Everyone suspected, the rumors suggested, but now we know: the next addition to the Battlefield franchise is called Battlefield V and it’s going to take us back to the second world war. We know what you’re thinking: Battlefield has taken us there before, hasn’t it? Why would we want to go back now?
Well, despite covering well-worn thematic and historical ground, the development team behind Battlefield V has tried to keep things fresh with this title, making changes to gameplay and adding some interesting new modes to the game that have the potential to build on the success of Battlefield 1, without feeling repetitive.
The game was revealed during a livestream to fans around the world and TechRadar has also had the chance to hear more about it from its producers and design director. We’ve summarised the five biggest things coming to Battlefield V you need to know about. Outside of that October 19 release date, of course.
War Stories is back
After Activision announced that it would be dropping the single-player campaign from Call of Duty Black Ops 4, we couldn’t help but get a little nervous about Battlefield V, especially since the War Stories mode in Battlefield 1 had been such a success.
Fortunately, we need not have worried – War Stories will make a return in Battlefield V and it’ll tell a range of stories from across the front in World War 2. We don’t know everywhere this mode is going to take us just yet, but locations include the freezing cold of Norway, the dry heat of North Africa and the expanse of the French countryside. EA has said it’ll be aiming to tell “untold stories” from the war that are inspired by significant historical events at the various fronts across the globe.
One story that’s been teased via a very short trailer is the story of a Norwegian resistance fighter who is trying desperately to protect her family during the 1943 German occupation. As was the case in Battlefield 1, War Stories will be a mode that tries to inject a good deal of emotion into the Battlefield experience. We were told by developers working on the game that the team have taken feedback from players following Battlefield 1 and tried to make improvements for the single-player mode this time around.
No more Premium Pass
That’s right – no more paying more on top of what you paid for the original game for new maps and modes. This time around EA is trying to stop player segmentation by adding a live service element to Battlefield V. Called Tides of War, this online mode will allow players to journey and progress with their personalised Company through World War 2. There will be an evolving narrative with new gameplay, new items, and new events added over time.
It appears that Tides of War content updates will be split into chapters, with each chapter lasting a few months and featuring time-limited experiences, participating in which will allow players to earn special rewards which will include new weapons, vehicles, dog tags and emblems, and soldier and weapon skins.
A part of Tides of War will be Grand Operations, a mode which builds on Operations from Battlefield 1. Grand Operations is a large, live, events-based multiplayer experience which will see players play long missions over several in-game days, with each day taking players to a new map within the mission (this could be around an hour of your real life overall).
Grand Operations will have an overarching narrative and player action on one day will impact the next day. We were told, for example, that if players are tasked with taking out as much enemy artillery as they can on day one, the degree of their success will affect how many resources, vehicles and soldiers they have when they start their offence on day two.
On day three, one team could achieve a decisive victory but if things seem evenly matched, players will be pitched into a day four death match. In this final day it’ll be high stakes gameplay with no respawns, no Buddy Revives and a fight to the death.
Each Grand Operation will be active for a limited time and players will be able to earn unique rewards for taking part in them.
It’ll also be possible to earn currency to get new items in Tides of War by completing daily orders and longer-term special assignments through the game’s other multiplayer modes.
EA is going to go big on the live service aspect of Battlefield V and during the press presentation Ryan McArthur called it "the future" of Battlefield.
You can create your own Company
There’s an element of personalisation in Battlefield V that hasn’t been seen in previous releases. Now, you’ll be able to create and customise your very own Company, including soldiers, weapons and vehicles from how they look to the way they play. With soldiers, it’ll be possible to choose their gender, change their face, apply war paint and choose their clothing and weapons.
You’ll also be able to change how weapons and vehicles look with skins and visual parts. There will, as you’d expect, be sets but it’ll be possible to mix and match items. Want a rifle with a gold-plated sight and walnut stock? It can be all yours if you’re willing to play enough to unlock the items, because there's going to be a great deal of focus on playing to earn new items.
Your Company will evolve and grow with you as you play and it's up to you to create a Company that suits your play style because they'll be essential as your play through Tides of War. You can decide on your Company's skills, and level up your favorite weapons and vehicles in a way that suits you.
Although Battlefield V is inspired by history with its stories, it’s pretty clear in this customisation that historical accuracy is being somewhat thrown overboard for the sake of player fun here. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. For example, we saw some character models that players could create which included beanie hats, leather jackets, bare chests, and mohawk hair. Not things we think would have been common in any army during the second world war.
