As one of the largest video game franchises currently on the market, the “Battlefield” series developed by Electronic Arts Digital Illusions CE (EA DICE) is currently slated for its 16th installment in October of 2018. Dubbed “Battlefield V,” this game will see a return to the series’ origins in World War II (WWII), a setting not seen in the series since the 2009 release of “Battlefield 1943.” However, from the first reveal of the game on May 23, 2018 through the publication of this article, opinions on the games have been lackluster at best, and outright frustrated at worst.
The game’s first reveal on May 23 consisted of an open panel discussion based around several gameplay features all based on feedback from the series’ core audience, including skill-based gunplay, cooperating as a team, and refined movement systems - all features that should be regarded as great news by long-time “Battlefield” players. However, the primary takeaway of almost all followers of the game from this initial reveal concerns the two minute official reveal trailer that capped off the reveal. Many fans of the series have met this short trailer with extreme backlash, citing a strong lack of historical authenticity as the trailer prominently features a wide array of soldier customization options available in-game, many of which stretch the boundaries of typical WWII soldier loadouts. The showcasing of obscure weapons, prosthetic limbs, body art, and minority and female soldiers has lent itself to much discourse on the supposed authenticity of the game in respect to its historical setting. Regardless of one’s stance on the inclusion of elements that may be deemed obscure (but by no means unheard of or fictional) by the accounts of WWII, their prominence in the game’s advertising materials drew the first red flag in the eyes of its core fans.
To make the matter worse, much of the discussion of the game’s actual mechanics has mostly been removed from the forefront of the game’s marketing materials. Changes in supply mechanics, a new buildable fortification system, new gameplay modes, the game’s rotating and free downloadable content schedule, and many other key gameplay elements. Instead, the only outlets to report on these sorts of mechanics came from third parties physically in attendance at the reveal event in May. Reliance on press sites and YouTube content creators to spread knowledge of the game’s core features seems rather counterintuitive and disconnected in nature. Fractured information and delivery of what should otherwise be key selling points has resulted only in further confusion over the game.
Over the next few months, with additional trailers and playable alpha builds, the game has gradually come to resemble more of a cohesive product, but the vestiges of the original controversies remain. Members of EA DICE have stood by their commitment to allowing soldier customization in-game, even at the expense of immersion or even sales. As of August 2018, game industry analyst company Cowen Group has reported on pre-order sales for “Battlefield V” being “weak” and almost 85% behind those of its main competitor, “Call of Duty: Black Ops 4.” The cohesion and unity that EA DICE insists motivate the game’s customization options are perhaps better applied to the game’s overall marketing messages, as the coming months before its October 19 release date will show.