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War hasn't changed much in the Battlefield V beta

Illustration for article titled War hasn't changed much in the Battlefield V beta
Screenshot: EA (YouTube)

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EA and DICE’s Battlefield series has been stuck chasing Call Of Duty since Modern Warfare turned the first-person shooter genre’s tired shooting galleries into something more like an awesome action movie, but Battlefield finally started to come back into its own with 2016’s Battlefield 1. While Call Of Duty was reaching into the future and getting increasingly zany, Battlefield 1 jumped back to the first World War for something significantly more down-to-earth. Rather than an action movie about badass soldiers, Battlefield 1—even in its multiplayer modes—was about the horrors of war. It was a somber game, and the comparatively ancient WWI tech gave it a sense of historical accuracy that Call Of Duty absolutely did not have. (Though the “experimental weapons” in Battlefield really stretched even the loosest definitions of “historical accuracy.”)

For better or worse, Battlefield V seems like more of the same. This year’s game is going back to World War II—much like last year’s Call Of Duty, because these two series can’t quit each other—which should give Battlefield a chance to return to the 1942 glory days that PC players still long for. In practice, though, it really just feels like Battlefield 1 with some newer guns, and tanks that look slightly less silly. The game doesn’t come out until the end of November, but I’ve logged a few hours in the beta that’s running this week and I can’t shake the feeling that it all feels disappointingly familiar.

That’s probably good news for the people who loved Battlefield 1, but in terms of the basic gameplay stuff, Battlefield V might not offer a particularly fresh experience. You’re still spawning from spots on a big map (or right on your squad buddies), you’re still tossing ammo packs and healing items to your friends, and you’re still getting one-shot sniped when you foolishly stick your head up from behind cover. Speaking of, one of the major changes is the ability to build fortifications, but—in true Battlefield style—doing so is a much more methodical process than in, say, Fortnite. You can build little walls in specific places with your magic hammer, but you’re not going to be throwing down entire castles in five seconds like in Epic’s game.

There is a bit of Fortnite influence in Battlefield V, though. The full game will have a battle royale mode called Firestorm where 16 teams fight on a huge map that gradually shrinks, but that’s not available in the beta. That’s a shame, because a battle royale mode—that’s what you call PUBG and Fortnite knockoffs—should play into Battlefield’s strengths really well. But at least the standard zone-capturing Conquest mode is here. Anyway, this may all sound like a pretty negative take for a beta, but it is worth saying that the game looks and feels really good even in this early-ish state. Once the cooler modes and deeper features are in place, there should be a lot of interesting stuff here.