The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: Gameplay

Battlefield V: An Incursion into Firestorm and remarks on Battle Royale

I fell into a burning ring of fire
I went down, down, down
And the flames went higher
And it burns, burns, burns
The ring of fire, the ring of fire

– Johnny Cash, Ring of Fire

Introduced with the third Tides of War chapter, Firestorm is Battlefield V‘s answer to the wildly popular battle royale genre. Set on Halvoy, a vast map of snowy forests, lakeside cabins and mountain roads in the Nordic landscape, Firestorm features the biggest map to ever figure in a Battlefield game. The principles are the same: eliminate enemies, stay alive and move to a safe area whenever the ring of fire shrinks the playable area. The mode can be played independently, as well as in squads of two or four people, and for Firestorm, Battlefield V offers a modestly intuitive and efficient inventory management system, allowing players to swap out their gear, use additional support items like armour plates, health kits and gadgets and determine what ammunition they ought to carry. Weapons and gear items come in different rarities, with higher-end items being more suited for their intended roles. However, even low end items can still be useful, and immediately after touchdown, it is important to immediately kit up before seeking out better gear, and making one’s way to the next play area. This is about the gist of Firestorm, and prior to its introduction, I had no inclination to play it whatsoever. Battlefield V‘s Tides of War, however, required that I at least acquainted myself with the mode in order to complete several of the challenges. During my time with Firestorm, I found a mode that was unexpectedly refreshing from the usual tenour of Battlefield V‘s core offerings.

Battlefield has traditionally been about large maps and large scale, setting it apart from the close-quarters frenzies of titles like Call of Duty, and the more tactical, slower experiences that Rainbow Six Siege and Counter Strike offers. Not quite as hectic as an arena shooter, but also faster-paced than tactical shooters, I’ve long enjoyed Battlefield for modes like conquest and domination, which offer large-scale battles. Battle royale modes like Firestorm modify this dynamic entirely, pitting individual players and their map knowledge against other players. The pacing is even slower than that of a tactical shooter, since players aren’t ever really too sure of what lurks around the corner or over the next hill: this sense of foreboding and anticipation creates a suspense that elevates the immersion. With the stunning visuals and performance afforded by the Frostbite Engine, Firestorm offers a unique battle royale experience that has impressed. There are certainly merits to a mode like this in Battlefield V, although the dubious decision to only make this available to existing Battlefield V players means that the mode might not have as much staying power in the long term. For me, the pacing is not something I particularly look for in a game despite being enjoyable and a different experience than Battlefield V‘s traditional modes: I’m more inclined to enjoy modes where I am able to respawn back into intense warfare involving infantry and vehicles.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • During my first match of Firestorm, I dropped into a snowy area, found a common rifle and then proceeded to get melted by another player with an epic weapon. The different tiers are differentiated by the specialisations and optics on the weapon, with rare tier weapons having better characteristics. Epic weapons have two specialisations and an optic that improves its performance, although damage is unmodified, and so, players can go toe-to-toe with other players even if their weapon is of a lower tier.

  • My favourite part of the Halvoy maps are set in the areas with less snow, more grass and some of the Nordic-style cabins. The water effects here are amazing, and the houses around tend to old common or rare items. I tend to discard ammunition I find for shotguns, only holding onto ammunition for a weapon that I currently have active.

  • My first kill in Firestorm was using the Sten: this submachine gun has good hipfire performance, and I noticed that another player was hanging around the house I was chilling in. I eventually baited this player into the house, and with the Sten, proceeded to get the kill on them. It’s a bit of a dirty play, since I normally avoiding using camping techniques in normal play – Firestorm encourages the camping approach.

  • Besides healing pouches and armour plates, I usually make it a point to carry anti-personnel explosives if I can find them. I’ve not encountered any players in vehicles, mainly because the solo game mode means players going on foot rather than use vehicles and attract attention to themselves. This means that anti-armour weapons are usually of lesser use, although they can be useful in blasting open houses enemies are camping.

  • While battle royale intrinsically is more suspenseful than any other gamemode in Battlefield V, the scenery is exceptionally good, and Halvoy is beautiful. The diversity of landscapes and terrain on Halvoy allow everything from snowy fields to lakeside cabins to be portrayed in beautiful detail, and there’s an unusual tranquility on the map found nowhere else in Battlefield V. It would be worth going into Halvoy and avoiding enemy players just to explore the different points of interest.

