and being exciting for shaking up the way Battlefield plays, Battlefield V is still rough around the edges at present. The progression system is not as meaningful as it was in Battlefield 4 or 3, and some mechanics remain unimplemented even in this beta build (noticeably, the ability to drag downed teammates to a safer location before reviving them). It is unsurprising, then, that DICE has pushed back the release date for Battlefield V to November 20. This was a solid move on their part, as the extra time allows them to release a more polished, finished product over a broken one. From the open beta, there is much that needs to be improved on: besides a baffling progression system, the UI also needs improvement. Text is sometimes invisible, contrast is jarring in places, and the flash for earning an award or unlock is so bright that it can block out what I’m trying to shoot at. Time will tell whether or not Battlefield V will address these problems and put a rocky reveal beyond it: the gameplay itself is quite solid, and the World War Two setting has already provided many exciting possibilities for settings that could be explored. I’ve already spent many a match running the Miho Nishizumi and Darjeeling loadouts, as well as running around with Perrine’s Bren gun; it will be quite interesting to see what directions Battlefield V takes, and if the open beta was any indicator, the hit detection and performance does not seem to be an issue. Battlefield 4‘s launch was terrible, and it took a year for the game to stablise to the point where players deeply enjoyed it. If Battlefield V has a solid launch, with the ongoing release of content through the Tides of War, I imagine that there would be enough new content to enjoy that would make the price of admissions worthwhile, and that over time, I could acclimatise to the new progression system, even if it is not as sophisticated as the one I’ve come to enjoy in Battlefield 4 and 3. I’ve never been one to pre-order games, but as I did with Battlefield 1, my decision to pick up the game will be motivated largely by what I hear of its performance and gameplay post-launch — a Battlefield V that features solid gun-play and stable netcode will be one that I would be willing to shell out the full price for, as I am quite sure that I will get used to the new mechanics quite quickly and begin enjoying what is the closest we’ve ever had of a proper Strike Witches/Girls und Panzer game in the Frostbite Engine.

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