Earlier this week, we reviewed Nvidia's GeForce RTX 2060. Priced at £330/€370/$350, it's the first mainstream graphics card to hit the market with hardware ray tracing support. Right now, it's early days for RT technology and initial demos suggested that even the top-end RTX 2080 Ti could only run ray tracing with a big resolution or performance hit - so what chance would the significantly cut-down RTX 2060 have? The good news is that BF5's RT performance has improved dramatically, and initial tests produced some promising results on the RTX 2060 at full ultra settings. Frame-rates were still highly variable though, and what we wanted was something more ambitious - a fully locked 1080p60 experience with RT features enabled. The good news is, it can be done.
Video games have given us countless images of the past, some literal-minded, some more playful, from Total War's continent-sized thought experiments to the hinterland between myth, game design and archaeological record that is Assassin's Creed Odyssey. Among 2018's offerings are two that, to my mind, deserve special attention for the stark yet deceptive contrast they form: DigixArt and Aardman's melancholy Great War tale 11-11: Memories Retold, and DICE's characteristically seismic World War 2 shooter Battlefield 5.
Well, this is a return to the past in more ways than one. Battlefield 5's beta hit for early adopters ahead of today's open test, and it was a proper beta - misshapen, malfunctioning and with more than a handful of those glitches that mired Battlefield 4's launch in infamy. Matchmaking was broken, squads - such an integral part of Battlefield's make-up, and even more so this time around - weren't working, and it was all a bit wonky. This was a beta in the old-school definition of the term.
So yes, DICE's return the backdrop of WW2 wasn't exactly smooth at first, but by the time the doors have opened for the masses this morning many of those problems should have been ironed out - indeed, even after 24 hours DICE had proven adept at putting out fires, with all that lingered come yesterday the occasional floating gun and impossibly contorted corpse. Some concerns will linger a little longer, though.
Battlefield 5 is a strange iteration of the long-running series, at least at first glance. It's both radical and reserved, with the systems that underpin the Battlefield formula all undergoing change while the fundamentals all stay the same. It's proven divisive in its early days - as is ever the way when it comes to a new iteration of a much-loved series - though what's certain is that this is a Battlefield that requires a very different approach.
The embargo lifts today on video capture of Battlefield 5's beautiful new Rotterdam map, which looks all the better when rendered in RTX - Nvidia's brand new ray tracing technology for its upcoming 20-series cards. We had the chance to go hands-on with an RTX-enabled version of the game, and to talk directly with the graphics engineers responsible. How does ray tracing work? What are its limitations? And with performance such a hot topic surrounding RTX titles, what are DICE's plans for future optimisation and further features?
Battlefield 5 hasn't had the easiest of starts. In recent months, it's experienced a huge fan backlash for including women and "unrealistic" cosmetics in the game, while a recent financial report by Cowen claimed the game had performed below expectations in pre-order sales, which is a shame, as my hands-on experience playing Conquest on the Rotterdam map at Gamescom was exhilarating - even if the climbing mechanics were a little clunky.
Players of the recent Battlefield 5 alpha have been witness to quite a treat. Building on DICE's excellent work in BF1 and Battlefront 2, we're looking at an exceptionally handsome game that, small bugs aside, almost feels like the finished article. It's visually outstanding in fact, the only disappointment - if you can call it that - being that the signs are pointing towards an evolution of the Battlefield formula and its Frostbite engine, as opposed to a full-on next-gen revolution.
Well, who would have thought it. There's a new Battlefield game coming out this year, and it uses World War 2 as a backdrop for DICE's chaotic multiplayer sandbox, while also folding in features such as a new co-op mode and character customisation - both of which were the focus point for the reveal trailer - and doing away with the series' long-standing premium pass. Shortly after yesterday's reveal event, I got the chance to sit down briefly with DICE's creative director Lars Gustavsson, a long-standing member of the team and part of the franchise since its very beginning, to talk through some of the changes.
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.