  • My typical strategy for Firestorm is to drop where players are not, and then continue moving through cover to avoid being shot at. Since the objective of the solo game mode is to avoid death for as long as possible, keeping away from unnecessary combat and letting other players whittle one another down. Of course, if I do get the drop on another player, I will opt to eliminate them if it is safe to do so.

  • In a straight-up confrontation, I usually end up winning owing to a combination of superior reflexes and weapon understanding. Where I unexpectedly come under fire, I usually end up losing the firefight if my opponent is more hidden away. While Firestorm uses a completely different health and armour system, the time to kill is still relatively quick.

  • Every battle royale game involves a shrinking game area. In Firestorm, a literal ring of fire surrounds the map and burns areas inland as time wears on. Players are eliminated instantly from this inferno, so it is imperative to always continue moving inward as time wears on. This naturally increases the risk of running into other players, and having good weapons becomes more important as a match progresses.

  • During my best match, I found an epic FG-42 with 3x optics, and it was a superbly effective weapon that allowed me to score three kills in total. I had secured the requirements for the Tides of War achievement, but was also desperately low on ammunition for the FG-42. I ended up dying in an ambush. While I’ve not put enough time into Firestorm to win a match, it is fun to see how far I can progress.

  • Supply drops become available in Firestorm that act as mini-objectives – offering superior equipment, they also give incentive for players to converge on a point and engage one another for better equipment, as well as to score a few kills before moving on. I’ve never been close enough to these supply drops to do anything meaningful with them, such as taking potshots at enemies or securing better gear.

  • Firestorm did allow me to utilise the M1928A1 Thompson, which I’ve still yet to unlock in the multiplayer proper. This iconic submachine gun is one of the best weapons available to the medic class, and its base version is fairly powerful, having a high fire rate and good accuracy. While stymied by a low ammunition capacity, the weapon can be upgraded to have a fifty round capacity. At the time of writing, I’m level nineteen with the medic and will be unlocking the Thompson shortly.

  • On the whole, I’d say that the simplified experience that Firestorm offers, in conjunction with being powered by the Frostbite Engine, makes it the superior battle royale game compared to the likes of Fortnite or Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, which have comparatively more sophisticated mechanics and therefore, has a slightly larger learning curve.

  • The Bren Gun excels at medium ranges: while it has a slower rate of fire, it is accurate and hits fairly hard, making it a solid choice for maps with wider open spaces. Its main limitation is its top-mounted box magazine, which severely obstructs visibility. Perrine’s weapon of choice in Strike Witches, the Bren has served her well in missions against the Neuroi, although like most movies, Perrine is shown operating it for much longer than its box magazine allows.

  • I’m almost certain that carrying a Liberator pistol around is meant to be a joke: the weapon does pitiful damage and cannot kill with a single headshot. Hampered by an uncommonly long reload time, the Liberator lacks the Kolibri’s headshot damage multiplier and firing rate (a skillful player can kill up to two opponents with eight back-to-back headshots): Hikari used the Liberator to great effect in Brave Witches in finishing off the Gregori Neuroi Hive, but the incredibly poor characteristics, in conjunction with a lack of behemoths, means that accomplishing what Hikari did in Battlefield V is outright impossible.

  • If the rumours are to be believed, updates to Battlefield V will introduce the American and Japanese factions, plus the Pacific Theatre, in addition to the Boys Anti-Tank rifle. This will allow me to run the Lynette Bishop loadout, where I attempt to run around with the Boys Anti-Tank rifle as a primary weapon as Lynette does, and attempt to snipe enemy players. The inclusion of the American M4 Sherman will also let me run the Kay loadout: if one of the upgrade paths includes a 17-pounder, that would be phenomenal.

  • On the Japanese side of things, being able to utilise the Type 99 Mk. 2 Model Kai would allow me to run an authentic Yoshika Miyafuji loadout. While the weapon is technically an autocannon, firing 20mm rounds, its firing rate is closer to that of a heavy machine gun. The weapon was used in an anti-air role capacity, and this may reduce the odds of it being an infantry-portable weapon. While the Japanese did have their own LMGs and MMGs, they’re quite unremarkable as weapons (the Type 96, for instance, outwardly resembles the Bren).

