The Infinite Zenith

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Battlefield V: Tides of War Overture, Panzerstorm, Killtrocity and a Headshot Record

“I guess the operation can be, let’s see, Operation Sneaky Sneaks, because I want to sneakily see what the enemy is up to, then sneakily attack them.” —Miho “Miporin” Nishizumi, Girls und panzer

Overture was the first instalment to Battlefield V‘s Tides of War programme, and introduced a new map, Panzerstorm. During the past month, DICE also experienced the impact of a particularly controversial decision to increased the TTK, reasoning that new players were being discouraged by frequent quick deaths and not returning to the game. With the community feedback overwhelmingly requesting that TTK be restored, DICE graciously complied: the issue in Battlefield V lay not in the TTK, but TTD (the perceived time it takes to die). Faulty netcode gives the impression that players are dying in fewer frames than is actually the case, and at the time of writing, remains an issue; when TTK was increased, the game became disjointed. It was taking more time to take out an enemy player, further compounding the sense that an enemy should not have been able to down one so quickly. When DICE reverted this, Battlefield V immediately became considerably more fun. However, Tides of War, the continuous service programme, has also exposed limitations in Battlefield V; the assignments were not functioning and so, players could not unlock the new weapons on numerous occasions. I played through upwards of six hours of Grand Operations to get the first step of the final week in Overture to work, and others have reported being unable to unlock the new weapons, which are limited-time. The prizes for finishing each interval adds aesthetically unique, but otherwise unremarkable weapons to the game, as well as leave the medics yearning for more weapons. Between this, and bugs in the sound system allowing players to sneak around, Battlefield V looks off to a rough start; DICE does appear to have forgotten about their past successes and what made previous Battlefield titles fun. However, looking beyond Battlefield V‘s frustrations also finds a plethora of things to enjoy. Things work more often than they do not, and when one lines up a finely-aimed headshot or pulls off a successful flank, there is a sense of reward quite unlike that of any earlier Battlefield titles: Battlefield V is much harder than its predecessors.

After making my way through Overture, and steadily becoming more familiar with Battlefield V, the quality of my experience has improved since starting out. Knowing where player paths are means I can anticipate how others move around the map, and correspondingly adjust my path to surprise them, or else flush out campers from spots that are popular among those who would otherwise sit still and rack up kills without contributing to their team. Increased vehicle play has allowed me to fully upgrade my Panzer IV and Tiger I, and the return of the Ribeyrolles 1918 has provided the Assault Class with an unparalleled automatic rifle that is lethal at medium ranges, but can hold its own in closer quarters even despite its lower rate of fire. While I’ve not agreed with all of the Tides of War assignments (least of all those that forced me to play Grand Operations), the assignments that were the most enjoyable were those that encouraged team play. Reviving, healing, resupplying and repairing friendly players and assets lead to a much more cohesive experience, and it is great to be revived by players standing beside me. The vehicle assignments were also enjoyable: while vehicles remain death traps owing to how potent the Panzerfaust is, having incentive to use the vehicles and rank them up meant that my German tanks are now specialised. The promise of cosmetics and assignments provide plenty of reason to play; assignments tend to put my focus on doing something specific, and this has enticed me to return to Battlefield V in spite of all of its frustrations and bugs. It is clear that DICE hasn’t struck out on Battlefield V — weekly and daily assignments made Battlefield 1 significantly more fun, and seeing these carry over to Battlefield V show that lessons from Battlefield 1 stuck. The journey to unlocking everything and reaching level 20 in Tides of War was generally a fun one, and now that I’ve spent more time in Battlefield V, it becomes apparent that Battlefield V is much more of a skill game than Battlefield 1 was.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • My initial goal was to get the Panzer IV upgraded as far as I could: in its default Ausf. D configuration, the tank is largely suited for anti-infantry engagements, as well as taking out soft targets like transports. However, the Ausf. D configuration is quite vulnerable to Panzerfausts, and is ill-suited for taking on other tanks, so my main use for it was to provide fire support onto capture points.

  • The Sturmtiger is a unique reinforcement vehicle that is intended for hammering enemy positions, and here, I use it to get a double kill in an attempt to single-handedly clear out a position on my own. Panzerstorm is an interesting map, featuring plenty of open fields that is evidently suited for vehicle warfare, so infantry players won’t have such a good time on this map. While it was advertised as being for large scale armoured combat, Panzerstorm did not deliver: each team has upwards of seven tanks, leaving 25 players to go on foot. In order to create proper armoured warfare, I feel that doubling the tank count per team would make things a lot more exciting.

  • The ultimate reinforcement remains the missile strikes: here, I scored my first-ever Killfrenzy (a multi-kill of six) on Arras using the JB-2 rocket. This match, I was doing particularly poorly on, but as time wore on, both the team and I managed to mount a comeback. While focusing on capturing points, I got lucky with kills made while defending points and eventually managed to earn enough points for the rocket strike. Seeing a number of enemies amassed at the town centre, I called in the JB-2 and the rest is history: I went KD positive, and the team won.

  • Bombers are nowhere nearly as overpowered as the Ilya Muromets now, but a skilled player can still do serious damage with one. Perhaps a carry-over from my Battlefield 1 days, the bombers are my favourite planes to fly in Battlefield V: I have no trouble getting them to go where I wish them to go, and hitting targets on the ground is straightforwards with bombs. Bombs deal massive damage to whatever they hit, enough to annihilate vehicles, but are more precise than the cluster shells, so the days of being able to empty out entire capture points with one bombing run are thankfully over.

  • We’re very nearly a week into 2019 now: the year opened with a ham dinner with mayonnaise à la Futurama‘s Judge Whitey. We used a special Dijon-honey-mayonnaise sauce that was heaven on earth, and then earlier this weekend, I made a homemade dip for yam fries that was very tasty despite lacking Chipotle that gives the dip a distinctly smokey flavour. The festivities of Christmas are past, and we enter the long dark of winter now.

