Battlefield returns to WW2 with big changes to reviving, recoil, and squad play—here are all the details.
Battlefield 5 has finally been revealed. It’s heading back to World War 2, and while DICE didn’t pull any sort of big pivot—which we didn’t really expect—some of the series’ core systems are being redesigned dramatically. If you don’t already play Battlefield, these adjustments may not seem like big deals, but they are. Squad play is much more emphasized, reviving has been overhauled, the animation system has had a ton of work, co-op is returning, and that’s not the half of it.
Yesterday, at EA’s invitation, we watched a live three-hour presentation covering much of what’s to come in BF5. They’re still holding onto a few cards, which will probably be revealed at EA Play in June, but there’s still a ton of information to process now. Here’s everything we know about Battlefield 5 so far…
What is Battlefield 5’s release date?
Battlefield 5 arrives first for Origin Access members on October 11. If you don’t have Access, the Deluxe Edition releases October 16, and the Standard Edition releases October 19. What’s included in either edition isn’t yet clear, but any bonuses will likely tie in with the Company customization system (detailed below). In the meantime, you can grab Battlefield 4’s Final Stand and Battlefield 1’s In the Name of the Tsar DLC packs for free.
When is the open beta and how do I join?
An open beta is certainly coming, but the exact date probably won’t be revealed until EA Play in June.
What is Battlefield 5’s setting?
Battlefield 5 takes place during World War 2, a homecoming for the series since departing its original setting nearly 14 years ago. The reunion is a happy one—creative director Lars Gustavsson called the return “a dream come true” for him and his team—and the studio expressed an intent to cover areas of the war not typically depicted in other games and movies.
“We’ve all been through the beaches of Normandy,” explained senior producer Andreas Morell. “We’ve been there, we know what it’s about. We wanted to deliver an unexpected take on the second World War, to portray the era through unseen locations and untold stories.” In other words, expect a thematic continuation of BF1’s globe-spanning presentation of World War 1.
What are the main new features?
- You can construct and rebuild fortifications at objective points.
- The 64-player Grand Operations mode incorporates multiple modes across a three-to-four match narrative, like BF1’s Operations but with a couple twists.
- Combined Arms provides 4-player co-op via procedurally-generated missions.
- Squad members can revive each other, even if they aren’t Medics.
- Stationary guns can be towed by vehicles. Yes, you can fire them while being towed.
- You can go prone on your back and turn 360-degrees with proper animations while prone. There are many other animation improvements, too.
Will there be a Premium Pass?
Nope. All post-launch maps and modes will be free.
Will there be loot boxes?
No. EA hasn’t gone into great detail on what will be available for purchase after Battlefield 5 launches, but it has told us that vanity items will be on sale in some way. Those items can also be earned by playing, and EA stresses that spending money won’t give players an advantage. Polygon got a straight answer from an EA spokesperson: no loot boxes. Cosmetic items will be available to purchase with real money and in-game currency.
What are Battlefield 5’s classes?
Assault, Support, Medic, and Scout. DICE hasn’t announced anything beyond those four mainstay classes.
Each class will have a set of Archetypes to choose from, though—a loadout of guns, gadgets, and passive bonuses that emphasize a specific playstyle. An example shown was a Paratrooper Archetype for the Recon class which equips a suppressed SMG instead of a sniper rifle and silences your footsteps.
How will progression work?
Progression mostly follows the familiar cycle of obtaining player and class ranks to unlock additional weapons, vehicles, and gear. Everything is organized in your ‘Company,’ a repository of classes, weapons, and vehicles you’ve customized.
Being introduced are Archetypes, loadout-style spreads of gadgets, guns, and grenades you can swap between for each class to fulfill a certain squad role or snappily deal with new threats without having to entirely switch classes. BF5 will also award special items for participation in special events.
Weapons and vehicles can also be specialized with a branching tree of attachments (such as a bipod or bayonet) or tank mounts that trade off bonuses and drawbacks. The selections are swappable, so you won’t have to re-rank each gun or vehicle to set a new specialization.
The look of your soldiers will also be customizable, with male and female options and customizable clothing and facepaint. Weapons are similarly granular, as each gun comes with several customization parts—stocks, muzzles, sights, and so on—to fashion individually. Vehicles can be spruced up with camo patterns, sandbags, branches, boxes, and other paraphernalia.
What modes will be in BF5?
Conquest, Frontlines, Domination, Team Deathmatch, and Breakthrough (the other name of the sector-clearing mode first seen in BF1’s Operations) are all returning in BF5. The episodic War Stories will also reappear as the single-player checkmark, the first of which will be set in Norway.