  • While Battlefield V has continued to suffer from an unclear content release schedule and limited content, I note that Star Wars: Battlefront II has done exceptionally well of late. With sustained new content and a revision of the in-game currency system, Battlefront II has reached its launch player counts and is said to be a solid game that handles well. Continued support for the game after a rough launch has turned it into a respectable title, and given DICE’s track record, I expect that Battlefield V will very likely become a highly enjoyable and solid instalment to Battlefield, as well.

  • The promise of Pacific Theatre content is definitely encouraging, and in the meantime, I’ll periodically play Battlefield V to completely the weekly Tides of War assignments. I am going to have to miss this week’s assignment, which yields the Tromboncino M28 on completion. This weapon is a variation of the Carcano Carbine and has the distinction of being able to act as a bolt action rifle with anti-vehicle capabilities: it fires grenades, as well. Here, I eliminate an enemy in Firestorm using the M1A1 Carbine.

  • We’re now two days into May, and the reason why I’m going to miss this week’s assignment is because I’ve been in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley for Facebook’s F8 conference. I applied back in March and was pleasantly surprised to learn that I was invited. The F8 conference represented a fabulous opportunity to speak with Facebook’s engineers, network and also watch their keynotes in person. Aside from the technical presentations and sessions, the conference was a solid opportunity to also converse with other developers, try out the new Oculus Quest and partake in the evening events.

  • With F8 now over, I’ll be offering a few thoughts on my experiences in upcoming posts. I am pushing forwards with Yama no Susume‘s second season and will have my thoughts on the first half in due course. In addition, I am moving through Valkyria Chronicles 4 – the eighth chapter appears to be the equivalent of the Batomys engagement at the Barious Desert, and I’m still figuring out an optimal moveset for finishing this fight. Finally, entering May, I am pleased to announce that I am hosting June’s Jon’s Creator Showcase, an initiative to share and discuss noteworthy blog posts. Come June, I will be gathering posts from the month of May of all sorts. More information on this will become available towards the end of the month, and I will be applying my own unique brand of discussion towards this programme, which is geared towards increasing exposure to different blogs out there.

For me, my lack of patience in gaming means that the slower, methodical gameplay of battle royale games means that I have not particularly found the fad to be one I could get behind. Having only played the solo mode of Firestorm, it is clear that battle royale’s merits come with playing in a squad, where one is able to coordinate with other players to create some genuinely exciting moments of strategy and cunning. As I am very much a lone-wolf player when it comes to gaming, battle royale is a mode I’ve not gotten too much out of. With this being said, Battlefield V‘s implementation shows that the Frostbite Engine is indeed capable of accommodating a technically solid battle royale mode, and with the right adjustments to Battlefield mechanics, battle royale can be quite engaging in its own right. There’s a market for this game type, and while I personally might not be it, rolling out a standalone Firestorm launcher and allowing interested players to play freely would definitely allow Firestorm to reach more players. In the meantime, it’s a mode that remains little more than a curiosity as I push further into the Tides of War programme – the hunt to unlock new weapons has provided incentive enough to continue with Battlefield V even though there’s been no new maps.

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.

Tom Clancy’s The Division 2: Viewpoint Museum, Superior Gear and a Reflection on the Open Beta

“Being a victim is more palatable than having to recognize the intrinsic contradictions of one’s own governing philosophy.” ―Tom Clancy

The Division 2′s open beta ran three weeks after the private beta, adding one new mission and raising the level cap; since the private beta, the open beta has shown that the game has become a bit more stable and responsive. After speedily making my way through the first two campaign missions, and utilising the experience bonuses to quickly hit the minimum level needed to take on Viewpoint Museum, I finally arrived at the new level. The journey here was a quick one, but upon revisiting Washington D.C. in the open beta, I found that the new setting isn’t a bad one after all – the empty streets of Washington D.C. no longer feel quite so sterile, and there are more activities to do while one is moving around on the map. Handling has also been improved since the private beta; my character feels more responsive, and I no longer stagger whenever my armour is depleted. However, some bugs in the movement system still persist: I find myself getting stuck after interacting with doors and keypads, and there was one instance where I was unable to move after attempting to open a supply drop. Beyond minor grievances with movement, which can be the difference between life and death, The Division 2′s open beta shows that the title is largely ready for launch. Even on my older computer, I was able to maintain a smooth sixty frames per second, dipping down to fifty in more intense moments, and on the whole, the gunplay feels much more satisfying at lower levels than they did for equivalent levels in The Division.