  • In a particularly memorable match on Rotterdam, I went on a kill-streak with the Valentine MK VIII medium tank. After being blown apart by Panzerfausts, I spawned back in as a sniper, single-handedly defended the train station point until my squad arrived, and then sent off a JB-2 Rocket that scored a Killfrenzy. Battlefield games where things go well usually have things go really well, and thanks to the revised Conquest system, comebacks are now possible. I’ve won some games where I was certain we would lose.

  • Ever since I unlocked the MP-40 for the medic, I’ve found a versatile weapon that handles well enough for the ranges that I play at. This submachine gun is especially useful on Devastation: having spent more time here, I’ve found that my performance has seen an improvement now that I know where all of the routes are, and the close-quarters makes the medics much more useful. The capture point in the cathedral is the most hotly contested spot on the map, so a combination of smoke grenades and revivals allow one to very quickly bring their teammates back to life.

  • While advertised as a major piece of Battlefield V, I’ve actually yet to see more players tow stationary weapons to new positions to defend capture points. Here, I use the Pak 40 to hammer distant foes. When the assignment to destroy a tank came up, I considered using this as a means of scoring kills against tanks, since for my part, I use tanks in an anti-infantry role, but stationary weapons leave players very exposed to sniper fire. One of the assignments involved using stationary guns to score two kills, and I found that this was best done on Narvik, where one can build Vickers guns flanked by sandbags.

  • Specialising the Panzer IV with additional armour and the Kwk 40 turns it into the Ausf. H version that Miho commands in Girls und Panzer. Despite the upgrades in firepower and defense, I still would not use the Panzer IV in a direct contest against other tanks, instead, using the Panzer IV’s superior mobility to flank around and hit enemy armour from the sides or rear, as well as to suppress and control infantry.

  • The Lewis Gun saw a major upgrade in Battlefield V: it is now remarkably effective as a run-and-gun weapon, but also has enough firepower to be moderately useful as a defensive weapon. When properly specialised, its recoil is reduced greatly, extending its range, and with a higher rate of fire, the gun is very competitive. I never did get into using the Lewis Gun of Battlefield 1, as its low rate of fire greatly restricted its use.

  • After upgrading the Panzer IV fully, I turned my attention to the Tiger I. This tank is Maho’s choice from Girls und Panzer, and is the choicest tank for anti-armour combat. Inherently more durable and capable than the Panzer IV, the Tiger I is much slower to operate, making it ill-suited for anti-infantry combat at closer ranges. Fully specialised, the Tiger I becomes even more effective in an anti-vehicle role at long ranges: Battlefield V is more punishing than World of Tanks, and anyone who attempts to pull the Nishizumi-ryu here by blindly charging onto a capture point will have their faces melted by Panzerfausts before one could say panzer vor.

  • One significant downgrade from earlier Battlefield titles is that custom emblems have not been implemented as of yet, and so, I cannot authentically run with Girls und Panzer themed emblems on my tanks. I’m not sure what the rationale for cutting them from Battlefield V is: granted, I’ve seen some questionable emblems before, but for the most part, people run with harmless emblems, so it makes no sense to restrict people from using them.

  • I got another Killtrocity on Arras using the V-1 rocket during the week where squad assignments were active. This proved to be sufficient for both unlocking the “called in a reinforcement” and “as a squad, kill 2 enemies with rocket strikes” assignments. I’ve heard of people who were unlucky in that they called in the rocket and hit one person with it, but did not get credit for it; whether it was a stroke of luck or from the Killtrocity, I ended up clearing the assignment. This allowed me to unlock an epic mask, although I prefer running stock soldiers and weapons with standard skins. For my part, I’m saving all of my company coin for specialising weapons and vehicles.

  • The Gewehr M95/30 is the next bolt-action rifle for the scout class. With a smaller capacity and more damage than the Lee-Enfield No. 4 Mk I, it is the hardest hitting of the bolt-action rifles. However, to balance it out, it lacks the straight-pull bolt of its Battlefield 1 incarnation. Sniping in Battlefield V has been much more challenging (and rewarding for it) than Battlefield 1, but curiously enough, my scout class is the same rank as my medic class at the time of writing.

  • Here, I run the Churchill Mk VII, a British heavy tank that Darjeeling fields. Compared to the Tiger I, it is slower and hits harder, but has lower muzzle velocity. I’ve had some successes with the Churchill Mk VII and the Valentine Mk VIII, but found the Churchill Gun Carrier to be completely ineffectual: without a turret, the tank is easily flanked by infantry. So far, Battlefield V has been very limited with its selection of vehicles, and I’m hoping that Tides of War will rectify this: there’s so much stuff in World War Two that could be introduced into the game.

  • The Turner SMLE is conversion of the SMLE Mk. III that I was so fond of from Battlefield 1 that gives it semi-automatic fire. Not quite as hard-hitting as the Gewehr 43, the Turner SMLE fires slightly faster and therefore, is more useful at closer ranges. Having spent many frustrating matches on Panzerstorm, and then several okay matches, and some good ones, I can say that the map does require more vehicles to allow for players to really make use of its size. From an aesthetic perspective, Panzerstorm looks amazing and brings to mind the landscapes of Interior BC.

  • The StG 44 has been degraded from its beta and alpha performance: lacking the stability for long distance shooting compared to the Turner SMLE and M1A1 Carbine, but also sporting a lower full-automatic fire rate that result in its being outclassed by the Gewehr 1-5 and M1907, the StG 44 occupies an unusual middle ground where it excels at neither. The key to using this gun well is at those short-to-medium ranges and tap-fire the weapon, aiming for the head where possible, but on the whole, the StG 44 is simply eclipsed by other weapons.

