Technically, despite having a “proper” release date of November 20th, Battlefield V is out right now. A game having different release dates should come as no surprise with pre-ordering and buying increasingly more expensive versions granting early access being a running theme of the year (2018’s foulest gaming trend, in my opinion), but Battlefield has gone the extra mile.
Players who signed up for EA’s Origin Premier, their subscription service which gives you access to all of their games from day one and apparently even earlier, have been able to play the game since November 9th at a handsome premium; Premier isn’t cheap compared to Origin or EA Access. Still, it’s a good way to get people tied to a service, I guess.
Yesterday (November 15th) marked those who pre-ordered the Deluxe Edition also being able to play the game way ahead of time. If you’re keeping track, Deluxe Edition players received the game a whole five days earlier than those with the Standard Edition (read: the thing that would have just been the game not even five years ago) and Origin Access Premier subscribers will have been fielding battles for a whole eleven days before its “true” release.
Not only is this incredibly confusing, but it also continues to suggest that $60 just isn’t good enough anymore. By making special editions of games more and more enticing, companies are normalising a higher price for games until we presumably reach the point where Standard Editions are labelled Basic or Starter Editions; the base experience costing you $60 with the rest of the trimmings costing you extra. Any game that needs a chart to explain its editions is a game I typically make a point of avoiding.
With a fractured release like this, it’s no wonder that the hype for Battlefield V just isn’t really like it was for Battlefield 1. Its reveal was one of the biggest gaming moments of that year, helped in no small part thanks to Call of Duty taking its boots far too far off the ground. Comparatively, Battlefield V has just been marketed in all the wrong ways, it struggling to find much space among the battle royales and competitors.
Its first trailer is a major culprit for the ennui now felt towards the biggest FPS property of two years ago. For me, personally, the issues with this trailer weren’t down to a female soldier having a prosthetic arm, though that did feel like pandering for the sake of pandering. Rather, it just felt oddly hollow, like there was something missing. I finished watching it and felt like I had just closed my eyes for a couple of minutes, the diegetic sound and the ridiculous nature of everything going on just rubbing me up the wrong way. It felt like the roles has reversed from 2016: Call of Duty was the franchise to look out for and Battlefield was making a misstep.
Those controversial designs were stripped back, but the game still struggled to find any kind of prominence. It really doesn’t feel like a new Battlefield, the completely bombastic but more “mature” alternative to Call of Duty, is out right now. It’s truly bizarre. Perhaps EA were right to delay the game to avoid its mortal enemy and Red Dead Redemption 2, but maybe they should have pushed it back a little more.
The thing is: Battlefield V is quite clearly unfinished. It’s a $60 AAA game launching without a complete single-player campaign and also missing two multiplayer modes, one of which is the much-vaunted Tides of War. That it’s such a large part of the experience but is also somehow absent at launch suggests that it’s been a muddled development for Battlefield V, it launching as what is, for all intents and purposes, an Early Access title. In addition, my playtime of the game so far has been largely spent battling its many bugs: the game wouldn’t load until a patch was applied and downed opponents just constantly twitch on the ground. However, patching out issues is one thing, shipping a game without vital features is another thing entirely.
Effectively, what you have with Battlefield V is an unfinished, unpolished game with three separate release dates and the promise of microtransactions that are to come later. Not only does this make the game nigh on impossible to review, but it also provides DICE and EA with a get out of jail free card. Battlefield V has all of the worst traits of the gaming industry in 2018, including jumping on the battle royale bandwagon next year. Is it any wonder that expectations are so low?
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