The Infinite Zenith

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Category Archives: Gaming

Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown- Hunt For the Winged Unicorn, Reflections On The Past Ten Years, and Looking Toward The New Decade

“If you are working on something that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.” –Steve Jobs

Shortly after Operation Magic Spear saw Strider Squadron neutralise Erusean missile silos, they are assigned to investigate the reappearance of the Alicorn, a nuclear submarine that was born from Yuktobania’s project to extend the Scinfaxi and Hrimfaxi submarines, which would combine the abilities of a submarine with that of an aircraft carrier. The hull was completed some time later, and Erusea purchased the submarine, placing Captain Matias Torres in command. However, the submarine went missing for two years, and so, when it reappeared at Artiglio Port to reinforce the Erusean military, which had already lost an Arsenal Bird, Strider Squadron was sent to investigate, with the intent of capturing the submarine for political reasons, per Howard Clemens’s orders. After arriving in the airspace over Artiglio Port, Strider Squadron engage numerous aircraft, including two unknown aircraft, and eventually, Trigger is tasked with shooting down a Rafale M carrying a nuclear-tipped cruise missile that took off from the Alicorn under Torres’ orders. The ground forces are unsuccessful in securing the Alicorn, which leaves port and sets off for Anchorhead Bay. Clemens sends Strider here to damage the fleet stationed here ahead of the Alicorn’s arrival. During the course of the fighting, Erusean naval officers are killed in the combat, and Torres begins shelling the port to test the Alicorn’s main cannon, and Trigger manages to defeat the unknown pilots from Mimic Squadron. It turns out they had been hired by Clemens to eliminate Trigger; Clemens is arrested for treason, and Trigger is deemed as being worthy of contributing to the war effort. In the chaos, the Alicorn leaves Anchorhead Bay with two nuclear shells for its main railgun – Torres reveals his plan is to strike Oured and inflict a million casualties to end the Lighthouse War, which he predicted to cost upwards of ten million lives. After locating the Alicorn in shallow ocean waters, Strider Squadron forces the submarine to surface and begin attacking it. The Alicorn counterattacks with its sophisticated arsenal, but is severely damaged. Torres feigns surrender, but uses the time to prepare the railgun. Trigger manages to strike the railgun and knocks the first projectile off course, then lines up for an attack run that destroys the weapon. The Alicorn is split in two and sinks to the seafloor, while Strider Squadron returns to rest up for their assault on Cape Rainy. It is determined that Trigger’s presence allows missions to be swiftly completed with reduced allied casualties, and he is recommended to continue flying, becoming an integral pilot in bringing an end to the Lighthouse War and providing additional missions that show how Trigger came to be so widely respected by squadron mates and the Osean military alike.

The Ace Combat 7 extra missions were released between September and November of 2019, and I had been quite mindful of what picking up the additional content to Ace Combat 7 would entail – on one hand, three new missions and three new aircraft did not exactly justify the price of the season pass, but on the flipside, Ace Combat 7 was the first title on PC to provide a true experience that had, until now, only been available on the PlayStation consoles. With the Steam Winter sale providing a modest discount, and the fact that I can use the additional missions to earn in-game currency to unlock the remainder of the aircraft and parts, the decision to pick up Ace Combat 7‘s season pass became easy enough. I immediately jumped into the first mission with the ADF-01 Falken, an experimental fighter that made its first playable appearance in Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War, and made my way into a set of additional missions that provided an immensely satisfying supplementary experience for Ace Combat 7. While the mission structures are similar enough to the missions of Ace Combat 7‘s main game, there are enough nuances in these extra missions to keep gameplay refreshing. The first mission, Unexpected Visitor, gives players a chance to experience the ESM, which dramatically increases one’s performance and effectiveness, as well as subjecting players to ECM and forcing them to fly more strategically. Mimic Squadron provides an additional layer of excitement to both Unexpected Visitor and Anchorhead Raid: the latter is a bog-standard annihilation mission, but once they arrive, players have a chance to dogfight two psychotic and unusal pilots whose aircraft can create fake targeting boxes that dramatically changes the way players must fight them. The final of the missions, Ten Million Relief Plan (referring to Torres’ scheme of using nuclear-tipped shells to shock the world into ending the Lighthouse War and save ten million lives) features a thrilling hunt for the Alicorn that switches over to an action-packed showdown with Torres that ultimately felt like the mission to destroy the SOLG in Ace Combat 5; both the SOLG mission and Ten Million Relief Plan involve disabling a super-weapon before it can inflict damage on Oured, Osea’s capital. In my case, I was armed with the Morgan and its Multi-Purpose Burst Missile, which allowed me to make short work of the Alicorn’s systems and railgun. This brought my journey with the additional missions to a close, and the value in picking up the season pass became clear: besides offering additional insight into Strangereal that enhances the lore of this detailed world, it also means that I was able to fly the Falken on PC for the first time, before the decade was out.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • It only felt appropriate to start the party by flying a Falken armed with its signature tactical laser system into combat, and then further kick the post off with me using the Falken’s tactical laser. The first stage of Unexpected Visitor is an annihilation mission, with the object being to score a certain number of points in the time limit. Engaging a variety of air and ground targets will secure the required score, but care must be taken not to hit the Alicron, which is docked below.

  • The Falken is a shade above the F-22 and Su-57 in performance, so dog-fighting with it was not a problem. The ADF series of aircraft come with 150 missiles by default, which is plenty for most operations, and so, with this legendary plane in my arsenal, wiping floor with the squadrons positioned over Artiglio Port became a trivial exercise. The Falken also has one additional feature worthy of note: its cockpit is highly advanced and completely enclosed, and switching over to first-person mode will allow one to see the COFFIN (Connection For Flight Interface) system in a modern game engine.

  • For me, the Falken was most noteworthy as being many pilots’ aircraft of choice for squaring off against the SOLG in Ace Combat 5. Seeing footage of players piloting this aircraft through the foggy skies of Sudentor and then take off from Oured itself to confront the SOLG was something I’d always wished to do on a modern system, and with the Falken in Ace Combat 7, while it may not be possible to fly over Sudentor or November City again, it is now possible to see how an Ace Combat icon handles.

  • Mimic Squadron appears partway through the mission; they pilot the unique Su-47 Berkut, a Russian fighter with a distinct forward swept-wing design that gave it incredible mobility at the expense of stability. Mimic’s “Rage” and “Scream” have custom Su-47s equipped with a ECM system that allow them to project false HUD images and conceal missile lock-ons, making them deadly enemies. In my case, I had the presence of mind turn the Falken’s tactical laser against them as soon as they appeared, sending them packing on short order.

  • Even though the first mission is set on September 4 in-game, the vast blue skies and general atmospherics of the mission give it a New Year’s Eve feel: by winter in my area, the low winter sun creates a warm golden glow for the hours that the sun is up, and the skies become a periwinkle blue. When Ace Combat 7 was first announced, I wondered if there would be a December 31 mission: Ace Combat 5‘s final mission saw Razgriz Squadron take to the skies at dawn on the 31st to stop the SOLG, and one of my friends remarked that the choice of date was deliberate, to symbolise the ending of the old grudges of warfare in time for a new year to arrive.

  • Ace Combat 7 is at its best when players get to fly under brilliant blue skies: this is what made the Unexpected Visitor mission particularly fun, and in general, Ace Combat 7‘s missions featuring sunny weather with blue skies perfectly capture the feeling that Avril expresses as being what makes it worthwhile to be a pilot. While Ace Combat 7 lacks this ability in its free flight mode, it would be nice if future installments of Ace Combat allowed players to be able to fly in the campaign maps under different weather conditions.

  • I’ve heard that the tactical laser of Ace Combat 7 is far weaker than those seen in its predecessors because the game needed multiplayer balance: in the old games, merely grazing an enemy plane with the laser would destroy it instantly, but in Ace Combat 7, it takes at least a few seconds of sustained fire on a target to destroy it entirely. I typically equip my planes with the parts that boosts the laser’s firepower, range and effective radius to improve its performance: for my part, the tactical laser is more of a skill weapon, since it requires more precise flying to keep the beam focused on one’s target.

  • One of my favourite aspects about Long Caster’s role is how often he mentions food: on the topic of food, yesterday evening, I had the equivalent of one-and-a-half dinners. After a crab-topped salmon bake on a bed of zucchini, I stepped out into a blustery evening to meet up with a friend who was in town. We met at a local Denny’s and I decided to get their loaded nacho tots. Despite being marked as an appetizer, these tater tots are covered with a delicious combination of Cheddar, Pepper Jack queso, seasoned nacho meat, bacon, jalapeños and sour cream and thus, were quite substantial; I enjoyed them while we swapped conversation about movies and did some catching up: I think the last time my friend was in town, it was February. After sharing stories, we decided to call it an evening, as all of the Starbucks around were closed and therefore, we weren’t able to chat further over Exploding Kittens.

  • I got back home before the New Year’s Eve countdown and shared the remainder of the day with family. Then today, I spent most of the morning sleeping in and taking it easy. As noon arrived, I helped whip up homemade Swiss-mushroom burgers topped with caramerlised onions and lettuce, with a side of shoe-string fries, to welcome 2020. One of my goals this year will be to learn how to make a greater variety of vegetable dishes. Back in Ace Combat 7, from Longcaster’s in-game dialogue, he only eats finger foods while on an assignment, saving the fork-and-knife meals to after a mission ends, and appreciates Trigger’s combat efficiency precisely for letting him get to his food faster.

  • The final objective in Unexpected Visitor will be to take out a Rafale M carrying a nuclear warhead for Torres. While the game states that players have ten minutes to shoot it down, the reality is that there will be a lot less time on the clock to complete this assignment. The Rafale’s escorts will make this task more difficult, since they can take hits intended for the lead aircraft, but armed with my tactical laser, I melted through the fleeing aircraft on very short order to bring my first extra mission to a close.

  • For the Anchorhead Raid mission, I ended up going with the Su-57, a top-tier Russian fifth generation fighter that is one of the best real-world aircraft available in the game, alongside the F-22 and YF-23. What set the Su-57 apart from the F-22 is the fact that it can equip pulse lasers, which I’ve found to be the most versatile and effective special weapon in the whole of Ace Combat 7, and moreover, has a starting ammunition count of 650 shots over the F-15C’s 500 shots and the MiG-31B’s 450.

  • In practise, despite having a limited rate of fire, the pulse lasers deal solid damage, being able to shoot down enemy aircraft in as few as three shots out to a range of five kilometres. Pulse lasers are also highly effective against large ground targets like ships, so where anti-ship warfare is expected, I fall back on any plane with pulse lasers. Their only real disadvantage is that clouds will diffuse and stop the shots.

  • With the aim of the raid on Anchorhead being to destroy the Erusean naval forces stationed there, the arrival of Strider squadron strikes terror into the ground controllers – panic is clearly heard in one female ground controller’s voice when she states that the slaughter she’s witnessing is no hallucination, it’s a nightmare. The abject terror that Trigger strikes into the hearts of his enemies is nothing short of astounding, and as players go through the campaign, it becomes clear that even veteran pilots grow concerned when “Three Strikes” is their opponent.

