“The basic objectives and principles of war do not change.” –Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz
Coming out of the shadows of a botched launch marketing campaign, and then cursed by the most unfortunate combination of bad gameplay, poor mechanical decisions and a lack of launch content, the Battlefield V of a year ago handled dramatically differently. I picked Battlefield V up a short ways after its original launch, undeterred by the marketing campaign; having been thoroughly impressed with the gunplay seen during the alpha and beta testing, I entered the game with an open mind. After putting in twelve hours over the space of two weeks, I gained a satisfactory measure of the game: the gunplay had indeed felt excellent, consistent and satisfying. However, good shooting alone does not make a game, and right from the start, I was plagued with visibility issues where cowardly players would exploit the visual aspects of the game to blend in to rubble and foliage to score easy kills. The apparent time-to-death was far too short. There were only eight maps, and not all of these were always enjoyable to play on. The progression system was limiting and limited, offering very little for players to unlock and forcing players to go out of their way to complete, which came at the expense of team play. DICE did not instil confidence in the months that followed: the TTK was modified to the detriment of gameplay, making a responsive and rewarding shooting system feel weak, and only a single map was released. DICE would subsequently release content at a snail’s pace, and bugs negatively impacting performance soon cropped up, making the game quite unplayable for some. Battlefield V was in dire straits, and desperately needed a miracle to rectify. A year later, and with the introduction of the Pacific Theatre, DICE appears to have pulled off the impossible, having put out consistently good patches to improve the game. However, it’s not been all smooth sailing: DICE has also clearly not listened to community feedback, and their latest patch renders weapons ineffectual to the point of changing the fundamental core of gameplay.
During the course of this past year, the Tides of War challenges were ultimately what compelled me to return weekly and complete each assignment despite the difficulties Battlefield V have presented. That I’ve returned in spite of bad TTK, poor visibility and a relatively weak set of maps attests to what compels me to play Battlefield; with Battlefield 1, the Road to Battlefield community missions encouraged me to experience the game more often, and having constant, weekly assignments was something that I returned to DICE as feedback. This is something that I greatly enjoy about Battlefield V; I’ve put in around 185 hours into Battlefield V over the past year, which is an incredible amount of time that reflects my enjoyment of the game despite its issues. In this time span, I’ve done far better than I have in any previous Battlefield title after a year. Hours spent on the maps means that in spite of visibility issues, I know where my opponents will be coming from or hiding, and weapon changes are things I can adjust to readily. This knowledge of the game mechanics, while perhaps not as profound and deep as that of those who have more time to direct towards Battlefield V, is nonetheless sufficient for me to not only hold my own against those who are dishonourably capitalising on the lack of a good anti-cheat, but even gain enough of an upper hand on them for me to overcome them. I’ve had matches where understanding of the game and its features have allowed me to continue finding ways to have fun even when cheaters are present, and some of my favourite moments come from smiting my foes from pure skill alone. Regarding the latest TTK updates, I have found them very unwieldy: weaker weapons decrease my confidence in a firefight, and while I might adapt over time, this change does go against the principles of Battlefield V. I expect that DICE will likely revert these changes, but until then, this puts a major dampener on what was otherwise a steady stream of improvements to a game that needed them.
Screenshots and Commentary
- A year since my journey into Battlefield V started, the game’s undergone many changes, some of which improved the game, while others came as the consequence of inadequate testing and negatively impacted performance. For the most part, the Battlefield V of the present is a stable and functional game. The title has definitely seen its share of shakier moments that challenged the core player-base to stick around over the past year, though, and the game is by no means perfect in spite of the improvements made, even taking a few steps back after the latest update. I realise its been eight days since my last post, and I figured I’d kick off December with another Battlefield V post; after finishing a full morning of volunteering for my karate club’s kata tournament to clear my head and gather my thoughts on where Battlefield V is after a year, it’s time to get this party started.