The new Combined Arms mode restores co-op to Battlefield through 4-player missions that are randomly generated with various objectives and narratives. DICE kept quiet on specifics, but we do know that there will be a set of higher-difficulty hardcore challenges that award extra rank experience. A failure to extract from the mission successfully incurs a chunky experience penalty for the squad, suggesting it’s somewhat Left 4 Dead-ey, in that things end if the whole squad is wiped.
Grand Operations will take over the role of Battlefield 1’s Operations mode. Teams will battle over multiple maps and modes, across three-to-four ‘days.’ The outcome of each day (match) will affect the days after it. The example given by DICE would see an attacking team parachuting behind enemy lines to destroy artillery on the first day (they’d actually spawn in an airplane and have to jump out, PUBG style). Depending on how many guns they destroy during that match, they’ll have more or less respawns (tickets) and vehicles on the next ‘day’—as if whatever artillery was left in tact wiped out some of their forces. The teams would enter another scenario on the third day, which would be affected by whatever happened on day two.
Only if the third day ends in a draw does Operations go to a fourth day, a sort of sudden death overtime called ‘Final Stand.’ At that point, there are no respawns whatsoever. Squad members can still revive each other (see details on healing below), so the battle will be to wipe other squads while keeping yours on its feet, until you’ve hunted down every player on the other team.
DICE also mentioned that Grand Operations will be used as testing ground for new modes which could come to the regular rotation. We wonder if Final Stand might prove popular enough to become a standalone mode at some point.
How will squads work?
Squad play is much more emphasized. You’ll automatically be placed in a squad upon joining any match. Squads can also join a server together, and squad chat will stay active through menus, loading screens, or when leaving a match.
Respawning on squadmates is emphasized by the death camera, which has moved from an overview of the map to a third-person spectator view of your living squad members. When you choose a squadmate to spawn on, you’ll appear right behind them.
When a squad is fully wiped, everyone in it will return to the map deployment screen with a 10-second respawn timer penalty. At that point, you’ll be able to see where your squadmates are choosing to respawn, and squads can spawn en masse in vehicles.
Squad leaders are given a radio call-in functionality akin to the commander mode of previous Battlefields. Squad points earned by working together to capture or defend objectives and racking up kills can be cashed in for special and abilities such as the V1 rocket strike seen in the trailer, a special vehicle, or a barrage of smoke grenades on a specific position. Specifics of cooldowns or point costs for each action haven’t been shared yet.
What maps are confirmed for BF5?
No official map names have been announced yet, but so far we’ve seen snowy Norwegian fjords and a sandy North African desert. DICE also mentioned the Netherlands city of Rotterdam as a location you’ll visit, an obligatory urban map that looked even more destroyed than BF1’s popular Amiens.
EA is calling BF5’s ongoing update plans ‘Tides of War,’ which will take us through various theaters with new maps and modes (which will be free, as mentioned above) after release. We know that the theme Battlefield 5 will start with is ‘Fall of Europe,’ though that probably won’t be a strict rule that applies to all launch maps, as we’ve already seen desert locations outside of Europe.
How have weapons and bullet spread changed?
Random bullet deviation is gone. Previously, small, randomized jumps in horizontal recoil (the degree of how much your gun pulls to the right or left when firing) governed a weapon’s stability, but it often resulted in annoyingly imprecise shots even when the crosshairs sat squarely on someone’s torso. DICE explained that it’s returning to the classic FPS style of fixed recoil patterns for BF5’s guns—simply, the first few shots will always go to the same place. As you keep firing, the recoil will become more dramatic and your shots will spread out, but in mostly-predictable ways.
Status effects such as stance, movement, jumping, and bullet caliber will, of course, further dictate how much each gun will bounce around. The mathy details of the changes will eventually be calculated by the Battlefield community’s number-crunchers, but for now, it looks like burst control is back in play.
Bullet penetration is also coming, meaning high-caliber guns such as LMGs can shoot through walls. DICE did not confirm whether different materials will reduce damage by different degrees (they’re “investigating”).
How has ammo and resupplying changed?
You won’t spawn with all of your explosives or the maximum ammo for most of your guns. To top up, you’ll need to visit a resupply station sitting at each captured objective zone or chase down a nearby Support teammate for an ammo pack (resupply points are also buildable via your fortification toolkit). Slain enemies will drop a small batch of ammo that you can pick up, too. There’s no word on any improvement to the traditionally plucky process of coaxing ammo from a Support, but having the reliability of a resupply at a nearby objective is a good step.