  • While it may not be a snow-covered castle in Belka, the moody, overcast skies of Anchorhead nonetheless captures that classic Ace Combat feeling: for me, overcast winter days scream Ace Combat because of the design choices employed in earlier titles. Overcast, foggy weather was technically unimposing to implement and were a common feature in older games, and while sophisticated game engine technologies now allow for any weather and lighting condition to be captured, the old style will forever remain memorable to me.

  • During the course of the assault on Anchorhead, players will have access to three return lines. On lower difficulties, damage to the player’s aircraft will be repaired, all ammunition is resupplied, and players will also be given the option to switch out their preferred special weapon: there’s a return line by the amassed enemy fleet, so I was able to empty more stores on the ships below and then resupply.

  • The best part about the Ace Combat 7 Alicorn missions are that they each offer something unique to experience, and in conjunction with the cutscenes, a very vivid and rich picture of Strangereal is created, providing insights into the Lighthouse War and complex history surrounding all of the conflicts seen in the Ace Combat universe. Torres’ character was a particularly interesting one: with a long history of violence and aggression, director Kazutoki Kono describes him as probably one of the most vile villians to ever be featured in Ace Combat, being so deluded in his own visions of the world as to completely lack any empathy for others.

  • As players run up against the time limit, the Alicorn begins shelling Anchorhead’s airspace with shots from its primary weapon, a 600mm/128 caliber rail cannon with a maximum range of three thousand kilometers. Using guidance provided by SLUAVs, these projectiles can dynamically alter their trajectories mid-flight, and here, Torres tests their capabilities by firing on Strider Squadron. Like the airburst missiles the Arsenal Bird fires, their expected trajectory is projected onto the minimap so pilots have a fair shot at escaping their blast radius.

  • The explosions here aren’t from New Years’ Eve fireworks – when the Alicorn’s shells arrive, they create a very distinct blast pattern that inflicts massive damage to aircraft caught in the blast radius. Húxiān is hit by the first shell and forced to withdraw. Players may choose to shoot down the SLUAVs, which will cause the shells to self-destruct: it’s not possible to prevent the first shell from hitting Húxiān, and shooting the SLUAV’s don’t affect the mission, so blasting the drones out of the sky is purely optional.

  • In order to simplify the rematch with Mimic Squadron, shooting Rage down first is preferred: if Scream is destroyed first, Rage will ramp up his aggression and fire more missiles in quick succession, making the fight trickier. Conversely, shooting Rage down first makes the fight easier. Equipped with pulse lasers, I therefore focused my fire on Rage and burned him to the ground, leaving a much simpler fight with Scream.

  • Scream proved easy to eliminate: while her Su-47 is equipped with stealth gear, pulse lasers are unaffected and would make short work of her aircraft. She refuses to eject and dies in the ensuing crash. In the aftermath, with the revelation that Clemens had intended to dispose of Trigger, he is arrested and is no longer a factor for the final mission. I intend to return to Anchorhead and do a free-flight: unlike Ace Combat: Assault HorizonAce Combat 7 has a free flight mode. I would’ve loved to explore some of the locations in Assault Horizon, even if some levels were clearly not designed for aircraft. By comparison, every mission in Ace Combat 7 supports free flight, as each level was designed for aircraft, and it will be fun to explore the city below when normally, one’s attention is focused entirely on the skies and ground targets.

  • Looking back on the past decade, I’ve seen some notable triumphs and disappointments that have done much to shape me as a person. From nearly being kicked from my undergraduate program for poor academic standing, an unrequited love that sapped me of my resolve and a brutally trying project to save an iOS app with a backend team that clearly did not want to be there, to finishing grad school with a perfect 4.0, contributing to the Giant Walkthrough Brain project, travelling to various conferences and constantly pushing myself to be a better iOS developer, these past ten years have seen experiences on both ends of the spectrum, with unpleasant ones helping me to learn, and pleasant ones reaffirming that there is a payoff for effort and sincerity.

  • No one can forecast the future with unerring accuracy, but what I do know is that honesty, resilience and hard work is all one needs to get by. In the next ten years, I will continue doing what I’ve done, drawing on my experiences to be more effective and capable. Doing my part means there’s one fewer ruffian dragging society backwards, and even if this is about all I can do for the world, it counts for something.

  • Back in Ace Combat 7‘s final extra mission, I’ve equipped the ADFX-01 Morgan, the precursor to the Falken. The first part of Ten Million Relief Plan is to locate the Alicorn, and the initial search was tricky: I only managed to find the Alicorn using the MAD system with ten seconds remaining, and initially, the task is so tricky that Count wishes the Alicorn’s crew would sing, the same way that Jonsey would locate the Red October in The Hunt for Red October, when Ramius’ crew began singing the Russian national anthem.

  • For this mission, I equipped the Multi-Purpose Burst Missile (MPBM), a highly powerful missile that has a massive blast radius and deals a respectable amount of damage. Once the Alicorn surfaced, I fired my first shot, which connected and knocked out several of the CIWS guns on its deck immediately with an incredible explosion. I’ve heard that the weapon is far less effective in anti-air combat than it is against ground targets, but playing around with it against the Alicorn, I found it to be quite useful. In order to gain a better measure of the MPBM’s performance against other special weapons, I will have to try out the Morgen in the base game’s campaign missions.

  • Once players have done a number on the Alicorn’s weapons and super-structure, Torres will feign surrender to buy himself time to deploy the railgun. Firing on the Alicorn during this time will result in a mission failure, but moments later, a large number of barrier UAVs are sent into the skies, forming a protective shield around the Alicorn. Players must make haste to fire on the Alicorn: any damage will disrupt the railgun’s firing sequence and cause its first nuclear-tipped shell to miss its mark: I found that it was easier to fly around the drones and then fire on the Alicorn: these shields are capable of absorbing even the MPBM’s explosions.

  • While Ace Combat 7 may not have a SOLG mission, fighting the Alicorn actually does have the same atmosphere as the final mission of Ace Combat 5, minus Nagase shouting encouragement in the player’s ear every few moments. The 600mm/128 calibre railgun is the Alicorn’s most powerful weapon, but against players, the Alicorn has a pair of powerful 200mm electromagnetic launchers that can blast the player out of the sky. I’m actually flying in the path of one shot here, and after I unload my MPBM, my next priority is to turn around and get out of the shot’s trajectory immediately.

  • There are no revolving panels to shoot at on the Alicorn: a carefully placed shot to the railgun’s core will put it out of commission. Players are operating under a strict timeline here, and since the railgun will be fully charged within two minutes, it is imperative to aim well and hit the core, otherwise, Torres will still be able to get a shot off and cause a considerable amount of damage in Oured. On my run, a well-placed MPBM created a massive explosion here that marks the end of the mission. Once the Alicorn’s railgun is disabled, the mission draws to a close.

  • A strange light emanates from the Alicorn after its railgun is put out of action, and an insane Torres declares that Trigger is lacking in vision to have stopped his plans. The Alicorn explodes shortly after, sending Torres to the bottom of the ocean and putting an end to his machinations once and for all. With this mission done, Trigger is given some down time, before being deployed to Cape Rainy for the night raid on an Erusean base.

  • Before I wrap up this post, I remark that the page quote is one that’s well-chosen for the new year: I’ve always been about putting forth the best effort possible into what I do, and the late Steve Job’s remarks were that, if one is doing something they genuinely believe in, they will be putting forth their best every time because it’s something meaningful and important to them. Of course, this “something” has to be beneficial in some way to society; there are certain things, like social media activism and outrage culture, that don’t qualify simply because they offer the world no tangible value and require no effort. This is ultimately what drives progress: people who work hard because they want to are more motivated to hone their craft and make a difference, leaving a more tangible, positive impact on the world.

  • With Ten Million Relief Plan in the books, I’m done all of the available extra missions in Ace Combat 7. While it would be phenomenal to return to Sudentor for another tunnel flight on a cold winter’s night and then square off against the SOLG on New Year’s Eve, I also appreciate that the missions we got could be all that there is, with Bandai-Namco working towards a new Ace Combat title for the future. My first post of 2020 is now in the books, and I will be kicking off the new year’s anime post with a talk on Koisuru Asteriod, before wrapping up each of Kandagawa Jet GirlsRifle is Beautiful and as time allows, a talk on Azur Lane.

I’ve been wanting to fly the Falken for more than a decade – ever since reading about Ace Combat 5 from a strategy guide sourced from my local library, and then watching the footage of the SOLG mission during the second year of my undergraduate degree when I was supposed to be studying for data structures and organic chemistry, the Gründer line of planes and the super-weapons of Strangereal always held a charm for me. Ace Combat 7 represented a chance to experience the games that I’d only seen, and with the season pass, I can check off something I’d longed to do for some time. Of course, the past ten years has been so much more than just about doing the sorts of things I’d wanted to experience when I had been younger: it’s been a time of discovery and learning, of triumph, failure and everything in between. From earning a Master’s Degree to learning how to develop iOS apps, from attending conferences abroad to discovering hidden trails of the mountains, the past ten years have been a learning experience, as well: my best moments create cherished memories, and my worst moments become chalked up as learning experiences that help me become a better person. We have now entered the second decade of the second millennium with 2020 – this represents the start of a brand-new chapter in life, and looking ahead, I am rather excited to see where things are headed. Before looking too far into the future, however, it’s worth taking things one step at a time, and so, for 2020, my resolutions for the new year are thus: I aim to look after myself properly in both a professional and personal capacity. For my professional growth, I aim to learn JavaScript and Node.JS to further my ability as an iOS developer, so that I can keep up with back-end developers, and I also will strive to develop my leadership and management skills, on top of learning and applying more intricate aspects of the Swift programming language. From a personal standpoint, I aim to maintain a respectable level of health, fitness and wellness. I also resolve to learn to cook more efficiently: although I may be a passable cook, I’d love to learn some family recipes and wash vegetables faster. For this blog, I simply resolve to maintain and promote positivity in everything I present to, and in interactions with, readers. For having provided this much support and encouragement, providing content that is instructive, fun and positive is the least I could do for everyone – with this being said, HI look forwards to seeing what lies ahead in the next decade, working together to weather out difficult times and sharing good times with both those important people around me, as well as for everyone who’s followed this blog:

Happy New Year 2020!

  • I realise that this year, I’ve not posted a customary calendar or my usual set of resolutions in the traditional format. The reasoning behind this was we are beginning a new decade, and I wished to do something a little different. A quick glance back at least years shows that I did keep with my resolutions, and because I believe in incremental progress, I’ll kick off the new decade with a manageable set of 2020 resolutions: I’ll keep doing me, more efficiently, better and continue to learn all that is necessary to drive personal and professional growth.

Battlefield V: Reflections After One Year of Service

“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.

