Six ways Battlefield 5 will change the series’ traditional gameplay

EA DICE/Electronic Arts

Developer EA DICE unveiled Battlefield 5 today during a lavish livestreamed event. Earlier this week, Polygon was invited to a private, in-depth presentation on how the game will improve on the series’ classic formula. There was a lot to take in, but I’ve broken it down into six easily digestible categories.

The Company

In Battlefield 5, every player will be able to outfit and customize a number of different soldiers in their stable, referred to as the Company. Every soldier will be fully customizable, including characteristics such as gender, race, facial features and hair. Each character will have a designated class, pulled from the four traditional Battlefield roles of assault, engineer/pilot, support and medic. As characters accumulate experience, they will be able to unlock different subclasses, referred to as Archetypes. That will allow players to specialize down a certain path, such as an anti-tank role for a particular class, although DICE’s presentation was light on details.

What is certain, however, is that whenever a player steps into any multiplayer game mode, they’ll be playing as one of the soldiers in their Company. Progress is accrued and carried over between every mode.

DICE was explicit in stating that gameplay progress has been completely divorced from cosmetic unlocks. Anything that alters the performance of your soldiers must be earned through play.

The Company will also include a player’s own personal motor pool and airstrip. Vehicles will be customizable just like soldiers, and there will be gameplay and cosmetic unlocks for each.

Finally, players will be able to kit out both the weapons and the vehicles in their Company arsenal. So you can, for instance, have two versions of the same rifle — one with generic parts, and the other outfitted with a bayonet for close combat. Either or both may also have their own distinct cosmetic look. Tanks and airplanes can also be similarly purpose-built. How or if you’ll be able to swap between different builds during a single match wasn’t made clear.

EA DICE/Electronic Arts

New game modes

DICE confirmed that Battlefield 5 will retain Battlefield 1’s “war stories” model for its single-player campaign. The goal, however, is to take players to overlooked or lesser-known theaters of the Second World War.

“We have played all of the games. We’ve seen the movies. But, we wanted to do something different,” said creative director Lars Gustavsson. “Finding those stories challenged us, that made us excited. [...] We’re going to take you on a journey around the globe.”

At launch, Gustavsson said, players will experience combat in areas such as Norway, where they will fight battles north of the Arctic Circle. There will be fighting in the French countryside, Greece, in the ruins of the city of Rotterdam and in the North African desert.

In addition to the traditional multiplayer sandbox warfare that the series is known for, Battlefield 5 will introduce two new modes. Combined Arms will feature teams of up to four players all playing cooperatively. Grand Operations will be massive, multi-match engagements that tell the story of a lengthy, multiday battle with 64 players. The outcome of each match will have an impact on the gameplay in the next successive match and, in some situations, can even conclude with a brutal sudden-death playoff.

Enhanced squad mechanics

In Battlefield 5 multiplayer, players will always be attached to a squad. There’s no longer an option to join a match as a single player and go it alone. To that end, DICE is leaning into the squad mechanics in several important ways.

First is the idea of scarcity. When you enter a match, you won’t be fully topped off with ammunition and supplies. You might have enough rounds of ammo to eke out a few kills, but you and your squadmates will have to plan ahead to resupply. Additionally, every player in a squad will be able to revive every other player in that squad. Medics will be the only class capable of bringing any player back to life, and the only class capable of bringing players back to full life.

One interesting addition is that players will now have the ability to see over the shoulder of their squadmates before spawning back into the game. This will make intelligent use of spawning into the game more important than ever. On the flip side, when an entire squad is wiped out in the middle of the map, they’ll need to work hard to regain the ground that they’ve lost.

DICE is extending the squad model to the social aspects of Battlefield 5 as well. Once in a squad, players will stick together regardless of what game mode they’re in. That means voice and text chat will be available between you and your squad at all times, even from inside loading screens.

EA DICE/Electronic Arts

Destroy the environment, build fortifications

DICE detailed new and improved environmental destructibility.

