“I guess the operation can be, let’s see, Operation Sneaky Sneaks, because I want to sneakily see what the enemy is up to, then sneakily attack them.” —Miho “Miporin” Nishizumi, Girls und panzer
Overture was the first instalment to Battlefield V‘s Tides of War programme, and introduced a new map, Panzerstorm. During the past month, DICE also experienced the impact of a particularly controversial decision to increased the TTK, reasoning that new players were being discouraged by frequent quick deaths and not returning to the game. With the community feedback overwhelmingly requesting that TTK be restored, DICE graciously complied: the issue in Battlefield V lay not in the TTK, but TTD (the perceived time it takes to die). Faulty netcode gives the impression that players are dying in fewer frames than is actually the case, and at the time of writing, remains an issue; when TTK was increased, the game became disjointed. It was taking more time to take out an enemy player, further compounding the sense that an enemy should not have been able to down one so quickly. When DICE reverted this, Battlefield V immediately became considerably more fun. However, Tides of War, the continuous service programme, has also exposed limitations in Battlefield V; the assignments were not functioning and so, players could not unlock the new weapons on numerous occasions. I played through upwards of six hours of Grand Operations to get the first step of the final week in Overture to work, and others have reported being unable to unlock the new weapons, which are limited-time. The prizes for finishing each interval adds aesthetically unique, but otherwise unremarkable weapons to the game, as well as leave the medics yearning for more weapons. Between this, and bugs in the sound system allowing players to sneak around, Battlefield V looks off to a rough start; DICE does appear to have forgotten about their past successes and what made previous Battlefield titles fun. However, looking beyond Battlefield V‘s frustrations also finds a plethora of things to enjoy. Things work more often than they do not, and when one lines up a finely-aimed headshot or pulls off a successful flank, there is a sense of reward quite unlike that of any earlier Battlefield titles: Battlefield V is much harder than its predecessors.
After making my way through Overture, and steadily becoming more familiar with Battlefield V, the quality of my experience has improved since starting out. Knowing where player paths are means I can anticipate how others move around the map, and correspondingly adjust my path to surprise them, or else flush out campers from spots that are popular among those who would otherwise sit still and rack up kills without contributing to their team. Increased vehicle play has allowed me to fully upgrade my Panzer IV and Tiger I, and the return of the Ribeyrolles 1918 has provided the Assault Class with an unparalleled automatic rifle that is lethal at medium ranges, but can hold its own in closer quarters even despite its lower rate of fire. While I’ve not agreed with all of the Tides of War assignments (least of all those that forced me to play Grand Operations), the assignments that were the most enjoyable were those that encouraged team play. Reviving, healing, resupplying and repairing friendly players and assets lead to a much more cohesive experience, and it is great to be revived by players standing beside me. The vehicle assignments were also enjoyable: while vehicles remain death traps owing to how potent the Panzerfaust is, having incentive to use the vehicles and rank them up meant that my German tanks are now specialised. The promise of cosmetics and assignments provide plenty of reason to play; assignments tend to put my focus on doing something specific, and this has enticed me to return to Battlefield V in spite of all of its frustrations and bugs. It is clear that DICE hasn’t struck out on Battlefield V — weekly and daily assignments made Battlefield 1 significantly more fun, and seeing these carry over to Battlefield V show that lessons from Battlefield 1 stuck. The journey to unlocking everything and reaching level 20 in Tides of War was generally a fun one, and now that I’ve spent more time in Battlefield V, it becomes apparent that Battlefield V is much more of a skill game than Battlefield 1 was.
Screenshots and Commentary
- My initial goal was to get the Panzer IV upgraded as far as I could: in its default Ausf. D configuration, the tank is largely suited for anti-infantry engagements, as well as taking out soft targets like transports. However, the Ausf. D configuration is quite vulnerable to Panzerfausts, and is ill-suited for taking on other tanks, so my main use for it was to provide fire support onto capture points.
