The Infinite Zenith

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The Last Tiger: Reflections on the Battlefield V Campaign

“Well, commanders don’t have the luxury of saying old shit that comes into their heads like drivers do!” –Peter Müller

Peter Müller is the commander of a Tiger I tank who fought in North Africa, but as Allied forces advance across Europe, German forces are forced into retreat. Müller is assigned with defending Cologne, and as they fight to repel Allied forces, come across soldiers branded as traitors and deserters. when artillery bombards Müller’s position, he is tasked with launching a counterattack. Despite successfully destroying the artillery pieces, Allied aircraft bombard the city. Müller sends Hartmann to scout ahead for a route, but Hartmann disappears in the smoke. When aircraft renew their bombardment and damages their Tiger, Müller himself leaves the tank to fend off the aircraft while his crew repair the tank. Rejoining his crew, Müller then makes his way to another position held by American forces and recovers documents pertinent to the war. As night falls, Müller is given a final assignment: to defend a cathedral from the relentlessly advancing American units. Despite Allied orders to surrender, the crew opt to fight. Over the radio, German command issues a retreat, but while Müller is crossing a bridge, German forces sabotage the bridge and destroy it. With their Tiger I out of commission, Müller decides to surrender and removes his Iron Cross. Schröder, who shot another crew member earlier, turns his MP40 on Müller. Despite the Führer’s order to defend Germany to the death resulting in countless German casualties, both civilian and military alike, the Allies capture Cologne in March 1945. Berlin itself would fall two months later, putting an end to the war. It is rare that a World War Two game would be presented from the Axis perspective, and players have long wondered what such stories would be like: in a single war story, Battlefield V gives rare insight into the thoughts of a German tank commander who once fought with the goal of bringing glory to Germany. But as the war wore on and casualties mounted along with increasing Allied resolve to crush Hitler’s tyranny, Müller begins to wonder if the war is still worth fighting when hope for victory becomes increasingly distant with each passing day.

History is written by the victor: when I was much younger, I always wondered why the “good guys” always won wars. It turned out that the vanquished don’t have much say in things, and intrigue in alternate outcomes of wars have been the source of many stories in the realm of fiction. The Allied forces fought in Europe to keep a maniacal dictator from spreading his influence over Europe and indiscriminately exterminating all those deemed undesirable. This much, the history books explain, but there are also untold stories of soldiers and officers with the Axis forces who were not fanatically devoted to Hitler’s visions. As the Nazi leadership became more untenable, many would begin wondering what they were fighting for, and whether or not what they were fighting for held any value. This is the story players see through Müller, who beholds the destruction and death that Hitler’s decisions had brought on the German people: increasing doubt and concern when leadership fails, and lingering questions as to whether or not alternatives, such as surrendering, are viable. A successful leader is one who can sway the minds of the moderate, who are likely the majority, and when one has a majority, they can realise their vision. When this majority begins faltering, and the leader loses the confidence of their people, they can no longer realise their vision regardless of how fanatical their most loyal supporters remain. By bringing this perspective of World War Two, Battlefield V gives a very brief sample of what a World War Two game written from the Axis perspective would be like: lacking a sense of heroism and accomplishment, players who finish a game about the Axis powers would come away with doubts about the value of conflict. Such a game could be a very sobering and instructive experience, representing a very novel and unique experience compared to other World War Two shooters available.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Ordinarily, I drive a tank with the camera directly behind me, or else from within. The Last Tiger does things very differently than the multiplayer, rather similar to how Battlefield 1‘s Storm of Steel modified the Mark V’s mechanics so that players could take the campaign in a more relaxed manner than in the multiplayer. After a few minutes, the novelty wore off, and I progressed with the mission, which is set in the ruined streets of Cologne: at this point in the war, Nazi forces had been pushed back into Germany by the Allied forces, who were nearing victory.

  • The Tiger I is one of the most iconic German tanks from World War Two, being famous for its legendary firepower and ability to shrug off damage from almost all Allied tanks. Despite its fearsome reputation, however, the Tiger I was also a fickle tank, being quick to break down, and was very expensive to manufacture. While superior to the American M4 Sherman and Soviet T-34 in terms of durability and firepower, Tiger Is were produced in sufficiently small numbers to have had a minimal outcome on the war.

  • By the later days of the war, British engineers had designed new kinetic penetrators that could deal damage to Tiger tanks at range, while American tacticians focused on using anti-tank guns rather than other tanks to deal with Tigers. The Soviets, in their typical manner, deployed the SU-52, whose 152 mm main gun was more than sufficient to turn Tiger tanks into scrap metal. While technology advanced, the once-mighty Tiger would come to represent a German war machine no longer able to keep up with the Allies’ superior resources and resourcefulness.

  • The Tiger II was an upgrade to the Tiger I, featuring sloped armour that gave it additional protection and a 8.8 cm KwK 43 gun: an upgrade over the Tiger I’s Kwk 36, the Kwk 43 had a longer projectile whose increased length and propellant resulted in a higher muzzle velocity that gave it improved penetration at range. The Tiger II, Panther and Jagdpanther are noticeably absent from Battlefield V, as is the Jagdtiger.

  • Driving through the ruined streets of Cologne gives a very desolate feeling, one that I have not felt from a video game since the days when I played Sniper Elite V2. My original interest in Sniper Elite V2 came from the game giving players a chance to fight through the Flaktowers of Berlin, and my journey to land headshots took me through Berlin towards the latter day of the war.

  • Players will face the M4 Sherman during The Last Tiger: this medium tank was the most widely-produced American tank of World War Two and when introduced, it was able to deal with the weaker German tanks without much issue during North African campaigns. American military leadership never felt the need to produce a heavier tank, feeling that the logistics of supplying and maintaining heavier tanks, plus their limitations in traversing over terrain, would make heavy tanks unviable. While Shermans would be upgraded with a 76mm gun (from its original 75 mm gun) or the Ordnance QF 17-pounder, American forces opted to engage the Tiger tanks by means of numerical superiority and logistical support rather than introducing heavier tanks.

  • In The Last Tiger, M4 Shermans can be destroyed in as little as two shots, and players have access to unlimited ammunition, as well as unlimited repairs: I long imagined the lessening repair effectiveness in Battlefield V‘s multiplayer to be a bug, but it turns out that this is by design. Players operating tanks are forced to rely on resupply stations to for ammunition, and while they can self-repair tanks, friendly support players and resupply stations are much more effective. Their vulnerabilities mean that tanks are actually quite ineffective in open maps of conquest, where long lines of sight allow enemies to quickly spot armour and bring them down.

  • By comparison, more linear game modes like rush and frontlines allows tanks to be devastatingly effective. Back in the campaign, despite the sense of desolation, players still feel powerful as they single-handedly engage M4 tanks without much resistance. The Last Tiger is an excellent opportunity to experience how fearsome the Tiger I was – in the multiplayer, Tiger Is can be torn to shreds by a few coordinated assault players and feel distinctly underpowered, but here in the campaign, very little stands in Müller’s way as he pushes forward with his objective.

