Battlefield 5 is taking the series back to its World War II roots. The announcement was made during a lavish press conference live from London, one that was hosted by comedian Trevor Noah. But, even before the public was made aware, developer DICE and publisher Electronic Arts spent hours delivering detailed information to the press in a behind-closed-presentation.
According to senior producer Andreas Morell, Battlefield 5 intends to show, “the Second World War like you’ve never experienced before [highlighting] unseen locations, untold stories and unplayed gameplay moments.” The title is expected to release across multiple platforms by October, and there are plans to fuel the community with free content updates long after its launch.
Here’s everything we know.
What is Battlefield 5?
The latest entry in an iconic series that dates back to 2002, Battlefield 5 is a celebration of the chaos and the drama of combined arms warfare. At its core is the concept of the squad, a small group of players that can cooperate and coordinate together to achieve goals in-game.
Another key concept is the ticketing and spawning system. Players spend tickets from a combined pool to bring themselves and vehicles onto the map. They earn tickets back by holding key objectives. Spawning locations are always chosen by individual players. Most importantly, the squad system allows players to spawn in on top of each other during multiplayer engagements, creating a fluid and hotly contested frontline of consistent action.
The series began with Battlefield 1942, a game that was critically praised for its massive multiplayer battles involving small arms, armored vehicles and aircraft.
The most recent title, Battlefield 1, took the series back to World War I. Battlefield 5 promises to borrow elements from many other games in the series, but will also pave its own way forward.
When is the release date?
Battlefield 5 is expected to launch simultaneously on PlayStation 4, Windows PC (via the Origin service) and Xbox One on Nov. 20. Players can access the game as early as Nov. 9 through an EA Access or Origin Access subscription. The deluxe edition of the game grants access to Battlefield 5 on Nov. 15.
What versions of the game are available?
The deluxe edition of the game comes with a number of perks. The most interesting ones are the cosmetic items, as follows:
- British Special Air Service (SAS) and German Airborne (Fallschirmjäger) cosmetic sets.
- Special Assignments (described below) for both the SAS and Fallschirmjäger.
- 20 cosmetic items delivered via weekly “Airlifts.”
What do I get if I pre-order?
Those who pre-order the game will automatically gain early access. There are complex parameters involved, and your purchasing decision will be best informed by reading through EA’s exhaustively detailed options on its dedicated website.
If you pre-order the standard edition, you will get access to several perks only available to those who purchase the deluxe edition, as follows:
- Additional paratrooper cosmetic items.
- One additional Special Assignment (described below).
- Five weapons for Battlefield 1.
What about the traditional “premium pass?”
There will be no premium pass, the add-on that traditionally offered access to post-launch content like new multiplayer maps and weapons, for Battlefield 5.
All additional maps and game modes will be free to owners of the base game.
Is there a single-player campaign?
Battlefield 5 will have a single-player campaign. It will follow the same model as Battlefield 1, telling “war stories” from around the world. Each war story will be its own unrelated tale, each with multiple missions forming a narrative arc.
The first war story introduced, called “Nordlys,” will center around a young Norwegian girl who joins the resistance against occupying Nazi forces. The action will take place in the mountains of Norway, far above the Arctic Circle.
“You will be playing as a young resistance fighter about to pay an unthinkable price,” said DICE senior producer Lars Gustavsson during a press briefing. “It’s not that kind of [...] heroic experience we’re after. This is about saving your family. It is so up close and personal. That’s what we want to give to you.”
Developer DICE has teased other theaters where those war stories may take place. Areas of operation include Greece, France, North Africa and the bombed-out city of Rotterdam. Some scenes showed to the press also included areas that look conspicuously like the flooded fields and long suspension bridges common in the Netherlands.
Polygon visited EA’s offices for a sample of the single-player campaign. You can read our impressions.
What are the new multiplayer modes?
Fans of the Battlefield series will be happy to know that many of the large-scale multiplayer modes that have been popular for the last few entries in the series will be returning, including many from Battlefield 3, Battlefield 4 and Battlefield 1. But DICE also has a few new interesting modes up its sleeve.
The first one is called Combined Arms. It will allow up to four players to take on cooperative, raid-like engagements with multiple objectives. It will feature a press-your-luck format, with the final objective being the most difficult. Squads will have to make a decision if they want to attempt the final objective, or if they want to extract with what they’ve earned so far.
The second is called Grand Operations, massive 64-player engagements that will play out over three or four individual matches. Each match represents a different, non-contiguous day in a fictional battle. The first day might see one side attempting to defend several artillery guns and the other side trying to destroy them. Depending on how many artillery guns survive the first match will influence the balance of forces in the second match, and so on.
If the third match of a Grand Operation ends in a draw, a final sudden death match will be triggered where every player has only one life to live. Each Grand Operation is expected to take about one hour to complete.
DICE confirmed during EA Play 2018 that Battlefield 5 will also have a battle royale mode. The mode will be different from battle royale modes in other games (like Fortnite).