- The Sturmtiger is a unique reinforcement vehicle that is intended for hammering enemy positions, and here, I use it to get a double kill in an attempt to single-handedly clear out a position on my own. Panzerstorm is an interesting map, featuring plenty of open fields that is evidently suited for vehicle warfare, so infantry players won’t have such a good time on this map. While it was advertised as being for large scale armoured combat, Panzerstorm did not deliver: each team has upwards of seven tanks, leaving 25 players to go on foot. In order to create proper armoured warfare, I feel that doubling the tank count per team would make things a lot more exciting.
- The ultimate reinforcement remains the missile strikes: here, I scored my first-ever Killfrenzy (a multi-kill of six) on Arras using the JB-2 rocket. This match, I was doing particularly poorly on, but as time wore on, both the team and I managed to mount a comeback. While focusing on capturing points, I got lucky with kills made while defending points and eventually managed to earn enough points for the rocket strike. Seeing a number of enemies amassed at the town centre, I called in the JB-2 and the rest is history: I went KD positive, and the team won.
- Bombers are nowhere nearly as overpowered as the Ilya Muromets now, but a skilled player can still do serious damage with one. Perhaps a carry-over from my Battlefield 1 days, the bombers are my favourite planes to fly in Battlefield V: I have no trouble getting them to go where I wish them to go, and hitting targets on the ground is straightforwards with bombs. Bombs deal massive damage to whatever they hit, enough to annihilate vehicles, but are more precise than the cluster shells, so the days of being able to empty out entire capture points with one bombing run are thankfully over.
- We’re very nearly a week into 2019 now: the year opened with a ham dinner with mayonnaise à la Futurama‘s Judge Whitey. We used a special Dijon-honey-mayonnaise sauce that was heaven on earth, and then earlier this weekend, I made a homemade dip for yam fries that was very tasty despite lacking Chipotle that gives the dip a distinctly smokey flavour. The festivities of Christmas are past, and we enter the long dark of winter now.
- In a particularly memorable match on Rotterdam, I went on a kill-streak with the Valentine MK VIII medium tank. After being blown apart by Panzerfausts, I spawned back in as a sniper, single-handedly defended the train station point until my squad arrived, and then sent off a JB-2 Rocket that scored a Killfrenzy. Battlefield games where things go well usually have things go really well, and thanks to the revised Conquest system, comebacks are now possible. I’ve won some games where I was certain we would lose.
- Ever since I unlocked the MP-40 for the medic, I’ve found a versatile weapon that handles well enough for the ranges that I play at. This submachine gun is especially useful on Devastation: having spent more time here, I’ve found that my performance has seen an improvement now that I know where all of the routes are, and the close-quarters makes the medics much more useful. The capture point in the cathedral is the most hotly contested spot on the map, so a combination of smoke grenades and revivals allow one to very quickly bring their teammates back to life.
- While advertised as a major piece of Battlefield V, I’ve actually yet to see more players tow stationary weapons to new positions to defend capture points. Here, I use the Pak 40 to hammer distant foes. When the assignment to destroy a tank came up, I considered using this as a means of scoring kills against tanks, since for my part, I use tanks in an anti-infantry role, but stationary weapons leave players very exposed to sniper fire. One of the assignments involved using stationary guns to score two kills, and I found that this was best done on Narvik, where one can build Vickers guns flanked by sandbags.
- Specialising the Panzer IV with additional armour and the Kwk 40 turns it into the Ausf. H version that Miho commands in Girls und Panzer. Despite the upgrades in firepower and defense, I still would not use the Panzer IV in a direct contest against other tanks, instead, using the Panzer IV’s superior mobility to flank around and hit enemy armour from the sides or rear, as well as to suppress and control infantry.
- The Lewis Gun saw a major upgrade in Battlefield V: it is now remarkably effective as a run-and-gun weapon, but also has enough firepower to be moderately useful as a defensive weapon. When properly specialised, its recoil is reduced greatly, extending its range, and with a higher rate of fire, the gun is very competitive. I never did get into using the Lewis Gun of Battlefield 1, as its low rate of fire greatly restricted its use.
