The Infinite Zenith

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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.

Battlefield V: A Reflection on the Open Beta

“This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” —Winston Churchill

While Battlefield V may have been hampered by a sub-optimal marketing campaign, its biggest selling point lies within gameplay. The closed alpha was a fantastic opportunity to see how the new weapon mechanics and gameplay elements, such as attrition and squad play, functioned, although Battlefield V itself was evidently still in development at that stage; various bugs, such as being unable to spawn, falling through the map, being unable to change squads and performance issues were prevalent. As well, many features simply were not present in the build: the game’s progression and customisation system was a no-show in the alpha, for instance. By the time of the open beta two months later, Battlefield V has come a long way — the game handles very smoothly, and the stutter I experienced in the alpha, especially when being revived or spawning onto teammates, had been rectified. The classes have also undergone some changes, with the assault being assigned longer-range weapons for medium range, precise combat, and the medic class gaining access to submachine guns to fit their role as close-quarters support for squad members. Each class also gains a unique ability: assault players regenerate health faster, medic players can revive any teammate faster than squad members can revive squad mates, support players can build heavier fortifications, and recon players can run faster when damaged. The emphasis on unique class roles is carried over from Battlefield 1 — in conjunction with the fortifications and attrition elements, Battlefield V handles quite differently than its predecessors, forcing players to be even more mindful of their surroundings than in previous instalments of Battlefield. While these new elements seem quite daunting, they are woven into Battlefield V neatly, and ultimately, offer a new way to experience Battlefield, bringing tactical elements into the game and encouraging players to explore their environments in more detail than before.

At the end of the day, however, Battlefield V is a first person shooter, and as such, focus remains predominantly on the weapons and their handling. Battlefield 1 was frustrating with its random bullet deviation, which reduced the potency of skill in a firefight; players with sure aim and mastery of their weapon could still occasionally miss shots from this, and the time to kill was also quite lengthy. Battlefield V‘s closed alpha had a Battlefield 4-era TTK, allowing skilled players to drop enemies exceptionally quickly, and with some weapons lacking recoil and the insufficient damage indicators, meant firefights were somewhat frustrating if one did not get the drop on their opponents. By the open beta, it seems DICE has gone with a balance between the two extremes: TTKs are faster and more satisfying than those of Battlefield 1, but slower than the closed alpha’s allowing players to duck out and escape fire if they chose to. The open beta continues to show that Battlefield V is a game of methodical team play — my best games were experienced by moving together with my squad and picking my engagements. I had no trouble topping the scoreboards and maintaining a positive KD ratio when I played this way. By comparison, in games where I became impatient to try out a newly-unlocked gun, I was slaughtered. If Battlefield V intended its players to cooperate and master its mechanics over aggressively charging into a scenario and counting on no-scopes to win the day, it has certainly succeeded in doing so. While the open beta proved quite enjoyable, the insight it provides into Battlefield V‘s progression system leaves much to be desired. Battlefield 3 and 4 had a solid system, unlocking new weapons, gadgets, attachments and weapon camouflages. Different weapons, gadgets and attachments allow players to very precisely pick their play style, giving a sense of immersion. This disappeared in Battlefield 1, and while Battlefield V‘s progression system does incentivise players to advance their classes and weapons, the decision to split weapon customisation into cosmetic and functional aspects does not make sense. In particular, that weapons have a progression tree that continue to improve the weapon’s performance does not make sense: once one unlocks all of the upgrades, their weapon will be outright superior to the player who is using that weapon for the first time. By comparison, Battlefield 3 and 4 introduced the notion of side-grades, where every attachment offered a benefit in exchange for a disadvantage. A heavy barrel might improve weapon damage at range at the expense of hip-fire accuracy, and a compensator can help some unruly weapons with horizontal accuracy, but increase muzzle flash and make a player more visible. It meant tuning a weapon was an involved and fun task, and this is something that I miss from the earlier Battlefield titles. Similarly, with the archetypes still absent, one must wonder what roles they’ll play in the full game.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • It’s been a shade more than two years ago when the Battlefield 1 open beta ended, and I ended up with two separate posts detailing my experiences. At the time, I remarked that I would buy Battlefield 1 if it ended up with a solid launch, and two years later, with 195 hours spent in the game, I feel that the open beta proved to be a valuable contributor in helping me decide whether the game was for me or not. At present, the open beta for Battlefield V has concluded, and while there are many factors that need improvement, overall, my experience was a very solid one.

