DICE and EA have published the last major content update for Battlefield V. It may be the final hurrah for the game, and it may not have lived up to fan expectations, but the Summer Update is a substantial one. Although there is a caveat, even here. There are nine new weapons and five new gadgets for the soldiers on their feet as well as six new vehicles. The update comes with a bevy of balance changes and map tweaks to go with the new kit. Finally, the bit with the caveat is that there are two new-ish maps.
The Al Marj Encampment is another North Africa map featuring a spice market and a German headquarters to fight in. The Provence map was released back in June of last year, but as an infantry-only map. This “expanded” version gives players a bigger battle space and allows vehicles to actually do the stuff Battlefield players expect.
All in all, it’s not a bad update, but it leaves something to be desired as a finale. The game’s rocky reception and dwindling player numbers speak to unrest in the community. Can DICE recapture that “only in Battlefield” magic that drew so many to previous games?
Wilhelm Franke, besides being a generic-sounding German name, was a real-life resistance fighter in Dresden during World War 2. Franke held antifascist meetings in the cigar store he owned, spoke openly about defying Nazism, and was a serious enough distraction that he was arrested by the Gestapo and died in February 1945. Unfortunately, Electronic Arts created an “elite” German avatar for Battlefield V with the same name. As shown in the image above, he’s the Hugo Boss uniformed gent with the Luger and the Phantom of the Opera mask shooting people in a church. The cosmetic skin having the same moniker as an anti-Nazi agitator is likely a coincidence. While Franke has a street named after him in Dresden, he’s not a well-known figure outside of Germany. Still, people noticed and informed EA that maybe they should pick a different name for their made-up villain.
Here’s where things go sideways thanks to how modern marketing messaging interacts with sensitive topics like Nazis. EA agreed that the name of the skin needs to be changed, but they denied their theatrical villain is a Nazi. In a statement to Vice, EA emphasized the character’s non-Nazi status. In fact, they doubled down and called out how not political their WW2 game is overall.
“The aforementioned Elite, Wilhelm Franke, whose name we’re changing is not a Nazi, but a German solider similar to ones we already have in the game. In Battlefield V, we’re not making any political statements in relation to the real life events of WW2 and there are no swastikas in the game.”
To claim your WW2 game is apolitical takes some brass. To further hold up a lack of swastikas as evidence of that neutrality is some hardcore public relations doublespeak.
Battlefield V’s Firestorm mode is live now. It features all the stuff you’d expect from a battle royale game from DICE. You drop onto a battlefield sans any weapons or equipment, madly scramble to get kitted up, then kill other players as a circle of death forces everyone into an increasingly smaller play area until only the final survivor (or team) remains. The Battlefield V wrinkle is that there are tanks and other armored vehicles to fight in and over, and most of the structures are fully destructible, which is as it should be since we’re talking about a series built on “levelution” and squads of players riding on camels. It’s a fine interpretation of battle royale, but it remains to be seen how well this Johnny-come-lately does against the already established heavyweights that are either free-to-play or have been around for months. Regardless of how its received by the audience, there’s one thing Firestorm does perfectly that none of the other games do well.
Firestorm takes its name from the apocalyptic ring of fire that encircles the battlefield. In other battle royale games, the circle of death is a technobabble contrivance that lays bare the gamey nature of the mode. It often has no basis for existing in the in-game fiction except it must exist to make the mode work. It’s a blue crackling field of energy controlled by some sadistic arena AI. It’s a red circle of radiation that pulses inwards because of reasons. It’s artillery that blankets the countryside. It may as well just be a pair of giant game designer hands that pushes players together. It’s not even much motivation to move! There are well-known tactics that depend on staying just outside of the safe area during the final moments of the match to maximize a player’s distance from the action. None of this is true in Firestorm. It’s literally a flaming circle, the aftermath of overzealous incendiary bombing, that destroys everything. Nowhere is safe. Houses and barns are chewed into spectacular conflagrations. Trees burst into match-paper kindling. Fire races along the ground, melting roads and reducing grass to ash. The visual and sound design of the storm is panic-inducing. Even if you could keep calm, being overtaken by the fire is a death sentence measured in seconds. That’s the other thing. It’s fast, unlike most danger zones in battle royale. The safe circle contracts at a breakneck pace once it gets going. No dawdling here! You move, or you get covered in fire. Firestorm is terrifying.
In Koushun Takami’s 1999 Battle Royale novel, the island the students are forced to fight each other on is divided into a grid, and being in a grid sector after it’s been declared off-limits results in an explosive collar decapitating the offender. The zones change a few times during the book, pushing the surviving students around the island’s geography and forcing them to engage. It’s a great system in the story, but too complicated for videogames which would need some intelligent grid sectoring to chase players around and would require too much of the players’ attention. The constricting circle of death we’ve settled on works well because it’s simple to understand, can be parsed quickly on a minimap, and is relatively easy to program. Firestorm takes that concept and makes it more than a barely motivating gameplay mechanic.