- After upgrading the Panzer IV fully, I turned my attention to the Tiger I. This tank is Maho’s choice from Girls und Panzer, and is the choicest tank for anti-armour combat. Inherently more durable and capable than the Panzer IV, the Tiger I is much slower to operate, making it ill-suited for anti-infantry combat at closer ranges. Fully specialised, the Tiger I becomes even more effective in an anti-vehicle role at long ranges: Battlefield V is more punishing than World of Tanks, and anyone who attempts to pull the Nishizumi-ryu here by blindly charging onto a capture point will have their faces melted by Panzerfausts before one could say panzer vor.
- One significant downgrade from earlier Battlefield titles is that custom emblems have not been implemented as of yet, and so, I cannot authentically run with Girls und Panzer themed emblems on my tanks. I’m not sure what the rationale for cutting them from Battlefield V is: granted, I’ve seen some questionable emblems before, but for the most part, people run with harmless emblems, so it makes no sense to restrict people from using them.
- I got another Killtrocity on Arras using the V-1 rocket during the week where squad assignments were active. This proved to be sufficient for both unlocking the “called in a reinforcement” and “as a squad, kill 2 enemies with rocket strikes” assignments. I’ve heard of people who were unlucky in that they called in the rocket and hit one person with it, but did not get credit for it; whether it was a stroke of luck or from the Killtrocity, I ended up clearing the assignment. This allowed me to unlock an epic mask, although I prefer running stock soldiers and weapons with standard skins. For my part, I’m saving all of my company coin for specialising weapons and vehicles.
- The Gewehr M95/30 is the next bolt-action rifle for the scout class. With a smaller capacity and more damage than the Lee-Enfield No. 4 Mk I, it is the hardest hitting of the bolt-action rifles. However, to balance it out, it lacks the straight-pull bolt of its Battlefield 1 incarnation. Sniping in Battlefield V has been much more challenging (and rewarding for it) than Battlefield 1, but curiously enough, my scout class is the same rank as my medic class at the time of writing.
- Here, I run the Churchill Mk VII, a British heavy tank that Darjeeling fields. Compared to the Tiger I, it is slower and hits harder, but has lower muzzle velocity. I’ve had some successes with the Churchill Mk VII and the Valentine Mk VIII, but found the Churchill Gun Carrier to be completely ineffectual: without a turret, the tank is easily flanked by infantry. So far, Battlefield V has been very limited with its selection of vehicles, and I’m hoping that Tides of War will rectify this: there’s so much stuff in World War Two that could be introduced into the game.
- The Turner SMLE is conversion of the SMLE Mk. III that I was so fond of from Battlefield 1 that gives it semi-automatic fire. Not quite as hard-hitting as the Gewehr 43, the Turner SMLE fires slightly faster and therefore, is more useful at closer ranges. Having spent many frustrating matches on Panzerstorm, and then several okay matches, and some good ones, I can say that the map does require more vehicles to allow for players to really make use of its size. From an aesthetic perspective, Panzerstorm looks amazing and brings to mind the landscapes of Interior BC.
- The StG 44 has been degraded from its beta and alpha performance: lacking the stability for long distance shooting compared to the Turner SMLE and M1A1 Carbine, but also sporting a lower full-automatic fire rate that result in its being outclassed by the Gewehr 1-5 and M1907, the StG 44 occupies an unusual middle ground where it excels at neither. The key to using this gun well is at those short-to-medium ranges and tap-fire the weapon, aiming for the head where possible, but on the whole, the StG 44 is simply eclipsed by other weapons.
- By comparison, the Ribeyrolles is now the ultimate assault weapon bar none: its low rate of fire and high accuracy allows it to fulfil the role between that of the assault rifles and semi-automatic rifles. Being able to put more damage downrange than the semi-automatic rifles, while having a longer reach than the assault rifles, the Ribeyrolles is reliable, versatile and leaves me confident knowing that I am equipped to deal with enemies at most ranges the assault class is designed for.