  • There are a total of forty screenshots in this post, and while it has been past tradition for me to open with me scoring a melee kill, the gunplay in Battlefield V is superb. When I spawned into my first match on Rotterdam, however, most of the combat was actually opposite to where I was, so I found myself exploring the map and trying to get to one of the capture points before dying to an assault player from around the corner. I subsequently hopped into a Panzer IV and shelled enemies trying to capture the train station.

  • The Panzer IV is likely in its Ausf. D form, and with its upgrade tree, I imagine that there should be no trouble in giving it the equipment needed to make it resemble the Ausf. F2 that Miho and her friends operate. Vehicle gameplay in Battlefield V is more skill-based than its previous counterparts: tank turrets are slower to rotate and have some inertia to them, meaning that one cannot simply look and immediately begin firing at enemies: the turret has to “catch up” to where one is looking before one’s shots begin landing.

  • Battlefield V‘s sniping mechanics are a return to the days of Battlefield 4 and 3, where center-mass shots were unable to kill in one shot at any range. Emphasis is returned to headshots, and sniper rifles again have different handling characteristics, whereas in Battlefield 1, bolt action rifles were largely differentiated by their sweet spot ranges and bullet speeds. The open beta starts recon players with the Lee-Enfield No. 4 Mk I, which has a ten-round capacity, a lower bullet velocity and a quicker firing rate compared to the Karabiner 98.

  • The medic class got the least use during my time in the open beta: I only reached rank two with the medic. While medics no longer carry a syringe gadget and thus, have a slot free for another gadget. I’m not sure if it was a bug or not, but I found myself resupplying teammates with the medic’s bandage pouches. This could simply be a UI error, although the absence of a dedicated syringe tool took some getting used to.

  • We’ve still yet to see all of the available weapons for Battlefield V, and I’m still hoping that the iconic MG42 will be available as an infantry-portable weapon for the support class. This would allow me to emulate the Karlsland Witch loadout: the weapon was infamous for its high firing rate and was nicknamed “Hitler’s Buzzsaw” for the distinct sound it made. On top of this, the weapon was incredibly reliable and had a quick-change barrel. With all of the sophisticated, detailed animations in Battlefield V, I would not be surprised if overheating an MG42 would result in the player manually replacing the barrel, which could be an innovative way to offset its high firing rate.

  • Having tried them with a greater frequency, I feel that reinforcements replace Battlefield 1‘s behemoths. This is quite welcome, since it means that players contributing to their team will have a chance to further assist with resupplies and powerful weaponry, but without needing to be on a losing team. The Sturmtiger was one of the reinforcements available to the German forces in the beta and the vehicle itself was originally intended for infantry support. I went on a short killstreak with it before getting over confident, driving it to point B and then watching as other players smashed the Sturmtiger with Panzerfausts after I got stuck.

  • Returning to Narvik, the dialed-back particle effects are noticeable, and the map looks a lot clearer now. Here, I take Darjeeling’s tank of choice, the Churchill Mk. VII, for a spin and blast enemies for a double kill. Because of turret inertia, limited ammunition and the presence of effective anti-tank weapons, tanks are no longer invincible monstrosities: I vividly recall Battlefield 1‘s FT-17 during the open beta, which was so overpowered that I went on a 21-streak with it. By comparison, the best kill-streak I’ve been on during this open beta was a more modest 9 with the Valentine Mk. III, and my Battlefield 1 record is a 13-streak.