  • This is probably the feeling one might expect from the Tiger I: the Tiger I brings to mind Maho Nishizumi of Girls und Panzer, who operates a Tiger I numbered 212 in reference to Michael Wittmann, a well-known German tank commander during World War Two. Despite her cold mannerisms, Maho is shown to be compassionate and kind-hearted; Shiho is similarly caring for her daughters despite any outward appearances, and this side of her personality is shown in Girls und Panzer: Motto Love Love Sakusen Desu!, which showcases various characters in everyday situations outside of Panzerfahren. In particular, Shiho has attempted to make amends with Miho in Motto Love Love Sakusen Desu! with a party, but ended up frightening Miho away with how ostentatious things were.

  • Shiho’s beliefs were not quite as well established when Girls und Panzer first aired, and so, were the subject of no small discussion some seven years previously. I watched this one from the sidelines: at this time of year, I was pushing through my undergraduate thesis and did not have time to spare for much else. In retrospect, I am very glad to have done this: when Girls und Panzer‘s final two episodes aired, I enjoyed both, wrote about them and then went on my merry way, leaving the flame war’s participants to their devices. Going through Girls und Panzer and hearing that the second instalment of Das Finale will come out in June has me wondering if DICE will make good on their live service model to add more content into Battlefield V‘s multiplayer in the way of new maps and factions.

  • At this point in time, I’ve almost got eighty hours in Battlefield V, meaning that I’m very close to breaking even (I believe that when I get a dollar per hour out of a game, I’ve gotten my money’s worth). The Tides of War have certainly kept me entertained –  I’ve played more Battlefield V than I did Battlefield 1 during the same period because there’s been a deep progression system and things to do each week, but admittedly, playing on the same maps gets dull fast. At this point in time, I have learned the maps well enough to anticipate where players are, and even campers blending in with the environment prove to be a lesser concern than the lingering question on my mind.

  • Battlefield V is supposed to be introducing the Firestorm Battle Royale game mode very soon, and admittedly, I have no interest in this mode whatsoever. I understand DICE’s wish to capitalise on the market demand for Battle Royale, but the game type never really appealed to me, and it’ll likely just remain unplayed. I would personally like to have more maps, more iconic battles and more factions. Back in the campaign, having pushed through the level and having melted all opposition in my path, the skies begin darkening as nightfall sets in. The mission, while largely set in a tank, has some segments where players will get to play as Müller while on foot.

  • The MP-40 makes a return here, and while on foot, it’s a solid all-around weapon for engaging American soldiers at close quarters. For the first time in a shooter, I was able to understand what the enemy was saying without the need for subtitles: having played Wolfenstein, I became accustomed to hearing enemies converse in German, and here, it was a little jarring. I ultimately did not manage to complete the stealth requirements for the challenges here, and ended up shooting my way through the entire segment of this war story.

  • This past weekend was quite busy: after an intense work week, I spent a Saturday afternoon at a shopping centre updating my wardrobe for spring, which has finally begin to arrive. After enjoying the best burgers, Russet fries and root beers this side of town, I picked up a beautiful new wristwatch in addition to shirts for the warming weather. I’ve had the old watch since I wrote the finale review for Gundam Unicorn – this watch had been with me to France, Cancún, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan; it’s a little worn and the gears aren’t in the best shape, but I was a little sad to decommission it. This new watch is a bit of a fashion statement, deliberately chosen it for its bronze highlights, distinct frame and the fact that it was on sale for five-eighths off, and I hope it’ll have a good run.

  • Yesterday was the spring lunch for my dōjō: I reached ni-dan a year ago, and while my new belt has not arrived yet, I certainly do feel a bit more with teaching and concepts than I did even a year ago. I spent most of the class helping set up the tables and transporting the food, and while the turnout this year was not quite as large as it was in years previously, it was still a good event with dragon dances and old karate films, as well as plenty of food (meat skewers, pot stickers, sweet-and-sour pork, spicy ginger beef, spring rolls, fries, fried noodles, fried rice, fried chicken, you get the picture). After the lunch ended and I had helped clean up, I took off to watch Captain Marvel with a friend who was in town. I found the movie a solid one, and while perhaps not as inspired or hilarious as Thor: RagnarokBlack PantherAvengers: Infinity War or Guardians of the Galaxy, it was a good movie in its own right that sets the stage for the upcoming Avengers: Endgame.

  • With no inclination for stealth, I ended up blasting my way through the American soldiers in the area to reach the documents. There was a similar mission in Sniper Elite V2 that saw me sneak through an empty but guarded building to locate documents relevant to the V2 programme. In Sniper Elite V2, shooting the fuel cap on a Tiger I was enough to destroy the entire tank; while unrealistic by all counts, it was a fun feature that allowed players to go toe-to-toe with armour with naught more than steady aim. I believe I got the title for five dollars, beat it once and then that was it.

  • I realise I’ve spent a great deal of this post going off-topic – the reality is that The Last Tiger is very straightforwards in its gameplay, and there aren’t very many unpleasant surprises in this mission. The Tiger I is capable of blasting all opposition into hunks of metal, and players only need to aim, fire and then take cover to repair as required; beyond this, The Last Tiger is a cinematic experience highlighting desperation in a losing war.

  • The final act of The Last Tiger is set in the burning ruins of Cologne, as Müller and his crew must fend off waves of Allied tanks. Players must contend with the T34 Calliope, which are modified Sherman M4s with a dedicated rocket launcher system so named for its unusual appearance. They can deal some damage to the player at range, so taking them out is a priority whenever they appear. The flaming cityscape screams desolation, and it is quite easy to see how this Tiger I crew, having held out for this long with a steadfast determination, begin losing resolve as their whole world appears to go up in flames.

  • This battle is intense, and despite Müller’s best efforts to stem the Allied advance on his own, the cathedral is overrun. German command orders him to retreat over the bridge, but before he can cross, the bridge is destroyed. This bridge is modelled after Cologne’s Hohenzollern Bridge, which crosses the Rhine River. With this post done, the last of my war stories posts is completed, and the next time I write about Battlefield V will be about the multiplayer, should there be new maps to explore. Insofar, Battlefield V‘s superior weapon mechanics and progression system have been held back by a lack of information: while I’m having fun with the game, it’s a bit problematic to not know what’s coming up next for the title.

  • While Battlefield V has proven to be a fun game, it appears that the franchise is struggling to decide what its next steps will be. The end result is that Battlefield V has not been as smooth as it could have been, although in hindsight, I don’t regret picking up Battlefield V. Having unlocked almost everything of note, it means that should I choose to direct my time elsewhere (say, The Master Chief Collection), I still have gotten reasonable value from Battlefield V. It would be a shame if iconic World War Two weapons, locations and battles never make it into the title (I would’ve liked to run more Strike Witches and Girls und Panzer loadouts), but I probably won’t be losing too much sleep over what could have been, as I reacquaint myself with the likes of Blood Gulch (Halo: Combat Evolved), Lockout (Halo 2) and Reflection (Halo: Reach).

