Recently, I ransacked the IGN game library for physical copies of every Battlefield going all the way back to 1942. As I worked my way through the series, a pattern began to emerge: for every innovative entry there was an iterative one. For every Battlefield 2, there was a Battlefield 2142 that, while thematically distinct, did little to advance the series mechanically. So when I sat down to play Battlefield V at EA Play I was fully expecting Battlefield 1 with building. What I got was a sneak peek at the most revolutionary Battlefield in the last decade.
The sheer number of major gameplay changes in the build that I played was staggering. Health no longer regenerates past a certain point without aid, ammo reserves are drastically reduced, anyone can revive a downed squadmate, and enemies can no longer be marked using the spotting system. Gone are the days of shooting the red doritos. Hitting the spot key now tags a location that’s useful for enemy snipers and tanks, but mostly useless for infantry on the move.
These changes are bound to be controversial, but I’ll go out on a limb and say that I wholeheartedly agree with their institution. The end result is a more visceral Battlefield experience that encourages teamplay, and successfully mixes up some previously one-dimensional gameplay loops. My time spent sniping in Battlefield V was a much more dynamic experience thanks to the aforementioned changes. Due to the Kar98k’s scant 15 total rounds of ammunition, I was constantly coerced into seeking out friendly support players, rushing to a dead enemy to scavenge all new ammo drops, or defending a control point with a supply crate.
The reliance on squadmates has moved to the forefront but squads are also more vulnerable than ever before. There’s a much shorter window to revive an ally — it now requires a lengthy animation, though it’s faster if you’re using a syringe as the medic class. There appears to be more variance in class-specific arsenal choices, too, as the medic is capable of equipping both a scoped semi-automatic Gewehr rifle and the fully automatic “Grease Gun” SMG, which would normally fall under the jurisdiction of the assault class.
The most significant class change in Battlefield V is archetypes. Archetypes appear to be collectable specializations for your favorite class that offer unique weapons, gadgets, stats, and perks. For example, the “machine gunner” support archetype allows the use of the devastating and unwieldy MG 42, which can only be fired from the hip unless prone. Archetypes look to refine class identities but could just as easily rob players of the ability to fully customize their loadout — I need to see more before I can make my mind up on this point.
My first impression of the new Grand Operations mode was a good one. Operations in Battlefield 1 succeeded in giving context and continuity to a series of matches; the new Grand Operations looks to mix up game modes in the process. The two modes I played within Grand Operations were Breakthrough and a new mode called Airborne in which the attacking team parachutes onto the Battlefield. While I didn’t get to experience it, it’s worth mentioning that, in the event of a stalemate, Grand Operations progresses to a last man standing “Final Stand” round, in which ammunition is further limited and death is permanent for the round.
I still have a lot of unanswered questions, like how “The Company” and the finer details of progression will work. But for now, I’m in a pleasant state of shock at the drastic and unexpected changes coming to Battlefield 5.
James Duggan is the sweatiest try hard at Battlefield press events. He has no mercy for any outlet, friend, or coworker, and his only allegiance is to himself. Follow him @ThuggnDuggn.