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War is hell. The Second World War claimed the lives of tens of millions of poor souls and saw humanity commit unimaginable atrocities. It is a black mark against our species.
Battlefield 5 wants to acknowledge this horror. It wants you to feel shellshocked and disoriented as the screams of agony and death mix with tank tracks trundling by and the crack of gunfire whizzing overhead. The playable prologue at the start sees you play as various soldiers in different conflict zones. All of them die.
At EA’s review event, I jumped into two days of multiplayer straight after the game’s short, sombre, death-filled single-player prologue. The first thing I did was pull up the customisation screen. Here I saw: a gas mask painted with a Union Jack, equippable red dot sights, and the ability to bling out my assault rifle with a gaudy golden finish. War is hell, indeed.

It’s near impossible to talk about the horrors of war while also being reverent of it. There’s a reason people are still hankering for a return to the Bad Company series – it’s partly because it was unrestrained, free to stick its tongue into its cheek and to simply exist as a fun, sandbox shooter.
Battlefield 5 wants to put you in the muddied boots of a WW2 grunt, but it doesn’t want to put off new players who just want to shoot things. Therefore, most soldiers are kitted out with fully automatic rifles, they have modern sights on their guns, and they run around hitting people with a cricket bat while calling their teammates ‘mukka’.
The moment to moment play is solid – much more tactical and thoughtful than the competition – but the setting comes across tasteless. It’s like eating wagyu beef in a sandwich.

Still, the gameplay tweaks are smart. Developer DICE has put the focus exactly where it should be in Battlefield multiplayer: on team play. Soldiers are equipped with limited ammo, so the support class plays an integral part of a four-person squad, doling out ammo packs and suppressing the enemy. Likewise, medics keep teammates topped up with health packs. The assault class is there to knock out vehicles. And, this time, snipers are the only class who can spot enemies so their teammates can see their positions on the UI.
The best squads are always the ones that have a good mix of classes, though there’s also an element of situational reactivity. A tank is rolling into your base? Why not all respawn as assault and take it down with a synchronized strike. Your frontline is getting decimated and you’re running out of respawn tickets? Let’s squad up as a team of medics and save the day.
To cement this teamwork further, any class is now able revive fallen squadmates. Only the medic can resurrect people outside of your squad and they revive people much faster, but everyone is free to keep their squadmates alive. This encourages you to stick together.
The fact spotting can only be done by snipers using binoculars also solves one of Battlefield’s biggest issues. In past games, you could spam the spot button to find enemies who are hidden to your pathetic human eyes, lighting them up with an icon and keeping them lit up, even if they move behind cover. In Battlefield 5, you shoot at enemies, not icons.

This also opens up the game for more stealthy approaches. Flanking has always been an important tactic in Battlefield games, but it’s now more viable than ever. You can crouch through fields and approach enemies unaware, or crawl through the long grass without fear of being spotted. Sprinting while crouched is also possible, meaning your movement isn’t hampered by your willingness to stay hidden and accurate.
As always, the range of maps are excellent, whether fighting through crumbling desert ruins, in the yellow fields of France, or around the canals of Rotterdam. Each is packed with flanking routes, bombing runs for planes, chokepoints, and ambush opportunities. With EA and DICE promising to keep drip-feeding in new maps for free, Battlefield 5 could end up supplying the most varied conflict arenas since Bad Company 2.
We haven’t had chance to get through the game’s single-player War Stories yet, so we’ll update this review once we’ve sampled the entire package and played on live servers. For now, though, it seems like a continuation of what DICE started with Battlefield 1, with smart tweaks that elevate the core experience over the WW1 shooter that released two years ago. Now with gun bling.
Version tested: PC.
The post Battlefield 5 review in progress – excellent teamplay, viable stealth, and a slight identity crisis appeared first on VG247.

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