What are the multiplayer maps available at launch?
There will be eight multiplayer maps available at launch.
Hamada and Aerodrome are set in North Africa. The first is the game’s largest map, focused on armored gameplay, while the second is a more traditional combined arms map centering around a ruined Axis aircraft hangar.
Twisted Steel is another traditional, combined arms map set in France. It featured prominently in the game’s unveiling in May, and includes the single largest structure ever built for a Battlefield game. Arras, named after the city in the Pas-de-Calais region of Northern France, is set between the English Channel and the Belgian border, the location of some of WWII’s earliest battles.
Rotterdam, Holland will be the backdrop for two new maps. The first, simply called Rotterdam, has a focus on urban combat including several multi-story buildings. Devastation is more infantry-focused.
Finally, two of the maps are set in Norway. The first, called Narvik, is modeled after the historical look and feel of that city on the eve of Nazi Germany’s 1940 invasion. Fjell 652 takes place on high mountain peaks and will pit infantry forces against high-flying fighter planes.
What are the big changes to gameplay?
The biggest change to the traditional Battlefield formula this time around are the twin concepts of scarcity and attrition.
Whenever you spawn into the game, whether it’s single-player or any of the many multiplayer modes, you’re not going to have a full complement of ammunition and supplies. Representatives from DICE have said that players will need to make the decision early on whether to press the attack and eke out a few kills with their limited resources, or immediately resupply.
Squad play has always been a signature of the Battlefield series, but this time around it’s the only way to play. There will not be an option to spawn into multiplayer games without being in a squad. Once in-game, players are always free to go their own way. Squads will be given the tools to reassign leadership roles if a squad leader wanders off on their own.
The camera system has been reworked and plays a vital role when players die.
When you’re mortally wounded, the camera will zoom in on the soldier or vehicle that killed you. From there, you’ll go back to your own soldier see their hands on the ground covered in blood. They will also begin to cry out for a medic. You’ll be able to look around in 360 degrees to get a better idea of your surroundings. From there, you have the option to allow yourself to bleed out, automatically restarting the spawn timer, or linger in place and wait for medical attention.
But after you bleed out, you’ll immediately be put over the shoulder of one of your squad mates. From there you can cycle between each of them and decide which one to spawn on top of. When you do spawn in, you’ll be very close and able to offer immediate aid in the form of melee or suppressing fire.
Once a squad is completely wiped out, they will have to work very hard to regain the ground that they’ve lost. Expect dramatic swings in the position of the front line over time.
The medical system has also been revamped. In Battlefield 5, every player in a squad can revive every other player in that squad. Only medics can revive any soldier to full health. Representatives from DICE said that this will free up their designers to enrich the role of the medic, but they did not specify what that meant.
Battlefield 5 will also include highly destructible environments. Weapons and vehicles will be able to utterly destroy some structures, leaving behind nothing more than a skeleton with a staircase and bits of roofs and upper floors. To compensate, DICE is adding buildable fortifications.
Every player will spawn into the game with a toolkit, and by spending resources players will be able to build sandbag walls, board up windows, add camouflage netting and even gun emplacements. Fortifications will be limited to certain specific locations, and only certain hotspots within those locations, which will all be scattered around the map. Like structures, fortifications can also be destroyed.
What about unlockables and cosmetics?
In Battlefield 5, unlocks that impact gameplay — including subclasses called Archetypes, perks, weapons and vehicles — must be earned through play. DICE has vowed that they will not be available for purchase.
Battlefield 5 will have two kinds of currency. Battlefield Coin will be earned through gameplay, and can be exchanged for gameplay items (like weapons, perks and vehicles) and cosmetic items (like jackets, helmets and weapon skins). Company Coin will be added to the game only after it launches. The premium currency will be available for purchase, and can be exchanged only for cosmetic items (like jackets, helmets and weapon skins).
DICE and EA have vowed that there will be no randomized loot crates.
The developers have said that cosmetic items can instead be earned through Daily Orders. These micro-achievements will change from day to day. In addition, players will also be able to slot Special Assignments, up to four at one time, that they can work toward to unlock certain items.
“Special Assignments are the real meaty, long-lasting cross session-type activities,” said franchise design director Daniel Berlin. “Maybe you can get them done in a session if you’re really good, to long, long-ranging things that give you the promise of these unique, iconic rewards at the end of them.
Berlin said that DICE is working to make Special Assignments accessible for all players by creating multiple pathways to succeed at each.
In the end, the goal is to have every player in a multiplayer battle look different from one another. Rather than every grenadier or shotgunner looking the same, every player will have the ability to put their own spin on what that specialized class looks like.
Update (June 9): We’ve edited this article to add information about Battlefield 5’s battle royale mode.
Update (Nov. 1): We’ve edited this article to include more information about the maps that will come out with the game at launch, and clarify the in-game currencies.