  • By comparison, the Ribeyrolles is now the ultimate assault weapon bar none: its low rate of fire and high accuracy allows it to fulfil the role between that of the assault rifles and semi-automatic rifles. Being able to put more damage downrange than the semi-automatic rifles, while having a longer reach than the assault rifles, the Ribeyrolles is reliable, versatile and leaves me confident knowing that I am equipped to deal with enemies at most ranges the assault class is designed for.

  • The return of skill-based sniping in Battlefield V means that long-range headshots are much harder to score than in Battlefield 1; with the Gewehr 98 in Battlefield 1 and its high muzzle velocity, I scored a 383 metre headshot on Sinai desert towards the end of my time in the game. In Battlefield V, muzzle velocities are closer to their Battlefield 4 values, and so, bullet drop is more pronounced than before. Coupled with reduced cenre mass damage, all of the scratches and smudging on the long-range optics, and harder to see enemies, sniping is a challenge, so landing those shots becomes even more rewarding. Here, I scored a headshot of 257 meters on Hamada – it’s my personal best in Battlefield V so far.

  • The Ribeyrolles is so accurate that if two opponents are lined up, one can get consecutive headshots, back-to-back. Battlefield V‘s incarnations of weapons seen in Battlefield 1 have been varied: of the ones I’ve unlocked, the Lewis gun, M1907 and Ribeyrolles absolutely outclass their Battlefield 1 iterations, while the shotguns have felt more ineffective in general.

  • I had all but given up on trying to destroy a tank, but during a match of conquest on Twisted Steel, I hopped into a Tiger I with the intent of ranking it up, and managed to blast an enemy Churchill to finish the Mechanised Brawl assignment done. Because of their vulnerability, tanks of Battlefield V take an additional level of skill and patience to use: one cannot simply brawl with the Tiger I, as the tank is best suited for ranged engagements against enemy vehicles. I have reached rank for with the tank now, and intend to spec it out fully for anti-tank engagements.

  • The Selbstlader 1906 was a weapon I never touched in Battlefield 1 – as a medic self-loading rifle with only five rounds available, the weapon was very difficult to use and was quite unsuited for closer ranges that medics played at. By comparison, Battlefield V places it with the scout class, and while unremarkable from a statistics perspective, its performance in practise is reasonable.

  • The M30 Drilling is a double-barrelled shotgun, similar to the Model 1900 of Battlefield 1 (which I loved), but has one additional twist: there’s a third barrel that fires a rifle cartridge, allowing the weapon to be used in situations where buckshot is insufficient to deal with. This rifle round allows the M30 to handle like the Martini-Henry, and because it only has one shot, it is the ultimate skill weapon. I’ve used the cartridge to surprise enemies, and the buckshot is remarkably effective in the ruins of Devastation as well.

  • My experience with the Tides of War was smooth for the most part – leaving a server and then finding a new one was often enough to force an assignment to track. The exception was the Grand Operations assignments, which refused to track regardless of how many times I restarted Battlefield V. After three days, it finally began tracking, and it was a short journey towards finishing enough of the branches to unlock the prize; the A/g m42 is a semi-automatic rifle for the assault class that handles most similarly to the M1A1 Carbine, albeit with slightly more damage but a limited magazine.

  • Here, I score a triple kill while flying over the village of Arras: having spent a nontrivial amount of time in Battlefield V and having reached rank 40, I’m burning through the progression system, and it feels that Battlefield V was deliberate in having a shorter progression system, allowing players to unlock everything quickly so that they could focus on Tides of War activities once those became available. While I feel that Battlefield V‘s progression system is shorter, it is still more advanced than that of Battlefield 1‘s, and  looks extensible enough so that adding more levels and rewards should be a straightforward endeavour.

  • Cheating in Battlefield has always been a point of contention: contrary to perjurers who would have players believe cheaters are non-existent, the reality is that they exist, and in a game like Battlefield V, where there is reduced spotting and game mechanics control scoring, it becomes very apparent to spot cheaters. Here, I blasted a fellow by the name of “ironmaiden0911”, who was topping the scoreboard with over 100 kills and 2 deaths within the first three minutes of Airborne. Frustration was very much a reality: at the time, I was trying to finish a grand operation and could not simply leave. In the end, my team lost, but I did managed to kill them at least once. A glance at their stats show they’ve been banned now, having not opened the game since I played them last.

  • At the opposite end of the spectrum are the simply spectacular, emergent moments that arise in Battlefield: here on a match of Grand Operations, another bomber got into my tail and began damaging me, but I somehow managed to bank, flew over them, and in a moment of inspiration, I unloaded my bombs on them. They connected and destroyed his vehicle; I thus bombed a bomber.

  • Besides more vehicles and content, one thing I would love to see in Battlefield V would be swappable reinforcements that one could pick and choose from. At different levels, reinforcements become unlocked, and then one could choose which ones to equip. For instance, I never call in the supply drop or vehicle-killers, so having different reinforcements would be amazing. While Call of Duty: WW2 is inferior to Battlefield V in just about every department, the number of options for killstreaks was well done. Battlefield V could take things one step further, doing things that can’t be done in Call of Duty  by adding new reinforcements that one could pick from. Some of my ideas include picking up a proper flamethrower, calling in an aircraft that spots all enemies in an area for 10 seconds, artillery strikes on two locations of one’s choosing (weaker than the rocket attacks, but allows one to hit one more location), and a player-controlled strategic bomber like the B-17 or B-29 that acts as an aerial equivalent of the Sturmtiger or Churchill Crocodile.