With this post, I’ve finally finished writing about the war stories of Battlefield V: The Last Tiger brings a different style of gameplay with respect to tank operation, and as I came in with some experience from the multiplayer, things were a little unusual. Unlimited ammunition and self-repair capabilities makes Müller’s Tiger I much more survivable than any tank I’ve operated in the multiplayer, and players cannot actively switch between a third-person and first person view. Instead, the game locks players to an over-the-shoulder camera with options for optics. These decisions were made to purely accommodate the story (I can imagine that limited ammo and repairs against large numbers would be considered unfair), and while making it easier to take in the story, also means that the war story cannot be really considered to be a tutorial for the multiplayer. The Last Tiger is also unique among the war stories for being the only story to offer a vehicle skin on full completion, and for being added to Battlefield V separately after launch. It is a shame that despite their modular design, no more war stories will be added; the voice acting and set-piece creation is an intensive process that would divert resources from improving multiplayer and adding new content, and so, I can understand the decision to not add new war stories. With this being said, The Last Tiger was a welcome addition to the game and definitely does keep in line with Battlefield V‘s war stories, that deal with perspectives that are less explored. However, since players are focused on the multiplayer, that’s where DICE’s resources should be going, and moving ahead, I am hoping that DICE makes a massive push with respect to their content; the basic gameplay is now stable, and the Tides of War have steadily added weapons and vehicles. What Battlefield V is missing is new maps, and new factions. Bringing these into the game would transform a minimally-viable game with solid mechanics into a memorable and long-lasting shooter that could (and should) break Battlefield from the mold that bi-yearly releases have wedged the game into. Supporting a single title for longer would create a game with extensive replay value, and especially with the news of Halo: The Master Chief Collection coming to PC, DICE will need to put in an effort to convince me that Battlefield is a comparable shooter to the likes of Halo.

Tirailleur: Reflections on the Battlefield V Campaign

“When the French army liberated Paris, they pulled back all the black troops. They replaced them with more…familiar faces. But I know what we did. And at what cost. And I’m proud of it.” —Deme Cisse

Deme Cisse is a Senegalese veteran who fought under Idrissa in a Tirailleur company. After arriving in France and deemed unfit to serve on the frontlines, they are asked to destroy German anti-air emplacements and capture a German position. Fighting against better-armed German soldiers, the Tirailleurs manage to succeed, and emboldened by their success, Deme rallies the other Tirailleurs into pressing ahead, arguing that they’ve done more than the regular French forces has thus far. The Tirailleurs press into German-held ground and attempt to take out additional German anti-air guns, but several Tirailleurs are captured in the process. As they destroy the last of the guns, a wounded German soldier taunts the Tirailleurs, saying that they are surrounded. In order to deceive the Germans, Deme recommends pushing ahead and capturing a château under German control. After clearing a village out, the Tirailleurs head for the château and defeat the German forces guarding it. However, a Tiger I appears and opens fire on the Tirailleurs. Idrissa manages to approach the tank and disable it with a grenade, but dies in the process. When Deme breaks into the château, he finds wounded Germans everywhere. The French captain arrives and congratulates the Tirailleurs, asking for a photograph, but the Tirailleurs are removed from the photograph later. Even though history failed to record and recognise their considerable contributions to the war, Deme remarks that he knows what they’ve done. In the course of World War Two, a total of two hundred thousand Senegalese Tirailleurs fought for France, and in 2010, France would award full military pensions to the surviving thirty thousand veterans. Twenty-eight Senegalese Tirailleurs would be granted French citizenship in 2017 by former French president Francois Hollande, indicating that their heroics had not only been remembered, but also celebrated.

The Senegalese Tirailleurs were light infantry recruited from Senegal; formed in 1857 by Louis Faidherbe, the Tirailleurs were meant to act as soldiers to offset the limited number of soldiers in French colonies. They would serve in both World War One and World War Two, but for the most part, their contributions have remained quite unknown. This is the theme that the Tirailleur war story portrays – while every soldier has a story to tell, not every soldier’s story is recorded into the annals of history. Seeing things from the eyes of a Tirailleur brings to light the sorts of challenges and struggles they had while fighting in France; from the distain of the regular French Army to the power their enemy has brought to bear, the Tirailleurs fought an exceedingly difficult battle in France, and did so with distinction. Against all expectation, Deme and his brothers-in-arms manage to accomplish what was thought to be suicidal. A French captain is impressed with their actions, but the social climate meant their actions would be skated over and go uncredited. In spite of this, Deme believes that his actions were not in vain, and that regardless of what the world may otherwise be told, he remembers what he did and knows that their actions counted for something. When I played through the Tirailleur war story, I immediately found a relatable story – I recall a personal story during high school where I single-handedly finished the yearbook when all of the IB students pulled out, and one of the IB students was given recognition for finishing the project. My personal belief is that I will do what is necessary to get things done, and people have taken advantage of my work ethic for their own ends. I had joined the Yearbook Club to make yearbooks, and strove to finish it simply because it would be a a record of classmates’ memories, which I could be proud of. The day the yearbooks arrived from the print shop, I was called out of class to help the yearbook advisor unpack the yearbooks, and seeing the finished product was something that made me far happier than receiving a medal could. Deme similarly knows what he accomplished counts for something, and even if others may not recognise his achievements, he still knows and can be proud of it.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Deme starts Tirailleur with the Chauchat LMG; this distinct-looking weapon made an appearance in Battlefield 1 as a support weapon that I found to be quite difficult to use at my preferred ranges as a result of its low fire rate. From a design perspective, the Chauchat was an innovative weapon that can also be thought of as a precursor to modern battle rifles, although its unusual magazine meant it was susceptible to jams.

  • Tirailleur has the second-nicest environments in Battlefield V‘s war stories: the autumn forests and orange foliage look amazing amongst the shafts of volumetric lighting. The aspen groves in my area cover the ground in leaves of yellow during the autumn, and during this time of year, I find it to be especially pleasant for walks. While still quite warm, later summer and early autumn days are not as hot as mid-summer, and nowhere nearly as cold as a Real Canadian Winter™, making it perfect for being outside.

  • The Chauchat’s low rate of fire works to its advantage, but I eventually switch over to other weapons to improve my adaptability. After clearing out a German position, I find an FG-42 among the host of semi-automatic rifles. The FG-42 remains a solid choice for mid-range engagements even with its iron sights, and in the campaign, the lack of options for changing out the weapon sights means that I’m more ineffective with semi-automatic or bolt action weapons.

  • Deme passes over a ridge and into a gully below lined with concrete Drachenzähne (Dragon’s Teeth), designed to slow down armour. These constructs were employed widely by both Allied and Axis powers, and their construction means that many installations are still intact. The wide open spaces here means that having a good long-range weapon becomes an asset: I picked up a scoped M.95 Gewehr and used it to pick off enemies, but ammunition scarcity forced me to push on ahead.

  • A multiplayer map similar to this area of Tirailleur could be a solid choice for the breakthrough and frontlines game modes: we’re nearly four months into Battlefield V‘s launch, and while new weapons and vehicles have been steadily introduced, what’s really missing from the classic Battlefield experience are new maps. Battlefield V does feel distinctly minimal with its launch content, and while I’ve yet to hit the maximum rank for my medic and recon classes, I have reached level fifty now. The limited map selection and absence of American, Russian and Japanese forces is especially noticeable.

  • I am continuing to hope that Russians, Americans and Japanese soldiers, weapons and vehicles will make it into the game over the next two years; it is still early in the game, and should Battlefield V prove too dull, there are a host of other games I can play through in the meantime. With this being said, the Tides of War weekly assignments have given me incentive to return and play the game: DICE has applied the Road to Battlefield lessons of old and managed to return me to the game, but what will really drive my excitement is new maps and iconic experiences like Normandy and Iwo Jima.