Many buildings on the map can be damaged, both by gunfire and by physically crashing vehicles through them. Debris will break away and scatter realistically, meaning that if a tank shell passes through a building, debris will first fly into the building as it enters and then out of the building as it exits the other side.

But, if the same tank shell explodes inside that building, debris will fly out of the structure into the field around it. The impact will have multiple phases, starting with the flash and the flame and following with the ejection of larger pieces that can strike and injure players. Finally, bits of the structure will dangle, potentially posing a risk to any players underneath.

These deformations aren’t scripted, but are calculated and animated in real time based on how a projectile or vehicle impacts a structure.

Every player in Battlefield 5 enters the game with a toolkit. In building mode, players will be able to spend resources to build fortifications like sandbags, camouflage netting and even gun emplacements. At certain points on the map, and at certain points in existing and destroyed buildings, players can turn on the build mode and see what structures are available, and then place them.

In this way, players can fortify a flag or other objective to harden it against the enemy. Fortifications can be destroyed as well.

An ongoing story

At launch, Battlefield 5 multiplayer will begin by exploring the earliest parts of WWII. But new battlefields and new fronts will open up over time.

Just as WWII expanded and changed, so too will the multiplayer experience of Battlefield 5. DICE refers to that system as Tides of War.

What it will do is give players a sense of momentum and a reason to stick with the game over time. Certain cosmetic items, such as vehicles, weapon components or component skins, will only be available at certain times. As the Tides of War roll over, you’ll be able to prove that you were there for a pivotal engagement based on the items that your soldier wears into combat.

The end result, DICE said, is to keep players interested and engaged in the multiplayer aspects of the game over a longer time frame. The side effect will be that everyone on the battlefield will look completely different.

Most importantly of all, there will be no Premium Pass this time around. Every map, every mode and every expansion pack will be completely free.

EA DICE/Electronic Arts

Refined gunplay and movement

Finally, longtime fans of the Battlefield series will notice a host of subtle refinements to the way that players move and shoot.

First off, random bullet deviation (RBD) was removed. Players will be able to place their shots more effectively, and in time, they will be able to learn how different weapons fire.

Developers used the example of a submachine gun fired at medium range. The first few rounds of each burst land in the exact same spot every time, but when the trigger is held down longer, later rounds spread out. That early pattern will be nearly identical each time the trigger is pulled, while the later pattern will be much more predictable than in previous Battlefield titles.

There will be at least two tiers of weapons, including an entry-level set that is easier to use. More powerful weapons won’t be hampered by RBD. Instead, the developers said they’ll be balanced by tweaking the damage that they do or the amount of ammunition that players are given.

For movement, players will have more options than ever before. That includes the ability to throw themselves into the prone position and slide forward, but also facing to the right or left. Players will now also be able to fall backward, going prone onto their backs, where they will be able to fire their weapon while crawling backward.

While prone, players will also be able to turn to face in any direction, a 360-degree freedom of movement that will allow them to occupy tight spaces and set up hasty ambushes with ease.

The rule of thumb is that if your gun is up and visible, you will be able to fire. That includes while mantling over obstacles.

Movement will also be much more fluid. Options for egress include flinging yourself out a window, even on the second story. When you hit the ground, your soldier will take some damage, to be sure. But if they survive, they simply tuck and roll and get back into the fight.

Battlefield 5 is expected to launch simultaneously on PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One. An early trial of the game will be available to EA Access and Origin Access members on Oct. 11. The deluxe edition of the game will unlock on Oct. 16, with the standard edition coming out on Oct. 19.


Relying on my random squadmates for ammo every life? This should be interesting…

And that’s where the game lost me. Just like BO4 did (and the no campaign part but that’s another story all together). Sometimes I just want to play a game where I am not dependent on internet randoms to have fun. If I wanted to play Overwatch, Paladins or TF2 I would just play Overwatch, Paladins or TF2.

In fact I play some of those but I was looking into these games for something different. Instead they are both trying to imitate what is popular (together with all it’s flaws) while in the process losing differentiation points. This just sounds like yet another game that will be hell to solo queue in. Some may enjoy it, but I am personally disappointed by both franchises this year by first impression.

you’re telling the the squad based shooter that is battlefield doesn’t cater to the lonewolf style? tell me more.