Battlefield V: First Impressions of a Triumphant Return to the Pacific Theatre

“Among the men who fought on Iwo Jima, uncommon valour was a common virtue.” –Admiral Chester W. Nimitz

The fifth Tides of War chapter sends players to Iwo Jima and tropical islands of the Pacific Theatre: this latest addition to Battlefield V rectifies some performance issues that had impacted Battlefield V and introduces a more sophisticated sound system, but all eyes are on the newest content that accompanies chapter five. The Pacific Theatre sees the addition of two new maps, the American and Japanese factions, new vehicles and four new weapons immediately available for all players to use, with more weapons upcoming as weekly assignment rewards. This is the single largest update to Battlefield V, and in conjunction with a solid marketing campaign leading up to its launch, the Pacific Theatre marks the strongest that Battlefield V‘s been in the year since it launched. Players finally get access to the iconic M1 Garand rifle, which General Patton described to be the “the greatest battle implement ever devised” for its performance, and by all counts, Battlefield V has done this weapon justice: in its base form, it is a three-shot kill at close ranges, trailing out to four shots at longer ranges, but with the magnum ammunition, the three-shot kill range is extended. Expending an entire magazine results in a distinctive “ping” sound, and the DICE team has even gone through the lengths to animate the odd case where the soldier catching their thumb in the bolt while reloading. The incredible detail and strong performance of the M1 Garand has come to represent a turning point for Battlefield V: new content and consistent improvements to Battlefield V means that the game is considerably more stable and engaging than it was at launch, and the most core of the new additions to Battlefield V, Iwo Jima and Pacific Storm, are so well-crafted that they alone are worth the price of admissions, providing a definitive Battlefield experience where players can partake in large-scale battles involving infantry, aircraft, and tanks in stunningly faithful and detailed environments.

Wake Island is set to release in December, but even though chapter five to Tides of War only comes with two maps, my experiences on Iwo Jima and Pacific Storm have been so immersive that two maps has been plenty to keep me busy. Iwo Jima was probably the most anticipated map, and for good reason: the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War Two was fought between February and March 1945, where American Marines landed on the shores of the island to seize it from the Imperial Japanese army. After a three-day naval bombardment, the Americans hit the beaches and found themselves under heavy fire from a fierce Japanese force. The five-week long battle saw the Americans succeeding in capturing the island, which was ostensibly to be used as an airbase for B-29 crews, and despite how deeply Japanese forces were dug in, they would secure the Iwo Jima. The heavy losses at Iwo Jima resulted in questions raised about the strategic worth of the operation, and while the island did in fact act as a landing strip for B-29s, the outcomes here also served to remind American planners of what an invasion against the Japanese home islands might entail. In Battlefield V, Iwo Jima is best experienced in the Breakthrough game mode, which offers a scaled-down experience for what it would have been like for the American attackers and Japanese defenders. Americans begin on the shores of Iwo Jima’s beaches with black sand, and successfully capturing each sector allows them to push further up the island. The Japanese forces retreat into the caves and tunnels of Mount Suribachi as the match continues, and a successful American effort will see them capture the summit of this volcano. Like the very best maps of Battlefield, Iwo Jima allows all classes to be effective, and with the amount of care put into creating a highly authentic experience: Battlefield V‘s Iwo Jima is roughly seventy percent the size of the real island, and details are meticulously crafted, bringing this gripping and terrifying battle to life, showcasing what Battlefield V is capable of offering to players at its finest.

Pacific Storm is the other map available to players, being a redesign of Battlefield 4‘s Paracel Storm. While it is not explicitly modelled after any real battles, the Solomon Islands Campaign in 1944 or Guadalcanal Campaign in 1943 could be close candidates. Set in a vivid tropical archipelago, Pacific Storm is the opposite of Iwo Jima, with dense vegetation, stunningly blue waters and numerous routes following trails to villages and fortifications. The archipelago of islands making up Pacific Storm are connected by bridges and in shallower spots, can be easily traversed, providing numerous flanking routes for teams to both capitalise upon and be wearisome of. Pacific Storm is at its best in the Conquest game mode, as the tropical jungle provides plenty of sandbox moments that, similarly to Iwo Jima, accommodate for a variety of play-styles. The setting actually brings to mind the island base of KanColle: The Movie, where Fubuki and the others begin hearing strange echoes in the nearby Ironbottom Sound and, upon setting out to investigate, discover the truth behind the Abyssals. The setting in KanColle: The Movie struck a fine balance between the tropical paradise the Kan-musume are stationed in, with beautiful beaches, aqua water and idyllic huts, as well as the sense of unease emanating from Ironbottom Sound. In Battlefield V, Pacific Storm is able to create a similar experience, providing a beautiful venue that conceals hidden dangers in the form of other players. While perhaps not as cinematic as Iwo Jima, Pacific Storm is nonetheless a strong map that offers something for almost all play styles. Overall, DICE has done a fantastic job with the new maps, weapons, vehicles and factions in its updates, and while the maps and weapons have been great, DICE deserves special mention for how the Japanese faction was handled.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • It seems appropriate to begin this talk with a kill from the M1 Garand, which I’ve outfitted with the 3x scope and went with specialisations that improved performance at range, culminating with me picking “heavy load” to give the weapon increased damage at the expense to the rate of fire. While the iron sights on the M1 Garand are very usable, at longer ranges, it is easier to lose sight of targets if they are hidden behind the iron sight assembly and amongst the dense foliage of the new maps. I’ve found the M1 Garand to be a highly versatile and reliable weapon, although since I tend to reload after every engagement, I don’t hear the distinct ping too often. This audio cue is actually a fantastic way to tell me when to duck away for a reload.

  • The scout class gets access to the Arisaka Type 99 bolt-action rifle, which shares similar performance with the Gewehr M.95. Firing a 7.7 mm round compared to the Type 38’s 6.5 mm round, the Type 99 was intended to replace the Type 38 – the newer Type 99s were both lighter and shorter than the Type 38 but had more range and stopping power. This made the Type 99’s recoil more noticeable, and while regarded as a solid rifle in terms of manufacturing quality, the construction process began declining towards the end of the war.

  • While I typically avoid piloting aircraft owing to their fickle controls and my own ineptitude with flying, the release of new maps always prompts me to spawn in an aircraft so I can explore a little, and here, I manage a lucky headshot using the F4U Corsair’s bomber variant, which is equipped with 20 mm cannons. The F4U is regarded as one of the finest carrier-launched aircraft to fight in World War Two despite initial difficulties, and Japanese pilots came to fear seeing the aircraft. Looking through my stats, it appears that I’ve broken my old headshot record: my longest headshot is now a respectable 365 metres, and since I don’t ever recall using a bolt action rifle to secure that kill, I must’ve done so using a vehicle.

  • Readers wondering why I’ve not opened November with any posts now have their answer: I’ve been busy experiencing the Pacific Theatre content of Battlefield V, to the point of preferring to play Battlefield V over blogging. It also happens to be the case that we’re at a bit of an intermediary period with the fall anime season, where we’re not quite at the halfway point of Kandagawa Jet Girls; the airing of a recap episode this past week means we’re now a week later than expected here. I’ll be writing about the series at the halfway point once the sixth episode airs, and in the meantime, I’m making reasonable headway into Hensuki, which I picked up out of vain curiosity.

  • The introduction of the Japanese faction means being able to rock the Kinuyo Nishi loadout: Type 97 Chi-ha medium tank is the Japanese counterpart to the M4 Sherman, and in practise, it excels at hit-and-fade, being more manoeuvrable than the M4. Its main armament is a 57 mm cannon with thirty rounds available: while carrying more rounds and firing faster than the M4 Sherman, the base Chi-ha deals less damage against armour, making it better suited to anti-infantry engagements. With the armour on the Chi-ha being relatively weak, I would actually not adopt Kinuyo’s love for 突撃 (Hepburn totsugeki, or “charge!”), and instead, move as far forwards with infantry as I can to provide cover for them.

  • The Japanese and American vehicles have a much more extensive specialisation tree compared to the German and British vehicles, so one must reach level six before they can fully customise their vehicles. By comparison, the new infantry weapons still have four levels, and I’ve fully unlocked the specialisations for the M1 Garand, as well as the new M1919A6. The M1 Garand can alternatively be equipped with rifle grenades, adding more explosive power to the assault’s arsenal, and shortly before Halloween, when the Pacific maps released, I spent several evenings levelling up the M1 Garand in team death match.

  • At the closer ranges, the iron sights on the M1 Garand are highly easy to use, to the point where I’d found myself immensely impressed with the base weapon’s performance. Without any updates, the M1 Garand is a three-shot kill at close ranges and trails out to four shots, whereas with the magnum rounds, it becomes three shots at all ranges. Here, I hang back on one of the landing craft to pick off targets from a distance: the black sands and grey skies of Iwo Jima bring to mind Flags of Our Fathers and Letters From Iwo Jima: I recall watching both movies early in 2018 in anticipation for Battlefield V, and now, it’s been such a rush to finally be able to experience this in the game.

  • The Kay loadout consists of the base M4 Sherman, a solid all-around medium tank with no particular weaknesses or strengths that plays to her preference for a fair fight. Slightly more cumbersome and durable compared to the Chi-ha, the M4 Sherman was one of the most widely-produced tanks of World War Two, known for its reliability and relatively low cost. While it was originally intended to fight toe-to-toe with the Panzer IV, advances in German armour meant the M4 would require several upgrades to remain effective. In its base form, the M4 of Battlefield V excels at medium ranges against both infantry and armour. Upgrading the tank allows it to sacrifice longer range anti-infantry performance for a devastating flamethrower, or dedicate the main gun into an anti-tank weapon.

  • Pacific Storm has the opposite weather of Iwo Jima for the most part, featuring beautiful blue skies that bring to mind the oceans of Kantai Collection. While there is no naval combat per seBattlefield V does offer amphibious tanks for both the Japanese and American forces. Whereas ordinary tanks would sink in deeper waters, the amphibious tanks can traverse deeper water and allow for allied soldiers to be carried towards the beaches for landings. In the Breakthrough game mode, the American forces are always the attackers, and Japanese forces are always defending.

  • My favourite aspect about playing as the Japanese faction is being able to listen to authentic Japanese dialogue and understanding precisely what is said without subtitles. I’ve studied both Japanese and German as a student, although constant exposure to Japanese means that my Japanese is actually now on par with my Mandarin proficiency, leaving my German in the dust. I have no trouble discerning what the Japanese soldiers are saying, and this really led me to appreciate the amount of work that went into creating the Japanese faction, from voice acting to ensuring all of the visual assets, like uniforms, were authentic.

  • On the whole, playing nothing but Conquest and Breakthrough led me to realise that at the core of the modern Battlefield experience are really these two game modes – Breakthrough is more of a cinematic experience that allows one to feel what it was like on both sides of a battle, while Conquest is more of a sandbox that provides more opportunity to mess around. While my earliest Battlefield experiences were with team death match, Conquest quickly became a staple for me, and it is only now that I’ve truly begun to appreciate the Breakthrough game mode.

