Battlefield V, in case you hadn't guessed already, is a very real video game that sees DICE return to World War 2 for the latest instalment of its large scale multiplayer-focused shooter. Ahead of tonight's reveal, press were invited to a two-hour rundown of everything that's new in Battlefield V - a detail-rich dive into all that sets this year's edition out from what's gone before. And a little on what it's taking from the likes of PUBG and Fortnite as the world's most popular games leave their mark on the old guard of shooters. Here's all that we learnt from the reveal.
Battlefield V is heading back to where it all began
The history of Battlefield goes all the way back to 2002 - and a game that used World War 2 as the setting for its own spectacular 64-player sandbox. DICE has returned to the era before with the brilliant Battlefield 1943 - a stripped down revisiting of the game realised on the Frostbite engine that hit PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade back in 2009 - but this marks the first time the studio has properly gone back with a fully-fledged title. "All of us have yearned for years to go back to this era," Lars Gustavsson, creative director at DICE and the producer of the original Battlefield 1942 said at the event. "We wanted to go back to where Battlefield started. This is back to where it all began, with new possibilities."
Battlefield V's aim is to present an unexpected take on World War 2, though - to go towards the "unseen, untold, unplayed" scenarios, in DICE's own words, as the studio looks to go beyond the beach landings that have become familiar in countless other takes on the same material. To that end it'll go to the arctic circle in Norway in one of its War Stories - the single-player component that returns from Battlefield 1 - and, DICE said, to the French countryside, the devastation of Rotterdam and the North African desert throughout its adventures, some of which do seem a little over-familiar already, admittedly, but perhaps DICE has got its own spin prepared for our return to these arenas.
Squad play is more important than ever
Battlefield V's reveal trailer presents a cinematic take on the all-new Combined Arms mode - a four-player co-op experience designed to ease new players from single-player to the noise and fury of multiplayer. It's a slimmed down take on Battlefield's sandbox, hoping to feature the same kind of emergent chaos that defines the series, and it introduces a philosophy that runs through every element of Battlefield V.
Squad play is going to be key to success, something evident from the very first moment of a multiplayer match as you spawn into a squad by default. Abilities are more valuable now given the scarcity of resources out on the field - you'll have less ammo than you had in previous games, while you won't be able to heal yourself fully unless you have the help of a nearby medic. When you die, rather than being pushed back to an overhead view of the map you'll see shoulder cams of your squad mates - allowing you to see whether they're in danger or not, and reinforcing the bond you have in battle.
It's a more physical kind of warfare in Battlefield V
Battlefield has often excelled at giving you an impression of your physical presence in the world - I loved the way you'd barge through doors in Battlefield 1, or vault over obstacles in earlier games - and V looks to progress significantly in that area. You can now dive prone sideways, while new animations see players lifting their legs higher as they run through water or slip and slide through mud. Elsewhere, you'll make high grass move around you as you push through it and bushes will sway as you walk past - meaning when you're scoping out the environment, it's as much about reading the scenery as it is looking directly for enemy soldiers.
There are other, more tangible benefits to this new physicality, too. When reviving other players you're now able to drag them into safety first, while if you're looking for perks from team-mates, you'll now have to physically attain them rather than relying on a magical aura - so med packs will have to be taken from medics, while resupply stations have to be visited to pick up extra ammo. Oh, and while every class will have access to a building tool - what feels like a deference to the all-conquering Fortnite - the Support class will be able to assemble buildings quicker.
The most exciting thing, though? The ability to build things up again (which you'll do via sandbags and other makeshift tools rather than magically erecting a three-storey house on the spot) means you're now able to knock things down even easier. Yes, it looks like the overstated destruction that made Bad Company 2 such a fan favourite is finally back.
There are new modes - with more set to come for free
Grand Operations is the big new mode that's being touted for launch, an evolution of the Operations mode that proved so successful in Battlefield 1, with battles that take place over four fictional days - and take in various game modes as you fight for success. Say, for example, you're fighting for Rotterdam - on the first day you might find yourself as a paratrooper, spotting the point of departure from a plane overhead and trying to infiltrate enemy lines to take down artillery units that are battering your company. Your success, or otherwise, will then dictate how many respawns you and your team have at your disposal on the second day - and if the battle makes its way to the fourth and final day you'll be playing Final Stand, a sudden death mode where there are no respawns and every death will count.
The expected Battle Royale mode isn't there at launch - and DICE isn't talking about it just yet - but it's highly likely it'll come a little further down the line. If - or when - it does come, it'll be completely gratis, because Battlefield V does away with the premium pass that's plagued the series for so long. New modes and new maps will come as part of Battlefield V's Tides of War - the name for its ongoing live service that will feature timed events that come with their own unique rewards. That does mean, of course, that micro-transactions will play their part - but after the Star Wars Battlefront 2 debacle DICE has wisely kept them to cosmetic items only.
Battlefield V might have fixed the series' long-standing progression problem
And more customisation might mean that Battlefield finally fixes its long-standing problem with progression. At the core of Battlefield V is your 'Company' - the squad of soldiers you play with across co-op and multiplayer - and they're all customisable. You can change their face, paint them if you so wish, and outfit them with various pieces of kit you earn through your progress in the game - and you can also choose the gender of your soldier. Weapons will also be customisable, as will weapons and vehicles - though how quickly you earn items, and how much you're dependent on loot boxes, remains to be seen. Hopefully that'll become a bit clearer sometime ahead of Battlefield V's release date, with it hitting Play First on EA Access on 11th October, the Deluxe Edition going live on 16th October and the general release coming on 19th October.