Besides; plenty of people join squads and don’t really work together anyway(Battlefield 1) so you can still do that. You’ll just have more spawn locations now.

I for one LOVE the fact that they are focusing on encouraging teamplay.

Teamplay makes this game so much more fun and really should be the focus.

And even with internet randos, things like sometimes having teammates not help you etc. is almost more realistic and makes the game more challenging.

It’s fucking Battlefield. It’s always been a class based shooter.

Hopefully that part of it wakes some people up into playing their part more effectively. Sure there will be griefers that will withhold stuff the squad needs but I cant imagine DICE is that dumb to make players entirely dependent on strangers for things to play. There’s gotta be more to it we dont know yet, maybe you can pick up other squads ammo?

They’ll have ammo crates situated around the map so you won’t have to rely on them 100%.

Seems fine to me. I played a lot of Battlefield 1 as a medic and healed others way more than I did shoot. I was always playing with others that did the same with ammo. If there is a way to gain XP and level up, there will be players to do it.

You always had to rely on someone for ammo every life. Unless you were the one carrying it all.

I have to admit .. its got me interested.

I laughed at the internet going crazy because of women again and the idea of having to share a world with a load of idiots playing women ironically didn’t really appeal to me ..

but it sounds like playing like a tit is going to make the game very short lived for that player so that is a good thing.

Genji: I need healing.

haha, yeah developers never change.

As characters accumulate experience, they will be able to unlock different subclasses

Nope. Why? Why do you have to complicate things like that? Why can’t you be simple and straightforward? Come on, you don’t even have guns and maps to sell, why does everything have to be earned, why can’t you just give up all the kits and all the guns from the start and let us pick like it’s 1942?

cause like it or not, the COD progression modeled has proven to be a good carrot on the stick to keeping a userbase long term.

has it been proven or is it just common?

It was proven in COD and mimicked in other games. Ultimately the publishers are the ones who have their numbers and user play time and I’d imagine if most games are still doing it its because they have positive long tail userbase.

What’s funny is Call of Duty throws its user base out every year, but that’s an unrelated detail.
What’s actually funny is, unless I’m wrong, that mechanic came with Call of Duty 4, which came a full year after Battlefield 2142 had its system of ranks and unlocks. That system was itself a progression of Battlefield 2’s which only had a couple weapons per class to unlock. I’ll give it to Call of Duty, they did refined the shit out of it.

Still, I can remember installing Modern Warfare again, all my progress was gone and I didn’t think it was a very good carrot at the time. I certainly don’t think it’s a very good carrot nowadays, seeing that it’s essentially using Stockholm syndrome tactics to keep you exposed to microtransactions for as long as possible.

You don’t realise how freeing it is to play a game with no objective, no bar filling up, no prospect of a thing unlocking, but it changed my perspective quite a lot.

Because earning something is appealing to most gamer’s. I would much, much rather earn something through skill and gameplay. Not really a fan of everyone gets a trophy…

In Battlefield 1942 there was no trophy and people seemed okay with it. But I’m not completely unreasonable, you can have your pride and sense of accomplishment, I’ll take a button that says "skip that and unlock everything right now". I’ll click it, you’ll earn your things, everybody is happy. Why can’t we all be happy?

and they sell that button


You’d think your original purchase would entitle you to the content of the game instead of waiting for it to be dripfed.

you are entitled to it, if you play it you get everything. Do you also complain about buying a book but having to read it?

No, but the correct analogy would be buying a book and having to wait for all the pages to be readable.

The problem with that argument is that it contests any and all delay in anything ever. Leveling system? That’s out. Shouldn’t you get all the hitpoints and damages right out of the box?! Story? That’s gone. You can’t hold off on the big story twist until 15 hours in. The whole story has to happen at the beginning!

Progression systems aren’t inherently bad. Much like literally any other thing in the world, it depends on how they’re used. All things in moderation.

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