  • Having looked at footage from Battlefield 1942, I find myself throughly impressed that this game was complex as it was. Older games always have an additional wow factor considering hardware and technical constraints of their period: seeing mechanics in older games work as well as they did attests to the incredible amount of effort that went into the development of these games, and while they may handle and look crude, they nonetheless remain enjoyable; players returning to Battlefield 1942 comment that a major part of the enjoyment in these old titles is that they actually let the imagination roam more freely, whereas in something like Battlefield V, the visual fidelity is so high that one needn’t really exercise their imaginations.

  • The Pacific Theatre reintroduces into Battlefield V the concept of Battle Pickups, which were first seen in Battlefield 4 and implemented as the Elite Kits in Battlefield 1 – these are powerful weapons that offer the wielder a tactical advantage. In Battlefield 4, Battle Pickups include anti-materiel rifles that were one-shot kills at any range, powerful anti-vehicle options surpassing the Engineer’s kit and even an experimental railgun, but despite their power, prevented players from using their loadout. Battlefield 1‘s Elite Kits bolstered the players’ resistant to gunfire and damage output, turning them into juggernauts. By Battlefield V, Battle Pickups have been improved for balance without compromising their power: they now occupy the player’s second gadget slot when picked up.

  • The Type 94 Shin Guntō katana is one of the Battle Pickups. This melee weapon is deadly effective in close quarters, with a quick stroke, longer effective range than standard melee weapons, and the ability to one-shot any infantry. While carrying the katana, players essentially become Strike Witches‘ Mio Sakamoto and her reppuzan, taking on the power to kill any infantry in one hit. It’s a fantastic addition to Battlefield V and brings back memories of Halo 2, where the Covenant’s Energy Sword was a similarly coveted weapon for being able to down players with one lunge.

  • On the black sands of Battlefield V‘s Iwo Jima, vehicles have no trouble pushing up the beaches, whereas in the real Iwo Jima, soldiers were reported as getting stuck in the sands and leaving them vulnerable to Japanese fire. Three days of shelling had done very little damage to the entrenched Japanese forces, and when the Americans began their landings, the Japanese soldiers would lie in wait until the Americans were close enough to be fired upon. With the sand impeding progress, the Marines were forced to disembark from their vehicles, opening them up to enemy fire, and it wasn’t until the Navel Construction Battalions bulldozed roads that more serious progress was made.

  • The Type 100 submachine gun is added as a new weapon for the medic class: with a higher rate of fire and lower damage than other machine guns, the Type 100 remains reasonably accurate at close quarters and is a fun weapon to wield. I’m still in the middle of levelling it up, but given the weapon’s strengths, I think that I’ll typically run it with the specialisations that bolster its hipfire: for the most part, submachine guns can be run with iron sights because one spends most of their time hipfiring, but in the odd case where I am forced to engage a more distant foe, I typically go with the Nydar sight for improved target acquisition.

  • Capture point delta in Pacific Storm is probably the most hotly contested location on the map in conquest, and the unique layout means that the team holding it needs to be weary of attack from any directions: those looking to seize control of the point can come from the shores or from land, so during the course of a match, this point will change hands more frequently than any other. Rolling a tank here can allow one to deal massive damage to enemy forces.

  • At the time of writing, I’ve used the Chi-ha more frequently than I have the M4, with the inevitable result that I’ve been able to unlock more of its specialisations. In this post, I’ve been running the base Chi-ha, which is modestly effective against enemy M4 tanks and amphibious tanks alike despite its weaker cannon: with Girls und Panzer: Das Finale‘s second act focused on Miho squaring off against Kinuyo, the Battlefield V presentation of the latter’s tank suggests a technically imposing enemy to fight. We’ve seen Kinuyo fight alongside Miho previously, and Chi-ha Tan’s weakness appears to be a fondness for charging, but their tanks aren’t exactly slouches in the performance department, either.

  • There is, of course, one caveat: Girls und Panzer: Das Finale‘s second part won’t release until February 27, 2020. This is an unreasonably long wait, and I can think of no reasons that this should be the case. At the current rate of progression, estimating a one-year gap between home releases, it means that it’ll be 2024 before all six chapters to Das Finale are done. Consider that by then, Battlefield 7 will be out, and to put things in perspective, 2024 is sufficiently far away such that the gap between now and then is equivalent to the gap between the present and when I started work on The Giant Walkthrough Brain in 2014.

  • While we’ve seen that Kinuyo’s preferred approach in battle is to recklessly charge forwards with her tanks, the Chi-ha possessed a maximum of 25 mm of armour and a 57 mm gun that was intended for anti-infantry combat. The gun could punch through 25 mm of armour at 1000 metres, and while it may have been satisfactory against the disorganised Chinese forces in the Second Sino-Japanese war, the Type 97 proved less effective against the M4 Sherman and even American Bazookas.

  • With up to 177.8 mm of armour at maximum and carrying the 75 mm tank gun, the M4 Sherman could penetrate 75 mm of armour on average at a range of 1000 metres. In the Pacific Theatre, M4 Shermans found that their armour-piercing rounds would actually punch right through the thinly-armoured Japanese tanks and keep going; operators would switch over to HE rounds instead. Battlefield V‘s update, in bringing both Saunders Academy and Chi-ha Tan’s armour into the game, means that armoured warfare in Battlefield V becomes much more nuanced and fun, being simultaneously engaging in forcing players to play smart without being anywhere nearly as unforgiving as World of Tanks is for non-premium players.

  • Here, I call in a Sherman T34E1 Calliope, armed with a distinctive multiple rocket launcher that fired a maximum of 64 4.5 inch M8 rockets out to a maximum range of five kilometres. The Calliope in Battlefield V has a smaller range, and as a reinforcement vehicle, can deliver a considerable amount of firepower onto an area rivalling the devastation an artillery barrage offers. Unlike the existing Sturmtiger and Churchill Crocodile, both the Calliope and its Japanese counterpart are fully-fledged tanks that have the rocket artillery added, making them considerably more useful all around. I rarely had the incentive to use the Sturmtiger since it was really only an anti-infantry platform, and the Crocodile was a slow tank prone to being destroyed.

  • By comparison, the Calliope has 64 rockets on top of its main cannon and coaxial machine gun, making it useful for conventional anti-armour engagements and dealing with infantry using direct fire on top of longer-range bombardments with its rockets. The Calliope had first appeared in the campaign mission “The Last Tiger” as enemies the player must defeat, and a shade under a year, it’s now finally possible to get behind the wheel of these vehicles and try it out.

  • While for the most part, the Battlefield V community is interested in playing the game and ranking their gear up, there are the occasional players who exist to shout obscenities and memes into the text chat. It is especially satisfying to get these players back, such as one “NeObliviscaris12” here: while more immature players are fixated on maintaining a high KDR, I care more about the team as a whole, and consistently doing things to help my team win is much more important that camping from afar for kills.

  • The Japanese equivalent of the Calliope is the GS, a modified Type 97 tank with rocket pods attached to it. Referred to in-game as the Hachi, the Type 97 GS carries Bangalore rocket launchers on its body. Battlefield V chooses to depict the GS as carrying the launchers on its turret so they can be aimed. Overall, this is a fun reinforcement to call in, and I feel that like the Type 97, the GS is a much more covert tank that isn’t as visually distinct as the Calliope, meaning that enemies are less likely to identify it as a greater priority to destroy.

  • The amount of vehicles and their variants in Battlefield V means that DICE should have no shortage of vehicles to work with when it comes to designing counterparts of vehicles found on one side, and the GS is an excellent example of this, being as effective with its rockets as the Calliope. I used it to score a double kill towards the end of one one-sided conquest match on Pacific Storm.

  • While the first week’s focus was on the Breakthrough game mode, I found myself gravitating back to Conquest in order to level up my weapons and vehicles: Breakthrough is very much about playing the objective and directly contributing to the team effort, but because both teams are so focused on smaller areas, it can be difficult to survive when rolling tanks to a capture point. By comparison, the more open environment of Conquest means that I can park a tank on an unoccupied capture point and then accumulate score without several Panzerfausts trained on me.

  • Here, I score a pair of kills in succession using Mio Sakamoto’s reppumaru while attempting to capture the point. Adding the Japanese faction to Battlefield V has essentially meant I’m now experiencing Battlefield: The Anime, and it is not lost on me that my Japanese is of a sufficient level so I can resolve phrases like 猛虎を守る (Hepburn mokō o mamoru, “Protect the objective!”) 軍曹、命令はどう? (Hepburn gunsō, meirei ha dō, “Your orders, Sergeant?”), もう大丈夫 (Hepburn mō daijōbu, “It’s alright now”) and 衛生兵, 助けて! (Hepburn eisei hei, tasukete, “Help, medic!) without too much trouble.

  • Overall, I’m definitely having a great time with the Pacific content, and this sentiment is widely shared within the community, with many regarding this as a true turning point for the game. Besides improving basic performance and functionality, the Pacific Theatre update also shows that DICE is still committed to the game, and that there is definitely potential for iconic battles to be brought back into the game after the title launched with obscure, relatively unknown battles. The experiences I’d love to see most in Battlefield V in future chapters will be the Eastern Front (Stalingrad for urban warfare, Kursk for vehicles), the Allied Invasion of Europe (Normandy, Battle of the Bulge, Liberation of Paris), the Sicily campaign, and the fall of Nazi Germany (especially the Battle of Berlin).

  • These are probably going to be the biggest updates, since it would involve implementing the Italian and French factions, plus the Soviets and possibly the Finns. Of course, in between the major game-changers like the Pacific update, I would not mind slower updates dealing with more obscure battles of World War Two. While there is a lot of turf to be covered, DICE recently announced that Battlefield 6 will be coming in fiscal year 2022, meaning that the earliest we could see Battlefield 6 would be Fall 2021. This leaves plenty of time to improve Battlefield V and make it a true WWII shooter with all of the most iconic experiences.

  • The last weapon that was added with the Pacific Theatre update is the M1919A6, a portable version of the M1919 Browning Machine Gun, which fired 30-calibre rounds. The A6 is presented as a medium machine gun in Battlefield V, requiring a bipod to be deployed in order for the weapon to be effective, and while attacking one of the capture points here, I manage a kill on “LabbieGurl”, who appears to be somewhat of a prolific Battlefield V player who’s also got a presence in Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds. I can’t help but shake the feeling I’ve seen this player before, and while they were going to town on my team, I managed to stop them here with a lucky shot from the M1919A6, which has proven to be quite the asset for defending.

  • During on match of conquest on Iwo Jima, I was able to call in the Ki-147 rocket on capture point foxtrot on the map’s eastern end, and got a triple kill for my troubles. The Ki-147 I-Go Type 1 radio-guided air-to-surface missile with a maximum range of 11 kilometres and carried an 800 kilogram warhead. Despite carrying a smaller warhead than the JB-2 and having a considerably shorter range, the Ki-147 is functionally identical in-game, being highly useful for clearing out entire capture points. I generally avoid contested capture points towards the end of a match for this reason: as squad leaders acquire more requisition points, the number of rocket strikes increases. Friendly strikes still knock players onto their back, which can be enough of a distraction to be killed by the other team’s players.

