Now that it’s over, it’s clear that the Battlefield V beta was a mixed bag. There was a plethora of bugs, the progression system was bafflingly stupid, and the maps and modes on offer were incredibly limited compared to the likes of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. But if the main goal of the beta was to see how the new gameplay and squad-based mechanics functioned in the hands of actual players, the beta should be considered an overwhelming success.
Through a mix of its new attrition system, deadlier weapons due to more accurate gunplay, and map design that rewarded more cautious and team-oriented play, Battlefield V makes squad composition and classes matter more than they ever have.
Here’s the trick with Battlefield V: If you’re going to lone wolf it, you’re going to have a bad time. The enhanced weapon accuracy makes every player more of a threat, which makes getting caught out or outnumbered a death sentence. Surviving a gunfight usually means you’re low on health, and thanks to the game’s lack of full health regeneration, you can’t just sit back and wait. Running low on ammo is a normal occurrence, and ammo crates won’t always be there when you need them.
This isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s what makes Battlefield V the most fun game in the series since Bad Company 2.
My favorite moments during the beta all revolved around playing in a full squad with my friends. We generally had one person playing every class—usually subbing out a recon for a second medic or a second assault—and stuck together. If one player was low on health, there was always a medic to heal them. If another player was out of ammo, a support was right there to resupply with pouches. Rolling around with four snipers or four assaults, while good in limited situations, usually means that you’ll run out of one thing or another really quickly.
Because each squadmate was relying on another for one thing or another, Battlefield V truly encourages moving in as a squad and making a game plan. One of my favorite pre-fight rituals was everyone taking cover before going into a point and making it rain health and ammo pouches. It was a fun little role-playing, immersion-creating moment in an otherwise standard shooter experience.
This also meant that we were most likely going to come out on top in a firefight. Even if one player went down, we were close enough to each other, and had the backup needed, to revive that player, even if it was our one medic, thanks to the new squad revive mechanic. Since we always had a support player watching our backs and giving us cover fire, moving on capture points was actually doable. And even when we had a recon player, the scouting binocular helped pick out players and give the rest of the squad a positioning advantage.
DICE talked a lot about encouraging squad play in Battlefield V, but I didn’t realize how much the game’s new systems would play into that until I teamed up with my friends. Battlefield V’s delay is probably for the best, as it’s still got some real issues, but now that I’ve finally gotten a chance to play it with all my friends on my own console, I’m a little sad that I have to wait.