The goal, says DICE, is to make ammo collection and conservation more important, so that after a fight squads need to make a decision: get into another scrap with depleted supplies, or retreat to restock. This also plays into two of the main design throughlines DICE laid out: getting players to rely on their squadmates more, and encouraging diverse class selections.
How have healing and reviving changed?
This is a big one: anyone, regardless of class, can revive another squad member. Before Medics start hanging up their syringes, know that they’re still the only class that can revive outside of squads and bring their patients back to full health. They also have the fastest revive animation. Non-Medic squaddies going for a revive will have to sit through a longer, more vulnerable animation, a process presumably full of back-slapping and “get up, pal!” encouragement.
The word “animation” is deliberate. Gone is the powerslide-stab combo favored by BF1’s athletic medical professionals. You’ll instead need to go through a sequence of grabbing the body, stabilizing it, and sinking the needle in to pull off the revive. You can look around and interrupt the revive at any moment.
Equally as exciting is the new ability to drag teammates to safer cover, so no more worries of a foolishly heroic doc reviving you in the middle of a grenade-spammed alley of death.
The downed state has been redesigned, too. When you’re mortally wounded, you’ll trigger a gruesome scene in which you can either press a key to clutch your wounds and cry out for help or press a different key to bleed out faster if nobody’s around. It’s a simple—if dark—change to grabbing a Medic or squadmate’s attention through sensory input instead of just a UI blip.
What’s new with vehicles?
Tanks and other vehicles can now tow stationary emplacements such as AA and field guns by backing into them. It’s unclear if you’ll need to unlock and equip the capability to tow or if it’s available by default, but the extra utility of hauling heavy firepower between captured flags or chasing a pesky plane with rolling flak is abundantly clear.
How does destructibility work?
As usual, buildings will be destructible. EA hasn’t shown off any ‘levolution’ (they aren’t using that term anymore, but we won’t let them forget it), where major map events reshape big sections of terrain—those could be there, but the focus of the reveal was on everyday demolition, which will include more realistic explosions and debris.
Hitting the side of a building with a shell, for instance, will collapse the walls inward, while firing through a window and into the building will blow debris outward. Something particularly cool that was discussed, but not shown, was how bits of masonry can dangle off busted-up buildings, eventually detaching and falling. If you happen to be standing under one such bit of masonry when it falls, you’re dead.
How does fortification building work?
Every soldier will have a toolkit which can be used to build sandbags, trenches, stationary machine guns, and other fortifications that primarily bring back destroyed cover—rebuilding parts of a flattened building to help your squad turtle at a flag, for instance.
You won’t be able to build anywhere, instead plopping down structures in preset locations. DICE hasn’t revealed what that process looks like, how long it takes, or whether you need any special materials. They did say that we’ll hear an audio cue when one of our fortifications is destroyed, so aside from providing cover, they’ll act as alarm systems.
The feature helps counter the destruction that occurs over the course of a match, says DICE. Of course we want cool explosions to fling concrete into the air, but we also want the protection that concrete once provided, at least as soon as we’ve emptied a building of enemy players and taken it for ourselves. If all goes well, we can now have our cake and eat it too, rather than each match ending on nearly-flattened fields.
What animation improvements are coming?
For one, DICE finally figured out how legs work. You’ll be able to slide into a prone sideways and backwards, the latter an interesting movement touchup taken from more tactical shooters such as Rainbow Six: Siege. Turning while prone will shift your body’s orientation appropriately; no more helicopter spinning with your belly always hugging dirt.
Soldier movements are also more reactive to the terrain: players will be seen stumbling on uneven ground, slipping in mud, stepping higher in water, and slamming into cover. These particular animations only affect a player’s third-person model (that is, how they’re seen by other players), so your view won’t be jumping all over the place to indicate that your soldier tripped.
DICE hopes these details will add to the illusion, as well as put greater emphasis on visual intel. An example shown was a soldier slowly moving through tall grass which parted around him. The goal is to reduce the amount of hunting for “Doritos,” the triangular symbol that appears above a spotted enemy. (To that end, spotting will also be less spammable, though we’re not sure exactly how it will work.)
You will also see more contextual animations in your first-person view. If you’re resupplying your ammo, you’ll see your hands grabbing magazines out of an ammo box. If you’re asking for aid, you’ll catch the medkit tossed at you. If the trailer is any indication, you can also bullseye grenades in midair, and perform athletics such as mantling over ledges or crashing through a window, which will have you rolling or steadying yourself in a quick movement. The goal, says DICE, is to reduce abstractions throughout the experience, making it clear visually what each player is doing. Longer animations also make everything a bit riskier.
When will we learn more?
Battlefield 5 will be fully revealed at EA Play, June 9-11. Sometime after that there will be an open beta.