- The biggest gripe I have about Battlefield V is the poorly implemented assignment system, which is both unintuitive and cumbersome. Assignments must be manually selected in a dedicated menu, only track if they are selected, and more often than not, have requirements that may force players to adopt play-styles that are counterproductive towards good team play. DICE had the perfect implementation in Battlefield 3 and 4, where assignments would always be tracking once unlocked, and involved tasks that could be completed over the course of normal play.
- The other aspect I miss from earlier Battlefield titles is the ribbon system, which were awarded for completing milestones in matches (such as scoring a certain number of kills with rifles, reviving a number of teammates, etc). In Battlefield 1, they were noticeably absent from earlier builds but were added back in later on. In Battlefield V, ribbons were ostensibly present in the game, but were bugged and never displayed properly. They’ve since become absent entirely, and my guess is that DICE removed the feature entirely. Conversely, the medal system is quite robust and handles as the medals used to, but the number of medals one can collect is limited.
- Another problem in Battlefield V is that visibility remains a problem even after DICE made an effort to improve it in patches: while somewhat effective, a prone player with the right uniform colours can still blend in seamlessly in rubble or foliage and wait for unsuspecting players to pass by. I’m probably one of the few players longing for a return to the old 3D spotting of earlier titles, where the knowledge that one could be spotted would force one to adopt a much more mobile strategy to stay alive.
- Finally, the cheater problem in Battlefield V is out of control: with seemingly no cheat detection measures and the options to kick suspected cheaters, players employing cheats ranging from subtle one like automatic 3D spotting and recoil elimination to outright aimbots and wallhacks have run rampant in matches, diminishing the experience in some cases. While I’m not a stellar player by any stretch, I’ve seen enough to know when a player bested me by skill alone, and when they used cheats: in matches where cheaters are absent, I tend to do modestly well.
- Assignments, ribbons, visibility and cheats aside, Battlefield V has definitely come a long way in capturing the Only in Battlefield™ moments of older titles with its latest updates, and by this point in time, the Pacific has contributed to this sense of return, alongside the Operation Underground map. Here, I’ve unlocked all the specialisations for my Type 97 tank: by replacing the primary 57 mm gun with the Type 3 75 mm gun, I’ve been able to run Anteater Team’s Type 3 Chi-nu from Girls und Panzer. Together with AP rounds and extended capacity, the Type 97 becomes a highly effective and capable tank.
- The LVT was originally designed as an amphibious vehicle for cargo deliveries, but found usage during the Pacific campaign as a troop transport. The Battlefield V variant starts its journey with a 37 mm main cannon and a coaxial M1919 .30-Calibre machine gun, but can be upgraded to use a heavier M6 75mm gun for improved performance against vehicles. Conversely, the LVT can also be outfitted with a pair of M2 Brownings for anti-air combat.
- Having now gotten the M1919 A6 to maximum rank and reset the weapon to optimise its performance at long ranges, this medium machine gun became a beast to use, firing bullets with a faster muzzle velocity than any other gun in the game with pinpoint accuracy. While unable to mount a set of high-magnification optics for balance reasons, the M1919 A6 can still be used to great effect at range, handily suppressing and tearing through opponents downrange prior to the new patch.
- MMG bipod campers are a breed of player that is most reviled in Battlefield V, and for good reason: staying in one spot with a high-accuracy, high-volume-of-fire weapon takes no skill, and while such players can be picked off by snipers, they still deal a massive amount of damage (and attendant frustration) to the enemy team. The proper, team-oriented use of an MMG is to lock down a choke point, then accompany teammates to the next target and help with defense.
- A fully-upgraded M4 Sherman in Battlefield V becomes the A3E8 variant, sporting the M1A1 76 mm tank gun that makes it more lethal against vehicles. The choice of gun means that the M4 cannot be configured as a Sherman Firefly, which was Naomi’s tank of choice in Girls und Panzer; while the choice to fit a British 17-pounder to the tank was intended to give it more firepower against German armour, in practise, the cartridge of the Firefly filled the crew compartment with smoke when it fired and while effective, did not offer any substantial performance over the M1A1 76 mm gun.