  • Bolt-action rifles have taken a major reduction in effectiveness with center mass shots to the point where a body shot at range does around 55 damage (and 70 in close quarters). This is taking it a little far: raising their maximum damage to around 80-90, as per Battlefield 4 and having it trail out to 60 past 100 metres would make the rifles more powerful without decreasing the value of headshots. When headshots do connect with bolt-action rifles in Battlefield V, however, the results are incredibly satisfying.

  • It took me a little while to warm up to the progression system; weapons no longer need a currency to buy and unlock automatically once a class rank is reached. I immediately purchased the Gewehr 43 again and put the medium optics on it, as this configuration served me particularly well during the closed alpha. In fact, it was a little too effective, and for the beta, its vertical recoil was increased. Damage was also reduced slightly, but the weapon remains exceptionally effective.

  • A good set of optics on the Gewehr 43, and a healthy sense of caution means that with it, one can do very well at medium ranges. The trick is not to spam fire, and instead, place one’s shots more carefully. The skill ceiling for the Gewehr 43 makes the weapon a powerful all-around weapon, but during the beta, I saw many folks continue to run around with the StG 44, which has more recoil but otherwise remains superbly effective.

  • The support class was easily the weakest in Battlefield 1, but in Battlefield V, their machine guns gain the ability to penetrate soft cover like wood, and overall, the weapons are much more reliable at medium ranges. Playing support at close range is not viable like it was in Battlefield 3 and 4, where I ran around with the M249 and hip-fired like a madman, but with high accuracy at those medium ranges, one can consistently hit more distant targets than was possible with the LMGs from Battlefield 1.

  • My performance in Battlefield V has been consistently good from a KD perspective: in most Battlefield games, my lack of patience is the cause behind most of my deaths, and is only offset by the fact that I am very focused on objectives and team-oriented tasks, which earn enough points so that I can reach close to the top of the scoreboard despite a smaller number of kills. However, for Battlefield V, the attrition mechanics, and the advantages of a more cautious play-style means I adopt a defense-drive strategy, sticking around and fortifying a capture point until teammates arrive, and then capturing new points only with help.

  • The class-specific ranks return from Battlefield 1 and 3: in Battlefield V, class ranks unlock weapons, whereas in Battlefield 4, using a weapon class unlocked weapons. This system was a minor gripe I had with Battlefield 4, since it meant that weapon classes I rarely used, such as the marksman rifles, would be more difficult to unlock. By comparison, Battlefield 3 tied weapon unlocks with class usage, making it relatively simple to earn new weapons.

  • Ribbons in Battlefield V are still a bit of a mystery to me: while they must work similarly to how ribbons worked in previous Battlefield games, the criteria for unlocking them are not yet known. Here, I earn one ribbon for capturing points on Rotterdam, a map that is considered to be the Amiens of Battlefield V: an urban location with narrow streets, courtyards, a harbour and a rail bridge, it offers a bit of everything in terms of combat environments and each class is useful in its own right in different parts of the map.

  • After unlocking the Bren gun, I immediately gravitated towards it. Compared to the closed alpha, the Bren in the open beta has less recoil. While hitting for less damage per shot, its strength is accuracy, making it a solid weapon at medium ranges. Its main detriment is a lower firing rate, making it quite unsuitable for close quarters combat: during pinches where I encountered a medic or assault player up close, their Sten gun or StGs melted me after I got a few shots off.

  • Of course, against unsuspecting enemies at close range, the Bren is quite powerful, and inspection of my screenshots show that I am running with the AA sights. These unobtrusive sights make it much easier to aim the weapon at medium ranges, and a major benefit of a World War Two setting is that more weapon accessories can be used. There is a better selection of sights in the game that make it much easier to use many weapons; one of my weak points in Battlefield 1 was that I was ineffective with iron sights and so, I tend to avoid iron-sight weapons.

