Few settings are as ubiquitous in video games as World War II. But for “Battlefield V” (out Oct. 19 for PC and consoles), Swedish developer DICE saw an opportunity to use that well-worn backdrop as a way to reinvigorate the long-running multiplayer franchise.
According to senior producer Lars Gustavsson, the team decided that it was “about time” to re-examine some of Battlefield’s core features. That’s why they made it easier for players to understand what the different guns are capable of. In past games, DICE used a method called random bullet deviation, which “Battlefield 1” designer Chad Wilkinson once described as a “way to reduce your damage output over range.”
For “Battlefield V,” DICE removed random bullet deviation, saying in a blog post that “where you aim is where you’ll shoot.”
“It was hard for people to read [the guns]. And as such, we wanted to purify it. If you have a gun system that’s easy to read, it also means that over time, you’ll learn to master it,” Gustavsson told Variety. “That’s what we want players to do. You should feel that you get better over time. There will always be new challenges on this dynamic battlefield.”
Additionally, “Battlefield V” uses a new physics-based animation system that makes your movements look and feel more realistic. You can smoothly hurdle over obstacles or prepare yourself for tense 1-on-1 encounters in tight spaces. It’s also possible to sprint while crouching, which makes you less of a target as you move across longer distances on the map.
“If there are things you can do in real life, we want to mimic that and give you those tools in the game as well. … All of these things allow you to adapt in a given situation. It’s all about empowering the player, to act and react in a situation rather than us restricting them,” said Gustavsson.
DICE showed off some of these new features during this year’s EA Play fan event in Los Angeles (coinciding with the annual E3). The first public “Battlefield V” multiplayer demo centered around the Grand Operations mode, where two teams fight through a multi-round skirmish that’s loosely based on real campaigns from WWII. As a German soldier, I had to defend a snow-covered outpost as invaders parachuted down from the chilly skies.
Though this was a pre-alpha version of the game, the combat felt a little more punchy than in 2016’s “Battlefield 1.” This was best embodied by my Medic’s long-ranged rifle. I felt a sick sense of satisfaction whenever I nailed a headshot from afar, in large part due to the gruesome (but excellent) sound effects: the thunderclap that’d follow the bullet leaving the chamber and the bloody pop of exploding heads. I almost felt ashamed for liking it so much.
Due to the size constraints of EA Play (and having to feed as many people through the lines as possible), the demo only lasted two rounds. It wasn’t nearly enough time to scrutinize all the changes that DICE is bringing to “Battlefield V.” But my short time with the game was enough to convince me that it has enough new elements to make it feel distinct from its predecessors.
Another notable absence from the demo kiosks was the battle royale mode. After weeks of rumors and speculation, DICE confirmed during EA’s E3 press briefing that “Battlefield V” will indeed have a last-man-standing match of some sort, following in the footsteps of “Fortnite” and “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.”
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However, the developers weren’t ready to reveal any other details about it. Gustavsson wasn’t able to say much more about battle royale, either, but he did offer a vague hint about how they’re approaching it.
“As a general mindset, we’ve always been keen on [tackling] new challenges. We’re all fans of the genre,” he said. “And looking at what the universe of Battlefield provides — everyone definitely looked at each other after playing [battle royale] and said, ‘Hmm!’ [Laughs]. So there’s been lots of interesting talks in the corridors. As soon as we have something to talk about, we’ll definitely talk about it.”