  • Here, I score another kill on a player calling themselves “KickinSticks” that had been maligning me from an earlier match. I’m not sure what the story is with players who think they’re “gud”, but it is immensely satisfying to get the drop on them and best them in a purely skill-based manner more times than they can get me. At the time, I was purely focused on levelling up my M1919A6: while it is a fairly standard MMG, its specialisations allow it to act as probably the most lethal long-range weapon in the game. At level four, the M1919A6 gets access to high velocity bullets that bump the muzzle velocity to 900 m/s, beating out many of the bolt-action rifles.

  • If one were to go down the right specialisation tree, they would have a machine gun of unparalleled accuracy for long range engagements, making this a weapon suited for maps with open areas and pushing the likes of the MG-42 to maps with narrower passageways. While experimenting with the M1919A6, however, I locked the weapon down a tree that made it less effective at extreme ranges; I’ve heard that getting the weapon up to level five will allow me to reset it, as there’s a bug preventing it from being reset at level four, and while I’m not too far out, I hope DICE will address this particular issue soon.

  • While each of the classes immediately gains a new weapon, the Chapter Rewards also provides players with the Jungle Carbine. This weapon is the Lee-Enfield Rifle No. 5 Mk I,  a cut-down version of the No. 4 rifle that was shorter and lighter. In Battlefield V, the Jungle Carbine is given to the medics, and this is probably the best carbine medics can use at the time of writing. While it has a slower rate of fire than the other carbines, the Jungle Carbine’s damage model allows it to reliably two-shot almost all enemies within 100 metres. Its large capacity and extended damage drop-off means that it is a powerful weapon for more open areas.

  • Getting headshots with the Jungle Carbine is immensely satisfying, and the weapon can be upgraded for either improved ranged combat or general accuracy. In Battlefield V, I’ve found that weapons like the medic’s carbines and the scout’s pistol carbines fundamentally change the range that the classes are effective at, in turn providing them with usefulness across different maps and different sections on a map – with a selection of carbines, the medic can reasonably be useful in wide open spaces, and then one can switch back over to submachine guns in close quarters. Similarly, scouts now have access to viable close-quarters options beyond the bolt-action and self-loading rifles, making it possible for them to stick close to a squad and play the objectives.

  • The beautiful weather in Pacific Storm stands in stark contrast with the weather in my area: whereas azure skies, beautiful beaches and clear waters are the terrain of Pacific Storm, snow and cold is inevitably creeping into this side of the world. After a harrowing few days of November where I lacked proper winter shoes, I’ve finally picked up a new pair to replace an aging pair I had tossed the previous winter. The timing couldn’t be better, and after a cold and foggy day spent at the local mall to browse for a suitable pair of shoes, the snow began falling. Fortunately, a warm and delicious rice vermicelli with prawns, Satay beef, grilled chicken and spring rolls was the perfect countermeasure against the return of winter.

  • I know that I had originally planned on writing about Hibike! Euphonium: Chikai no Finale, but the turbulent and unpredictable nature of Japanese releases means the original date for the BD release, November 5, has now been pushed back to February 26, just one day before Girls und Panzer: Das Finale‘s second act gets its home release. This means one fewer series for me to imminently review. I’ve heard rather outrageous claims that the unfortunate arson at one of Kyoto Animation’s offices is the cause, but this is a disingenuous claim that involves massive subjective leaps in reasoning. I won’t speculate on what’s happening here and instead, only note that I will be writing about this movie once it becomes available.

  • For the time being, Aobuta‘s movie still appears to be on target, so for the present, I’ll focus on completing the Battlefield V‘s weekly challenges. So far, it’s been cosmetics, and the lunge mine is set to be the prize early in December, followed with Charlotte Yeager’s BAR M1918A2. In January, the Namby Type 2A, Type 97 MG and M3 Grease Gun will be released. With this, every loadout that can be run in Strike Witches will be possible save Yoshika Miyafuji’s: Yoshika rolls with a customised Type 99 cannon chambered for the 12.7 mm round. The original Type 99 fired 20 mm rounds, but even with the modifications, Yoshika’s weapon is equivalent to a mounted machine gun firing 50-calibre rounds, which is far too cumbersome to be carried even in the realm of Battlefield V.

  • In keeping with the spirit of trying everything out, I wield the M2 Flamethrower here – flamethrowers were used to great (and horrific) effects in the Pacific Theatre, burning through vegetation and sucking the oxygen out of the air, leading victims to suffocate. As a Battle Pickup, the M2 is highly effective at close quarters, and unlike Battlefield 1, picking up the flamethrower offers no damage resistance, balancing the weapon out more effectively than Battlefield 1‘s Elite Kits. It should now be apparent as to why I’ve not posted at all this month so far, and I’m going to capitalise on the time remaining in this long weekend to wrap up a talk on Hensuki, as well as make some headway into the posts I’m supposed to be reviewing for Jon’s Creator Showcase.

The introduction of the Japanese faction in Battlefield V is perhaps one of the most well-handed aspects I’ve seen to date in a Battlefield game: upon the announcement, some Japanese fans of Battlefield expressed concern as to whether or not certain aspects of the Imperial Japanese Army would be present in the game, and a few noted that it would be quite insulting if the Yokosuka MXY-7 Ohka, a rocket-propelled manned aircraft intended for suicide attacks, were to be utilised for the Japanese equivalent of the JB-2 Rocket. DICE’s developers swiftly stepped in to say the Ohka would not be used, and instead, the Ki-147 Rocket was used in the final game. The portrayal of Japanese soldiers in Battlefield V ultimately is respectful and authentic: they are, after all, simply a playable faction in the game, and while the historical IJA carried out some of the worst atrocities of World War Two, Battlefield V has allowed none of the politics and past controversies to make it into the finished product. Japanese soldiers have been given solid voice acting to match the other factions in the game, and their base cosmetics are appropriately chosen. The end result is that the Japanese faction is fun to play without driving discussion towards more debated topics surrounding the Second World War, and players can therefore focus on maximising their enjoyment of the gameplay in Battlefield V. The quality of both the American and Japanese factions mean that any factions introduced in the future will likely be of a similar standard, which will be exciting should the Soviets be introduced. Overall, Battlefield V‘s Pacific Theatre update has brought back much of what makes Battlefield a superb experience, and the fact that Iwo Jima handles so well means that if DICE should choose to implement iconic World War Two battles, those will likely be immensely enjoyable, as well.

Battlefield V: Battlefest 2019, Al Sundan and Operation Underground

“Headlines, in a way, are what mislead you because bad news is a headline, and gradual improvement is not.” –Bill Gates

Tides of War’s fourth chapter will be consigned to history as having a strong conclusion to what was Battlefield V‘s roughest period yet – for a seven week period, DICE seemed quite unable to address any of the issues that had arisen in their latest Battlefield instalment and in fact, continued to introduce new issues. At the same time, the prizes for completing weekly assignments were jejune and frankly, not worth the effort it cost to earn them. Al Sundan, a long-anticipated large scale map, had also been delayed owing to unforeseen issues. However, as the summer wore on and transitioned into autumn, Battlefield V turned over a new leaf. Crippling bugs were fixed, and Al Sundan was released. A week later, Battlefest 2019 commenced, opening players to Operation Underground. Both maps offer gameplay occupying polar opposites of a spectrum. Al Sundan is a conversion of Under No Flag’s second act, being set on the North African coast by the Mediterranean Sea. Operation Underground is a reimagining of Battlefield 3‘s Operation Metro, a map legendary for its close-quarters chaos and seemingly endless matches set in the narrow confines of the Paris Metro. Battlefield V‘s portrayal of Operation Metro is set during the later stages of World War Two, when the Allied Forces were on the offensive and were pushing into Nazi Germany. Taking design cues from Battlefield 3, Operation Underground is seen as an improvement to the frustrations that were inherent to the linear, claustrophobic corridors and halls of Battlefield 3. The underground railway sections are shorter, and multiple side passages are present, allowing players a set of alternative routes to break stalemates. In conjunction with Battlefest 2019, the addition of two maps, a handful of new weapons and general improvements to quality of life in Battlefield V, the end of Defying the Odds and accompanying intermission is now seen as a recovery, leaving players optimistic for the upcoming Pacific Theatre content that will accompany Battlefield V‘s next major update.

The first question that must be answered is whether or not the wait for Al Sundan was worth it. This desert map consists of vegetation-lined cliffs and hillsides that drop off into a shallow estuary, with mountain roads and villages scattered across the area: from an aesthetics perspective, Al Sundan is beautiful. Set under a sunset, the heat of the desert is especially visible in the distance, where the horizon is covered with a thin haze. While aesthetics is only one part of a map, Al Sundan ultimately turns out to succeed in delivering the classic Battlefield experience of large-scale combat involving infantry and vehicles. Conquest is a bit of a slower experience, with infantry combat being confined to the centre of the map, where the villages are. Breakthrough, on the other hand, is packed with action at every turn. Regardless of the mode, fans of vehicle gameplay will absolutely be at home with Al Sundan: ground vehicles are especially valuable for traversing the large tracts of land, and also offer some cover from enemy snipers, who will take advantage of the sightlines for long-distance shooting. With no trace of the graphical issue that plagued earlier builds, Al Sundan was definitely worth the wait. At the other extreme is Operation Underground, the apparent antithesis of Battlefield. With narrow underground subways and city streets forcing players down a linear path, this infantry-only map embodies the chaos and excitement of Operation Metro from Battlefield 3. However, major changes to the map provide options for the strategically-minded. A dug-in enemy team can be dislodged by a determined squad making use of the side tunnels, and despite being marketed for close-quarters infantry battles, a patient marksman can experience success on this map to the same extent as a medic or assault player geared for short-range firefights, or even the support player who’s decided to wield the unholy bipod medium machine gun setup. Whether one has the quick trigger-finger to win draws at point-blank range or steady aim for landing distant shots under pressure, Operation Underground has something for everyone.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Team Deathmatch and Squad Conquest notwithstanding, this marks the first time I’ve traversed the cliffs of Al Sundan since Battlefield V‘s campaign brought me here. Right away, memories of the map come back to me, but with the goal now being to fight for capture points rather than destroy German material and search for a medical kit to help Mason’s injury. Despite the significant delays in its release, being able to come here in the multiplayer at last was well worth it.

  • Being a large map meant to facilitate classic Battlefield gameplay, Al Sundan is well-suited for vehicular gameplay: a skilled pilot can control the map from the skies, and armour makes traversing the vast distances between capture points much safer, as well as providing an option for engaging distant opponents.  Owing to the number of players who opt for aircraft on this map, there is no shortage of pilots to shoot at, making the anti-air ground vehicles a valuable asset.