There's a new multiplayer mode
Believe it or not, no, it’s not a Battle Royale. Battlefield V will feature a brand new multiplayer mode called Combined Arms which, we’ve been told, will attempt to bridge the rather large gap between the focused single-player campaign and the chaos of large online-multiplayer.
Combined Arms is a co-operative multiplayer mode which will try to inject some of the intimacy and focus of single-player play with the social element of multiplayer play, without being overwhelming.
This game mode will allow up to four friends to play together in high stakes, behind enemy line missions, where the focus is very much on leaving no man behind. An example mission we were shown would see you and your team as paratroopers, dropping into enemy territory to fulfill objectives. The aim here is to go undetected and to work together with your squad, deciding at a certain junction whether it’s time to risk everything or extract for the sake of your lives.
Missions in this mode will be randomly generated in order to keep things feeling fresh and we were told by the game’s developers that this mode i intended to be a smaller, more contained haven for newer players or those who dislike the scale and competitive chaos of larger online multiplayer.
For those that do love the classic big online multiplayer experience, however, that will return and you’ll be able to play through modes like Conquest, Death Match and Domination that you’ve come to know and love. There will however, be some new gameplay elements to contend with in these familiar modes...
New gameplay puts a big focus on strategy
With Battlefield V, it seems EA Dice really wants to make you think about what you’re doing and feel the impact of your actions rather than go in all guns blazing. We say this because there are some changes to gameplay which change the game’s pacing and encourage a more strategic approach.
The first of these is a strong focus on a Squad System. Whenever you drop into a game you’ll always have a squad with you. You’ll need to rely on this squad for support, supplies and health
There’s also been a change to the revive system, which has become a much more physical interaction. Now, when a player is reviving someone, they have to go up to them and actively jab them with a syringe to restore their health.
All players in the same squad can revive one another thanks to the return of Buddy Revive, though those in the Medic class will naturally have more advantages. When Medics revive those on their team they’ll be able to do so much faster and they’ll restore health to full. Anyone else, however, will take a little longer and not be able to bring back full health.
You won’t have to risk your neck quite as much to help someone, though, thanks to the added ability to drag bodies. If your squad mate is lying injured in the thick of the action, you’ll now be able to run over to them and drag them into cover before healing them in a way that’s safer for both of you.
Speaking of cover, you’ll now have the chance to build some of your own. With the new Fortifications mechanic, it’s possible to rebuild and shape the battlefield by partially restoring destroyed buildings for cover or creating your own makeshift fortification.
We’re not saying you’ll be able to go up to a demolished house and rebuild it to the point where you can sit in the living room with a cup of tea, and wait for the Axis powers to knock on the door. But you can get a wall back to the point it will offer you some kind of protection.
You’ll probably want to get a little more cover around you since EA Dice has said there’ll be more scarcity when it comes to resources. Now, when you drop into a map you’ll have less ammo and explosives to hand. You’ll still have enough to get yourself started but if you’re the kind of players who drops in and runs and guns without though, you might find yourself out of bullets very quickly. This has been implemented to encourage players to remain aware of their resources .
Balancing this out, however, is the addition of supply stations at every flag where players will be able to restore health, ammo, and gadgetry. You physically have to approach these stations in order to get anything out of them – none of this abstract ‘I was in the area’ collection. All enemies will also now drop ammo when they’ve died, but it’s up to you whether you want to take the risk of running out of cover to grab it.
And, finishing things off with the big guns, players will be glad to know that it’ll now be possible to tow large stationary artillery weapons using vehicles during battle. Interestingly, there doesn’t appear to be any limit on how wild you can get with this feature. Want to stick an AA gun on a tank and strafe some bombers? Why not. It should, if used properly, keep maps feeling unpredictable and keep pilots on their toes.
Overall, we get the impression EA Dice is out to impress and appeal to players in Battlefield V. There was a great deal of focus on rewarding player time and commitment to the game and giving them good reasons to consistently return, with an emphasis on features that will make them feel close to who they’re playing and immersed in this world. We'll get a better sense of how effective EA will be here when we go hands on with the game during E3.
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Emma Boyle is TechRadar’s ex-Gaming Editor, and is now a content developer and freelance journalist. She has written for magazines and websites including T3, Stuff and The Independent. Emma currently works as a Content Developer in Edinburgh.