Battle Royale games have been ruling the video game industry for almost two years now. We’ve seen the rise of battle royale with the likes of H1Z1 and PUBG, and the perfection of it with Fortnite and Apex Legends. A ton of games have come out since then with battle royale modes. However, none of them has been able to disrupt the field apart from EA’s own Apex Legends.
Battlefield V has been out for almost 5 months now. When the battle royale mode for the game was announced, we all had the same thought followed with a sigh; Not another battle royale. Back then, people thought that the world had had enough of battle royale games and Fortnite was about to die a slow and gradual death. However, when Apex Legends came punching out of nowhere and topped the charts, this myth was dispelled.
In a way, the Battlefield series has always been a game dominated by a purist fan base. Most people play it because of its authentic and relatively slow-paced experience of a war. The game is totally opposite of what a battle royale or Call of Duty game would be. However, despite the backlash, EA went ahead with the Battle Royale for Battlefield called Firestorm and it’s finally out. I have played over a dozen games of Firestorm over the past few days and I feel like I got a pretty good idea of what it’s all about. So, let’s get into it.
Probably the most important aspect of any game is the gameplay. This fact is amplified in case of battle royale games as it is all about the player experience. In Battlefield’s iteration of the popular battle royale game mode, 64 players drop into a World War 2 themed map. The game mechanics are pretty familiar to what we’ve seen before from other games. Matchmaking can be a pain but when it works, it takes around 2 to 3 minutes to get into a match. You start in a big hangar with other players that serves as the lobby. Shortly after the players have loaded into the game, you’re welcomed with a classic jumping out of the plane scenario. You jump out of the plane solo or with your squad and start scrounging for weapons and equipment, in classic battle royale style.
The map is surrounded by a storm wall made of fire, called Firestorm. It is pretty similar to PUBG’s force field or the storm from Fortnite. You take damage if you’re in it. Firestorm, however, somehow manages to not feel like a classic Battlefield game. There isn’t that feel of a classic Battlefield full-blown war. The game mode feels more like PUBG inside the Battlefield universe. This might also have something to do with the fact that Firestorm is developed by Criterion instead of DICE. The whole ambience of the game is a lot more eerie and it isn’t nearly as chaotic as a normal game of Battlefield. Not saying that is a bad thing, though, it just seems slightly peculiar.
There is still a lot of Battlefield here, though. The guns, the fighting, the destruction and the general gameplay still feels like Battlefield V. Most of the mechanics are the same as far as the gunplay, driving and other actions are concerned. However, Criterion have made a very strange choice here. For some reason, the Time-to-Kill has been reduced meaning that you die a little quicker than other Battlefield modes. I honestly don’t know what the thought process was behind this change.
In my opinion, it should be the other way around. The Time-to-Kill for a battle royale game should be higher than a normal game. There is just a lot more at stake in a Battle Royale game and having the chance to fight back is crucial. The game just becomes frustrating at times when you randomly get sniped from the back and you cannot even respond. Apex worked on this formula really well and one of the biggest reasons of its success was the higher Time-to-Kill giving players a good chance to retaliate and fight back the backstabbing enemy. I really hope that player complaints lead to the developers increasing the TTK as the game just doesn’t feel right in its current state.
Weapons and Vehicles
In classic Battlefield style, Firestorm offers a wide variety of guns and vehicles to players. The whole arsenal of Firestorm comes from other Battlefield V modes. Weapons are sorted into a tier system like Fortnite. However, the difference between these tiers seems to be a lot vaguer. There isn’t any indication alluding to why a higher tiered gun is better. Furthermore, in a lot of cases, the lower tiered gun just feels better to play with and seems more powerful. The whole gun system is kind of messy, but it would be fine for veteran Battlefield players who already know the guns. The inventory system and the whole UI is also just clumsy. Dropping or looting weapons takes a long time requiring you to go through menus and hold buttons meaning you could easily die while looting.
The vehicles in the game are what sets Firestorm apart from the competition, in my opinion. Players can access tanks, cars, tractors, helicopters, APCs and all sorts of other vehicles. Vehicles can either be called in via a supply drop or they can be found in the bunkers spread throughout the map. The vehicles also feel very balanced and do not feel overly powerful like the usual Battlefield V game modes.
However, using something like a tractor or the Schwimmwagon exposes you to the surroundings and you just look like a fish in the barrel with everyone shooting you. Unlockable depots, however, allow you to access much stronger and robust tanks. This has a catch though, to balance it out. The bunker makes a sound that can be heard from miles while you open the bunker meaning that players can rush to your location and stop you. This adds a nice element of risk to getting a powerful tank but if you manage to pull it off, the reward is worth it.
Visuals and Audio
There is no comparison here, honestly. I don’t think there is any other game on the market that can manage to compete with the sheer brilliance of the ambience that Battlefield V produces. The game just looks absolutely stunning and this is the case with Firestorm too. The map, Halvoy combines the snowy regions that look like Narvik, and the green areas that look like Panzerstorm or Twisted Steel. The map offers a nice variety of terrain and buildings for players to scale and destroy. The big lake in the middle always ends up playing an important role in how the match evolves during a game.
The destructible buildings also return from Battlefield V and just amplify the satisfaction by ten folds. The audio of the game is also spot on. From the screeching sirens of the tank bunkers to the terrifyingly gritty sound of a V1 rocket coming down, the game manages to piece together a visual and audio experience that is paralleled by none. Battlefield V Firestorm manages to perfectly encapsulate the frantic experience of war in a battle royale setting. No complaints here.
Overall, Battlefield V: Firestorm manages to deliver a solid battle royale experience. It may seem like the game doesn’t offer anything different from the competition, but the little things that are different do add up. The game has its lows with a lesser TTK and an unintuitive UI but these things can be easily patched later. What sets Firestorm apart from the other games is the sheer chaos that surrounds players in a match. From destructible environment to crazy tanks and vehicles, the game has plenty of fun to offer.
However, with really solid games like Apex Legends and Fortnite already on the market, is there a place for Firestorm in the gaming world? Absolutely. Firestorm is probably not even competing with the likes of Apex Legends as the game is not free to play. This means that unless the game somehow manages to be sold to players who do not really spend much on games, it won’t hit the highs of those games. Moreover, the whole feel of the game is just so much different from Fortnite or Apex and it just does not feel like a game for a casual gamer. The game has is problems and bugs but they can be easily ironed out later. As of right now, however, the game feels good but is definitely not a game seller.
Most newcomers would feel Firestorm to be frustratingly hard. To boost sales and get any sort of success, this needs to be changed. However, if you’re already a veteran Battlefield player and love Battlefield games, Firestorm will be right up your alley. For now, Firestorm is a solid 7/10 for me. If it manages to evolve and iron out the kinks, I’d be more than willing to go higher.