Battlefield is a series that has emerged from multiplayer, but its developer EA DICE knows that the FPS single-player campaign is highly appreciated. Call of Duty is now a multiplayer mode. After leading Battlefield 1 in 2016, the team returned to the War Stories format for the Battlefield V single-player campaign.
In a tradition much more represented in old and new war moms, DICE's War Stories offer relatively short, self-contained stories, each with a different attitude, protagonist, and goal. Four of them will be included in the launch of Battlefield V, but one is a prologue that jumps between elements from each of the war stories to describe the extent of World War II explored by Battlefield V. The remaining three bear the title Nordlys, Tirailleur and Under No Flag and are largely based on real history.
In Nordlys you play a young fighter in the Norwegian Resistance fighting the occupation in a wild winter. In Tirailleur join the units of the French colonial army "Senegalese". These troops fought for France, a country that many of its people had never visited, and could, if anything, be exposed to intense racism. Under No Flag you can see a group of convicted criminals ̵
I played the Prologue and the Nordlys Campaign and tried Tirailleur and under No Flag, but seen nothing of the fifth war story, The Last Tiger. It is to be told from the perspective of a German group responsible for a damagingly destructive Tiger tank, which will be made available in December.
DICE uses the format "War Stories" to tell striking stories about the war effort that offer a range of sounds. For example, under No Flag, this is perhaps the most traditional war action that brings together a group of ragtag guys to crack big jokes while shaking laps and sticking them to the bad guys. Like something from the pages of the long-running Commando comics or Inglourious Basterds, what was available played like a classic WWII movie of the 1960s; all raw charm and fast dialogue. No Flag is probably the short story you think of when you imagine a WWII classic. It is so important for the format that it could leave a gaping hole in the absence, the necessary fulfillment of a war fantasy that can then be juxtaposed with reality. The rest of the war stories is certainly not a raging adventure.
By contrast, Tirailleur seems more like an attempt at social commentary, focusing on one of the many unknown heroes of the war. The Senegalese units of the French colonial forces were among the "Troupes coloniales", ie groups that were from the French Empire at that time. This meant that young soldiers, who might have been confronted with deep racism, were taking from the French for a country that claimed their country as part of its empire. The soldiers were not really all Senegalese, but that's the label given to them. With the limited access I had to tirailleur, I adopted his tone suggesting that it will be far more serious, thoughtful, and tragic.
Alone in the Snow
And then there was Nordlys, who for the 90 minutes or so I needed to complete myself, every time felt like a fierce battle thriller. As a Norwegian resistance fighter, you spend large parts of the campaign alone and with limited resources. Their enemies are two-fold: the much better equipped and established German army and the vicious cold. They are all uninviting buildings and blizzards that touched the mountain side, highlighting the tenacity, brutality and isolation of life as a resistance fighter.
Alone, exposed to the elements and close to death, the action lent a significant drama
lone fighters in the wilds of Norway, stealth caps, long-range shots, and pro-for-inch progression have helped me the most I attacked smaller groups of soldiers in relative darkness and less spacious facilities. Later, I was armed with a handful of throwing blades and other weapons that were left in the howling wind with weather-limited eyesight. More urgently, the cold would kill my character if I did not stop by fire to warm up. That meant discovering a fire, running to it, fighting almost unarmed guards, and going to the nearest heat source before the cold came over me.
The feeling of being alone, being exposed to the elements, and being close to death With a great responsibility that could shift the course of the war, he added a significant drama to the plot. There was also a welcome break in the excitement of skiing with a point to do. Certainly, Nordlys delivers diversity both in its own framework and in the other war stories.
But it's not just about the harshness of the winter fight. Without giving too much away, Nordlys is as much about a conflict a family can consume as it is about the war itself. You fight with your mother in interiors and tight outdoor spaces that encourage play in the immediate vicinity, and part, after working together to break enemy lines and damage the infrastructure of an atomic bomb making facility. Your paths will intersect again, and if you make the theme of this story, that is clearly expressed – sacrifice for the greater good. If a mother sees her daughter at gunpoint, should a mother think about her family or the fate of humanity?
My concern at playing through Nordly's was the freedom to make encounters as quiet or as close as you want. Only if this freedom was distributed throughout every war history could its distinctive character suffer. You could always adopt the same style of play. That would turn the attitude of each campaign into little more than a background.
A new beam
Battlefield 5 is one of the first games that allow RTX raytracing, the technology that means all reflections and other applications of light are "real". A shiny surface will reflect the world around them, based on how and when light rays hit them. You can see from the videos already published that the results create a world with an extra level of realism.
See BFV's raytracing in action
However, the tone of each campaign acts as a strong conductor. Nordly's largely lonely experience encourages survival-oriented play and emphasizes careful progress, even though the romp could do the job. In contrast, the action of Under No Flag plays a fast and relaxed style of play that complements the drama. That DICE has such an influence through directing is an impressive and subtle way of offering freedom to the player while promoting diversity.
Battlefield V is of course a direct FPS. Gameplay diversity lies within a rather limited genre. You may need to use different strategies and weapons, but you will mainly line up a crosshair and shoot anyone who gets in your way. Occasionally you are in a tank or in an airplane and these vehicles feel reasonably solid and physically; but crosshairs, targets, and triggers are still at the center of the interactions.
The tone of each campaign acts as a strong conductor
That's not to be rated Battlefield V – I would not expect DICE to go wild and go with what an FPS is, and most players will come to the game to have a conventional shooter. I just want to emphasize that familiarity offers reinventing one's form. Do not go into war stories and expect a challenge to your prejudices about what a military FPS is. Completely reasonable DICE has left this honor to the secondary practitioners of the genre.
It is easy to see that these war stories are FPS adventures for those who are interested in what it was like to be an individual in this war. With this reasoning, it is easier to ask yourself this stubborn question: "How would I have done it?". These war stories emphasize their protagonists as distinct characters rather than generic grunts and tell events that are different from the familiar chronicles of US Marines to their necks in a constant supply of home equipment, ammunition, and candy bars. If you are competing with other real people, you may not have to think about the experience of the born and bred resistance fighter. But if you have enjoyed military fiction and non-fiction for a long time and ruined the dwindling status of the single player, then War Stories are certainly promising. It may just be that Battlefield V is two games for two spectators under one title.