Battlefield V launched to a very big PR mess the other day I think it’s fair to say, with the most vocal criticism being the usual screech of sad little White Guys upset that the “political agenda” (read: making a game fun for everyone and not just them) has been forced down their throats in a game where you can run around with a fucking flamethrower at full pelt and jump out of planes in mid-air to headshot someone without dying from the fucking force alone. That however is not what I’m here to talk about, mainly because there are already too many people focusing on that issue that after launch will no doubt never be mentioned again, just like everytime a game launches with *gasp* women in them. I also don’t care that it takes numerous liberties with “historical authenticity” in multiplayer, as though every game before it of you running through trenches mowing down the Third Reich single-handedly was “authentic”. No, my problem with the game is more fundamental.
It frankly looks like a fucking mess.
The trailer used to launch the game to the world was always going to have a tall act to follow given how well the hype for Battlefield 1 did, even if it did flounder after launch, but what DICE put together has to be one of the biggest fuckups I’ve seen in a while. This is a trailer I should’ve been enthused by, a British/Commonwealth focused look at WWII (shockingly lacking given we were in it for two full years before the bloody Yanks showed up) full of weaponry and vehicles that formed the backbone of our forces at the time like Bren machineguns, Matilda Mark II tanks traversing the terrain, and Spitfires majestically flying through the air. Instead I came away wondering what exactly I just saw.
The trailer if you haven’t seen it by now starts, with what I’m guessing is meant to represent a group of friends playing the game, storming a house filled with German soldiers (funny how all those angry at women in-game are never angry at all Germans being labelled Nazis isn’t it) before leaping out into a mess of callouts to various Second World War icons whereupon it transitions into what is probably pre-rendered “representative of final product “gameplay”” that ends with a V1 going off. This whole sequence lasts 2 minutes and during that time it flashes through a horrendous amount of information. When Bethesda revealed Wolfenstein II last year they revealed the same amount of info over 8 minutes and it was much clearer for it. Instead here everything is so compacted together you don’t have time to digest it before it’s over.
A week or so on and really the rush to push it all out there speaks to a greater problem the series seems to suffer from these days and I’m not talking about the fact it’s got women now. In fact that placing of all gamers at the heart of it is probably a strength. Instead it’s the fact they don’t seem to know what the series gameplay-wise stands for anymore. Long gone is the focus on objective gameplay, what was the hallmark of the series, with modes like Rush having seen map design condensed to make spawns and firefights more frenetic. In fact it looks and feels more and more like CoD only with a better destruction engine and ballistic system. It’s a shame but it speaks to the identity crisis at the heart of the trailer.
Battlefield simply doesn’t appear to be what we knew as Battlefield anymore, female soldiers or not. Here’s hoping E3 allays those fears.