  • While anti-air tanks are not the most valuable for team-play, they do have value on aircraft-heavy maps even when they remain stationary at one location with the goal of picking away aircraft. However, attesting to the unfriendly nature of the Battlefield V playerbase, I have seen attention-seekers on Reddit who have used their tank to push another player’s anti-air vehicle out of bounds when said other player was effectively keeping the skies clear of enemy aircraft. This results in the out-of-bounds penalty of death, denying the friendly team a vehicle and allowing enemy aircraft to fly with less interference.

  • I typically don’t run anti-air vehicles and instead, gravitate towards the medium tanks owing to their versatility. For instance, on a match of Breakthrough on Al Sundan, as the British attackers, a good tank can be used to shell the first capture point and create a gap that allows friendly forces to capture it. On my first round of Breakthrough, I went on a 23-streak just from shelling the first point with the Valentine Archer, attesting to the tank’s sheer power.

  • Just under a year since I bought Battlefield V, I’ve now reached rank twenty for all of my classes, including the recon: I’ve finally got the Karabiner 98k and therefore can run the Sora no Woto loadout. While the bolt-action rifles are immensely satisfying to use, they also take an incredible amount of patience, requiring a player remain some distance away from a capture point or active area in order to be useful. This play-style is admittedly quite dull, and so, when DICE introduced the pistol carbines into the recon class, I was very pleased, as it now allowed me to actively push to a capture point and deploy flares close to my teammates, without worrying about a bolt-action rifle impeding my ability for self defense.

  • Breakthrough is probably the more spirited of the two modes on Al Sundan, and while infantry can hold their own, a vehicle on the attacking team allows one to really help drive a push. I typically hang back a way but otherwise focus my fire on the capture points to assist my team, utilising the Valentine Archer to pick off targets at range. The defending German forces also get vehicles of their own, but I’ve found that the StuG IV, the counterpart to the Valentine Archer, is generally a weaker choice.

  • Players utilising the anti-air guns might contribute to their team’s success by removing aerial threats, but when one sits in an AA gun all match, their usefulness is reduced. Here, I picked off a player who was doing nothing more than use the AA gun all match: they are rather fun targets to pick off. In order to avoid becoming a free kill, my usual strategy is to use an AA gun long enough to prevent a plane from strafing its target, and then getting out of there as soon as possible.

  • While I’d previously stated that the MMGs are not conducive of the style of combat that Hanna Marseille and Gertude Barkhorn of Strike Witches, these weapons can be wielded in a more aggressive manner than their usual mode of operation suggests: at extreme close quarters, spraying the weapon from the hip is possible and may get one out of a jam with surprising reliability.

  • Despite having spent nearly a year in Battlefield V, my progression on the anti-air armour is still lacking. I’ve only used the AA-Panzer infrequently, and I don’t believe I’ve even touched the British counterpart at all. Anti-air options in Battlefield V are only moderately effective against air vehicles, who are in turn only effective against ground targets when they are spotted and visible from the air. For this reason, I don’t fly all that often.

  • Here, I use the Karabin 1938M, an unlock from the previous chapter that is meant to be a slightly more accurate version of the Gewehr 43. This weapon proved quite fun to use, although personally, I find it to be eclipsed by the Gewehr 43 and Ag m/42. Here, I splash a player with an interesting screen name: one’s Origin avatar and screen name now are the only customisations one can have in Battlefield V, compared to earlier titles where one could have a custom emblem.

  • I still am wishing that DICE would implement a proper emblem system so that I can paint the side of my vehicles with the Ooarai logo, but cosmetics aside, the tanks I’ve got are configured to fit my play-style: having grown immensely comfortable with the controls and weapon properties on these vehicles, including the projectile drop, I’ve managed to survive for extended periods using tanks and go on running riots (10-streak) or above. The individual above is on the receiving end yet again, taking brunt of the Panzer IV’s 75mm shell.

  • Conquest on Al Sundan is much slower to play thanks to the wide open spaces. In my first match, I ended up boarding a Panzer IV and helped shell capture points as my team led the way to victory, and in later games, I would predominantly stay between the map’s centre where possible, only heading to the airfield if it was being captured. The airfield is actually a fairly valuable point to have, since it affords the team having control of it with additional aircraft.

  • A good, medium to long range solution is probably the best choice on Al Sundan for proactive players who actively move between capture points: open spaces mean that a harder-hitting, more accurate weapon will be valuable for picking off foes, although one should balance their weapon choice out if they are going for a more objective-oriented play-style. By comparison, players looking to take on a more defensive role may find it useful to equip a closer-range weapon.

  • One of the trends in Battlefield V now is that the medic and recon players are gaining access to weapon classes that fundamentally impact their play style. The M28 carbine is an excellent example of how the typically close-quarters medic can become more useful at longer ranges with the carbines, and in particular, the M28’s grenade launcher gives players the option to deal with vehicles should the situation arise. The recon class benefits from increased weapon diversity even more so than the medic, and the addition of pistol carbines has made the recon class an invaluable asset to any given team.

  • Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Al Sundan, and while yes, DICE should’ve been more disciplined in how they approached its release, ultimately, their decision to ensure that the map worked was the better one. After its release, DICE also did a dedicated Al Sundan playlist that rotated between Conquest and Breakthrough on the map, which gave all players a chance to really enjoy the map. This should be DICE’s strategy in the future: when new maps come out, a dedicated rotation will allow all players to experience the maps. When Provence and Lofoten Islands first launched, the biggest frustration was finding a server with those maps.

  • Operation Underground was first announced back in June, and Battlefield influencers were flown in to LA to check out the mode, although each and every influencer who played Operation Underground was prohibited from capturing any footage. This map thus became the most anticipated one in Battlefield V‘s live service, and when the game files were added back in September, the community was disappointed that the map was not available for another week.

  • However, once Operation Underground did become available, Battlefield V suddenly began feeling like Battlefield again: the map has been presented as a re-imagining of Battlefield 3‘s Operation Metro, but has seen layout changes that fundamentally changes the way it plays, while simultaneously offering the close quarters chaos of the original Operation Metro. The sum of this implementation is a map that has very quickly become a Battlefield V classic.

  • I spent numerous hours in the original Operation Metro when I picked up Battlefield 3, levelling up the different weapons in matches that lasted for hours at a time. Battlefield V‘s Operation Underground brings back the classic experience, while at once improving the map to create an experience that has something for everyone, and here, I burn through two players using the MP-40. This iconic German submachine gun has become one of my favourites for being a solid all-around performer, having a little more range and accuracy than the Thompson M1928.

  • One of my favourite moments in Operation Underground happened when I managed to get a kill by throwing back an AT grenade at its originator. The ability to throw grenades away from oneself in Battlefield V makes the use of explosives a bit more strategic, since one must now be mindful of the risk that they could very well be killed by the same grenade they’d just thrown. In Battlefield V, the absence of gas grenades is highly significant, and I do not miss these rage-inducing weapons. Back in Battlefield 1, I refused to use gas grenades since there’s no honour in using them: unskilled players would run with gas grenades and the Automatico, counting on hipfire to spray down enemies whose weapons were less-suited for fighting back against them to score easy kills.

  • In my last talk, I mentioned that the S2-200 (alternatively known as the MG-30) medium machine gun was not something I made extensive use of. In the tunnels of Operation Underground, the weapon was actually quite fun to use, but also served to give me the suggestion of picking up the belt-fed MMGs as an option for locking down capture points. The choke points created by the linear tunnels of Operation Underground means that an MMG with a larger capacity would be quite powerful, and later down the line, I did in fact try using the MG-42.

  • Besides MMGs, the long sightlines in Operation Underground make the longer-range weapons for the recon class viable, too. Here, I help my team push forwards by picking off enemy players who’ve set up position around the final capture point of Breakthrough. Breakthrough is an excellent mode on Operation Underground, as the linear flow concentrates the fighting to the capture points. If the attacking team can break past the first set of points, their odds of securing victory increases dramatically.

  • Conquest, on the other hand, offers a bit more freedom of movement, and here, I manage to score a double kill while helping my team keep the capture point. One of the players I best using the Sturmgewehr has a name that reminds me of Okaa-san Online, although I’m certain this is me making associations where there are none. On anime, we’re actually nearing the the third episode for most of the series I’m following, and yesterday, I caught the third Azur Lane episode after stepping out to a local Chinese bistro, where I had their Sizzling Plate Combo (a delicious plate of chicken, Korean Beef Rib, Lemon Pork Chop, Sausage, egg-on-rice and fries, plus corn on the cob), which really wards off the increasingly cold weather that’s making its way in to my area.

  • With the MG-42, I ended up finding the weapon to be as effective as advertised: an extended belt that brings the ammunition count to 250 rounds means that one could suppress, squad and even eliminate entire squads with ease. The MG-42 is so powerful that, in spite of the deliberate reductions to the MMGs’ performance last patch, it doesn’t feel like the weapon became any less effective. Playing defense on Breakthrough makes the MG-42 the premiere choice for defending a point, and to keep the active, mobile playstyle I prefer, I move around frequently and make myself scarce to avoid being picked off by snipers. However, on a good choke-point, the MG-42 is a beast for getting multi-kills: I’ve seen triple kills and even killtaculars from using this weapon.

  • The first week’s Battlefest unlock was the Madsen MG, which makes a return from Battlefield 1. In its base form, the Madsen is inferior to the Bren: sharing similar performance with respect to its damage model and recoil, and is further hampered by an obstructive magazine that forces one to bring the weapon across the screen in order to aim down sights. However, with the right specialisations, the Madsen becomes a superbly accurate option whose extended magazines make it able to deliver more fire downrange compared to the Bren.

  • Ultimately, I would prefer to run the Madsen at ranges that are perhaps slightly longer than those of the Bren, since its extended magazine would give me a few more rounds to work with while picking off foes in the distance. It’s definitely a fun weapon to run with, and I’ve had success with it even on Operation Underground by using it as a more defensive weapon for locking down corridors and streets.

  • Here, I shoot down a player styling themselves after Saekano‘s Megumi Kato. Of late, the cheating problem in Battlefield V has only worsened: in this match here, the player in question was using a recoil reducing tool to shoot with more accuracy than normal. Their response to being called out was a hesitant-sounding acknowledgement and a passive-aggressive comment asking what I would do about it. My retort took the form of getting the drop on them and then do the old teabagging routine. While it is well-known that a majority of the cheaters in Battlefield V come from mainland China, I’m surprised that Japanese players are resorting to cheating, as well: there’s a Fate/Stay Night message-board where some players discuss their anxiety about being caught, how to hide their actions better and justifying amongst themselves as to how they need these cheats to fight fire with fire.

  • After unlocking the extended magazines, I found the Madsen MG to have an edge over the Bren for longer range firefights. While not fundamentally changing the support class, the Madsen MG is a fun weapon to use, and I did go on a 11-streak with it thanks to its consistent damage and accuracy. In general, I tend not to worry about my personal KDR, and note that even though the cheating problem might be more prevalent in Battlefield V, this actually hasn’t negatively impacted my performance as a whole: I’m holding a 61% win-to-loss ratio at the time of writing, and I feel like even with the issues in the game, my shooting has fared a lot better than in earlier titles.

