Battlefield V's closed alpha is my kind of mayhem


You’re gonna want to squad up

My mind isn’t completely made up yet, but after a couple hours with the Battlefield V closed alpha test, yeah, I’m feeling it. It was one thing to hear DICE talk about some of the big changes regarding squads, health and ammo, revives, and player movement. (If you missed the beat-by-beat breakdown, you can get up to speed right here.) It’s another thing entirely to see how it all comes together for yourself.

Whereas Battlefield 1 was often a tense, thrilling, and distressingly immersive multiplayer experience for me (and I loved it for that reason), Battlefield V feels slightly lower-key. It’s still booming, emergent chaos at times, but it’s somehow less stressful. I’m still trying to put my finger on why that is. And, weirdly enough, it brings back fond memories of busting down buildings in Bad Company 2.

What I do know for certain is that I appreciate the way ammo and health have been retuned to better emphasize squad dynamics. If you aren’t hitting up a resupply station or tagging along with a supply player, you’re bound to run out of ammo. And since health doesn’t fully regenerate like in prior games, you’ll want to have a medic on standby as well. I found myself much more consciously picking and choosing when to enter firefights. The Battlefield games are at their best when you’re one of many cogs in a well-oiled objective-playing machine, and that’s even more true here in Battlefield V.

The other new talking point is the fortification feature, which will look like a gimmick at first (but it’s great!). Every class can build fortifications like sandbag walls, foxholes, and tank stoppers in pre-determined locations around the map as well as board up windows in buildings. I think it’ll take the average player time to see the value in doing this, but once you’ve carved out a nice defensive nest for yourself in a key location where the enemy has to engage you on your terms, there’s no going back.

That’s my gut reaction after trying a single slice of Battlefield V in the closed alpha, anyway. Despite some wonkiness and squads not always working correctly, this was an encouraging first impression.

If you’d like to see this stuff in action, I’ve captured some of my early matches on the Grand Operation Fall of Norway, which spans multiple in-game days. (It’s like BF1‘s Operations but, uh, grander!) The skirmish starts with attackers dropping out of planes under the glow of the Northern Lights while defenders try to prevent them from planting explosives. The battle then picks back up in daylight with the offensive players working to capture sectors one by one before their respawn tickets run out.

In the full game, Grand Operations will stretch on for more than two days, and they can end in a tie-breaker in which teams clash one last time with no respawns and their ammo count dictated by how the previous days played out. It’s a commitment to see everything through to the end, but time flies.