  • While it was disappointing to learn that the Tides of War won’t bring any new war stories into Battlefield V, I do understand that campaign missions can be quite labour-intensive to implement. Besides event programming and voice acting, levels must also be designed to accommodate a single-player experience. With this being said, I am not of the mind that future Battlefield titles should skip out on a campaign: I’ve never been a fan of pure multiplayer games, and a quick glance at my library shows that Battlefield is about the only series that I actively play multiplayer for.

  • For me, a good game is an interactive, immersive experience. I play games for the same reason that I read books: to lose myself in another world and take in the sights and sounds developers, engineers, writers and actors/actresses have crafted into a virtual world to create a realm that merits exploration. Single-player games are immeasurably enjoyable for this reason, and for me, is what defines gaming. As such, it is fortunate that developers and publishers continue with single-player games that promote experiences: titles like DOOM and Deus Ex are examples of recent single player games with solid value.

  • Once I reach the final point in Tirailleur’s first act, I managed to clear it out and found an MG-42. This is the last weapon unlocked for the support class, and it is a beast of a weapon with its firing rate. I’ve managed to unlock it and have made use of it, finding it an excellent defensive weapon. The only downside about the weapon is that even with all specialisations, one cannot accurately run a Strike Witches loadout: the drum magazines are not available for the weapon as it is for the MG-34. However, the MG-42 is a fine weapon: with up to 250 rounds and a distinct overheating animation where the player will swap out a barrel, the weapon is a joy to use.

  • While Tirailleur’s first act involves going loud, the second act requires more stealth elements. Deme is equipped with the De Lisle Commando Carbine, an excellent suppressed weapon that can be used to engage enemies at range. I find that stealth in Battlefield campaigns is out of place and strictly speaking, quite unnecessary: Battlefield is about shooting stuff, after all, and to go through a campaign while avoiding firefights, however realistic it might be, feels contrary to the point of a first person shooter.

  • I’ve heard that the medic class will be getting a new class of weapons quite soon, and moreover, that this class of weapons will be suited for a longer-range playstyle that will allow medics to engage distant foes on maps where close quarters is in shorter supply. This is most welcome: having options is what gives players the sense that they are always ready to deal with whatever comes their way, and for the longest time, the medic was constrained to close quarters.

  • Here, Deme must sneak past groups of German soldiers to rejoin his unit, before they can continue taking out anti-air emplacements deep in enemy territory. I ended up giving up on stealth halfway through and proceeded to blast everything in sight: this is a recurring trend in video games, and I’m sure numerous other players have seen this happen. I am certain that there is probably a handful of flanking routes I could take to avoid detection, and this, along with an epic melee weapon, could merit a revisitation in the future.

  • Once the fortified German positions are reached, it’s time to go weapons hot and blow up anything that moves. While I’ve hung onto the M.95 Gewehr for ranged combat, there’s no point in having two single-action weapons. German soldiers here will drop MP-40s, and I gratefully swapped out the De Lisle for one. The MP-40 is an excellent submachine gun all around, and in the multiplayer, I’ve enjoyed extensive use of the weapon in close quarters, where the medics excel.

  • It’s been some three months since I actually completed the Tirailleur mission: these screenshots were taken on the evening of December 3, and attesting to how busy I’ve been, it’s only now that I have found the time to write about my experiences. Fortunately, my recollection of these missions are excellent – for instance, I still remember that it was a cold evening early in December when I pushed through this mission. I had reached the end of the second act when I got an email with some documents I needed to fill out.

  • Overlooking the village, Deme must disable all of the weapons down below before his fellow Tirailleurs can advance. I was somewhat successful with a stealth approach and managed to disable one of the weapons without being detected. In retrospect, it was probably a better idea to keep the De Lisle, and here, I stopped to admire the scenery before continuing with the mission; it’s a beautiful morning, and all is quiet, but things are about to go loud very quickly.

  • The story I recount above with the Yearbook Club is an older one, and a few evenings ago, I found the yearbook in question. In it, I see a younger self standing in the middle of the Yearbook club surrounded by people I was sure were only present in the beginning, since I hardly saw more than a third of the people actually doing club activities. I was on excellent terms with the club advisor, and do remember spending many club meetings where it was just us. Hence, I was surprised that the individual who won the Yearbook award was someone who I recalled as being largely absent from club activities after classes.

  • For me, the real happiness was seeing how nice the printed yearbooks looked. I knew that I had put my best into making the books, and that’s what counts. With this being said, the school eventually did catch wind of my role in making sure the yearbooks came out alright, and on the night of the awards, I received an unengraved medal under the Yearbook Club category, which suggests to me that a last-minute decision was made. Here, I push up the hill towards the château: it is heavily guarded, and with other the Tirailleurs, I fended off the defending German forces, making use of a Panzerfaust I found to soften up enemy positions.

  • After reaching the top of the road and punching through the château’s main gates, I cleared the area of remaining Germans. A Tiger I appears and wrecks havoc, but is destroyed. In the aftermath, the Tirailleurs secure the château, exceeding all expectations. With this final act done, I’ve finished all of the war stories that were available at Battlefield V‘s launch, and the last remaining war story deals with the German perspective, so I’ll be writing from the perspective of a Tiger I commander.

  • When I last wrote about Battlefield V, I remarked that the StuG IV Tides of War assignment was not worth my time. I ended up eating my words and somehow managed to achieve it the day before DICE decided to modify the assignment to only require five kills rather than twenty. With this modification, however, players were left in limbo and unable to unlock the tank if they had more than five kills but less than nineteen. Perseverance had paid off for me: and thanks to how much time I spent in the gunner seat, I was already rank three for the tank by the time I got it. The assignments for the past two weeks have been more reasonable, and I managed to earn this week’s weapon, the Ross Mk III, in 90 minutes of gameplay.

  • This leaves plenty of time in the upcoming days for going through The Division 2‘s open beta, which runs from March 1 to March 4. Today is also the last day of February: we leave the shortest month of the year behind, and I note that of the nine posts I wrote, six of them dealt with gaming. First and foremost, I should thank my readers for putting up with this. In March, I will be writing more about anime again – Non Non Biyori Vacation is out now, and I am looking forwards to schooling Anime News Network’s pathetic excuse of a review soon. I will also be writing about Penguin Highway and wrapping up my CLANNAD ~After Story~ revisitations. Readers, however, should be aware that I’m going through Ace Combat 7 at a smart pace. As well, I still have one more campaign mission for Battlefield V and at least one reflection of The Division 2‘s open beta. Hence, March will have its share of gaming posts, as well.

Great accomplishments going uncredited, or else being credited to other individuals is an unfortunately common occurrence. Because there is a bit of a personal story attached to this, I found that from a thematic perspective, Tirailleur is probably the strongest war story, underlying what Battlefield V‘s war stories were meant to accomplish – deliberately choosing to explore obscure and remote operations fought by individuals who never got much recognition shows the extent that World War Two impacted the world. In particular, Tirailleur’s dealing with credit (or a lack thereof) where it is due is a powerful reminder that there are numerous aspects of World War Two where heroics and sacrifice are untold simply because of how vast the conflict is. In conjunction with a vividly designed autumn level filled with oranges and reds of foliage, Tirailleur presents to players a solid experience that is probably the most consistent with older Battlefield campaign missions, as players are made to accomplish tasks in a bombastic manner involving good aim and good positioning. While the AI in Battlefield V‘s war stories leave much to be desired, the campaigns do offer a more relaxed, cinematic experience compared to the more chaotic and unpredictable nature of multiplayer. With this post in the books, I only have one more war story to cover, following a tank commander in the final days of World War Two as Allied forces close in on Berlin.