  • Another thing I would like to see is more class archetypes: the default ones are satisfactory and render the unlockable ones quite unnecessary, but I would like to see archetypes for increased movement speed, more stealth, ability to carry more ammo or more efficient spotting. Again, there’s so much that can be done that I would not be surprised if Tides of War added new archetypes later. Here, I get a double kill with the MG 34; the bug with bipod deployment aside, the medium machine guns are actually fun to use. In particular, when one is using the MG 34 with the bipod, it becomes a death machine that performs exceedingly well in a defensive role. I’ve come to enjoy the MG 34, and have specialised it to have increased accuracy and firing rate, as well as the double-drum magazine, which also allows for a faster reload. When the situation demands a run-and-gun style, I will return to the KE-7 and Lewis gun.

  • The next Tides of War chapter opens in a few days, being pushed back: I hope that this means DICE is pushing out patches to address issues previously encountered. Beyond this, I am looking forwards to seeing what is available in the next Tides of War, and ideally, we’d also gain an idea as to whether or not iconic content is being added in the future. Battlefield V remains shaped by what it could potentially become, and if the base game is mechanically solid, then the sky is the limit as to what DICE could potentially do with Battlefield V; I would be okay with DICE deciding to support Battlefield V for an extended period beyond two years, improving the game and building a long-term community to make a smooth, polished and content-rich game akin to how Rainbow Six Siege and Counter Strike: Global Offensive have done things.

While Battlefield V still has its share of bugs, being much more rocky and unpredictable than Battlefield 1, there are new patches coming out this month that will hopefully address some of the frustrations players have seen. Developers have been working on a fix for vaulting and bipod deployment, for instance, and I’m hoping that TTD is addressed so that I am sustaining damage at the same rate that I can deal damage. If anything, the TTK experiment showed that simply changing weapon damage won’t be a solution; the short TTK increases the value of tactical, smart play, and improving TTD would similarly allow players to anticipate how much time they have to get out of a bad situation. Beyond this, I’ve become somewhat acclimatised to the minimal spotting system, and while I still prefer the approaches Battlefield 3 and 4 took, I feel that should DICE properly address the sound of gunfire and footsteps, Battlefield V could keep its current spotting system and remain enjoyable. I admit that it took a bit of time to actually complete the Overture chapter of Tides of War, but the journey was a largely entertaining one. Battlefield V has shown plenty of promise, and given DICE’s track record, I am optimistic that the game will become more polished and correspondingly, more fun to play as time wears on. As far as content goes, the game is still very much missing American and Russian soldiers, maps and weapons; the iconic M4 Sherman and M1 Garand, or the Russian PPSh-41 and T-34 tanks, absolutely must be rendered in the Frostbite Engine, along with Stalingrad and Normandy. Contrary to any perception that these are stale, I would very much like to see World War Two’s most iconic battles in what is one of the most sophisticated game engines available. I think that the next chapter in Tides of War take us to the coasts of Greece, but if we are to get monthly content, I would hope that the more recognisable aspects of World War Two are added to Battlefield V: from a technical perspective, Battlefield V far outclasses Call of Duty: WWII, and I would love to see the DICE take on things that Call of Duty: WWII did not adequately capture.

Battlefield V: Twelve Hours of Multiplayer and First Impressions

“Real luxury is customisation.” –Lapo Elkann

DICE’s latest addition to the Battlefield franchise brings with it many new changes; despite a rocky marketting campaign and launch, Battlefield V handles much more smoothly than its predecessor, bringing with it a host of modifications that were intended to emphasise skill and team play even more so than previous Battlefield games, alongside major visual improvements. Now that Battlefield V is launched, and following my purchase of the title, I have a more solid understanding for what works and what requires reconsideration in Battlefield V. Like Battlefield 1, which took me some time to get used to, Battlefield V offers enough of a change to mechanics so that getting used to weapon handling, map layouts and other nuances so that it will take a bit of commitment to get used to the way things work here. The current state of Battlefield V is such that this is both a positive and a negative; on one hand, with eight maps at launch and a comparatively small selection of weapons, jumping in and getting familiar with everything won’t be a challenge, but on the other hand, this does not leave for much variety once one begins unlocking everything. The limited content is a consequence of the Tides of War system that replaces the Battlefield Premium system, providing continuous support and updates for the game during its lifespan, free of charge, to all players. Over time, Battlefield V will have more maps, more weapons and more options for players, along with bug fixes, that will almost certainly see the game improve, and given how DICE continuously improved previous Battlefield titles, it is no surprise that Battlefield V will see the same treatment. Some mechanics are fairly quick to acclimatise with, such as the attrition system, which has been balanced now to encourage team members to help one another out, without restricting players to one firefight, or weapon characteristics, which are much more consistent. Others are indicative of poor design choices: my biggest gripe about Battlefield V is enemy visibility, which has encouraged the practise of camping. Being killed by enemies concealed in foliage or masquerading as a downed player is immeasurably frustrating, detracting from the skill aspect (anyone can stay in one spot and rack up kills at the expense of helping their team out), although as with Battlefield 1, I expect that with time, acclimatisation and possible updates could mitigate this.

Battlefield V has its frustrating moments because enemies are near-impossible to see, but when things connect, there are also plenty of Only in Battlefield™ moments, as well. Successfully completing a flank and blasting unaware opponents, spawning onto a beacon on a contested capture point to surprise enemies or landing headshots from a distance are immensely satisfying, offering a hint of what can be accomplished with improving skill and knowledge. The weapons feel heftier than they did in Battlefield 1, and watching shots connect is rewarding. More rewarding is when one joins and contributes to a good squad: reviving and being revived by squad-mates is immensely fun, as is constantly throwing around ammunition and receiving ammunition from squad-mates. The scout class also gains access to a spotting scope that can pick out concealed enemies and make them stick out. Sniping is also incredibly satisfying, even more so than in Battlefield 1, since the bolt-action rifles have been made more difficult to wield. For the most part, my best games involve me playing the objectives in a much more defensive approach with teammates, steering clear of open areas and waiting for the team to make a push before advancing. Battlefield V also marks the return of a meaningful progression system, providing incentive to use every class, weapon and vehicle available. Levelling up confers different benefits, including new equipment and weapons, specialisations that impact the weapon’s performance, and access to cosmetics. More unlocks will be provided with the Tides of War updates over time, so the relative lack of content now will be rectified as the game matures. While the mechanics are largely solid, especially surrounding the gunplay and progression, Battlefield V still has quite a ways to go yet before it is as smooth and polished as Battlefield 1 – Battlefield V is still very early in its life and therefore, the game is likely to receive many changes over the course of the next two years.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • After picking up Battlefield V, I skipped over the campaign and immediately dropped into a match of conquest. Fjell 652 was the first map I got, and is said to be Battlefield V‘s Argonne Forest. While an uninspired map, its focus on infantry gameplay and the occasional aircraft gives the map a cleaner feel than Argonne Forest. I scored my first kill with the Sturmgewehr 1-5 (Volkssturmgewehr) here: the base weapons available to each class are useful and effective, and we would go on to win this match.