Battlefield V launches tomorrow for Origin Access Premiere and EA Access subscribers. To go with that early release, DICE has posted a 135-page document of launch notes. There’s a summary if you don’t want to read all the details, but dont wuss out! A big fat manual is what you’ve been crying for since games went to jewel cases and DVD boxes. This is as close as you’re going to get with a big budget game.
Electronic Arts and DICE have announced some details of Battlefield V’s revenue plan. Unlike previous Battlefield games, a season pass or DLC map packs will not be sold to support the game post-launch. Where then, shall the money come from? Cosmetics, of course! Players will be able to earn in-game money called Company Coins (ugh) to unlock new weapons, vehicles, skills, and cosmetics by completing assignments and daily goals. They will also be able to purchase Battlefield Currency with real money that will only be good for the cosmetic items. DICE says the temptation of Battlefield Currency will not be available at launch so players can experience the Coin system first. It probably helps to give people a taste of the grind before you offer the money way out. Still, they promise to keep the real money offers away from items that give you a significant boost.
Balanced rock-paper-scissors gameplay has always been the foundation of the Battlefield series, and our belief is that real-world money should not enable pay-to-win or pay-for-power.
Battlefield V launches on November 20th, for all the peasants that decline to pay for the deluxe edition or Origin Access. Firestorm, Battlefield V’s take on Battle Royale will not be available until March 2019.
That’s Battlefield V from DICE and Electronic Arts. It has women in combat, cricket bats, prosthetic limbs, jaunty music, combat sliding, window leaps, grenade shooting, samurai swords, and cars falling out of the sky capped off with a V-2 rocket attack. It’s World War 2 gone amok and for some people this is apparently a bridge too far despite Battlefield being the franchise known for platoon wing-walking and sniper shots after ejecting out of crashing helicopters. It’s a series that markets itself with “Only in Battlefield” to highlight the wacky things people do in the game. Add women and the disabled and somehow that’s the line crossed.
In the reveal event hosted by The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah, DICE ran through a dizzying checklist of changes to the franchise. First, no season pass or DLC map packs will be sold. New maps and modes will be included with the base purchase for all players, funded by cosmetic bits and bobs in loot boxes. (Presumably DICE will use lessons learned from the disastrous launch of Battlefront 2.) The single player War Stories vignettes returns with scenarios set in Norway, Rotterdam, North Africa, and France. Physical interaction has gotten an overhaul with players able to roll and slide in prone positions, leap through and over obstacles, and injured players can be dragged to new areas for safety before healing. Speaking of healing, all players will be able to perform a limited revive, with the medic being the only class able to fully heal and revive. Say goodbye to active spotting, as enemies are automatically spotted depending on your class, proximity, and being in your field of view. New game modes include a Combined Arms cooperative mode that’s procedurally generated, and Grand Operations PvP with multi-day battles. Exciting changes, or sacrilege depending on your outlook.
Battlefield V launches on October 19th, but Deluxe Edition buyers will get early access beginning October 16. Origin or EA Access subscribers can get in even earlier on October 11th.
That’s the Totokia War Club. Originally created and used in Fiji, it can be yours in Battlefield 1 for free when you log into the game anytime after November 8th. The giveaway is part of Electronic Arts’ celebration for the release of Star Wars: Battlefront II. There’s all sorts of cross-game promotional stuff in there. FIFA 18 and NHL 18 players can get free Star Wars jerseys for their Ultimate Teams. NBA LIVE 18 fans can participate in Inferno Squad themed multiplayer events to unlock Star Wars uniforms.
But back to that war club. How, exactly, does the traditional “pineapple club” link to Battlefront II? Sharp-eyed nerds should notice the resemblance to the Tusken Raiders’ gaffi stick. There’s your connection. Add a few sci-fi doodads to the totokia and you get a Gaffi stick any desert bandits would be proud to lift over their heads.
Do you love grenades? You should love infinite grenades! Grenade spam made some modes and maps in Battlefield 1 matches intolerable. Choke points like the tunnel in Monte Grappa or the titular space in Ballroom Blitz had a tendency to devolve into explosions and gas on an endless loop. Buried within last week’s They Shall Not Pass update was an initiative DICE is calling “Ammo 2.0” meant to reduce these grenade standoffs. The solution? Take grenades out of the Support’s ammo resupply kit and make them an infinitely recharging power for everyone. It sounds counterintuitive, but the change seems to be working.
We’ve seen around a 7% decrease in grenade throws per second and grenade kills per minute across all base game maps since Battlefield 1 They Shall Not Pass was released.
