Recently, Electronic Arts hosted a Battlefield V preview event, where those invited were able to go hands on with the War Stories mode, the games single player content, something that had not playable until then.
In attendance at the event was Eric Holmes, Design Director at DICE and the man responsible for the War Stories components especially. After getting a nice introduction to all of the War Stories, Nordlys, Under No Flag, Tirailleur and The Last Tiger and the games prologue, we were given access to play them all, except The Last Tiger and things are looking very good for the series.
War Stories was something that DICE added to the series in Battlefield 1 and whilst they played just like any other single player campaign, in the Battlefield series, their shorter length, allowed for more varied gameplay and much more variety of the stories that were being told. No more were players given control of a single soldier and responsible for defeating all enemies and becoming the hero of the world, this time, it was about the person in the story and their singular action, which helped a few fellow soldiers. Perhaps the most impactful element of Battlefield 1 was the games prologue, which gave you control of a host of soldiers and left you to try and survive a brutal wave of enemies, whilst Battlefield V does have a prologue, it is something different than we had last time.
The prologue here is more of a sampler than anything, you will get the chance to experience a host of environments and gameplay objectives, the moments never last too long and by the time you understand one, you are moved onto the next one. A nice narration by an unseen soldier helps explain parts of war and how no one really knows what to expect and even the most hardened individual can be changed by war; after the prologue though, it was time to experience the first War Story, Nordlys.
Nordlys is the story of Solveig, a young Norwegian girl, who is using guerrilla tactics to fight back against the Germans who have invaded her country, whilst she is formidable in a fight, she is a reserved person. The mission you are given is to locate a captured resistance fighter, someone who is being held in a water treatment facility, high up in the mountains and it is getting up to that location, where things feel vastly different to previous games.
Solveig’s story is one of isolation and quiet, so for the most part, you are alone in the woods, with little noise around you and it works for when you want to hunt down a lone soldier, but also works against you, as if you make too much noise, the enemies can hear you as well. If you manage to play the entire way stealthy, the experience so very different than that of a run and gun method, so replaying is always an option, whilst the final goal is the same, its all about how.
For Under No Flag, the mission is very different, there are a lot more explosions for one and open combat, there are some smaller moments of stealth, but the majority of the time, its about how you run and gun your way through. What makes the two missions so different is not only their locations, but the people you play as we, in Under No Flag, you are in the desert with Bridger, who never stops talking, when you do something against the mission, ie blow your cover, he will make a comment about how he should have done something different, or how his dad would be disappointed in him.
The location is also a massive difference, the desert is far more open and violent than the wilds of Norway, which considering the former is exposed to a blizzard at one point, is saying something. You are exposed a lot more here and the weather can help and hinder you, and stalking enemy soldiers through a thunderstorm, is a truly wicked experience. In a latter part of the War Story, I was tasked with infiltrating a base and blowing up a plane, the first attempt had me encounter a large squad of soldiers, which resulted in my death. Replaying the same part, but mounting a giant gun and blowing them away, which of course blew apart the stealth, but also the soldiers, was rewarding. However, running around, ended up running right into a flamethrower soldier, the rain however did not put myself out and I died.
While Battlefield 1 introduced the concept of these micro stories and while some were a lot better than others, Battlefield V seems to have a more even spread. How they pan out at release and beyond is still anyone’s guess, but so far, I am excited to play some more.