  • I’ve never been much of a pilot, and so, it is unlikely that I will have the chance to unlock more of the specialisations for aircraft, but in the few moments where I have hopped behind the driver’s seat of an aircraft, I’ve found that planes in Battlefield V handle very well. With beginner’s luck in my corner, I flew behind a bomber and destroyed it for my first double kill of Battlefield V proper. Flying can be fun, although because of my preference for other modes of combat, I’m generally not too effective when in the air.

  • The V-1 Rocket (and its Allied counterpart, the American JB-2) are the most powerful reinforcements available to players in Battlefield V: they are accessed by carrying out squad activities and provide support to a squad. The airstrike option is most reminiscent of the kill-streaks of Call of Duty, but in Battlefield V, must be earned through team play. Reinforcements come in several forms, and for the most part, squad leaders tend to save their points up for airstrikes. A successful airstrike is immensely satisfying, and have the effect of clearing out capture points for a squad to then take.

  • Having played Sinai Desert to death during Battlefield 1‘s beta, I was never particularly fond of the other desert maps in Battlefield 1: Fao Fortress and Suez were dreary, dull-looking maps. By comparison, Battlefield V‘s Hamada is beautiful, offering ruins and foliage, gullies and ravines to fight in. Set during the day, the map is very bright, and its open spaces make longer range weapons useful. It’d be a great map save for using the conquest assault mode: other game types on this map are generally enjoyable. Back in the alpha and beta, the Gewehr 43 was one of my favourite weapons for its precision: it’s since been balanced to have more spread if fired repeatedly, but at range, it remains effective.

  • Because random bullet deviation (alternatively known as “Kantai Collection-style random chance and luck”) is gone from Battlefield V, the assault rifles can be made to reach out quite far and still remain accurate if one tap fires. One of my challenges now is to dispense with the Battlefield 1 mindset of emptying magazines at enemies, and return to making short, controlled bursts to hit enemies from a distance, a technique that was superbly effective in Battlefield 4.

  • From an aesthetic standpoint, Devastation is extremely well done, capturing the feel of a completely ruined urban environment. With burning buildings, charred brick walls and the twisted skeleton of steel structures, Devastation’s layout is similar to that of Tsaritsyn. The dark environments and clutter convey a sense of ruin, but also makes it incredibly difficult to see enemies clearly. On the plus side, there are not unskilled players spamming gas grenades every other moment; excessive use of explosives have been dramatically lessened compared to Battlefield 1.

  • The medic class in Battlefield V has seen some improvement, but a bit of a downgrade from its Battlefield 1 equivalent: medics are now more valuable because they can provide allied players with a single use health kit for restoring their health fully. Players can no longer fully regenerate their health after sustaining damage and must use health kits to do so, forcing them to either find a medical crate or ask friendlies to toss them health kits. This is the medic’s real utility, besides being able to revive allied players quickly. With their medical syringe being equipped separately, medics can also equip different gadgets, but these have been underwhelming so far.

  • In Battlefield 1, the AT Rocket Gun was a well-balanced anti-tank weapon: dealing good damage to armour while forcing players to use their bipods and compensate for a slow projectile speed, it took skill and teamwork to use these in concert to destroy armour. The Panzerfaust, on the other hand, can destroy vehicles with too much ease. Two players can quickly ruin even the Tiger I, and the Panzer IV can be destroyed by a single player: if Girls und Panzer worked the same way as Battlefield V presently, a squad of three players (two assault and one support) could solo the whole of Black Forest.

  • When the opportunity arises, I’ve largely used the Panzer IV in an anti-infantry role: having come to enjoy how machine guns for tanks operated in Battlefield 1 worked, I took a similar approach to Battlefield V and found a moderate degree of success: compared to their performance in the beta, the machine guns no longer spray out tracers and have a slower firing sound, allowing one to lead shots better without wasting excessive ammunition. The main cannons on tanks, on the other hand, are not so effective: I’ve gotten into protracted exchanges with other armoured vehicles where neither of us were able to destroy the other without at least five direct hits.

  • Besides the bolt-action rifles, scouts have access to self-loading rifles now. Once a part of the medic class in Battlefield 1, self-loading rifles hit harder than the semi-automatic rifles of the assault kit and are a solid choice for medium range combat. I typically run with the 3x magnification on these rifles, since I expect to encounter enemies closer up than I would if I were playing with a bolt-action rifle, which are most effective with the high-powered scope.

  • For my first few hours, I was unsuccessful in finding a server running the Arras map. Easily one of the most scenic maps in Battlefield V, it’s got wide open fields of canola and a town at the map’s centre. Soldiers often hide in the canola and camp the capture points, coming from unexpected angles to surprise those trying to push onto a point. The point in the town itself is the most heavily contested, and changes the most hands in a match. Here, I call in a V-1 and watched as it impacted one of the capture points to score a double kill before the match ended: the explosion itself is spectacular.