  • While the Madsen MG was a moderately fun weapon, the C96 Trench Carbine that was the latest unlock is a game-changer for the recon class. This pistol carbine sports a 40-round magazine and performs similarly to the P08 at close quarters. At longer ranges, the Trench Carbine becomes less effective and requires eight rounds to down a player, compared to the P08’s six rounds. However, the Trench Carbine has one important feature that sets it apart from the P08: it can equip the selective fire specialisation that grants the weapon automatic fire, making it the first time the recon has had access to an automatic weapon in Battlefield V.

  • Being able to fire the Trench Carbine automatically is a game-changer: when one is able to get a good flank, the Trench Carbine’s damage model and ammunition capacity allows one to decimate an entire squad on their own. In conjunction with the sniper combat role, the Trench Carbine becomes the ultimate spotting machine, allowing one to 3D spot any enemy by hitting them. Because the visibility remains poor in Battlefield V, this makes the weapon an indispensable asset for the aggressive recon players, a play-style characterised by pushing the recon into close quarters and actively contributing to a team’s efforts in ways that were previously not possible.

  • Overall, Battlefest is proceeding at a smart pace, and am looking forwards to unlocking the Fliegerfaust during the final week’s challenge and then attempt the Sanya V. Litvyak loadout as we we push on into the Pacific Theatre. I will be returning to write more about Battlefield V once the Pacific content is live, and in the meantime, I am going to be looking at whether or not it will be Azur Lane or Kandagawa Jet Girls that will be getting an extended review in this anime season. With October two-thirds of the way through, I also note that November will be an exciting month for anime movies: Hibike! Euphonium‘s movie, (Our Promise: A Brand New Day) will have a home release for November 5, and Aobuta: Shoujo no Yume wo Minai will see a release on November 26.

Operation Underground and Battlefest 2019 also offers additional weapons and gadgets for players: at the time of writing, Battlefield 1‘s Madsen MG and a StuG IV skin have been added. The StuG IV skin is unremarkable, but the Madsen MG offers an alternative to the Bren. The base gun has similar firing rates, and damage to the Bren, a reliable but slow-firing weapon suitable for long range engagements. However, the Madsen MG appears to have more recoil than the Bren, even when the recoil-reducing specialisations are equipped. In exchange, the Madsen MG can be equipped with a forty-round magazine that gives it ten additional rounds to work with. When fully specialised, the Madsen MG can give the Bren a run for its money – at longer ranges, the obstructive magazine becomes less of a challenge, and the weapon’s low recoil makes it a suitable choice for suppressing and neutralising enemies. Battlefest 2019 also brought back the C96 Trench Carbine, which was also seen in Battlefield 1 as a weapon for the assault class. This time, as a pistol carbine for the recon class, it adds a second close-quarters option for objective-oriented recon players. With its select fire specialisation, the Trench Carbine fundamentally changes the way aggressive recon works, providing a powerful option that allows the normally long-range oriented recon to compete and win at ranges that the other classes operate at. In addition, the weapon’s large capacity and use of the sniper combat role allows one to become a highly efficient spotter while damaging enemies. The final unlockable item will be the Fliegerfaust, an anti-air rocket launcher that fires two salvos of rockets. It will take a community effort of scoring one hundred million kills and assists collectively to unlock this for everyone. With the updates rekindling interest in Battlefield V, and Battlefest keeping Battlefield V interesting during the interim between chapters four and five, the effort DICE has put into Battlefield V has been apparent. Ten months into the game’s life-cycle, players finally get something to enjoy and have something exciting to look forwards to. I will be following Battlefield V‘s developments closely, and note that community sentiments, that the Pacific theatre will make or break Battlefield V, are very much parallels with how I feel about Battlefield V. Success in the Pacific will turn things around and help keep the player-base engaged, while failure will send even the most die-hard of fans in search of new experiences.

Star Wars Battlefront II: A Reflection on the Campaign

“We’ve been fighting for our whole lives. It’s taken us too long to realise that we were fighting for the wrong side. This war is far from over. We would like to help you, if you’ll let us.” –Iden Versio

After she allows herself to be captured by the Rebel Alliance, Iden Versio escapes from captivity and erases a coded transmission the Rebels had acquired concerning the Emperor’s plan for Endor. While on an assignment to neutralise the Rebel forces that landed at Endor, the second Death Star is destroyed. Iden and Inferno Squad (Del and Gideon) comply with orders to retreat and secures TIE fighters, rejoining the Imperial Forces and meets with her father, Admiral Versio. With the Emperor’s death confirmed, the Empire begins to enact Operation Cinder, a contingency plan that would have seen the destruction of Imperial worlds. After Del encounters Luke Skywalker on Pillio during a mission to destroy the Emperor’s storehouse, Meeko and Iden are sent to Vardos to extract Protectorate Gleb. Witnessing the Empire’s disregard for its own people, Meeko and Iden defect to the Rebel Alliance. They meet Lando Calrissian, who gives Iden and Del a chance to prove themselves as being trustworthy by having them participate in the liberation of Naboo alongside Princess Leia. Iden and Del are then sent to Takodana to find Han Solo, who was locating an Imperial defector holding the key to freeing Kashyyyk. Iden learns that Gideon is on Bespin and commences an operation to capture him alongside Admiral Versio, but the two manage to escape. Lando, meanwhile, heads to Sullust to secure an Imperial weapons cache, but ends up destroying the munitions factory there. The Empire is pushed into a corner, and the Rebel Alliance launches one final attack on the weakened Imperial fleet at Jakku. Iden boards Admiral Versio’s Star Destroyer and attempts to rescue him, but he resolves to die with the Empire, asking Iden to live a full life. In the aftermath of the Battle of Jakku, Iden and Del share a kiss. Decades later, Del is captured and interrogated by Kylo Ren, who is searching for a map that will lead to Luke Skywalker. Kylo Ren turns Del over to Gideon, who executes him after expressing his disgust at the choices Del had made. This is Star Wars Battlefront II‘s campaign, a short but vivid experience that marks the first time I’ve played a Star Wars campaign since the days of Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader.

Battlefront II‘s campaign ultimately acts as a highly cinematic tutorial for players looking to get into the multiplayer, providing nonstop fanservice in allowing players to experience the story from the perspective of heroes like Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo and Lando Calrissian. Iden’s own story is a compelling, if generic one, exploring how the Empire’s atrocities and determination to hold onto power in accordance to Palpatine’s wishes was something that even some of the Imperials did not agree with. The campaign thus shows that Palpatine’s preferred approach in ruling by fear meant that in his absence, the Empire was only loosely held together and disintegrated within a year of his death, which stands in contrast with the extended universe, which saw the Empire continuing to wage war against the New Republic. The divergence of the story between what is official and what is now part of the legends means that some of the latter’s greatest stories will never be brought to life, and while the story of Battlefront II might have been familiar in its presentation and themes (compared to the more complex themes the extended universe deals with), DICE’s implementation of the campaign means that in addition to being a good entry point into Battlefront II, it also provides an authentic and rather enjoyable Star Wars experience: famous planets and weapons are reproduced faithfully, as are the characters and starfighters. Overall, while perhaps nothing remarkable from a thematic or narrative perspective, the technical excellence of Battlefront II‘s campaign, in the visuals and sound engineering, shows that the technology and resources definitely exist to make a Star Wars game of the same enjoyment as something like 2001’s Rogue Leader.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Battlefront II starts with Iden on board a Rebel Mon Calamari cruiser. After she uses her droid to hack her way out, Iden retrieves the intel surrounding Palpatine’s plans at Endor and then escapes. The last time I played Battlefront II was two years ago during the open beta, and the game today is said to be nearly unrecognisable from its state back then, showing what can happen when market forces compel developers and publishers to re-evaluate core mechanics to a game’s progression system.

  • Because Battlefront II now features a conventional progression system rather than the luck-based micro-transactions systems the title first launched with, I will periodically be playing the multiplayer aspects. My primary interest in Battlefront II actually lay in the campaign, arcade and instant action modes, which allow me to experience blowing stuff up Star Wars-style and relive combat within the universe. With this being said, I would very much like to give Galactic Conquest a go, since these would allow me to fight in iconic locations throughout the Star Wars universe.

  • As Iden, a member of the Empire’s elite Inferno Squad, players will initially fight for the Empire. Seeing the second Death Star destroyed from another perspective was a sobering experience that also served to show that at Endor, there were winners and losers. The films and stories predominantly tell of the Rebel Alliances success here, although some also have depicted the chaos and confusion on the Imperial side after the Death Star was destroyed. On Endor, this does not stop Iden and Inferno Squad, who fight their way through the victorious Rebel soldiers and secure TIE fighters.

  • The Empire’s TIE fighters have long been described as being inexpensive, expendable fighters that possessed superior speed and manoeuvrability because of their light weight. Lacking any sort of life support system, shielding and hyper-drive, the TIE fighters were essentially engines bolted onto a cockpit and a pair of fast-firing laser cannons. However, for gameplay reasons, Battlefront II‘s TIE fighters are more durable and act as a good all-around vehicle for space combat.

  • The flight controls in Battlefront II are actually somewhat cumbersome and cannot be fully customised, forcing players to acclimatise to the strange combination of mouse and keyboarding flying. When I reached the first space mission, I actually stopped playing and spent several rounds in the arcade mode to get a better feel for the controls. Once I got used to them, I was able to keep up in at least the single-player mission and accomplish my tasks with efficiency. Muscle memory led me to try and fly like I did in Ace Combat 7, with disastrous (and hilarious) results.

  • Iden is next sent to secure an Imperial dockyard from Rebel forces so that delivery of a secret weapon system can be completed. However, when ion cannons from a Mon Calamari cruiser threaten the operation, Iden is sent to board the cruiser and disable the guns. Battlefront II does not have its 2005 incarnation’s seamless transition between flight and infantry combat, instead relying on transitions in the campaign to achieve the same thing, but its implementation is likely in part owing to the increased complexity of the assets.

  • The first hero players will control is Luke Skywalker, who’s visiting Pillio in search of Jedi artefacts. As Luke, players have access to a Force push, heavy attack and sabre rush that lets Luke close the distance with enemies very quickly. Heroes in Battlefront II seem more vulnerable than their Battlefront counterparts: against the Stormtroopers on Pillio, I had to be cautious and engage them smartly, since Luke’s health can be quickly decimated by enemy fire.

  • After Luke meets Del, he helps Del fend off attack from the native wildlife. Heroes in Battlefront II have stamina for their attacks, and this is drained on a lightsaber strike, or when a block is used. Thus, one cannot swing wildly for risk of running out of stamina mid-battle, which renders Force-users less effective. Once the onslaught ends and Del unlocks the door to the storehouse, he and Luke part ways after Luke finds something noteworthy in the chamber, with Luke hoping to meet again under different circumstances.

