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What Tom's Played This Weekend: Battlefield V Open Beta

Source: EA

Battlefield V has some high expectations to live up to. It's the first entry in the series to feature a battle royale mode, it's caught endless grief from gamers for its inclusion of a female character and it's become the poster child for the ray tracing features of Nvidia's latest GPUs. We previously examined the game's performance during its closed alpha, and over the weekend I played several hours of the open beta to get a better idea of what to expect from DICE's attempt to keep Battlefield relevant in the age of Fortnite and PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG).

DICE and Electronic Arts have already delayed Battlefield V from October 19 to November 20 so they can respond to player feedback after the open beta. That was probably a good decision. So far, I've noticed several lag spikes, caused some glitches by changing video settings and crashed in the middle of what was shaping up to be a 45-minute-long game. But that's to be expected from an open beta--especially on PC, where DICE has to support a wide variety of hardware--and the game showed promise despite those problems.

Battlefield V makes a strong first impression. Its graphics are gorgeous, whether you're bunkered down in a burning ammo depot or sprinting through snowy peaks, and that beauty is made even more impressive when things start to blow up. Much of the environment is destructible, and it also responds to things happening in the game. You can follow tracks on the ground, watch snow fall off roofs after being rocked by nearby explosions and attempt to shoot your opponents through all the fire and smoke that inevitably rises as battles continue to rage on.

All of this visual splendor does have a drawback, however, which is that it can be hard to see what exactly you're supposed to be doing. Combine that with a low time-to-kill (TTK), and I often found myself zig-zagging around spawn points trying not to be picked off as soon as I was allowed to play the game again. That will change with time--familiarity can often help make up for visual overload; just look at Overwatch--but for now it's a frustrating side effect of having too much to look at (and don't you go blaming my age or poor eyesight because I'm only 26!).

None of that detracts from Battlefield V's appeal. The game feels good to play despite being in a relatively early state, with guns feeling distinct enough to reinforce your own preferences but similar enough that you won't feel lost if you play a different class. I preferred sniping as the Recon class, for example, because hitting those headshots is more satisfying than lobbing grenades. But I'm not going to be upset if you prefer doing the latter because it's hard to sit back and play the world's second-most involved game of skeet shooting if there's no front line pressure.

In a match, then, Battlefield V is already compelling. But the rest of the game suffers. It's not immediately clear how you're supposed to accomplish things via the very stripped-down menu, for example, and text can be hard to read because it's mostly thin sans-serifs typefaces in varying shades of grey set against whatever color happens to be in the background. Another glaring omission is the ability to play one game and be done. You have to load into the next one and then leave it, rather than simply hitting an "exit" button in between. This absence is baffling.

The game also isn't particularly welcoming to newcomers. Maybe this is just a problem with the beta, but if you haven't spent a lot of time with other Battlefield games, know the fifth installment won't bother explaining anything to you. How should the communication wheel be used? How do I know if we need another grenadier, medic, engineer, or recon officer? What exactly is this game mode, and how do I know if I'm winning? The answers to these questions are easy to grok, but anyone used to having at least some explanation before jumping into a game will be lost.

On the technical side of things, my GTX 1080-outfitted system didn't struggle with Battlefield V, though I did turn down graphics settings just so I could have the lowest possible input lag (I'd rather sacrifice visual effects than wonder if a shot would've hit if I'd turned them down). You can find a preliminary breakdown of various benchmarks from the closed alpha in our previous coverage. All in all, I was satisfied with the performance at this early stage, and I suspect DICE will use the extra month to continue its work to make sure Battlefield V is a solid experience for everyone.

I'll close with this: Battlefield V's beta is the first beta to make me actually want to play the full game. I'm even more excited for the battle royale mode, Firestorm, just because I'd love to see a relatively polished game's take on the genre (for all their virtues, Fortnite and PUBG don't exactly run as smoothly as most big-name titles). It'll be interesting to see if Call of Duty: Black Ops 4's beta has the same effect. In the meantime, I'm going to keep playing the Battlefield V open beta until it ends on September 11.

  • Lutfij
    In reality, spending time awing at the scenery can lead you off this world...figuratively and literally speaking. Best keep your sights and ears on the enemy.

    :)
    Reply
  • maestro0428
    I played both Alpha releases and this beta feels like more of the same, although there are now two levels to play. I like it, but Ive been a huge BF fan since the early days. It looks great, mostly plays great and my rx580 had no issues although its about 30 frames slower than bf1 is.
    Reply
  • canadianvice
    I hope this game fails. Publishers and the people involved need to learn that getting all political is not what we're here for.