  • Twisted Steel is another map with solid visuals: the foliage and swampy terrain is superb. Fighting is most intense on the damaged bridge that crosses the map, and thanks to the numerous trees, teams that control the bridge cannot simply snipe players down below. Again, a good medium range weapon on this map is useful, since there are open spaces between the capture point. One aspect of Battlefield V that indicates good design is the fact that weapons all have various optics immediately available for use, allowing one to not be restricted to the iron sights. Battlefield 4 required players get kills with a weapon before the sights could unlock, and since Battlefield has never done an adequate job with making iron sights usable, I tend to avoid them.

  • Being heavy tanks, Battlefield V‘s Tiger I and Churchill Mk VII are incredibly slow to manoeuvre, making them easy targets for Panzerfaust-wielding assault players. While heavy tanks traditionally had heavier armour and more powerful main cannons for anti-armour combat, the damage model present now means that even heavy tanks are not too effective against enemy armour, and their slow turret traversal makes them ill-suited for dealing with infantry. This is why I’ve chose to run the Panzer IV, whose setup makes it much better for supporting allied forces.

  • Aerodrome is set in a large, dark desert area reminiscent of Fao Fortress, but with one critical exception: there’s a large aircraft hangar at the center of the map, and fighting converges here. This is an excellent map for long-distance shooting, and Battlefield V has absolutely nailed the sniping mechanics. With no sweet spot and slower bullet velocities, the skill comes back into sniping as it had for Battlefield 4, so landing headshots becomes even more rewarding than it was previously. At present, my longest headshot is 198 metres.

  • The inside of Aerodrome’s main hangar is superbly designed and looks amazing. The planes in here can be destroyed over the course of the battle, and I love the lighting. However, I typically avoid fighting here, either on foot or in a vehicle, since the chaos makes it very easy to die to stray bullets. However, there are occasions where, with enough infantry support, I’ll push onto the point to help capture it, and a tank can be useful on such a push.

  • One of the most unusual features of Battlefield V isn’t a gameplay mechanic: the text chat will automatically censor out profanity and words deemed offensive, and the biggest problem with this is that it captures non-offensive words, such as “assault”. Ironically, the player characters themselves spout profanity when they are downed. I’m not sure why game developers feel compelled to bend to the will of virtue signallers, or how a few social media posts from virtue signallers can have such an impact on entertainment in general: for now, I’m glad that at the very least, virtue signallers have not negatively impacted the core gameplay of titles like Battlefield V.

  • The AT rocket gun was a fun weapon to use in the event one needed a longer-range weapon for picking off distant foes: because players needed to use a bipod, the weapon demanded situational awareness and map familiarity. By comparison, the Panzerfaust can be fired with reasonable accuracy from the shoulder and takes next to no skill to use: players of all experiences use it to score kills to an excessive degree, and I hope that this weapon’s destructive power is reduced to be more in line with the AT rocket gun, forcing assault players to stick with their squad if they wish to destroy vehicles.

  • The customisation I miss the most from Battlefield 1 is the emblems, which allowed me to run with the Ooarai logo or anime faces. I’ve heard that this feature will return with a later update, which will allow me to really run Girls und Panzer: Dream Tank Match in the Frostbite Engine. There is a certain satisfaction to listening to complaints about them in the text chat, and here, I blast another player with the Panzer IV in the wheat fields of Arras. Thanks to my completing the Road to Battlefield challenge some weeks ago, I have a variety of Arras skins and two special customisation sets.

  • The starting bolt action rifle, the Lee Enfield No. 4 Mk I has a good magazine size and fire rate, but slow bullet velocity and damage. These characteristics make it a solid weapon for beginners who are learning the ropes: the magazine size and fire rate allows for follow-up shots to be made, while the low muzzle velocity really forces one to account for bullet drop. I’ve had success in lining up and landing consecutive kills with this weapon, an all-around excellent teacher for the scout mechanics.

  • The ribbons of Battlefield V are a mystery to me: their appearance may or may not correspond with a scoring bonus, and there’s no display in the menu system to indicate what ribbons there are and the number that one has unlocked. One noticeable bug with ribbons is that they appear when certain criteria are not satisfied yet, and overall, it’s a little strange as to what purpose the ribbons serve. By comparison, medals have a clear unlock pattern and per community request, are always active. The only downside is that they presently can only be unlocked once, so I’m hoping they will be unlockable as many time as one earns their criteria (save the campaign medals).

  • The light tank Axis players access is the Panzer 38(t): while effectual against other light tanks, the 38(t) was inadequate against medium and heavy tanks. Production stopped in 1942, but the chassis would be used as the basis for the Hetzer. Battlefield V‘s light tanks are best suited for anti-infantry roles: having the fastest top speed and quickest turret traversal, they can be used to engage infantry effectively, especially if the right specialisations are selected, but their mobility comes at a cost; their light armour and 37 mm cannon makes them unable to take damage and deal damage to armour.

  • While the various Witches of Strike Witches and Brave Witches tend to run with iron sights, I prefer having a good set of optics on my weapons. Depending on the availability, I run with the Nydar sights, a simple but effective equivalent to the Coyote Sight of Battlefield 4, or the holographic sight. Here, I run the MG 34, a medium machine gun (MMG) that must have its bipod deployed in order for one to aim down sights. The idea of MMGs is a fun one that extends the support class’ usefulness, allowing one to hunker down and lay down serious suppressive fire to help a team hold a position.

  • Replicating the Hanna-Justina Wallia Rosalind Sieglinde Marseille loadout with the corresponding play-style (aggressive rushes) won’t be possible in Battlefield V, since the MMGs have terrible hip-fire accuracy. WIthout Hanna’s magic, players simply won’t be able to adopt a run-and-gun the same way Witches do: the MG 42 similarly cannot be used this way, so one will not be able to play the same way Gertrude and Erica roll.

