As Battlefield 5 prepares to celebrate its one year anniversary, GameCentral takes a look at the new Pacific theatre and Year 2 content.
Remember the Call Of Duty versus Battlefield arguments that used to light up comment sections and forums alike just a few short years ago? When we initially reviewed Battlefield 5, we found it to be an entertaining shooter that was severely lacking in content and crawling with bugs. Developer DICE’s first person shooter franchise took its licks with press and fans alike, but a year on it seems ripe for a revisit, especially with EA now offering a ‘Year 2 Edition’ of the game.
2018’s Battlefield 5 takes the conflict back to the original game’s World War II setting, and just like Battlefield 1 back in 2016, it’s campaign takes the form of self-contained vignettes known as War Stories. The original launch featured only three, but a fourth one, called The Last Tiger, was added a month after launch.
The Last Tiger offers a wholly unique perspective within the game’s narrative by providing the viewpoint of a German tank crew questioning their nation’s approach to the war. It’s still as bombastic as ever, with vehicle-centric set pieces and the same excellent visuals found throughout Battlefield 5, but it reaches an emotional peak in the moments of quiet introspection between your crew.
These men are cut off from home and have almost all lost faith in the reasons they are fighting. Each are impressively well characterised, making it easily the best chapter of War Stories and the only thing close to justifying DICE’s peculiar emphasis on single player at launch.
Speaking of things that should’ve been there at launch, Firestorm, the game’s battle royale mode, was introduced alongside the Trial By Fire expansion in March and offers a fun, if predictable, twist on the now well-worn formula.
The key differences here are that there’s only 64 players, the pace of battle is slower (Battlefield has always offered slower movement and combat than the likes of Call Of Duty), and the way loot is obtained is unusual. Aside from the usual storage crates lying around the battlefield, there are safes that offer better loot but take longer to open – meaning you’ll need to ensure that you’re not in danger of being shot before you open one.
There’s more high-level loot to be found at resupply points, which offer the familar tug of war found in other Battlefield modes such as Conquest, but with only one life to live – leading to tense standoffs between squads. Perhaps even more tense is making a run for the bunkers located on the map, that offer the best weapons, vehicles, and supplies but emit an alarm when opened.
This combined with Battlefield’s oft-praised weapons, that take bullet drop and other realistically simulated factors into account, give Firestorm a unique feel but it’s unlikely to persuade battle royale holdouts to jump in if they haven’t already been charmed by the likes of Apex Legends, Fortnite, or PUBG.
Of course, Battlefield’s main appeal has always been in its competitive multiplayer, and each of the game’s six post-launch patches have added plenty to the initially meagre range of content.
Over the last 12 months Battlefield 5 has been receiving regular new content via updates known as Tides of War. The first offered a new map and the aforementioned War Story, while June’s Defying The Odds expansion added new ranks to climb, weekly challenges, and another four maps. Episodes in-between have added new weapons, vehicles, and limited-time modes, with the Lightning Strikes expansion introducing a new co-operative setup called Combined Arms, which works similarly to War Stories but with multiple objectives to complete along the way.
With three difficulty levels, 10 sizeable and replayable missions, and support for up to four players, Combined Arms has proved to have a surprising amount of depth. Alongside standard objectives like killing all enemies or destroying artillery weapons, stealing documents and eliminating high-ranking opposition can be completed stealthily – offering a welcome change of pace from the standard running and gunning found elsewhere.
And yet despite all that it was only with last month’s War In The Pacific expansion that Battlefield 5 really felt like it hit its stride. War In The Pacific is the heftiest update so far, and offers new weapons (including a katana), vehicles, and three huge maps – with franchise favourite Wake Island from the original Battlefield 1942 coming in December. The update also adds American and Japanese forces to the game, as well as a focus on aerial combat that wasn’t there previously, with the Japanese Zero and American Corsair both arriving with fighter and bomber variants.
This means that Battlefield 5 players now have essentially double the content of the base game a year on from launch, all without costing an extra penny.
When we reviewed Battlefield 5 last year our recommendation was clear: wait and see. Battlefield may have fallen behind Apex Legends in EA’s pecking order, but the additions made here are indicative of DICE’s passion for their franchise. All of the added content is to say nothing of the extensive bug-squashing and weapon tweaking that’s gone into making Battlefield 5 feel like the modern day update of Battlefield 1942 it always should’ve been.
But that highlights the one remaining problem: the complete lack of any new ideas. Battlefield 5 is hardly alone in that when it comes to first person shooter sequels but by going back to the WWII setting yet again the problem is amplified. And yet, as it is now, Battlefield 5 is still a highly entertaining game and it’s a shame DICE didn’t get a chance to release it like this in the first place.
Battlefield 5 Year 2 War In The Pacific review summary
In Short: The improvements, fixes, and additions since launch have made Battlefield 5 a much better game, but it’s done nothing for the lack of originality.
Pros: Lots of new content, with a creditable battle royale mode, at least one excellent single-player story, and tons of maps. Stunning visuals and best in class audio design. Easy to pick up cheap.
Cons: Firestorm won’t convince battle royale naysayers and many players will have long ago moved on. Still no real new ideas.
Formats: PlayStation 4 (reviewed), Xbox One, and PC
Release Date: 20th November 2018
Age Rating: 16
By Lloyd Coombes
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