- The return of skill-based sniping in Battlefield V means that long-range headshots are much harder to score than in Battlefield 1; with the Gewehr 98 in Battlefield 1 and its high muzzle velocity, I scored a 383 metre headshot on Sinai desert towards the end of my time in the game. In Battlefield V, muzzle velocities are closer to their Battlefield 4 values, and so, bullet drop is more pronounced than before. Coupled with reduced cenre mass damage, all of the scratches and smudging on the long-range optics, and harder to see enemies, sniping is a challenge, so landing those shots becomes even more rewarding. Here, I scored a headshot of 257 meters on Hamada – it’s my personal best in Battlefield V so far.
- The Ribeyrolles is so accurate that if two opponents are lined up, one can get consecutive headshots, back-to-back. Battlefield V‘s incarnations of weapons seen in Battlefield 1 have been varied: of the ones I’ve unlocked, the Lewis gun, M1907 and Ribeyrolles absolutely outclass their Battlefield 1 iterations, while the shotguns have felt more ineffective in general.
- I had all but given up on trying to destroy a tank, but during a match of conquest on Twisted Steel, I hopped into a Tiger I with the intent of ranking it up, and managed to blast an enemy Churchill to finish the Mechanised Brawl assignment done. Because of their vulnerability, tanks of Battlefield V take an additional level of skill and patience to use: one cannot simply brawl with the Tiger I, as the tank is best suited for ranged engagements against enemy vehicles. I have reached rank for with the tank now, and intend to spec it out fully for anti-tank engagements.
- The Selbstlader 1906 was a weapon I never touched in Battlefield 1 – as a medic self-loading rifle with only five rounds available, the weapon was very difficult to use and was quite unsuited for closer ranges that medics played at. By comparison, Battlefield V places it with the scout class, and while unremarkable from a statistics perspective, its performance in practise is reasonable.
- The M30 Drilling is a double-barrelled shotgun, similar to the Model 1900 of Battlefield 1 (which I loved), but has one additional twist: there’s a third barrel that fires a rifle cartridge, allowing the weapon to be used in situations where buckshot is insufficient to deal with. This rifle round allows the M30 to handle like the Martini-Henry, and because it only has one shot, it is the ultimate skill weapon. I’ve used the cartridge to surprise enemies, and the buckshot is remarkably effective in the ruins of Devastation as well.
- My experience with the Tides of War was smooth for the most part – leaving a server and then finding a new one was often enough to force an assignment to track. The exception was the Grand Operations assignments, which refused to track regardless of how many times I restarted Battlefield V. After three days, it finally began tracking, and it was a short journey towards finishing enough of the branches to unlock the prize; the A/g m42 is a semi-automatic rifle for the assault class that handles most similarly to the M1A1 Carbine, albeit with slightly more damage but a limited magazine.
- Here, I score a triple kill while flying over the village of Arras: having spent a nontrivial amount of time in Battlefield V and having reached rank 40, I’m burning through the progression system, and it feels that Battlefield V was deliberate in having a shorter progression system, allowing players to unlock everything quickly so that they could focus on Tides of War activities once those became available. While I feel that Battlefield V‘s progression system is shorter, it is still more advanced than that of Battlefield 1‘s, and looks extensible enough so that adding more levels and rewards should be a straightforward endeavour.
- Cheating in Battlefield has always been a point of contention: contrary to perjurers who would have players believe cheaters are non-existent, the reality is that they exist, and in a game like Battlefield V, where there is reduced spotting and game mechanics control scoring, it becomes very apparent to spot cheaters. Here, I blasted a fellow by the name of “ironmaiden0911”, who was topping the scoreboard with over 100 kills and 2 deaths within the first three minutes of Airborne. Frustration was very much a reality: at the time, I was trying to finish a grand operation and could not simply leave. In the end, my team lost, but I did managed to kill them at least once. A glance at their stats show they’ve been banned now, having not opened the game since I played them last.
- At the opposite end of the spectrum are the simply spectacular, emergent moments that arise in Battlefield: here on a match of Grand Operations, another bomber got into my tail and began damaging me, but I somehow managed to bank, flew over them, and in a moment of inspiration, I unloaded my bombs on them. They connected and destroyed his vehicle; I thus bombed a bomber.