  • The Panzer IV and its Allied counterpart, the Valentine Mk VIII, are excellent all-around tanks that I’ve performed consistently well with. I’d love to operate the M4 Sherman and T-34 at some point, as well. Having tried some of the Panzerstorm gameplay for myself, the scale of the tank battles on this map are inadequate, and I hope DICE introduces a new game mode for armoured warfare involving only tanks.

  • Here, I operate a Sd. Kfz 251 Pakwagen and used it to shell enemies from afar while waiting for a losing match to end, having entered one after a squad mate abandoned it. The Allied counterpart is theT48 57 mm Gun Motor Carriage, and these are among the less expensive of the reinforcements, providing squads with impressive firepower and unlimited ammunition at the expense of durability. For the most part, these are not brought into the game often: squad leaders end up saving up their requisition points to call in the rocket strikes.

  • There was a bug I encountered where the game would drop me from a server at random. This was my biggest gripe with the game, and the latest patches appear to deal with this. Here on Devastation, I run the M1907 SL, the fastest-firing assault rifle available in Battlefield V. Unlike its Battlefield 1 counterpart, the M1907 SL is a close quarters weapon with a high damage output at the expense of accuracy at range. It’s much more fun to use than the Battlefield 1 version, and the same can be said of the Lewis Gun, which is a beast.

  • Returning to Rotterdam, I’ve found my performance here to be solid, thanks in no small part to the fact that I know where everything is and can anticipate where enemies are coming from. It’s been two months and some since I last stood in Rotterdam, and things in real life have changed considerably. With all of the documentation and formalities wrapped up, I’ve taken the past few days off to rest, before taking up a new post. On my down time, I decided to visit the new Central Library that opened last month. It’s a clean, elegant building with plenty of open spaces and abundant lighting. The ship-shaped building reminds me of those modern European structures I saw in books from the library, and I’ve long been fond of modern architecture in this style.

  • The trick to Battlefield V really ends up being patience: instead of camping, one should move around in a strategic manner, from cover to cover, and ideally, with squad mates. After a rough start, it’s time to slow things down and then see about getting my KD ratio back up. My win-loss ratio has levelled out now. I still think that suppressed weapons should play a role in the game: presently, players are automatically spotted on the mini-map after a kill to alert enemy players to their presence. This is counted a bug, but I would think it is acceptable to keep this as a feature, and then add suppressors as a weapon specialisation that exchanges firepower for stealth. Players running suppressors would not show up on the map, but then, this could come with the tradeoff that the weapon is slower to draw and raise up for ADS.

  • Battlefield V‘s medal system is fabulous; I earned my first medal within twelve hours of play for capturing a hundred objectives, standing in contrast with Battlefield 1, whose medal system was difficult to work with. Despite the initial setbacks and difficulties, I think I’m slowly getting the hang of Battlefield V now. Pushing through the ranks, I am looking forwards to seeing what there is to do in Battlefield V outside of the conventional progression system: Tides of War is live now, and there’s so much to unlock and focus on. With my limited play time in the future, I’ll have to balance my time between watching anime and living the Girls und Panzer and Strike Witches in Frostbite Engine experience.

With new content to be consistently delivered over time, along with new activities and objectives, Battlefield V could stand to provide very solid entertainment. The current maps and content introduce players to more obscure aspects of World War Two; noticeably absent are iconic set-pieces and weapons. There is no Normandy Landing, Stalingrad, Iwo Jima or liberation of Hong Kong yet, nor the M1 Garand. While I appreciate the coverage of lesser-known battles and weapons, a World War Two title would not be complete without these elements. The Tides of War has the potential of including these events and weapons, and in particular, I am hoping that DICE includes the Pacific Campaign as a part of their Tides of War update. For the time being, however, my aim is to go through the progression system and unlock as much content as I can that will allow me to replicate the various Girls und Panzer and Strike Witches loadouts. Out of the gates, iconic weapons such as the Bren Machine Gun and MG 34 are quickly unlocked, allowing players to run as Perrine and Hanna (in a manner of speaking). Erica’s MP 40 is also available for use. Battlefield V‘s setup will not accommodate faithful replications of loadouts: the PIAT is a part of the assault class, so one cannot run the PIAT with the Bren, and with melee weapons being a little less diverse, no sabres are available at present. On the side of armour, I’ve taken to focusing on levelling up my Panzer IV: beginning with the Ausf. D version that Miho operates early on, one can push the Panzer IV to its Ausf. H configuration (as seen in Girls und Panzer Das Film) with the 75mm KwK 40 L/43 anti-tank cannon and Schürzen skirts. Should DICE release the appropriate customisations, I could decorate my armour in Ooarai colours: at present, a dark brown vehicle skin and custom emblems are unavailable. Battlefield V certainly did take a risk with its audience – whether or not it succeeds now will depend on how well post-launch content and updates are handled; there is definitely the possibility that Battlefield V could include enough content to make it memorable in terms of both gameplay and customisation, and this is an encouraging thought as I push through the game.