Nordlys: Reflections on the Battlefield V Campaign

“I’ve always found your country to be beautiful…and unsettling. When I came here as a child, they told me stories of creatures and monsters in the woods” —Lieutenant Weber

Lieutenant Weber interrogates Astrid Bjørnstad about the location of resistance fighters. Outside, in the snowy and frigid forests of Norway, Solveig Fia Bjørnstad prepares to infiltrate Vemork Hydroelectric Plant and cripple the German effort to produce heavy water, a component in the refinement of fissable materials for nuclear weapons. Sneaking through the valleys and forests by night, Solveig rescues Astrid and recovers a document. The two are captured, and Astrid pushes Solveig off a bridge to ensure she can continue the mission. Solveig fights hypothermia to reach a dead drop, and before succumbing to the elements, managing to find a cabin and eliminating the lone German soldier inside. The next morning, she reads a letter from Astrid, and makes her way to a portside town where Germans are storing their heavy water shipments. Her actions alert Germans to her presence, and they evacuate with the last remaining shipment. Solveig gives chase, but a U-Boat appears. Astrid attempts to destroy the heavy water with a stick grenade, sinking the U-Boat in the process and the Germans surround Solveig, leaving her to an unknown fate. Nordlys (Norwegian for “Northern Lights”) details the Norwegian heavy water sabotage operations conducted by saboteurs between 1940 and 1943 to prevent the Germans from acquiring the heavy water needed to manufacture nuclear weapons. While modern perspectives find that the heavy water produced at Vemork Hydroelectric Plant had a very low purity and would have unlikely been useful, the bravery of the resistance members involved in the sabotage are recorded. The prospect of Nazi Germany in possession of nuclear weapons was a sobering one, and the Allies made an active effort to cripple the German heavy water programme. By February 1943, the Special Operations Executive (SOE) and Norwegian operatives managed to destroy the production facility. In conjunction with Allied bombing raids, the Germans ceased operations at the site, and the Norwegian heavy water sabotage programme is presently counted as one of the most successful sabotage operations during the Second World War.

Prominently a stealth mission, Nordlys is also perhaps the most visually spectacular, beautiful War Story available in Battlefield V. The bite of a winter’s night is offset by the presence of hauntingly stunning Aurora Borealis adjourning the skies. Slipping through the woods like a ghost, it is easy to see how Norway can seem unsettling: the land is remote, desolate but beautiful, and it attests to the sense of unease both sides of the war would have faced in their efforts to come out victorious. While the Germans may view the Norwegian resistance as monsters in the forests, their own determination to create a technological terror is also akin to opening Pandora’s Box. Even though players see things from Solveig’s perspective and conclude that she’s no monster, creating this sense of uncertainty adds to the sense that in war, both sides have their fears and objectives. Battlefield V mentions that humanising one’s enemies is a surest way to lose the war, , and similar to Battlefield 1, suggests that if we could humanise our enemies, war might not be as vicious or commonplace. Compared to the likes of the Normandy Beach landings or the operation to capture Berlin, heroics such as those undertaken by Norwegian resistance members have largely been forgotten. By taking players into the frozen landscapes of Norway, Battlefield V‘s War Stories both serve to remind players that bravery can definitely take all forms, are motivated by reasons distinct to different individuals and that World War Two was a global conflict, leaving even the most isolated parts of the world untouched. From a game-play perspective, this means fighting a war somewhere faraway from the familiar operations, allowing players to explore locales that most World War Two games don’t visit and seeing how powerful the Frostbite Engine is.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Stealth is ostensibly encouraged in Nordlys – Solveig is equipped with throwing knives that are one-hit kills and totally silent, but have massive drop and thus, take some skill to use. There are numerous paths in the first act, allowing Solveig to sneak past patrols undetected, although there are also some seemingly contradictory challenges. As with Under no Flag, these challenges are designed to encourage multiple playthroughs, and when I return, I will doubtlessly be on easy difficulty to blow through things faster.

  • Players who sneak under the bridge using the lower deck will be rewarded with a suppressed M1911. Suppressed weapons are unavailable in the multiplayer at present: earlier Battlefield titles gave suppressed weapons unique attributes to mix up gameplay, but this has gone away since Battlefield 1. In the campaign, however, they remain useful, and the M1911 allows me to run the James Bond loadout, giving me one more option for dealing with lone guards.

  • While the forests of the True North Strong™ are about majesty and beauty for me, the taiga of the Nordic countries and Siberia are a bit more haunting. Despite the knowledge that I am playing as one of the “monsters in the woods”, the cold, lonely forests of Norway seem quite uninviting here, and passing through a German camp, the fires add an inviting warmth to an otherwise cold-feeling level.

  • The Aurora Borealis in Nordlys are perhaps the most impressive I’ve seen in any video game, even besting those seen in The Eldar Scrolls V: Skyrim. It’s been nearly six years since I picked up Skyrim on a sale, and while I had a great deal of fun in the game, my library has since expanded considerably, so I was finding less time to go through Skyrim. However, I did unlock the Clear Skies Dragon Shout, which allowed me to spawn Aurora Borealis at will during the night. The graphics of Battlefield V are even more impressive, and as I make my way to the hydroelectric plant, the beauty of the aurora are apparent.

  • Aurora are commonly green, a consequence of solar particles interacting with oxygen molecules at an altitude of 240 kilometres. Blue and red aurora come from interactions with nitrogen molecules at different altitudes. Here, I make my way into the facility: having blown the stealth challenge, I decided to go loud for the remainder of the mission. Solveig encounters numerous weapons during the mission, and I went with a combination of single-action rifles, the suppressed M1911 and the FG-42 en route to the plant.

  • In reality, the Vemork Hydroelectric Plant is located outside of Rjukan in Norway, was opened in 1911 and was the world’s largest power plant, producing an output of 108 MW. It produced heavy water from 1934 until 1971, after which it was closed. A new power plant replaced it, and the old site became a museum in 1988, detailing the Norwegian Heavy Water Sabotage programme. When Solveig is running through it, heavy water production is going full force.

  • Sneaking through an empty building, with a suppressed pistol, by night, during the winter, reminds me of 007 Nightfire‘s The Exchange. Since Nightfire, shooters have come a very long way, although Nightfire holds a special place in my books for being the first FPS I’d owned: during Christmas, I used to play various 007 games on my cousin’s Nintendo 64 and GameCube, coming to associate Christmas with the atmospherics in a James Bond shooter. I would tend to say that of the James Bond shooters, Nightfire is probably the most polished, with an engaging campaign and fun multiplayer.

  • One of my longstanding dreams is to travel to historic World War Two sites in Europe: the Vemork Hydroelectric Plant is probably far removed from what might be considered accessible, so I’m probably not to walk through the same halls that Solveig have walked through. There’s a charm about Germany and Austria, so I’m thinking that in the future, my first vacation to Europe will be riding a train through the mountains of Austria and visiting timber-framed German villages. My German is completely gone now – despite having taken German during all three years of my high school, I’ve not once used the language since university.