- For one of the Tides of War weekly assignments, one of the tasks was to earn score using aircraft. As previously noted, I’m not terribly effective with planes, and it was therefore a bit fo a surprise when I managed to shoot down another plane during a dogfight, which earned me enough points to finish the assignment. The upgraded planes have some interesting specialisations to equip, but for me, the difficult flight controls mean that I’m never too effective with planes.
- Instead, I’d much rather be on the ground dealing with planes: the addition of the Fliegerfaust to Battlefield V during October completely changed the dynamic between ground and air, finally giving infantry an effective anti-air weapon. Firing three salvos of three rockets for a total of nine unguided rounds, the Fliegerfaust can destroy any plane in a single hit if aimed correctly, and while infantry players are generally happy with the addition, pilots are quite displeased that they can now be removed from the air by a single infantry. The latest patch fixes the Fliegerfaust by having it fire two salvos of three rockets, and damage properties are modified so one needs to be a lot more accurate with their shots to be effective.
- Now that I’ve gotten my hands on it a bit more often, I can say that the M2 flamethrower is a proper battle pickup: while immensely powerful at close range, the weapon leaves players vulnerable at range. Battlefield 1‘s flametrooper class was far more effective, and even sported a Wex carrying unlimited ammunition. By comparison, the M2 carries 450 units of fuel, and fires 150 before the ignition cylinder needs to be replaced. The weapon will also overheat if fired continuously for 75 units. Becoming a situational weapon, the M2 has been balanced well, and while fun to use, is generally not too practical.
- Besides levelling up the LVT to unlock the Twin M2 Brownings, I’ve been attempting to get more familiar with the Ka-Mi, the Japanese equivalent of the LVT. Here, I managed to destroy a vehicle and earn another medal during a match of squad conquest. This smaller conquest mode replaces domination and is fun in its own right, offering a close quarters experience that can be quite hectic. On squad conquest, I find that I’m usually near-invincible if given a vehicle unless the enemy team coordinates to take me out.
- During one match of squad conquest, I did end up losing my tank, having chosen the Ka-Mi to try and level it up so I could unlock the twin 13mm Type 93 machine guns, which function similarly to the 50-cal guns on the LVT. I ended up returning to the capture point with the aim of getting back the guy who ruined my tank run, ended up picking up a katana and then went on a 5-streak with it. I’ve heard that the katana is capable of performing a lunge; while not as pronounced as the sword lunges of Halo, it does allow one to close the distance more quickly.
- Thanks in part to my general pwnage on squad conquest, my team did very well this match, and here, I scored a kill with the iron sights M1 Garand: in my previous post, I had the 3x optics equipped, but the truth is that the iron sights are very usable. I typically run with the heavy load specialisation on the M1 Garand, but in iron sight range, it suddenly feels that there could be merit in running the rifle grenades, as well. I’ve heard rumours that the M1 Garand could be getting a bayonet, as well.
- If and when I’m asked as to just how good I am at Battlefield V, my reply is that I’m good enough to have fun with the game. I’m certainly not the Halo 2 legend that I was back in the day, where I could go for entire matches without dying once and accomplished the Killimanjaro medal twice, which is the highest multi-kill Halo 2 had. Halo has now returned to PC in a big way with Halo: The Master Chief Collection, and with Halo Reach out now, I am going to be returning to the world of Halo very soon.
- In Strike Witches, Sanya Litvyak wields a modified Fliegerfaust known as the Fliegerhammer, which has been given extensive upgrades to make it more effective against the Neuroi. For obvious balance reasons, running her loadout in Battlefield V means to dedicate one to an anti-air role: the rockets deal no damage to armour and pitiful damage to infantry. Thanks to pilots’ reception to the Fliegerfaust, DICE had reduced the performance of the Fliegerfaust slightly, so prior to the changes made to the gadget, I made extensive use of the Fliegerfaust to express my distaste for pilots.