    Sorry you don't like some of the criticism your game is facing, but you don't get to insult your whole customer base over it and still sell well.
    Reply
  • SkyBill40
    I spent a few hours playing the beta yesterday and came away... with mixed feelings. It's a beautiful game for sure even without ray tracing, but the optimization is utter trash. For a AAA title in 2018 when DX12 is a thing, the game ran poorly when using that setting. I encountered stuttering, uneven game play, and low FPS. As soon as I switched over to DX11, much of that disappeared. While I do understand that the final version is likely to be a far more polished and smoother playing experience, given that the game is only two months from release, I expected it to be better than it was.

    While I know my FX8350 @ 4.5 is somewhere in the lower end (but not the bottom) of processors, I felt it should have been a bit smoother than it was even in DX11 and with my 1080.
    Reply
  • marychathegreat
    Environment is too realistic and distractive.
    So let's play on low settings.
    All weapon work similar so you will not miss any.
    Somebody plays whole life csgo on 720p and hate any changes or improvements in games?
    Reply
  • William_X89
    Just as Battlefield 1 gave mostly everybody semi-automatic rifles, submachine guns, and other designs that were extremely rare in World War I most players will probably be running around with STG-44s and proto-M14s which seems to me to sort of defeat the point of games set in WWI and WWII. I'm also left doubting that they'll be notable differences between sides but maybe I'm wrong.
    Reply
  • TMTOWTSAC
    21309206 said:
    I hope this game fails. Publishers and the people involved need to learn that getting all political is not what we're here for.

    Sorry you don't like some of the criticism your game is facing, but you don't get to insult your whole customer base over it and still sell well.

    This really isn't true. Games have always been political, it's just that the stances they took were largely taken for granted by their playerbases. Wolfenstein 3D came out in 1992 with the non-controversial (at the time) stance that Nazis = bad. The closest it came to a backlash was a ban in Germany. Not for it's anti-Nazi stance, but because it included Nazi symbols and imagery and Nazis = bad. It was banned for not being anti-Nazi enough.

    Fast forward to 2017. Wolfenstein II: TNC is set to be released. The theme Nazis = bad, exactly the same. Reception? There are articles everywhere from The Verge to GQ to Forbes to the Washington Post to white nationalist outlets about the brave/controversial/popular/reprehensible decision to include the Nazis = bad theme. In 1992 it wasn't controversial because people took Nazis = bad for granted, and it didn't even register as being a political message. Now?

    https://www.gq.com/story/wolfenstein-the-new-colossus

    "It's been... really weird," says Wolfenstein: The New Colossus narrative designer Tommy Bjork. "It's both strange and unsettling, I think. Wolfenstein has always been a game series that has always had a really strong anti-Nazi message, and we're really proud of continuing that tradition with The New Order and The New Colossus. It's one of the main themes—being an anti-Nazi game. In 2017 that that's controversial is just really weird."

    This isn't something that sprang up out of nowhere purely in the last 25 years. In 1992, there were significantly more actual Nazis living than in 2017. So why wasn't Wolfenstein 3D facing the same sort of criticism back then? Why wasn't their entire playerbase feeling insulted by the over politicization of a video game? Largely because people didn't even realize it was a political message. Most took Nazis = bad for granted and assumed everyone else did too. Only it turns out that they didn't, but were probably too afraid to speak up with an unpopular view back then.

    If you take a theme in a game for granted you may not even notice it's there. Nazis = bad. America = good. It doesn't always work that way. Gameplay advantage lootcrates = bad is a sentiment shared by every gamer right? So you would expect every game that has them to fail, and not a single lootcrate would ever manage to get sold...And yet the most popular games in the world are micro transaction based mobile games. It's dangerous to assume that your views are shared by an entire customer base, it lulls you into thinking you're able to speak on their behalf.

    You can go back as far as you want to find games with a political message. ET (widely regarded as one of the worst games of all time) on the Atari had you playing as a persecuted alien being chased by an "evil" government scientist and FBI agent. Despite the numerous, numerous bad reviews, that was never mentioned as being the games downfall. Everyone focused on the (horrid) gameplay. And yet now, there's a passionate debate over the appropriate role of science and the FBI in government affairs. If ET were released today, you can be certain those themes would be explored by people harboring an agenda.

    And I don't know how a series like Battlefield has ever been anything but political. The entire basis for the games has been modelling actual wars that took place between actual countries with differing ideologies. Picking a side in a war is about as political as it's possible to get. They've already had one game set in Vietnam, and if people are only now noticing it's been political...I don't know what to say except that it must be something hitting even closer to home than that.
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  • gaborbarla
    Why are the characters running so much slower in bf V than bf 1? It is as if my character always running in mud.
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  • Ninjawithagun
    And a reminder why BF4 still has a lot of packed servers. BF V is yet again another epic failure by EA trying to "get back into the FPS fight"
    Reply
  • JamesSneed
    I spent some time on BFV this weekend as well. I have the same complaints but also there is something clunky about the gameplay. I can't put my finger on it but you feel disconnected a bit compared to BF2, BF3, BF4. It's like the difference of driving a sports car versus driving a buss. It is pretty though.
    Reply