Saturday, January 5, 2019

Battlefield V - The Game That's Shockingly Fun?

(I have no idea what this means.)
You know, sometimes you just have to take a chance on a game. This Christmas I got quite a few things video game related, but one of them wasn't something I really expected -- Battlefield V. Now when this game was coming out I was one of those people who didn't even watch the trailers. I like Battlefield and all, but I had a hard time getting into BF1, and everything I was hearing about V was completely turning me off. There was the whole controversy with a female character being on the cover in a World War II game, and then it came out that they rewrote actual history to make it more inclusive. Things like this were seen as disrespectful, and the game was quickly blacklisted by most. As for how I felt? Well, I could understand why people were mad, and seeing this made me feel as if the game would never be a success because of that. It sounded like the developers were more focused on things like this than the actual gameplay, and I figured that the player base would be low and never reach the levels of BF4 or BF1. So why even bother playing it?

Jump ahead a month or so after release and no one is even talking about the game. It was just out. That's it. No discussion of the new Battle Royale mode (which is because it's not even out yet, but why would anyone know that little detail?), nothing was said about the game's maps and other modes, and even the discussions about women being in WWII came to an end. It's like the game was already old news the day it launched, and that no one even bothered getting it to see how it was. And again, I was the same. I had no plans to go out and buy this thing myself, but when I got it as a Christmas gift I instantly felt as if I had to at least give it a shot. And man, I'm sure glad I did.

So the thing about me and Battlefield is that I have a lot of nostalgia for the older games in the series. I always wanted to play BF2 myself but had no way to back in the day, and it wasn't until I got Bad Company for the Xbox 360 that I was finally able to experience a BF game. Because it was my first that game was pretty special to me, but it wasn't until BC2 that I fully got into the series' online scene. I spent so much time playing that game online, the weeks after just flew by for me. Heck one of my biggest gaming scares was the day I came home from work at the bakery and booted up my copy of BC2 to a blank profile cleared of all my stats! Thankfully the devs did fix this issue and I got everything back, but for a few hours there I thought I lost it all. Anyway those were some fun times for me, and ever since I've been interested in the series as a whole. Eventually I moved onto Battlefield Play4Free on PC, and then onto Battlefield 3. Each of these games were something I invested a lot of time into, and something I planned to return to time and time again. Then things changed.

While I liked Battlefield 4 a lot, I never did get into it as much as I had been into 3, and Hardlines was just a let down overall. There was still some fun to be had with it, but it wasn't quite what I was looking for. BF1 was the same thing. While the maps and WWI setting were great, it didn't completely click with me. It was a good BF (which was a huge improvement over Hardlines), it just wasn't one of my favorites. On one hand I liked that it stood out from the other two, which gave you a reason to go back, but on the other it made me want to play those games more instead. So again, it just wasn't my thing... And that was another reason I wasn't so sure about the WWII setting in V. However, after starting up BFV all of that changed.

At first I didn't think much about BFV either. I tried out the war stories and thought they were just okay. Putting aside the changed history and controversies created by it, it wasn't anything that bad or that special. Of course the same can be said about most BF game's campaigns. With the exception of Bad Company, BF has never been about it's single player mode, so for me the war stories were exactly what I expected. Not a deal breaker, but not something I was too interested in to begin with. The multiplayer modes on the other hand, that's what I was worried about and was almost instantly turned off by... Until I gave it a chance that is.

When I first jumped into online I came face to face with the character customization, and the classes. This time around you can pick what character you want to play as for each cast (which does include women), and you can unlock different costumes and color schemes for them. Of course this takes currency you earn in game to do, and is actually better off being used on the new weapon specialization system instead. Battle Pack loot boxes are now gone, basically all dog tags are earned as rewards for completing different challenges, and all items are either bought outright or unlocked as you level up a class or a gun in said class. There are also extra assignments you can take on for bonus exp and rewards, but these are mostly depended on the day you play, or on how much you use a specific weapon. For example one day of the week might ask you to revive so many players within a mach (which is something every class can do now), but then the next day you might be tasked with capturing flags. On the other hand weapon mastery assignments ask that you get good with your favorite weapons, and they unlock weapon skins as you progress through them. Of course none of this is really new to Battlefield, but it's still nice to see it included. What is new however is the new specialization system in general.

As mentioned before, when you use weapons and level them up you unlock new things for them. Outside of your typical attachments and what not, this also includes the ability to work your way through an upgrade tree of sorts to buff up your weapons. These buffs do cost money to use, but they are well worth the price. Of course this system doesn't just apply to all the weapons you use, but to the vehicles you can drive/pilot as well. Being able to trick out your personal tanks is a pretty cool feature, and it means you never know what sorta vehicle you'll actually go up against in the field. It helps keep things interesting, and rewards those who use vehicles for all their hard work.