- The guy I blasted here definitely lived up to his name, spending all match running around with a shotgun. Shotguns are a bit of a mixed bag for me: while they’re fun to use in close quarters situations, they’re ineffectual at the ranges that most Battlefield V firefights occur at. Telemetry indicates that most firefights happen at around 22 metres, up from the 15 or so of earlier titles, and so, from a statistics perspective, it means that fewer engagements happen at ranges where shotguns are at their best. This is probably why I’ve not found the same fun from using shotguns as I did in earlier titles.
- I’ve heard that the incendiary bombs for the Corsair F4U-1A and Zero A6M2 are devastatingly effective against infantry: this is what I primarily use aircraft for in the minutes that I spend piloting them, as I’ve never been too skillful with dogfights in Battlefield. Of course, being a poor pilot overall means that reaching rank four with aircraft is a bit beyond my ability and patience for the present: I’ve not figured out how to improve my banking angles and tighten my turn radius to be effective as a pilot.
- There have been precious few opportunities to get behind the wheel of a T34 Calliope, so I’ve not had too much opportunity to see what the tank is capable of. The vehicle’s high profile makes it a visible target that enemy players immediately go after, and I’ve never particularly lasted too long while operating a Calliope, which has similar durability to an M4 Sherman specialised with upgraded armour parts. With this being said, when things do connect, the Calliope is a powerful force on the battlefield; its rockets can shred enemy vehicles quickly, and here, I land a triple kill while attempting to take back an island capture point towards the end of a match.
- Conversely, the HaChi is a tank I’ve managed to get behind the wheel of and stay in for long periods because of its more unobtrusive design. In one thrilling match of Breakthrough on Iwo Jima, I went on a Running Riot (15-streak) with the HaChi, melting anyone who’d stepped too close to the capture point. Unlike the Calliope, which has a pool of sixty rockets to work with, the Hachi must reload its rockets once six are fired. In spite of this limitation, the rockets remain effective, with three salvos being sufficient to destroy any tank. For anti-infantry roles, the machine gun works wonders, and the HaChi is more than capable of being a regular tank, with a 75mm main cannon that can hold its own at range.
- At the top of Mount Suribachi, where the enemy had no vehicles, the rockets and machine gun were more than enough for me to hold the attackers off while my team regrouped. I had been doing very poorly this match, but getting into the Hachi completely changed all this: I exited the match KD positive, and here, got a triple-kill on one of the players who had been maligning throughout the match. Of course, my Running Riot inevitably came to an end when half their team trained their Panzerfausts on me, but I managed to exit my doomed Hachi and stayed alive long enough to get a double kill with the Sten, extending my streak to seventeen.
- The latest TTK update renders many weapons left feeling like a peashooter, which is contrary to the solid, consistent damage that all weapons had the potential to deal in earlier iterations of Battlefield V. DICE has argued that this was to enforce the idea that certain weapons would be effective only in certain ranges, and claimed that damage drop-off models would be the only thing that changed, but in practise, this completely changes the way most weapons handle, requiring one to reacquaint themselves with how things work.
- I admit that I don’t wield the PIAT often: the PIAT deals less impact damage and has a greater drop than the Panzerfaust, and while it deals greater explosive damage, it’s not a weapon of choice for me. I’ve heard it can act as a pocket mortar of sorts, which is pretty cool, and in a pinch, the weapon can be effective. Here, I scored a completely lucky double kill with one on a tank that should not have died in two shots with a PIAT: the folks at the receiving end wondered about this in the chat and I replied that I was not expecting such an outcome, either.
- Overall, the new TTK patch seems to hit medics and their submachine guns the hardest, with my go-to guns like the MP-40 and Sten being quite undesirable now. The Jungle Carbine seems quite unaffected, and I nailed consecutive headshots with it after getting on a particularly good flank. The Thompson feels about as effective as it did in close quarters, and the M1 Garand is thankfully still usable for the most part. In short, most of the weapons I stick to don’t feel as reliable as they once did, rendering most weapons quite strange in performance.
