Battlefield V’s new mode Firestorm is a 64-player battle royale full of that true and tested Battlefield flavor. I jumped in for a few hours to find out how it plays. Check out the video above to see it in action or read some of my thoughts below.
I’ve always loved the Battlefield franchise. When it comes to teamplay, few games nail the thrill of capturing a point alongside a swarm of fellow teammates and then defending it when another wave of enemies attempts to take the objective back.
So Firestorm takes these pieces and builds a battle royale that’s playable either alone or with three buddies. The major difference from the rest of Battlefield V is that your class no longer impacts your gameplay; you don’t start off with special weapons or med kits. Picking a class now only lets you pick from the four characters you’ve created, allowing you to use them as skins.
You and your teammates all start on the ground, with nothing but a knife in each of your hands as you comb structures for any solid weaponry, armor plates, special weapons, throwables and health. After playing other more fast-paced battle royales like Blackout and Apex Legends, the more slow and methodical pace of Firestorm is a welcome change.
The new map is named Halvoy, and it’s ten times the size of Hamada and currently holds the record for the largest Battlefield V map. There are 12 major areas that are filled with desirable loot and are clearly where you’ll want to head first. The map will have safes and strongboxes that contain rarer loot, so it’s also good to keep an eye out for those. On the other hand, cracking one of those containers open tends to leave me with one of my major complaints so far with Firestorm, which is the difficulty of making sense of your inventory in the heat of the moment.
As you look down and hover over items, it takes an extra second to process what ammo is needed and what you have space for. And once you take out an enemy, trying to salsa dance over their corpse to precisely highlight the one weapon that’s taking up the same space as an ammo box or health kit can be extremely frustrating. Trying to do that in the middle of a firefight is almost impossible, and it really makes me hope Criterion Games and DICE clean up the item pickup problem in future updates.
I also think the look of the inventory UI needs an overhaul. It takes up a chunk of your screen, which isn’t the most optimal use of visual real estate. Trying to manage my inventory on the fly takes up time, too, and when every second counts, it’s not something I enjoy messing with during a match.
The game bears some similarity to Apex Legends by including a ping button. Using your spot key will now highlight whatever’s on the ground for fellow teammates to pick up. I do miss the way Apex Legends does audio callouts from individual characters, which can sometimes help remind players of what it is being highlighted.
The destructive force of the actual storm is pretty fun to witness up close, especially as it swallows buildings and wildlife whole during the middle of a firefight. I haven’t experimented much with vehicles yet, but finding the right squad to pilot one with can prove to be extremely useful depending on the storm’s path and where the final circle ends up. It seems to me like there are too many variables to rely on vehicles, though, and as someone who never sets foot inside of vehicles in other modes, I doubt I’ll experiment further unless I’m trying to cover a large amount of ground really quickly.
You can’t respawn once you’re eliminated, but you aren’t completely defenseless once you’re downed. You do have the ability to crawl, and if you managed to previously find a pistol with enough ammo, you can fire off a couple of shots from the hip. I’ve had teammates ignore enemy squads while attempting to revive me, only for me to take out my pistol and finish what they could’ve easily ended.
For me, the level of destruction that the game introduces is what will set Firestorm apart. Being able to flush out enemies with a well-placed explosive or artillery strike is exciting and something new for my battle royale vocabulary. Unfortunately, nothing else about the game sticks out to me.
With Battlefield, I always felt like I was a part of a much larger fight, with my tiny contributions lending to a much larger war. In Firestorm, I often feel like I’m scrambling to help or seek help. That can actually be exciting, but more often than not, it just feels anticlimactic. I need something more from Firestorm if it wants to compete with all the other battle royales that I already love.