After completing Viewpoint Museum, I went back into the Dark Zone to quickly hit the maximum Dark Zone level: normalisation of gear has made the Dark Zone a lot fairer, and while I was clearing landmarks on my own, a pair of players decided they wished to go rogue against me. Equipped with a good knowledge of my preferred skills, how my weapons handled and familiarity with the mechanics as a result of the private beta, I ended up squaring off against both agents head-on and managed to defeat them. PvP combat never really was my cup of tea in The Division, but The Division 2′s normalised Dark Zone provide a rather interesting environment to fight in: all players have an equal chance here. This particular Dark Zone is a bit small, but there are other Dark Zones, including at least one where players go in with their regular stats, allowing individuals to experience the Dark Zone as they please. Besides destroying rogue agents, I also successfully completed through the Jefferson Trade Centre Invaded mission, solo, with the demolitionist specialisation. It turns out that the M32 MSGL is an absolute terror, and upon encountering the named elites, I was shocked to learn that the grenades could bring down these enemies in one shot. Again, experience with the private beta meant that I had no difficulty melting my way through the Black Task on my own. With this particular experience under my belt, I spent the remainder of my time on improving my loadout and finishing off all of the different projects to upgrade the Theatre Settlement.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • While LMGs in The Division became obsolete very quickly, I found that at all points in The Division 2, from the story missions to the endgame, LMGs were versatile, viable weapons that could hit reasonably hard and put down sustained amounts of damage downrange, making them especially useful against crowds and heavily armoured enemies. I spent most of Friday evening working my way back to the point where I could complete this mission: my progress from the private beta did not save, and I took advantage of this to run a new character.

  • The Viewpoint Museum is based off the Newseum, a museum that showcases a history of journalism. The locations of Washington D.C. are faithfully replicated, and looking at a map of Washington D.C., it is quite impressive as to how accurate The Division 2‘s D.C. are to the real-world equivalent. In the beta, much of the map remains locked, and in the full game, I imagine that players will be able to visit Capital One Arena, home of the Washington Capitals.

  • It seemed curious to be fighting a building about the history of journalism, with the intent of shutting down the True Sons’ propaganda broadcast: the True Sons are probably most similar to the LMB, being well-trained and well-organised. They were formed by a former JTF officer who was disillusioned with how things were handled following the Dollar Flu crisis, and are probably the most lethal enemy players will face until the Black Tusk arrive.

  • Despite Ubisoft’s reassurances that The Division 2 is not directed at conveying a political message about the current state of government in the United States, and the fact that the game is ultimately about showing how people can come together to survive and overcome adversity, some game journalists have insisted on pushing their own narrative. Arguing that The Division is symbolic of using force to take back a fallen system, journalists claim that it is “[disrespectful to] the intelligence of the players” to claim that the game is apolitical because of its symbolism. The page quote is one of Tom Clancy’s very own remarks, speaking succinctly to my own thoughts on the presence of virtue signalling and the excesses that accompany it.

  • While all people are entitled to their opinion, it is disrespectful to suppose that the creator’s intent is irrelevant when considering the merits of a game and its messages. It typifies games journalists of a certain type to insert their discourse into something meant to entertain players: this issue has been especially prevalent since an incident some five years ago that threw the practises of gaming journalists into the open, although I personally find the discourse that such journalists raise to be largely irrelevant to my own perspectives of a game. Simply put, gameplay mechanics and progression matter much more to me than political messages.

  • I ended up running an M249B throughout most of The Division 2: the hordes of enemies that storm the player means that for most mid-range engagements, my assault rifle would run dry after three enemies, and being caught in the open with an empty chamber spells certain death. Throughout The Division 2, I switched between the different kinds of weapons, and found that the weapons’ different performances are much more pronounced than they were in The Division: every weapon has a role to play now, and so, it is useful to carry a range of weapons now.

