World War Too: Battlefield V to Ditch Season Pass

Posted on May 24, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Games, Xbox One with 16 Comments

Following on the heels of Call of Duty: WWII, the next entry in the Battlefield series will also be set in World War II. But the similarities end there.

“We’ve created several incarnations of Battlefield titles in different eras, each with a different focus,” EA’s Lars Gustavsson writes. “But we’ve always yearned to return to WW2.”

Helping matters, COD returned to World War II last year with the critically-acclaimed Call of Duty: WWII. But then, Battlefield has been playing second-fiddle to COD for 15 years.

Yes, some will argue that the Battlefield series actually predates Call of Duty: After all, Battlefield 1942, which was set in World War II, debuted in 1999, four years ahead of the original COD. But the fact remains that COD has dominated the first-person shooter market—and, pretty much all of video gaming—since its release. And it has handily outsold Battlefield at every turn.

That lopsidedness has caused Battlefield‘s makers to get experimental over the years. And while I’ve never quite appreciated their work fully—Battlefield games always seem “off” to me, compared to COD—many obviously do. And EA’s 2016 release, Battlefield I, which was set in World War I, was a huge success, both critically and commercially.

And with COD at least temporarily abandoning World War II again—Black Ops 4 is set in the near future—it’s interesting that EA is stepping in to fill the gap with Battlefield V. (Why it’s not called Battlefield II is a mystery, as that name is perfect. Yes, I know about Battlefield 2.) And they’re doing so in that same quirky, experimental style that the series is famous for.

Black Ops 4, famously, is ditching the single-player campaign. But Battlefield V is not, and it looks like EA is using the same, well-received mini-vignettes featuring multiple characters that it used in Battlefield I. That’s smart, and it will be a nice bonus for those gamers who aren’t sure about the Black Ops 4 strategy.

The most impressive thing that EA is doing this time around, however, is abandoning the Season Pass, which generally doubles the price of a game for those who wish to get a year of new multiplayer maps and other DLC (downloadable content). Instead, all DLC will be free for owners of the game. That, folks, is amazing, even if it does speak to the hole the series finds itself in against COD. You can’t argue with free.

Also, Battlefield V will not ship with a “battle royale” multiplayer game mode that emulates the gameplay style in PUBG and Fornite, as Black Ops 4 will. I suspect this is because the multiplayer game mechanics in the Battlefield series are so different, and favor slow boil tension on big maps over the twitchy action common in COD. This basically means that the positioning of this game will be consistent with previous BF titles.

There are some goofy, but inclusive, elements to this game too, like the women characters—one of whom appears to have a robotic prosthetic arm—battling their way through the European Theater in the reveal trailer. This may anger purists, but it should delight all normal people. Inclusion is always the right move, and personalization is important to many gamers.

This game looks great, though we’re only seeing the single-player bits for now. But I’m surprised to note that I’m looking forward to another visceral romp through WWII.


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