  • Bullet drop is much more noticeable in Battlefield V than it was in Battlefield 1: at ranges past 80 metres, one must begin compensating for gravity to land headshots on distant foes. Besides more pronounced bullet drop, the recon class of Battlefield V is also strongly affected by changes to the game mechanics. Spotting has been modified so that only the recon can spot enemies on the mini-map with their binoculars and flares. This increases their value in providing reconnaissance to their team. 3D-spotting is also absent, forcing players to visually recognise enemy soldiers.

  • Planes were left with a severe disadvantage with the changes in spotting, and while they’ve been given additional equipment to spot players on the ground for longer periods, other players have remarked that planes were much less effective. I had the chance to fly for a short period before going out of bounds and exploding for deserting: the planes handle more smoothly than they did in the alpha, but the small number of planes in the sky means dogfights are rare, and while I never tried for myself, strafing ground targets is also tricky. By comparison, tanks are very effective and enjoyable to use: here, I shell an enemy while trying to capture D point.

  • The FG-42 is a new addition to Battlefield V, being a high rounds-per-minute automatic rifle with a correspondingly high damage output and smaller magazine capacity. It is functionally similar to a battle rifle and in World War Two, was a limited production weapon intended for use by the Fallschirmjäger airborne infantry. Highly advanced for its time, the FG-42’s gas-operated mechanics influenced the systems used in the American M60.

  • German weapons of World War Two were among the most sophisticated in the world, and many of their elements made their way into modern weapon systems. The StG 44 is one of the most notable examples: the notion of firing intermediate cartridges in automatic combined the range of a rifle with the close-quarters efficacy of a submachine gun, and the StG 44 directly influenced the Avtomat Kalashnikova line of rifles, whose family and its derivatives have become the most widely-produced assault rifle in the world.

  • Without the blowing snow on Narvik, the map has a much cleaner feel to it and is reminiscent of some of Battlefield 1‘s In The Name of The Tsar maps. Volga River and Brusilov Keep were particularly enjoyable, and I became familiar enough with both maps to excel with all classes. This is my own metric for what makes a map fun: a well-designed map will allow all classes to be effective on it, featuring enough choke points, narrow corridors and open spaces so that players can choose their engagements and move in a more tactical manner to reach their destinations without a single class being dominant over others.

  • In both Battlefield V maps during the open beta, the only class I struggled with was the medic class and its submachine guns. Traditionally, I excel with these hip fire machines: PDWs were among my favourite weapons to run in Battlefield 3 and 4, and in Battlefield 1, submachine guns dominate my list of most-used weapons alongside the bolt-action rifles. For some reason, Battlefield V‘s submachine guns were not as effective in my hands, and this is probably because I became accustomed to playing at longer ranges.

  • We’re very nearly halfway into September by this point in time, and readers will have noted that I’ve got very few posts out. Besides a single post for Harukana Receive, and now, this post on Battlefield V, this blog’s been remarkably quiet. The reason for this is because circumstances in real life have led me to prioritise other things over blogging for the moment. For the first week of this month, I was in Winnipeg, Manitoba on work-related matters.

  • The work itself was quite challenging, but not from a technical perspective; every day left me exhausted. Even after I returned home, I’ve still been putting in non-standard hours and working on weekends in a bid to try and finish my assignment, and the end result of this is that I’ve been much more tired and dejected of late. Being of this mindset is certainly not conducive towards writing good blog posts, and I made an exception for Battlefield V‘s open beta because it was a welcome and enjoyable escape. While in Winnipeg, I was carrying my MacBook Pro; while a reliable and capable machine, it’s not capable of playing the shooters I typically partake in.

  • When things get challenging, I cope by breaking things down and taking everything one step at a time, as well as setting milestones to look forwards to. In Winnipeg, a good meal at the end of the day was that milestone. I am striving to conclude this project to the best of my ability and hope that there will be a bit of a breather before I return to my current work. Back in Battlefield V‘s open beta, towards the end, I figured out where weapon attachments could be added and so, put one of the sights on the StG 44. The result was a fun boost in performance that included a neat double kill here.

