Battlefield V’s Firestorm game type—a battle royale mode intended to compete with industry darlings like Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds—was touted as one of the chief reasons for players to move on from Battlefield 1. Though it wasn’t available at launch—a veritable failure on the part of DICE and EA—a March 25th update saw the long-awaited mode finally introduced into the game. While it borrows heavily from similar BR experiences, Firestorm has helped to breathe new life into a game that, mired by controversy and disinterest, hasn’t done all that well to maintain a healthy playerbase.
As is always the case with these battle royale games, the objective is to scavenge the map for the best supplies while systematically eliminating all opposing squads and staying clear of the hazardous, ever-shrinking borders at the edges of the map. Those intimately familiar with similar games will feel instantly at home here. However, those with a background in PUBG will have a slight advantage, as Firestorm is more in the vain of that title’s ultra-serious, intricately tactical gameplay rather than the fast-paced silliness of Fortnite or Apex Legends.
As is requisite for all squad-based multiplayer Hunger Games-inspired shooters these days, everyone begins the gaming by leaping out of an aircraft. The important thing to note here is that, unlike in Apex Legends, players can’t drop straight down all that easily, and those hoping to make a beeline for an objective directly below them may have to circle around a few times before landing. It’s also a good idea to mark locations on the map before jumping, as landmarks aren’t quite as visible from the air as they are in other games.
Initially, Firestorm bares an almost uncanny resemblance to Activision and Treyarch’s Blackout, the new BR mode included in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4; guns and other lootable objects are scattered about the world haphazardly, and the weapons in both games make for very samey gunplay. That said, Battlefield V shows its individuality through its new-to-the-genre objectives system. Squads will encounter landmarks and bunkers that must be either captured or opened, and they often serve as major points of contention as teams duke it out for a chance at some high-tier loot.
The most important thing to keep in mind here is that particularly valuable weapons and items are very seldom found out in the open. While players have reported happening across the odd supply flair or epic loot drop, these things almost always come from safes, supply crates, or captured objectives. While hunting these things down is a good way of attracting enemies, it’s also the only really viable way to stay competitive toward the late game. These things often take a considerable amount of time to find and open, so savvy players will make sure the area is clear before pursuing an objective.
The most crucial complaint about the mode at this point in time seems to be the beyond-clunky looting and inventory management system, especially when it comes to looting defeated players. Rather than stand in the open while slowly sifting through someone’s pockets, consider using fallen enemies as bait for nearby players. Bodies should attract loot-hungry players, and, while they’re encumbered by the bad UI, crafty attackers will have a small window to spring their trap.
Firestorm also more-or-less rips the innovative ping system wholesale from Apex Legends, and it’s a fabulous way of wordlessly communicating with teammates. While others may not always heed advice or direction, the system is still worth using, and pointing out areas of interest or calling out enemy locations can often make the difference between success and humiliation.
Whether or not Battlefield V’s Firestorm does enough to re-ignite the game’s player base remains to be seen. Battle royale titles often live and die on their payment models, and Battlefield V’s at-time-of-writing sixty dollar price tag will do nothing but inhibit curious players from checking out the mode. That said, there’s still enough fun to be had among the current player base, and more than enough opportunities to cop that coveted V for victory.