Battlefield V releases today. It also released five days ago, and it released on November 9, depending on who’s asking, and what version of the game you bought. Regardless, I’ve spent much of the last two weeks in its recreation of World War II, battling over Rotterdam and cold Norwegian mountains and placid French countrysides—and desperately missing the M1 Garand, which is somehow not in this World War II game.

I’m still not quite over that omission, but I’ve returned with my thoughts (a lot of them) on the game as a whole, both its singleplayer War Stories and the sweeping changes DICE made to multiplayer this year. It’s not all good, but it’s still Battlefield.

Singleplayer

Let’s talk first about War Stories, Battlefield V’s singleplayer campaign—or rather, campaigns plural. Like its predecessor Battlefield 1, Battlefield V breaks its story into multiple chunks, three vignettes that take different viewpoints on the war.

They’re technically arranged chronologically, though you can play them in any order you’d like. First up is “Under No Flag,” which features Britain’s Special Boat Service, the nautical complement to the (arguably more famous) SAS or Special Air Service. Then there’s “Nordlys,” examining Norway’s Nazi occupation through the eyes of a teenage girl. Last—for now at least—is “Tirailleur,” which tells the story of France’s colonial African soldiers during Operation Dragoon.

Battlefield V IDG / Hayden Dingman

DICE has said it wanted to focus on lesser-known stories in Battlefield V, staying away from D-Day, Market Garden, the Bulge, and other well-trod battles. And on that point Battlefield V is an unmitigated success. I complained last year that Call of Duty: WWII felt like a Greatest Hits collection of past World War II games. Battlefield V steers clear of the genre’s ever-present Band of Brothers influences, and is better for it.

But Battlefield 1 scored a Game of the Year prize from us in 2016, largely off the strength of War Stories. Battlefield V doesn’t reach the same heights, for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, it’s tedious to play. Battlefield 1’s War Stories did an excellent job bouncing between the series’s strengths. First you play a tank driver, then you’re an ace pilot, then you’re fighting atop a flaming zeppelin, then crawling through muddy trenches. Each campaign had a unique feel to it, culminating in the story of T.E. Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia, where you were forced to use guerrilla stealth tactics. It was a major shakeup for action-centric Battlefield.

Perhaps we praised those stealth missions a bit too much though, because Battlefield V is full of them. Under No Flag? You’re behind enemy lines, meaning lots of stealth missions. Nordlys? Three very long stealth missions. Even Tirailleurs, the most action-packed of the three campaigns, has segments where stealth is if not mandatory at least heavily encouraged.





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