The Ammo Box gadget that can be thrown out by Support players speeds up the cooldown for grenades, but by making players wait on a timer, DICE is able to reduce the kinds of grenade stalemates seen in the past. Previously, players would throw grenades, resupply, throw more grenades, and repeat. As with any big change, the Ammo 2.0 revamp has been controversial, but DICE maintains that it is working and they are collecting data and adjusting as needed.
Ribbons are now in Battlefield 1. The Winter Update for Battlefield 1 added ribbons, small in-game achievements, that give a small amount of XP every time you attain one. It’s simple stuff like getting five kills with a rifle during a match, or spotting enemies for your squad. There are twenty available for now. The developers claim they’re intended to foster teamwork. Battlefield 4 had them, and like a really famous short guy once said, “A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon.” It turns out that it’s true even with virtual ribbon. It’s like collecting Pokemon, but they’re not impressive to anyone but you.
There’s a new multiplayer mode in Battlefield 1 that revolves around the safeguarding of messenger birds. It’s called War Pigeons. Unfortunately, it’s not about armored pigeons with guns strapped to their backs. In this mode, two teams fight to the death, while attempting to claim and safely release an homing pigeon into the sky. It’s escort duty and flag capturing combined, and it’s supremely silly. Close combat, ragdoll explosions, mud, poison gas, and the violence of one of the bloodiest conflicts in history mix with pigeon babysitting. War Pigeons is a good summary of Battlefield 1 in general.
Electronic Arts and DICE have lifted the lid on Battlefield 1. That’s the numeral “1” and not the word – as in The Great War, World War I. Drat. That’s the Roman numeral. Just take a look at the announcement trailer. Battlefield 1 eschews the modern whiz-bang gadgetry of recent big-budget shooters for wooden clubs, canvas masks, and bolt-action rifles. That’s how you separate yourself from Call of Duty’s increasingly bizarre setting. The pre-order page for Battlefield 1 has a list of tantalizing details. Hellfighter, Red Baron, and Lawrence of Arabia DLC? Yes, please, especially if we’re talking about The Harlem Hellfighters.
Experience the origins of modern warfare where the old world was destroyed, giving way to the new one. Use the innovative, modern weaponry and vehicles of World War I as you battle across the land, air and sea.
Battlefield 1 will be available October 21st, on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.
Battlefield Hardline’s next big update will add swords to the arsenal of killing devices. If you thought the police were too militarized, or that the criminals were unrealistically kitted in Battlefield Hardline, then the addition of clangy swords and gunfights in locations like Alcatraz and Chinatown in the Betrayal map pack probably won’t disavow you of that notion. Coming in March, the DLC will feature four new maps, seven new weapons, and two new vehicles. The DLC is part of the Premium pass for the Electronic Arts shooter. There will also be a free update to the base game that will add eleven new weapons along with an improvement to the loot tables for the Battlepacks players get as slot machine rewards.
The Chinatown map may be the rumored remake of the Grand Bazaar map from Battlefield 3, albeit with sword fights and police sirens. With a player population that is regularly lower than the older Battlefield 4, it certainly can’t hurt to mix things up with ridiculous weapons and remakes of fan-favorite maps.
The live-action Battlefield: Hardline advertisement created for the UK wasn’t so hot. They don’t have guns everywhere there, so the production was sadly limited to some yelling and modest parkour. Making a fairly non-violent short based on a big-budget video game with tons of explosions, car chases, and shootouts doesn’t really work. Thank goodness for ‘Murica! Let the Yanks show you how it’s done. Explosions! Car chases! Shootouts! Throw some donuts in there and you’d have something special.
Battlefield: Hardline launches March 17th for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.
Electronic Arts and Visceral Games have announced Battlefield: Hardline Premium. Like previous premium packages for the Battlefield series, it offers incentives like map packs, priority in server queues, “battlepacks” – the virtual loot boxes that can give you weapon accessories or XP boosts, and cosmetic do-dads that normal players won’t get. Along with these bits and bobs, EA has locked “legendary” progression behind the premium membership. That’s when a player maxes out his XP and cycles back to the beginning to jump on the treadmill again. It’s a staple of Call of Duty multiplayer (known as prestige mode) and some players invest a ton of time into doing it. Previous Battlefield games didn’t offer any incentives for resetting multiplayer progress, but it seems EA is eager to keep people grinding.
Battlefield: Hardline Premium is $50, and requires ownership of Battlefield: Hardline.
Battlefield: Hardline enters the world of live-action theater with their cops and robbers saga called Get a Piece of the Action. Electronic Arts’ UK division produced it, so the film is less hardboiled crime war and more tea time of misdemeanors. While I appreciate the effort, these folks don’t even have guns. That’s not Battlefield!
Battlefield: Hardline launches on March 17th for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC. EA Access members can start playing the game on March 12th for 10 hours.