- Besides more vehicles and content, one thing I would love to see in Battlefield V would be swappable reinforcements that one could pick and choose from. At different levels, reinforcements become unlocked, and then one could choose which ones to equip. For instance, I never call in the supply drop or vehicle-killers, so having different reinforcements would be amazing. While Call of Duty: WW2 is inferior to Battlefield V in just about every department, the number of options for killstreaks was well done. Battlefield V could take things one step further, doing things that can’t be done in Call of Duty by adding new reinforcements that one could pick from. Some of my ideas include picking up a proper flamethrower, calling in an aircraft that spots all enemies in an area for 10 seconds, artillery strikes on two locations of one’s choosing (weaker than the rocket attacks, but allows one to hit one more location), and a player-controlled strategic bomber like the B-17 or B-29 that acts as an aerial equivalent of the Sturmtiger or Churchill Crocodile.
- Another thing I would like to see is more class archetypes: the default ones are satisfactory and render the unlockable ones quite unnecessary, but I would like to see archetypes for increased movement speed, more stealth, ability to carry more ammo or more efficient spotting. Again, there’s so much that can be done that I would not be surprised if Tides of War added new archetypes later. Here, I get a double kill with the MG 34; the bug with bipod deployment aside, the medium machine guns are actually fun to use. In particular, when one is using the MG 34 with the bipod, it becomes a death machine that performs exceedingly well in a defensive role. I’ve come to enjoy the MG 34, and have specialised it to have increased accuracy and firing rate, as well as the double-drum magazine, which also allows for a faster reload. When the situation demands a run-and-gun style, I will return to the KE-7 and Lewis gun.
- The next Tides of War chapter opens in a few days, being pushed back: I hope that this means DICE is pushing out patches to address issues previously encountered. Beyond this, I am looking forwards to seeing what is available in the next Tides of War, and ideally, we’d also gain an idea as to whether or not iconic content is being added in the future. Battlefield V remains shaped by what it could potentially become, and if the base game is mechanically solid, then the sky is the limit as to what DICE could potentially do with Battlefield V; I would be okay with DICE deciding to support Battlefield V for an extended period beyond two years, improving the game and building a long-term community to make a smooth, polished and content-rich game akin to how Rainbow Six Siege and Counter Strike: Global Offensive have done things.
While Battlefield V still has its share of bugs, being much more rocky and unpredictable than Battlefield 1, there are new patches coming out this month that will hopefully address some of the frustrations players have seen. Developers have been working on a fix for vaulting and bipod deployment, for instance, and I’m hoping that TTD is addressed so that I am sustaining damage at the same rate that I can deal damage. If anything, the TTK experiment showed that simply changing weapon damage won’t be a solution; the short TTK increases the value of tactical, smart play, and improving TTD would similarly allow players to anticipate how much time they have to get out of a bad situation. Beyond this, I’ve become somewhat acclimatised to the minimal spotting system, and while I still prefer the approaches Battlefield 3 and 4 took, I feel that should DICE properly address the sound of gunfire and footsteps, Battlefield V could keep its current spotting system and remain enjoyable. I admit that it took a bit of time to actually complete the Overture chapter of Tides of War, but the journey was a largely entertaining one. Battlefield V has shown plenty of promise, and given DICE’s track record, I am optimistic that the game will become more polished and correspondingly, more fun to play as time wears on. As far as content goes, the game is still very much missing American and Russian soldiers, maps and weapons; the iconic M4 Sherman and M1 Garand, or the Russian PPSh-41 and T-34 tanks, absolutely must be rendered in the Frostbite Engine, along with Stalingrad and Normandy. Contrary to any perception that these are stale, I would very much like to see World War Two’s most iconic battles in what is one of the most sophisticated game engines available. I think that the next chapter in Tides of War take us to the coasts of Greece, but if we are to get monthly content, I would hope that the more recognisable aspects of World War Two are added to Battlefield V: from a technical perspective, Battlefield V far outclasses Call of Duty: WWII, and I would love to see the DICE take on things that Call of Duty: WWII did not adequately capture.