  • The final stage of taking back the Viewpoint Museum involves disabling EMP jammers on the rooftop, while simultaneously engaging True Sons. The EMP will prevent players from using their skills and also introduce a considerable amount of visual disruption on the screen, so it is imperative to take the jammers down right away. Once this is done, players will square off against the named elite that appears.

  • During the course of The Division 2‘s open beta, I found that enemies of all difficulties, from basic enemies right up to the named elites, all were relatively straightforwards to engage at all levels. When I first played The Division, enemies with yellow health bars were always intimidating to fight, and that The Division 2‘s enemies never invoked a sense of fear in me the same way the toughest enemies of The Division did suggest that I’ve since become more familiar with the mechanics of The Division. With this being said, the First Wave agents that were the bosses of Legendary missions were absolutely monstrosities to fight, and could easily wipe the careless teams out wholesale. I imagine that these enemies will be present for The Division 2‘s equivalent of legendary missions, such as raids.

  • Having completed the Viewpoint Museum with minimal difficulty, I had now caught up with the open beta’s experiences and soon turned my attention towards maxing out my Dark Zone rank for a second time. The Dark Zone available in The Division 2‘s open beta was about the same size as one of the sectors in The Division‘s Dark Zone, but despite this, seemed to offer plenty of opportunity for exploration. Randomly roving bands of enemies are absent, as most enemies seem concentrated around the landmarks.

  • During my run in the Dark Zone, I never bothered extracting any items since the gains from a successful extraction seems outweighed by the risk of losing it. However, I did have two separate instances where other players turned rogue in my face, hoping to score a quick kill, and I ended up pasting them on the pavement: this fellow here opened fire on me, and I happened to have my M249B out: its large ammunition pool mean that while he was stuck reloading, I could continue to lay down fire, eventually downing him.

  • I brought down another rogue agent using a superior CTAR-21: during the course of the open beta, I found two superior items in my travels, and their performance gave me a very minute edge over would-be assailants. The sum of my experiences in The Division 2‘s Dark Zone meant that it would be worthwhile to buy the game just to cause trouble for the agents that would turn rogue: normalised gear means that winning a firefight with other players boils down to better spatial awareness, weapon control and skill management. Against individual rogues, they simply stand no chance.

  • I decided to give the endgame Invaded mission another go, and this time, rolled with the demolitions expert loadout. This specialisation gave me access to the M32 MSGL, a six-shot grenade launcher. There’s a special way of improving one’s odds of acquiring signature weapon ammunition: with the marksman, it was nailing headshots, and with the demolitions expert, it’s using explosives or weak-point kills. I had no shortage of 40 mm grenades during my second solo run, and this time, with improved map knowledge, I made it through the first corridor without too much trouble.

  • I decided to save the 40 mm grenades for a named elite, and I was horrified with its effects. Unlike the TAC-50, which requires a direct line of sight and is better suited for long-range operations, the M32 MSGL’s indirect fire capabilities means that it is capable of being used against enemies in cover. I fired off one grenade in the ISAC Terminal room, and killed the named elite in one round, preventing the shutdown of the ISAC Terminal in record time. I subsequently used the grenades to annihilate hordes of enemies: the grenades appear to be capable of doing up to 500 thousand points of damage.

  • The biggest disadvantage about being a solo player is simply the risk of being flanked is increased by several fold: blindly charging into a new area without being mindful of enemy placement is the surest way to death, and I’m sure that many games journalists of late don’t know this simple, but effective trick to staying alive longer. When I entered this room, I had no idea where the enemies would spawn from, and so, threw my auto-turret into the center. The turret is very effective at whittling down health of enemies, and can be set to lock onto drones, as well: any complaints that the skills are ineffective are a consequence of not experimenting and doing some reading on what the different specialisations have.