  • Having good sights is the difference between night and day, making it much easier to track targets. Of all the cosmetic changes, sights are the one that are worth looking into, since they directly affect one’s performance by helping improve visibility. Insofar, I’ve not seen anything to suggest that Battlefield V will have side grade style weapon attachments that positively impact performance in one area at the cost of another. The weapon tree gives weapons straight upgrades, which leaves players at a disadvantage.

  • Of course, with DICE pushing back the release date to November 20, there remains time to tune some concepts and features, so my final verdict on whether or not I’ll get the game will be made once I learn more about the final product. On the topic of release dates, Metro Exodus will be releasing in February 22, 2019, and DOOM: Eternal will be releasing somewhere in 2019. The Divison 2 will release on March 15, 2019, and there could be an open beta to try the game out come February 2019, as well.

  • Here, I wield the M1A1 carbine, which is a fast-firing semi-automatic rifle that deals less damage than the Gewehr 43 and is better suited for close quarters engagements than long range. It’s a bit of a fun weapon to use, and the high firing rate means it is more forgiving of missed shots in close range. In a few screenshots earlier, I fielded the ZH-29, a self-loading rifle that functions as a designated marksman rifle and can kill with two shots. This weapon is better suited for snipers who prefer a more aggressive role in capturing objectives and pushing alongside teammates, although it can hold its own in longer range engagements, as well.

  • The M1A1 is a variation of the M1 Carbine used by paratroopers and has a folding stock, and despite its designation, is unrelated to the famous M1 Garand. The M1 Garand is an iconic American service rifle widely used in World War Two, replacing the bolt-action M1903 in 1930 and used until the M14 was issued. With an eight-round clip, the weapon has a distinct pinging sound when the clip is ejected. Commonly portrayed in World War Two games, it would be quite surprising not to see this weapon in Battlefield V, and I am curious to see what DICE’s sound and animation engineers did for the weapon.

  • For me, the politics surrounding a video game do not have any influence on whether or not I will buy the game or enjoy it. While I consider myself moderately current with events around me, I feel that the various culture wars on the internet are not meritorious of consideration: life is much too short for one to be worried about taking sides in things that ultimately amount to nothing. The point of video games (and other forms of entertainment that often are scrutinised in culture wars) is to help folks relax, and so, I find that the worth of a game (and entertainment in general) is judged in how well it can help its audience relax and escape.

  • As a consequence, all of the debate surrounding the presence of female soldiers in Battlefield and unusual, steampunk-style customisations ends up being a waste of time. The merit of a game lies in how well it handles and whether or not it offers incentive to return. With this being said, I am of the mind that Battlefield V‘s marketing campaign was quite weak: Battlefield 1 managed to make me excited about the World War One setting, and a powerful campaign trailer ultimately helped make the decision to buy the game an easy one. Released on September 27, 2016, the trailer created a sense of respect and admiration for those who gave their lives in World War One.

  • The campaign trailer for Battlefield 1 was set to Really Slow Motion’s “Sun and Stars”, and with the end of September approaching, I am curious to see what kind of trailer Battlefield V has for its campaign. On the whole, Battlefield V‘s reveal trailer was the weakest, and newer trailers do create some excitement in the game for me. However, for most, first impressions matter, and DICE’s marketing team has struggled to recapture interest in the game following its disastrous reveal trailer.

  • Here, I call in the Allied equivalent of the Sturmtiger: this is the Churchill Crocodile, a heavy flame tank that featured a flamethrower in addition to its QF 75mm main gun. In Battlefield V, the flamethrower has a shorter range than the original tank’s 110m, and it is operated by a passenger. When I first called one in, it was moments away from the end of a losing game, and no one bothered to sit in the tank, but I managed to score some kills with it.