  • In fact, I would tend to think that I am more proficient now in Japanese than I am in German. If I should choose to visit, I think revisiting some of the basics would be useful. Back in Battlefield V, I managed to reach Astrid, and knowing that the remainder of the mission is a protracted firefight, I found myself a Bren gun. This is Perrine’s weapon of choice in Strike Witches, and is suited for use against the hordes of German soldiers that appear: the single-action rifles are a bit too slow for close quarters. In the multiplayer, the Bren’s biggest disadvantage is its magazine, which is highly obstructive: I’ve not run the Bren with any frequency.

  • The FG-42 is another solid weapon: of the light machine guns, the KE-7, Bren and FG-42 handle most like assault rifles. During the days of the beta, the FG-42, when fully upgraded, was considered the best LMG available. At present, it’s a reliable firearm that is balanced and satisfying to use, and I usually roll with either the Nydar Sight or 3x optics: iron sights have never really worked well for me in Battlefield, so I avoid them where possible.

  • The darkest part of the Nordlys mission is the second act, where Selvig must deliver a dead drop during a raging blizzard. She has access to the M30 Drilling, but there is no option to use the rifle barrel as far as I am aware: I’ve not found any rifle cartridges, and in the campaign, the M30 seems to be a double barreled shotgun only. Hypothermia is a part of the game mechanics here, and Solveig must stop to warm up by the fires periodically to avoid freezing to death. This is an element that was last seen in Battlefield: Bad Company 2’s Snowblind mission, which sees Marlowe separated from his squad, following with his making his way down the mountain during a massive blizzard.

  • On the topic of bitterly cold, snowy weather, a cold wave has struck my area. At the time of writing, it’s been sixteen straight days of -20ºC (-4ºF), with windchills reaching upwards of -40ºC (-40ºF) and yesterday evening, a fierce snowfall hit the area, reducing visibility and making roads dangerous. It grows tiresome to have to go out to weather so cold it bites at any exposed skin, but forecasts show that the cold might be reaching an end.

  • Skiing is a part of several sections in Nordlys, and Solveig can use this to quickly surprise enemies. One challenge entails killing an enemy with a throwing knife while skiing, and to cheese this assignment, I simply equipped the skiis and then threw a knife at an enemy. After the long dark of the night, return of light into Nordlys’ final act was very welcome, and the Norwegian village here looks like it comes fresh out of a Christmas card.

  • Like Under no Flag and Bad Company 2‘s Sangre del Toro mission, the final act of Nordlys gives players the freedom to visit three sites and destroy their targets in any order. Stealth is again a part of the gameplay, but at this point, since players will be causing explosions anyways, I figured that there was little point to staying quiet.

  • During my original playthrough, I was intending to complete the challenge of disabling all alarms, but I might’ve missed one, as the challenge didn’t unlock. On the topic of unlocking things, Battlefield V‘s latest Tides of War assignment is unfeasible owing to how strict the conditions are, making it an unreasonable use of time to try and unlock the Stug IV. I will likely end up buying the tank with company coin later – it is not worth the frustration to try and get the remaining kills: I spent two consecutive hours without any progress, and that time is better spent doing something else.

  • Nowhere else in Battlefield V‘s War Stories are the skies this clear and this deep a blue: Nordlys has definitely captured the feeling of a winter’s morning with its skies. At this time of year back home, the days have begun lengthening again, and the skies are brighter by mid-day. During the shortest days of the year during late December and early January, the sun is very low in the sky, and there is a faint hint of gold in sunlight even when it’s noon.

  • I would suppose that, since I’m in Norway, this is the closest players have to experiencing Les Stroud’s Survivorman Ten Days specials, which aired in 2012. For the Norway special, Stroud started in a remote backcountry road in a broken-down vehicle, then attempts to make his way to more hospitable surroundings. He finds hunters’ cabins and deer remains, making deer soup while a blizzard rages away. Afterwards, his decision to descend the mountains into the valley below leads him to find homes along the coasts of a fjord. I remember that episode best for having a chilling time lapse while Stroud describes the dreams he has while sleeping after his first meal in a while, having watched it in between studying for the MCAT.

  • Here, as I make my way to a cliffside bunker where heavy water shipments are held, I walk along a highway adjacent to the water’s edge. This area reminds me of the roads along the lakes of Interior BC; a few months ago, I was out here for the salmon run; the skies were deep blue and trees were turning yellow as autumn was setting in. I imagine that, in the deep winter, some of these highways would be quite difficult to traverse, as they are covered in snow.

  • I’ve heard a non-trivial amount of controversy surrounding DICE’s decision to use Solveig in place of a male commando unit in Nordlys floating around on the ‘net. For me, playing as Solveig did not change my gameplay experience in any way, so I’ve got no complaints whatsoever. It seems that, following the culture war surrounding games and games journalism in 2014, the community has become only more vociferous at perceived “threats” to games: my own thoughts are that, so as long as game mechanics do not become negatively affected (i.e. as long as we’re not stuck playing games made in the Twine Engine, or by those who only have the vaguest ideas about how Unreal 3 works), I’m not terribly worried.

  • Back in Nordlys, I reach the end of a mission, where a mid-day snowstorm transforms the skies into the sort of miserable grey that has dominated the weather in my area for the past few days. There’s some cover here amongst the equipment, and it is prudent to make use of it while returning fire on the German soldiers. The mission ends here, and while Solveig’s fate is unknown, what is known is that the resistance’s efforts will have a tangible effect on Norway. I will be writing about the Tirailleur mission for Battlefield V, but before then, Ace Combat 7 is the next game I will be writing about. My experiences in it are nothing but positive, and I do wish to do this talk justice.

Granted, the War Stories of Battlefield V, in skipping the best-known campaigns of World War Two, have left players largely disappointed that DICE did not showcase a proper Normandy Landing or capture of Iwo Jima in Frostbite: such a mission would have almost certainly blown away all contemporary World War Two games and allow players to experience famous moments with the latest technological developments. For me, the campaign is a secondary aspect to Battlefield V; previous titles also had campaigns, but the bread-and-butter of the games are largely in their multiplayer components. Having said this, I do enjoy the quiet that campaigns offer to players, allowing one to explore stories and places that are otherwise absent in multiplayer. Missions such as Nordlys showcase how modern game engines can be used in conjunction with solid cinematics and voice-acting to create a captivating, immersive atmosphere that, while perhaps lacking the spectacle of multiplayer, act as an enjoyable experience for those looking to experience a story in an interactive, visual format. The sense of dread, uncertainty and doubt, intermingled with the beautiful landscapes and skies of Norway were very compelling, and despite my lack of prowess with stealth missions, Nordlys is my favourite War Story in Battlefield V. Given the time, I would very much like to go back and do a full exploration of the level to collect all of the hidden letters and finish the challenges, which would also unlock Solveig’s knife for use in multiplayer.

A Valentine’s Day with Miho Nishizumi: A Brief Introspection

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” – Charles M. Schulz

What would Valentine’s Day with Girls und Panzer‘s Miho “Miporin” Nishizumi look like? A first date would likely entail an afternoon spent at a Teddy Bear Museum, followed by a visit to a patisserie selling macarons and tea. A later date could encompass a quiet meal for two cooked together, followed by an evening watching a movie. Quiet, cheerful and shy, but utterly devoted to her friends, Miho falls into the category of an ISFJ, the defender archetype. Supportive, reliable and imaginative, Miho’s strengths are being able to rally her friends from difficult situations and devising creative solutions to challenges that she faces. She is, however, very reserved and quite unwilling to discuss her problems with others until she opens up, and she can be very stubborn despite her adaptability in Panzerfahren, being uncompromising about her friends’ well-being. Throughout Girls und Panzer, Miho is presented as being fiercely loyal and determined, even when it comes at the expense of her own well-being, and this is a personality flaw that makes Miho a believable character – putting others ahead of herself, Miho often forgets about her own happiness and takes on more responsibilities than she might otherwise be able to handle. Fortunately, in the company of friends like Saori, Hana, Yukari and Mako, Miho begins striking a finer balance and matures as an individual, coming to rediscover her love for a sport and a new reason to love it. Far from perfect, and far from invincible, Miho is a solid lead for Girls und Panzer whose capacity as a commander on the field is balanced by a very human, plausible personality off the field.