On top of all of that, a few changes were made to the classes in this game in general. The Assault class can now build sand bags, supply stations, barbwire, and other obstacles to help reinforce bases and hinder enemy movement. Medics can revive fallen teammates faster than any other class can, and they can also throw med kits to heal teammates, or to resupply other classes single med pack (as everyone now carries around one). Then you have your Recon and Support classes which specialize in long range combat, and supplying/repairing vehicles. They haven't changed too much, but the support class now has a wide verity of weapons to fit basically any situation.

So with all of that being said, what is it that makes this game good or bad? Or what makes it stand out from all the others? Well, at first I honestly didn't see much. I jumped into some game modes like Team Death Match just for some quick rounds, but found myself being spawn killed non stop in maps that felt like they didn't belong in that game mode. However when you break away from those modes and let Battlefield be Battlefield with modes like Conquest, things get much better. Although games like Battlefield 4 had some impressive maps with sky scrapers you could jump out of, and even bring crashing to the ground, Battlefield V does something I haven't really seen in awhile and am happy to see them go back to. They've returned to the more diverse and grounded maps I came to know and love in games like Bad Company 1, 2, and even Battlefield Play4Free. Sure BF1 was similar in some ways, but for me BFV's maps are a big step up. Every one is completely unique, and for the first time in a BF game there isn't a single one I dread playing on (at least not yet). One map is out in the country with small houses scattered around, another is in the ruins of a city with a giant church in the middle of it, and there's even one that is out on the snowy mountains which presents a completely different challenge when getting into shoot outs. Thanks to the game's graphic engine snow will fly up into the air when shot, and as it blows in the wind visibility decreases greatly. It's things like these that cause you to constantly rethink how you go into battle, and thanks to the destruction system you are always forced to adapt. Of course this is how all Battlefield games have been, but it's nice to see they've taken it a step further here.

Teamwork in Battlefield V has also taken a step up from past entries in the series. Before you could run off on your own and try to do things yourself, but now doing so is much more of a challenge. Only having one med pack on non medic classes seriously limits how much you can heal yourself, and running out of ammo is still as much of a pain as ever. However now both ammo stations and med stations can be built across the map for you to return to, but that relies on your teammates actually taking the time to set them up. The same can be said for when you're trying to defend a base. If an Assault Class doesn't fortify the base, you may not have any cover to hide behind. On the flip side if they do fortify the base and you lose it, then you'll have to fight back against your own defenses as well. Then you have the vehicles which mostly require at least 2-4 people to operate fully, and a new spotting system that is used to warn people of what may be hiding just around the corner. It's things like these that encourage you to work with others rather than being a one man show, and that's nice. It also means you're rewarded more for helping than just for killing. Something most shooters lack.

So, what exactly is wrong with this game? If you put aside the controversy of having women in WWII and the altered history (which is only an hour or so of single player gameplay), then there's really not much. This game does feel like the next big Battlefield, and it sets itself apart from the others enough to not completely replace them. It's a game that can exist along side the modern day of BF4, and one that complements the older style of warfare seen in WWI. Sure there are some bugs that pop up from time to time, but by the time I got a hold of it many of the major ones were already worked out. The "worst" glitch I've seen is when I got hit by a frag and was sent flying across the map. Ended up crashing through a window of a building that was filled with enemies trying to camp, and all they could do as look at me as I slowly died in my downed state. Other than that, any glitches I've come across have been extremely minor. Although I will admit that I'm sad to see only one dog tag on our profiles (and the lack of the old full on ribbon system), overall the game has been a lot of fun to play, and I'm actually looking forward to the future. Most of the other game modes are a lot of fun as well, and I'm actually interested in seeing what this Battle Royale mode will be like. In short, this game completely caught me off guard, and it's the first time I've had this much fun with an online based shooter in a long time. Sure it's not perfect, nor will it fully replace the other BF games for me, but it is one that'll be front and center for quite awhile.

Now, does this mean you should run out and get it? Honestly, that's up to you. I could never tell someone to get this over something else they might like more. However if you are a fan of Battlefield games, don't let the controversy of this one scare you off like it did for me. Personally I feel the game is worth a shot, but I also wouldn't buy it at full price. Since it's launch it's been going up and down due to poor sales, and I'm sure that'll continue for quite awhile. Although, even that is actually kinda funny. Despite those "poor sales," I've never once waited more than 20-30 seconds to get into a match, and that's something that rarely happened in the others. Considering this is a "dead" game in many's eyes, it's shocking packed full. But anyway, that's enough of that. My point was this game is Battlefield, and one that shouldn't be ignored if you're a fan.


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