  • Iden’s abilities vary and depend on the mission. For the most part, I utilise them to give myself a boost in a given situation, and here, I fight through Vardos after Iden and Del decide to defect from the Empire. Most people considered this to be a highly predictable, sanctimonious turn of events that reinforces the idea that the Empire is irredeemably evil, rather than the multi-faceted enemy that the extended universe (especially Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy) explored, and ever since Disney took the rights to Star Wars, I admit that the storytelling has been less nuanced than it was previously.

  • From a gameplay perspective, Iden’s defection means that one now has the chance to fight Imperial Stormtroopers and implements of the Imperial forces again: I ended up destroying an AT-ST walker en route to my objective using nothing more than a blaster during this mission. While enemy vehicles are powerful forces to contend with in the campaign, even the absence of dedicated anti-armour doesn’t really mean much, since one could stay out of its attack range and chip away at its health.

  • Of course, having anti-armour weapons like a grenade launcher or rocket launcher will help expedite things considerably. The mission on Vardos also gives players a chance to take the gunner’s seat in an AT-AT and use the famous walker’s arsenal to destroy everything standing between Iden and the Corvus. Despite its power, the AT-AT actually feels a little weak, taking at least two hits to down infantry with its main weapon. This was probably done to balance the reinforcement’s power.

  • After escaping Vardos and surrendering to the Rebel Alliance, Iden and Del decide to help them when Lando presents them with a choice. Flying an X-Wing for the first time, Iden thus disables the Cinder satellites before helping the Rebels take down a Star Destroyer in a mission that would not seem out of place in Rogue Leader. The X-Wing is the Rebel Alliance’s trademark fighter, being a powerful and versatile starfighter that balances manoeuvrability with durability. The interceptors are lighter weight, faster and more manoeuvrable in exchange for reduced durability and firepower, while bombers possess more firepower at the expense of mobility.

  • Once Iden clears the Operation Cinder satellites, gameplay switches over to Leia on the ground. She’s armed with a blaster pistol, can summon a defensive shield, use a flash grenade to disorient enemies and can pull out a confiscated Imperial blaster rifle for increased firepower. It felt great to return to Naboo two years after my first visit in Battlefront II during the open beta.

  • Playing as Leia meant switching out my usual E-11 blaster, the Imperial standard-issue rifle that is versatile and reliable, for a Defender Sporting rifle. I believe Leia used such a weapon at the very beginning of A New Hope, and this weapon is capable of downing a Stormtrooper in one shot during the campaign. It also has the unique ability to be charged for a more powerful shot, making it effective over longer ranges.

  • Leia’s mission is to provide covering fire for Del and Rebel soldiers looking to reactivate an ion pulse to disable all Imperial weapons. The mission takes players through the same parts of Theed that the open beta’s mission covered, right up to the palace doors. From here, the pulse is activated and that’s it for the mission: it looks like to explore the hangar where Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon squared off against Darth Maul, plus the interior of the palace, I’ll need to get into a multiplayer match.

  • The campaign takes players to Takodana (not to be mistaken with SSSS.Gridman‘s Rikka Takorada), a planet seen in The Force Awakens. Players assume the role of Han Solo, who’s there speaking to an Imperial informant who intends to provide intel on the Wookies and Kashyyyk. As Han, players have access to his legendary DL-44 heavy blaster pistol, a highly reliable weapon that can one-shot Stormtroopers.

  • Beyond a reliable blaster, Han also has access to a remote-detonated grenade similar to the sticky grenades of The Division and can charge into a crowd of enemies to knock the first enemy over. On top of this, the DL-44 can have its rate of fire increased. All around, he’s a fun character to play, and there was immense satisfaction in using the DL-44 to blow Stormtroopers away: in most games, pistols are considered to be secondary weapons to be counted in during a pinch, but the blaster pistols of Star Wars are equally as effective at range, handling similarly to the M6C Magnum of Halo.

  • After digging through crates the Imperial informant points out to find the intel, Han fights his way through squads of Stormtroopers to reach Chewbacca. Fighting what felt like an entire legion of Stormtroopers here proved tricky, and while the DL-44 is great for dealing with smaller groups, it’s decided less suited for situations where enemies are coming from all sides. It took use of each of Han’s abilities to get through this stage.

  • Once Chewbacca finishes repairing the Millennium Falcon, it’s time to take to the skies and drive off the Imperial forces that appear. Being a Hero ship, the Millennium Falcon’s large size belies its solid performance. Armed with an afterburner, concussion missiles and an automatic quad turret, the Millennium Falcon is considered to be the best Hero ship in Battlefront II, with Boba Fett’s Slave I being the best vessel for the Villains. Maz will berate Han for bringing the Imperial forces in, but with the Millennium Falcon, they are easily dealt with.

  • Iden and Del find themselves on Bespin once they learn that Admiral Versio and Gideon are here. They disguise themselves as Stormtroopers and infiltrate the Imperial facility, but fail to find either Admiral Versio or Gideon. The flight into the facility has players passing by Beldon, voluminous creatures that produced Tibanna gas (utilised as a hyperdrive coolant and for bolstering turbolaser firepower) as a part of their metabolic processes.

  • After the mission goes awry, Iden and Del just barely get away. The amount of firepower brought to bear on the two is incredible, and I ended up fighting an AT-ST walker as well as legions of Stormtroopers. A mounted turret made it much easier to deal with enemies: while stationary weapons generally turn a player into an easy target for snipers in multiplayer settings, in campaigns, most of the AI aren’t capable of sharpshooting and therefore, with their unlimited ammunition and ability to lay down sustained fire, stationary turrets are excellent.

  • Unlike Rogue Leader, which had players participate in a raid on Bespin to secure Cloud City and the Tibanna gas facilities, Battlefront II has Iden and Del turn their attention towards destroying the docking station for three Imperial Star Destroyers. Iden takes control of a Cloud Car, which were originally intended as private transports but, with the inclusion of blasters, becomes a makeshift light fighter. They are not powerful or durable, but their blasters are sufficient in igniting the Tibanna gas platforms the Star Destroyers are docked to.

  • Iden’s raid on Bespin turns out to be much shorter than the one seen in Rogue Leader: once she’s done destroying the platforms, they will explode and destroy the remaining Star Destroyers. Seeing the different visuals and settings in Battlefront II makes me long for a full remake of Rouge Squardon III: Rebel Strike, which was a sequel to Rogue Leader that added on-foot missions. With the assets of Battlefront II already in place, a remake of Rebel Strike with flight missions from Rogue Leader would truly bring iconic missions to life in the latest and greatest game engine.

  • Such a campaign-based Star Wars game would be very unlikely: the games of old were developed and published back in a time when games had a larger single-player focus, when micro-transactions and DLC were not part of a publisher’s business model and when one would get their full money’s worth for a title. These days, games have a larger multiplayer piece, so it is already something that Battlefront II has a campaign.

  • While I entered Lando’s mission to Sullest with some apprehension, it turned out that Lando’s abilities to deploy smoke, track enemies and automatically lock onto enemies with his blaster were superbly useful: Lando was most fun to play, enhanced by his banter with Shriv. Towards the end of the mission, players get to take control of an AT-ST and use its loadout to melt the Imperial soldiers below. While Lando winds up destroying the facility, to Iden’s disappointment that the Rebels won’t get any additional weapons, the strike at Sullest also sets in motion the final mission of Battlefront II.

  • Players actually have a chance to see the Battle of Jakku now: this is Rey’s homeworld, and by the events of The Force Awakens, the desert planet is best known for the wreckage of old Imperial Star Destroyers embedded in the sand dunes. Being able to participate in the mop-up operation that sees the end of Palpatine’s Empire was a thrilling experience, and it was fun to fly in what is the largest battle in Battlefront II‘s campaign.

  • That the Battle of Jakku is set during a sunset is meant to be symbolic: sunsets mark the end of something, and contrary to the officers’ belief otherwise, the Imperials are fighting a losing battle here. After clearing the skies somewhat, Iden descends to a fallen Star Destroyer and plants explosive devices on TIE bombers to take them out of the equation. She then flies towards the battlefront where the Empire has deployed AT-ATs that have begun firing on a Rebel position.

  • While the AT-AT walkers were originally portrayed as terrifying enemies in The Empire Strikes Back, decades of watching the rebels use Attack Pattern Delta on them, followed by the fact that they actually numerous weaknesses, meant that by the time Iden is asked to tag the AT-ATs for bombardment, I thought nothing of them. I long have wondered why X-Wings were never brought to bear against AT-ATs at Hoth, and the answer for this is simple enough. Except for Luke’s X-Wing, all available X-Wings were scrambled to escort the transport craft, and the second is that while an X-Wing could trivially destroy AT-ATs with strafing runs. This would, however, lessen their impact on the Hoth evacuation.

  • The penultimate segment to the Battle of Jakku sees Iden engage Gideon in single combat in an intense dogfight. While a tough opponent, Gideon is no Mihaly A. Shilage, and I ended up defeating him. With Gideon gone for the present, Iden then lands on the Star Destroyer that Admiral Versio is commanding, clears off the deck of opponents and heads off to rescue her father. He declines to go with her, but admits that the Empire was flawed. Wishing her to make the most of her life, he dies as his Star Destroyer crashes onto Jakku’s surface. Iden escapes and passionately kisses Del in the aftermath, bringing the main campaign to an end.

  • There’s actually an epilogue where players get to step into the shoes of Kylo Ren as he is interrogating an older Del for information on Luke Skywalker, as well. With this post finished, I have one more coming out for today, where I write about GochiUsa: ~Sing For You~. Like that Saturday when GochiUsa‘s second season aired four years ago, it’s a beautiful, sunny morning, and I’ll be sitting down to write about this long-awaited addition to GochiUsa later in the day.

With the first campaign now in the books, I still have yet to go through Battlefront II‘s Resurrection campaign, which is set between the events of the first campaign and The Force Awakens. There is a surprising amount of depth to Battlefront II, and having given the multiplayer a short test drive, I am genuinely impressed with how far the game has come since its initial launch in 2017, where its microtransaction and progression system create a controversy so large, it impacted policy change surrounding how microtransactions could be implemented in a game. Since then, DICE tirelessly worked to improve Battlefront II, and players going into the game today will not see any of the elements that caused said controversy two years previously. Progression is simply accomplished by using a class, reinforcement or hero. Battlefront II has seen three seasons’ worth of updates that added new maps, game modes and heroes free of charge: the game now has Clone Wars content and more options for solo play. Seeing all of the development effort and care that went into Battlefront II is, in conjunction with a well-timed sale, why I picked the game up: good Star War games are rare these days simply because there aren’t very many of them, and Battlefront II comes the closest to being a modern incarnation of Rogue Leader, which remains my favourite classic Star Wars game of all time for giving players a chance to re-enact classic Star Wars experiences. Battlefront II may not allow players to fly down the trench of the first Death Star or fight the Battle of Endor the same way that Rogue Leader did, but by expanding on the universe and placing players at key moments after the second Death Star was destroyed, the game does succeed in bringing back the mechanics and atmosphere that makes Star Wars so enjoyable.