  • I feel that for gaming journalism to be more relevant, organisations would need to encourage their staff to cultivate a more satisfactory understanding of game mechanics, as opposed to tangential matters that do not impact gameplay. For me, I had no trouble blasting my way through the Black Tusks at this point: the M249B was my go-to weapon during this run, and I was very impressed with how LMGs from The Division 2 handle: assault rifles no longer deal bonus armour damage, and extended mags have a unique set of drawbacks that force players to be mindful of how they mod their weapons. As such, for their impressive ability to suppress enemies and sustain fire, they are excellent for solo players to control large numbers of enemies.

  • When the named elite appeared, I lured him into a narrow corridor and equipped the M32 MSGL: I was fully expecting a challenging fight ahead, as the elite here has an RPG of some sort that can one-shot players from full health, but I was left speechless after absolutely shredding the elite with a single shot. This brought my second end-game run to an end, and I leave finding the demolitions specialisation one that could be very entertaining for close-quarters maps.

  • Exploration found the starting area to be revisitable, and here, I pass through the area The Division 2‘s beta began in. Compared to three weeks ago, the weather back home has remained bitterly cold, and we’ve broken some records now. Besides being the fourth coldest February in the city’s history, we’ve had more than four straight weeks where the temperatures have not broken above 0ºC. To stave off nearly a month of non-stop cold, I stepped out to an Irish Pub on Friday for some hearty Irish classics: a piping-hot Steak and Guinness pie with large chunks of beef and root vegetables proved more than sufficient for warding off the cold.

  • Having said this, it looks like temperatures will finally warm up at least a little in the upcoming while. Despite being nowhere near as warm as the atmosphere conveyed in The Division 2, anything above zero is considered balmy for me. The Division 2, being set in the summer, definitely gives off a sense of warmth, even mugginess: the lighting has vastly improved over The Division, and here, I stopped to admire the volumetric lighting streaming between the trees while pushing to complete more of the activities for the settlement projects.

  • Unlike the private beta, I had a bit more spare time available over the weekend to complete the settlement projects in full. The Division 2 offers plenty to do, and it’s clear that the game has taken the lessons of The Division to keep things engaging for players en route to the endgame, as well as during the endgame itself. With this post on The Division 2 at a close, readers left wondering about my writings in March won’t need to worry: I do have a few more posts on games upcoming, but coming up next will be a lengthy post on CLANNAD ~After Story~ as Ushio’s arc concludes, and then a reflection of why I felt the ending in ~After Story~ was one that was appropriate for the story.

  • This is my final loadout from the open beta: I ended up collecting quite a number of specialised assault rifles during my run, as well. On the whole, my final loadout for The Division 2‘s open beta proved to be rather more impressive than the one I had after The Division‘s open beta: this particular arsenal will be moot, given that all progress will reset once the game goes live, but I’m still very pleased to have found a superior CTAR-21 and backpack during my run. All of this was accomplished without using any exploits or tricks; I was able to find everything just from normal gameplay.

Overall, I spent around eight hours in The Division 2′s open beta. During this time, I acquired more specialised gear than I had expected, and even managed to find two pieces of superior gear. My experiences in The Division‘s beta and the final game showed that the superior items would appear much later in the game than they did in the beta: it wasn’t until level twenty where I began seeing purple drops. This open beta was exceptionally fun and also illuminating in that it helped me reached a more informed decision on where I stand with The Division 2. On one hand, Washington D.C. has proven itself to be a distinct and engaging setting to fight in. New mechanics show that The Division 2 has definitely applied the lessons learnt from The Division to create a more compelling experience. Crafting and inventory management has seen vast improvements over its predecessor, and this time, shooting is much more satisfying even when one has not reached the endgame. While some issues remain with the movement system, The Division 2 has made considerable strides since its private beta. All of this is very positive for the game, and I expect that fans of The Division will definitely enjoy this one upon its launch. However, having said this, I do not see myself pre-ordering The Division 2 or purchasing it shortly after release for two reasons – I already have a considerable backlog of other titles that I’d like to go through, along with quite enough to do in the foreseeable future. It does not appear in my best interest to buy a title at launch, only for it to accumulate dust in my library. Instead, what will likely happen is that into the future, once I’ve made enough headway in my backlog, I will pick up The Division 2. In all honesty, this does seem like a game that merits purchase at launch price, and I think that anyone familiar with The Division will do well to grab this one.

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.