- My favourite part about the new update is that it brings improved spotting into Battlefield V – I’m probably in the minority who feels spotting is the way to counter bad visibility, but the reality is that Battlefield V is a highly mobile experience. Camping in one spot does one’s team no favours, and so, alerting players to when they are spotted, as well as improved minimap mechanics and automatic 3D spotting now deters one from camping: while players are rewarded for a good flanking route, they will not be punished to the same extent as someone who has set up shop in a dark corner of a room, and knowing when one is spotted encourages one to play smarter.
- There’s also been a subtle, but noticeable addition to Battlefield V: kills now register the same sound as they did in Battlefield 1, making each kill feel satisfying. Overall, this patch has made nontrivial changes to Battlefield V: with the TTK changes dramatically decreasing my confidence in a weapon, I can’t say I’m terribly pleased with the changes. I’ll probably adjust over time, and in the past few matches I’ve played, I have been KD positive, but if community reception causes it to be reverted or improved, this will be the preferred outcome, since it would restore my confidence in having a good time in firefights.
- Overall, the latest patch does introduce some interesting and valuable additions to Battlefield V, although it is clear that the new patch needs much more work: conceptually, a slightly higher TTK means rewarding skilled players for maintaining accurate fire over longer durations and giving skilled players a chance to extricate themselves from a bad situation: if the weapons can remain balanced and more versatile than they are post-patch, then this is about all one could ask for. I also realise that Wake Island is coming out in a mere four days, but I wanted to time this post to match my initial impressions post a year ago.
- Battlefield V is going to have some serious competition in the near future: between a bad TTK update and the fact that Halo: The Master Chief Collection released for PC a few days ago, I’m waiting for the Steam Winter Sale to buy it and capitalise on whatever the perks for buying stuff during a Winter Sale are, which will almost certainly take time away from Battlefield V. Halo Reach is finally on PC after nearly a decade, and I am looking forwards to finally experiencing the entire classic Halo experience from Reach onwards. I know I’ve been a bit quiet on the blogging front since last month’s Jon’s Creator Showcase cost: I’ve wanted a bit of a break from things, but as we move further into December, I am going to be writing about Kandagawa Jet Girls as we move into the show’s third and final quarter, as well as Seishun Buta Yarou‘s movie.
While Battlefield V of a year ago had yet to undergo the changes that would challenge the community’s faith in DICE and their enjoyment of the game, the biggest limitation it faced had been a lack of content. Fast forward a year, and the game’s in a completely different state: Battlefield V may still lack the sheer number of maps that its predecessors had a year into their lifecycles, but the implementation and delivery of both Operation Underground and the Pacific have revived the game. The introduction of the latest content into Battlefield V makes one point abundantly clear, that Battlefield is at its best when it creates iconic experiences for players to enjoy. Operation Underground was a return to classic Battlefield 3 gameplay with improvements, and Iwo Jima shows what Battlefield can look like at its finest, with large-scale battles between infantry and vehicles. It is no joke when I say that I’ve gotten more out of Battlefield V since Operation Underground released than I had between December of last year to when Operation Underground released. Battlefield V has passed through a long and difficult year, and although the title’s had its share of troubles, the game is in a passable state overall as we enter the winter season. There are two more maps for the Pacific theatre (Wake Island and Solomon Islands), and once the Pacific wraps up, having seen what DICE can do in large updates that introduce new factions, I remain very optimistic that the Eastern Front, Normandy Invasion and Fall of Berlin could become a part of Battlefield V, which would make the title the best World War Two shooter in recent memory and also allow me to run with the loadouts of both Girls und Panzer and Strike Witches. Of course, if DICE were to revert the TTK changes, then we’d have a very solid game, but present evidence suggests this would be being optimistic to the point of foolishness.