  • As far as major bugs go, Battlefield V still has an issue where the game may occasionally treat players as alive when they’re killed, and on one instance, I was unable to spawn back in, forcing me to quite and re-join the server. Beyond this, my experiences have been very smooth, and even on my computer, which is five-and-a-half years old now, the game still runs very well.

  • While sitting in the front gunner’s seat in a Tiger I tank, I somehow managed to blow up a light vehicle with the machine gun. While drivers are constrained by ammunition, secondary gunners have unlimited ammunition, making them powerful support for tank drivers: an observant secondary gunner can provide some covering fire for a driver while they are reloading or capturing a point.

  • Like the Battlefield 1 open beta, my best kill-streak was accomplished in the driver’s seat of a tank: it was the FT-17 in Battlefield 1, and in Battlefield V, it’s the Valentine Mk. VIII, an infantry tank that proved durable and reliable. The Mk VIII variant has a six-pounder, and in Battlefield V, it is quite manoeuvrable: I had no trouble in dispatching players who had flanked my tank with the aim of placing dynamite or AT mines, although the enemy team eventually brought Panzerfausts to the party, ending my streak at nine.

  • Towards the end of the game, I scored enough points to call in another Crocodile and single-handedly captured point B. I called in one V-1 rocket during one of my early matches to help clear a point on Rotterdam, but the close quarters environments and buildings make the V-1 (or the Allied counterpart, the JB-2) less effective than in the open spaces of Narvik. This brings my Battlefield V open beta post to a close: altogether, I spent around nine-and-a-half hours in the open beta and tried out many of the features. I did miss out on unlocking the M30 Drilling, a triple-barrel weapon with two shotgun barrels and one barrel for a rifle round. Overall, the beta was enjoyable, more so than Battlefield 1‘s, and if the launch is smooth, I may consider buying Battlefield V. For the near future, however, I will be returning my focus to anime, and the next post will be on Harukana Receive‘s penultimate episode this Friday.

While a step in the right direction, and being exciting for shaking up the way Battlefield plays, Battlefield V is still rough around the edges at present. The progression system is not as meaningful as it was in Battlefield 4 or 3, and some mechanics remain unimplemented even in this beta build (noticeably, the ability to drag downed teammates to a safer location before reviving them). It is unsurprising, then, that DICE has pushed back the release date for Battlefield V to November 20. This was a solid move on their part, as the extra time allows them to release a more polished, finished product over a broken one. From the open beta, there is much that needs to be improved on: besides a baffling progression system, the UI also needs improvement. Text is sometimes invisible, contrast is jarring in places, and the flash for earning an award or unlock is so bright that it can block out what I’m trying to shoot at. Time will tell whether or not Battlefield V will address these problems and put a rocky reveal beyond it: the gameplay itself is quite solid, and the World War Two setting has already provided many exciting possibilities for settings that could be explored. I’ve already spent many a match running the Miho Nishizumi and Darjeeling loadouts, as well as running around with Perrine’s Bren gun; it will be quite interesting to see what directions Battlefield V takes, and if the open beta was any indicator, the hit detection and performance does not seem to be an issue. Battlefield 4‘s launch was terrible, and it took a year for the game to stablise to the point where players deeply enjoyed it. If Battlefield V has a solid launch, with the ongoing release of content through the Tides of War, I imagine that there would be enough new content to enjoy that would make the price of admissions worthwhile, and that over time, I could acclimatise to the new progression system, even if it is not as sophisticated as the one I’ve come to enjoy in Battlefield 4 and 3. I’ve never been one to pre-order games, but as I did with Battlefield 1, my decision to pick up the game will be motivated largely by what I hear of its performance and gameplay post-launch — a Battlefield V that features solid gun-play and stable netcode will be one that I would be willing to shell out the full price for, as I am quite sure that I will get used to the new mechanics quite quickly and begin enjoying what is the closest we’ve ever had of a proper Strike Witches/Girls und Panzer game in the Frostbite Engine.