  • Miho is strikingly similar to CLANNAD‘s Nagisa Furukawa in many ways; since I earlier wrote about the INFP-ISTJ dynamic, I figured to mix things up, I’d suppose that Miho is an ISFJ. The ISFJ-ISTJ relationship is a little more compatible than the INFP-ITSJ one, and so, this post is a little shorter: for my part, I am open-minded, can be more outgoing than my introverted preferences suggest if the situation demands it, and despite my preference for logic, I have found myself slowly becoming more attuned to my sensing side, as well. Perhaps for the future, I’ll take a look at a personality type that’s my opposite, such as Harukana Receive‘s Haruka Oozora, and see what the consequences of such a pairing are, to mix things up and produce more interesting discussion for readers.

In a relationship with ISFJ personalities such as Miho, folk like myself (ISTJ) would immediately respect one another’s desire for quiet time and also be able to share interesting conversations with one another. I’d find Miho’s compassion and warmth a major strength, while Miho would benefit from my ability to approach situations from a logical, structured manner. We’d make decisions based on a range of factors to reach a conclusion that’s best for everyone. From our personalities’ sums, our household would be organised, and there’d be a healthy respect for planning and schedules. However, there are drawbacks in the ISFJ-ISTJ pairing, as well: our mutual introversion means that we might not communicate enough. We also tend to overthink situations and jump to the worst-case conclusions during times of difficulty. My bluntness may also hurt Miho, whereas Miho’s aversion to conflict may make it difficult for her to be honest about how she feels about some things. However, difficulties notwithstanding, sustainable, healthy and rewarding relationships can definitely result from a ISFJ-ISTJ pairing. Good communication and a respect for one another is key here, and as partners get to know one another, they definitely could understand and support one another. Of course, these are just hypotheticals; while fun to write for, I’m sure that whatever happens in reality, a healthy dose of open-mindedness, a willingness to listen and communicate will mean that as far as romance and relationships go, any personality type will be compatible as long as the love is present. Finally, for having made it this far in the post, I would also like to wish my readers a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Under No Flag: Reflections on the Battlefield V Campaign

“This is war, son. We fight one battle, then we fight another one until it’s done.” –George Mason

Billy Bridger is a criminal who has been incarcerated for arson, armed robbery and illegal use of explosives. Officer George Mason, however, offers Bridger a position in the Special Boat Service. Although Bridger initially refuses, he eventually relents and is tasked with destroying German aircraft in Africa. On his first assignment, Bridger’s special explosives fail to detonate, and he is forced to destroy the aircraft using anti-air emplacements. Mason is injured, and Bridger makes off to find first aid supplies while destroying the remaining German equipment that he encounters. However, when he radios for support, he inadvertently alerts German forces to their position. Mason encourages Bridger to fight on, and, using the equipment available to them, the two fend off an onslaught of German soldiers and armour long enough for the British fleet to respond: friendly forces clear out the remaining German forces and evacuate the pair. Bridger and Mason later prepare to attack Greece. While Billy Bridger and George Mason are almost certainly fictional, the Special Boat Service (SBS) are real, being the amphibious equivalent of the renowned Special Air Service (SAS). Founded in 1940 by Roger Courtney, who infiltrated a ship with a kayak to convince Admiral of the Fleet Sir Roger Keyes and Admiral Theodore Hallett that using kayaks for infiltration was viable, the SBS went on to conduct various raids during the Second World War. The SBS became a part of the United Kingdom Special Forces in 1987 and, with a specialisation in maritime counter-terrorism, have since participated in a range of operations from Afghanistan, to Sierra Leone.

While labelled as the fourth mission in Battlefield V‘s campaign, I played Under No Flag second: set in the fields of Africa, this was my first experience with the campaign and also proved to be unexpectedly enjoyable. Although I had originally counted Battlefield V‘s campaigns as something to get through, these feelings were quickly dispelled upon entering the coasts of Africa under a storm. Upon finishing this war story, it turns out there was also a lesson to be learned: Under No Flag suggests to its players that an individual’s worth is not determined by what skills they possess, but what they apply these skills towards. When Bridger begins his mission, he is ill-equipped for completing objectives and setting aside his ego, but as he works with Mason, he comes apply his skills for explosives and causing chaos towards disrupting German forces, rather than petty theft and assault. By the time the German forces mount their onslaught on the pair, Bridger has become more accepting of Mason, having gone through the lengths to find him first aid. While war is doubtlessly terrifying, it also can bring out the best in some: given the circumstances, Bridger becomes more selfless than before, channeling his experience towards fighting for his country rather than for his own gain. The story shows that from its humble origins, the SBS has since evolved to cultivate some of the very best, being the British equivalent to the equally renowned Navy SEALs.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Battlefield V‘s campaign looks gorgeous, even more so than Battlefield 1‘s – DICE has truly outdone themselves with the visuals here. When I first stepped into the campaign late during November, I was absolutely blown away by how detailed and crisp everything looked. Here, I am armed with the De Lisle Carbine, which has an integral suppressor and when combined with subsonic ammunition, is counted as one of the quietest weapons ever made. As I was new to the campaign, I did not know of the weapon’s properties, and swapped it out for a suppressed Kar 98k.

  • My dreams of reaching the enemy hangar undetected was soon dashed owing to a lack of patience, and I resorted to the old standby of shooting up anything that moved. Had I made more liberal use of the De Lisle, I might’ve been able to complete the challenge more easily: the De Lisle would be great for closer range encounters, while the Kar 98k would work best at long ranges, where I can pick off lone targets.

  • Besides the De Lisle, players also have access to the M1928A1 Thompson submachine gun. This weapon is the last to be unlocked for the medic class, and is counted as one of the better submachine guns with its rate of fire. Because it is not fitted with a suppressor, the Thompson would be ideally suited in those situations where one is compromised; the weapon has excellent hipfire.

  • Upon reaching the hangar, Bridger places his “special” explosives on the Stuka aircraft. However, they fail to detonate. This moment is meant to show that Bridger’s old arrogance won’t always apply in a military scenario, and that in the armed forces, people use standardised equipment for the simple reason that it’s tried-and-true: having extensively read about military equipment, I’ve seen numerous prototypes and concepts that never saw mass production for standard issue. Because the armed forces is about getting in, getting the job done and getting out alive, only the best equipment that meets specifications are selected for use.

  • With his objective of destroying the aircraft still standing, Bridger commandeers a Flak 38 anti-air gun and begins firing at the aircraft in the air. The Flak 38 represents a considerable improvement from the QF 1-pounder seen in Battlefield 1, firing 20 mm rounds with a higher muzzle velocity. These emplacements are stationary but can be towed in multiplayer, and here, I managed to down all of the aircraft without sustaining damage to unlock one of the challenges.