The Division: Six-Piece Classified Striker’s Battlegear, One Million Damage Sniper, and the Bullfrog at The Endgame

“We won’t get that lucky. We never do.” –Faye Lau

The combination of returning Global Events and their attendant incentive to return to the legendary missions has afforded with me an opportunity to acquire both a complete set of Classified Striker’s Battlegear, as well as the Bullfrog. The weapon compliments the Classified set very well, and in conjunction with a Showstopper, I’ve found myself with an inclination to return to The Division, which has certainly proved to be an enduring game despite my usual preference of playing it solo. Global events and a bit of luck have been instrumental towards helping me complete the Classified Striker’s Battlegear set: specialised for dealing damage with automatic weapons and providing a measure of self-healing, the Striker set is counted as one of the most versatile and effective sets in The Division. In practise, it means melting enemies and having the capability to prolong one’s durability in firefights: at the endgame, The Division provides the gear for players to perform in ways previously not possible, and the variety in Classified Sets allow for enough gameplay diversity so that there is plenty to do at the endgame for folks who’ve not yet collected everything. Of course, with The Division 2 coming out and offering an entirely restructured way to play, I am curious to see how the sequel plays out.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Like the Nekopara Extra OVA post, this one’s a bit of a shorter one: I note that readers aren’t terribly interested in hearing how I’ve managed to more or less get all the best gear in The Division solo, so this time, I’ve kept the post and my bragging to be shorter. For a week back in July, The Division‘s Underground DLC was freely available to all players, so I took this opportunity to give it a go solo. The Underground consists of procedurally-generated missions similar to dungeon instances and there are several game types. On the whole, I found that The Division offered plenty to do even without the DLC, so I never ended up purchasing any of the expansions.

  • Back in late July, I was still running my LVOA-C, a fantastic assault rifle whose performance and accuracy make it one of the best general-purpose weapons in the game. As one advances in The Division, the extended magazines become the best weapon modifier available, offering upwards of 120 percent ammunition capacity to double one’s ability to deliver sustained damage.

  • To counteract this, The Division 2 will be balancing out attachments so that there will be pros and cons to equipping different setups: in particular, equipping extended magazines will come at the cost of reload speeds. This will force players to choose their attachments carefully, rather than lead everyone to gravitate towards the tremendously useful extended magazines.

  • Here, I play the first set of missions for the Underground and melt my way through the final named elite in the mission. While I felt that Underground might’ve been a DLC worth picking up, I eventually decided that considering how many other ways there were of acquiring gear in The Division, strictly speaking, it was not necessary to get DLCs for that purpose. This will preclude me from getting the DLC-exclusive Shield assignments done, but that’s fine.

  • By this point in time, my Striker Set allows me to be more effective against enemy Agents in the Dark Zone. During one manhunt, I managed to burn away a rogue Agent’s health down to around ten percent before they were finished off by other Agents. This is in spite of my gear being unoptimised and not yet fully calibrated to bring out the maximum performance from the Striker bonuses, as well as lacking dedicated PvP weapons; I am still heavily configured for PvE effectiveness, favouring armour destruction and headshot damage for the most part.

  • I vividly recall that, when the Madison Field Hospital mission came out in the Legendary difficulty, my group was devastated by the final fight with the First Wave Agents despite doing okay. Playing through my first Legendary mission with the six piece Striker set, I realised that I was much more fragile than before, and while the health regeneration bonus is useful, I will need to stack other talents and roll more stamina to fully capitalise on the build’s powers.

  • Besides the Striker’s Battlegear, I’ve also got a full Hunter’s Faith and Firecrest classified set, as well. With the Hunter’s Faith set, I am now able to hit for upwards of a million damage on each headshot using a bolt-action rifle without stacking any other skills on top. When a Global Event is on, damage bonuses continue to amplify the damage dealt: I have hit for up to three million damage per headshot during the Ambush event, during which bonus damage is given when one is standing still.

  • Ever since I got a Bullfrog in a very lucky drop while farming open world bosses for GE credits, I’ve found it to complement my playstyle. The Bullfrog is a FAMAS assault rifle with the “uncomplicated” talent, which deals bonus damage if no stability mods are added. The weapon is inherently unwieldy and has a high spread at longer ranges. My Bullfrog has destructive and responsive rolled, allowing me to deal bonus armour damage and also additional damage at closer ranges, which is the range I typically fight best at. The stability bonuses offered by the Striker gearset allows my weapon to become very effective at close range, replacing the House. To quickly build up stacks, I have a Showstopper AA-12 with accurate and predatory, which ensure that more pellets find their mark.

  • If there is a case where I need more range, I’ll swap over to my M700 Carbon. After learning that one of the First Wave Agents were running a healing station, players soon began to focus their fire on the medic first. Once the medic is down, this fight became considerably easier – during my first run, I ran very late and was forced to disengage to catch sleep ahead of the next day, but now that players are familiar with the mission, finishing Madison Field Hospital on Legendary was no different than the other missions. I will need to optimise my Striker build to improve survivability; at this point, I have too much electronics and not enough stamina.

  • Thus, after 170 hours in The Division, I have a build that seems to work very well for me. My remaining aspiration is to complete a Classified Path of the Nomad set and tune this for PvP; at this point in time, I’m only missing one piece in this set. I do not expect to write frequently about The Division from here on out: I am currently going through the game a second time with a new character with the goal of gaining an extra 120 slots for items. With this post in the books, I’m now well-positioned for a special post tomorrow. Doing these short posts also lead me to wonder if folks are okay with me writing more concise discussions.

In the meantime, leading up to The Division 2‘s launch, there have been more global events and in-game activities in The Division. The Shields have been especially interesting: players who complete certain assignments not only unlock rewards in The Division, but also will gain access to different tiers of rewards in The Division 2. These Shields have been quite fun to collect, although there are others that require a considerably greater degree of commitment and patience to acquire. Like Battlefield 1, The Division was launched with less content and progression, but over time, support for the game contributed to its continued replay value; in both cases, DICE and Ubisoft have managed to elevate the excitement for their upcoming titles by offering events in-game to encourage players to get more mileage out of them before their successors are launched, and the results of this is that I’ve been finding incentive to come back to both games and experience them anew. In the case of The Division, coming back means being able to collect the last of the exotic weapons I’ve been eyeing, and also finishing off my quest to collect a good Classified gearset. The replay value and longevity I’ve gotten out of The Division is very encouraging, and my interest in seeing what The Division 2 is about has increased: I will likely have a better idea of whether or not The Division 2 is my cup of tea following the open beta in early 2019, and this game might just be worth purchasing if it starts off strong and continues to improve further during its life-cycle.