  • The last time I had a truly open Battlefield campaign mission was Bad Company 2‘s Sangre del Toro, which I vividly remember having reached after Otafest 2013. After coming home from my first-ever anime convention, I was exhausted and kicked back with some Bad Company 2, going from broadcast station to broadcast station to triangulate the location of a long-lost cargo ship containing something of value. In that mission, players could visit the three broadcast stations in any order, giving it an incredibly open feeling.

  • If I had to be honest, my first-ever convention was somewhat of a disappointment: there wasn’t very much merchandise to buy, and I wasn’t familiar with any of the special guests. A year later, I went back, and with a much more well-organised plan for what events to hit, I managed to get a rare convention pin (of which there are only 100 of), get autographs from special guests such as Yū Asakawa (Azumanga Daioh‘s Sakaki and Norimi Kawaguchi of K-On!), bought the Gundam model I was looking for and visited their Maid Café. I never particularly enjoy attending panels, so during the intermissions between events of interest, I returned to my lab to watch Rick and Morty.

  • I’m not sure if I have any inclination to visit additional anime conventions in the future as an attendee: while it’s nice to see the presence of other fans around, I’m no cosplayer and would much rather spend a day hiking in the mountains or sipping a caffe mocha while browsing through books.

  • Back in Battlefield V, I manage to destroy an objective spectacularly with explosives. Sneaking around the town was fun, and this act gave the impression of the open-ended approach that DICE had previously advertised would be a part of the Battlefield campaigns moving forward. They had announced this for Battlefield 4, but the campaign there still felt exceedingly linear. By Battlefield 1, campaigns had finally reached the level I was expecting: both 1 and play considerably more differently than the Battlefield campaigns of old.

  • Of the old campaigns, Bad Company 2 had the best narrative. Battlefield 3 had the best gameplay diversity and overall atmosphere. Battlefield 4 was a little weaker but still fun, while Hardline had the best customisation options for weapons. Folks have long wondered by Bad Company is not getting any continuation, and DICE has replied that it’s tough to pin down what made Bad Company 2 so enjoyable for so many. For me, it was the combination of a balanced multiplayer and reasonably deep progression system, coupled with an unforgettable campaign whose ludicrous story was matched with hilarious, entertaining characters.

  • After blasting everything in town, I headed off to get the first aid kit for Mason and stopped on a bluff overlooking the comms station below. I was astounded at how sharp and photorealistic everything looked here: this was the moment where I realised that Battlefield V‘s campaign was not simply something to get through, and from here on out, I decided to slow down and appreciate the campaign more.

  • Airfields and deserts invariably remind me of action films from the 1970s with a desert setting, and here, a faint haze can be seen on the horizon. The combined effect was quite pleasant, and I made my way through the second act with a suppressed rifle and StG 44: since Battlefield Hardline, campaigns have placed a much greater emphasis on stealth over straight-up firefights. I miss the older campaigns where going loud was encouraged, and overall, while the new campaigns are impressive (Battlefield 1 and V have definitely been fun), they don’t have quite the same magic as Battlefield 3 or Bad Company 2.

  • For me, a good Bad Company 3 would have the visual fidelity and movement system of Battlefield V, the TTK/TTD, map design, progression system and unlock system of Battlefield 3 and a campaign dominated by the likes of Marlowe, Sweetwater, Haggard and Redford. Looking back, Battlefield 3 was probably my favourite Battlefield: I’ve spent the most time in Battlefield 3 and greatly enjoyed its mechanics. The game is a little dated now, but it still handles very well.

  • On my first run, I was not aware that one could steal one of the aircraft parked here and use it to effortlessly torch everything down below. I thus resorted to a stealth-focused run where I used the Lewes bombs to destroy everything. Using diesel oil and Nobel 808 plastic explosive, these bombs were easy to carry and highly effective against parked aircraft. Despite their unreliable fuses, they were used for their power.

  • The StG 44 rifle was the premiere weapon during the Battlefield V alpha and beta stages: hard-hitting, accurate and versatile, the weapon was a good all-around choice that allowed players to handle threats reliably at most ranges. Since then, the weapon’s multiplayer incarnation has been nerfed: it has very high recoil and will not trade blows with the Sturmgewehr 1-5. The best way to use this weapon is in between the Sturmgewehr 1-5 and Ribeyrolleys’ ranges: it fires faster than the former and deals more damage at range compared to the former.

  • The final act to Under no Flag is an onslaught battle where stealth is irrelevant and where the object of the game is to defend an area against hordes of Nazi soldiers. I found that a rifle and LMG was sufficient to hold off the enemies at reasonable ranges. Vehicles will show up, so it’s also imperative to have good anti-armour options. A combination of Panzerfausts and use of the Pak 40 should be sufficient to deal with the tanks that show up later.

  • I’ve gotten far enough into the multiplayer at this point that I’ve gotten all of the specialisations for the MG-34. In the campaign, this weapon is superbly effective as-is, being able to decimate entire groups of enemies before one needs to reload: between this and a self-loading rifle, picking off enemies swarming up to Bridger’s position was not a particularly difficult challenge.

  • While the Bren is an iconic gun, I’m finding that I’ve not run with it much in the multiplayer. The reduced options for melee weapons means that running authentic Strike Witches loadouts is actually harder than it was in Battlefield 1: there’s no Bowie Knife, BAR or sabre as of yet, and I’m still a short ways from unlocking the MG-42.

  • Of all the missions, Under no Flag is the least inspired of Battlefield V‘s campaign mission, and it was still quite fun; this is saying something. While more veteran players count the campaign as dull, I personally enjoyed playing through it. Elsewhere, such as at Tango Victor Tango, criticisms of Battlefield V have been much more vociferous – those with the time, but not the hardware to actually play the game, have spent their days mindlessly agreeing amongst themselves that Battlefield V is a “dead” game and that DICE deserves their reduced sales numbers for how they conducted their marketing program.

  • I couldn’t care less about things like “community backlash”, and it must be a miserable experience to only have enough computer hardware for commenting on Tango-Victor-Tango, Reddit or Twitter, rather than being able to experience things for oneself. Back on this corner of the internet, I admit that Under No Flag was the most difficult campaign mission to write for, and with this in the books, I am moving to Battlefield V‘s other missions. Nordlys is my favourite mission, and the reasons for this will become apparent in the post where I recount my experiences with it.

The first mission proper of the Battlefield V campaign that I experienced, Under No Flag introduces a combination of stealth elements, multi-directional approaches for completing level objectives and an incentive to complete objectives for the sake of unlocking a special melee weapon for use in multiplayer. This mission sets the precedence for how Battlefield’s campaigns have evolved: from the highly linear and set-piece driven missions of earlier titles, Battlefield campaigns of late have incorporated stealth and exploration as a means of encouraging replay. In the second act of Under No Flag, players have the option of sneaking into an airfield to plant bombs on targets, but the mission also provides a challenge of stealing a plane and using this to destroy the targets. In order to get to that special melee weapon, I will, at some point, need to return to the campaign again and go through each mission to wrap up the challenges and find every letter in each level. While there’s a spate of titles that I’ve got to go through and enjoy, the visuals and audio of Battlefield V are unparalleled: there is plenty of incentive to go back through each mission again and experience it in a slightly different manner, once I find the time to do so.