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E3 2018: Squad Up with Battlefield V’s Grand Operations

Fans of EA’s Battlefield series expect a few things from their favorite first-person shooter: intense action, insane explosions, and controlled chaos. 2016’s Battlefield 1 delivered on all fronts, highlighted by the asymmetrical Operations multiplayer mode simulating campaigns across multiple maps.

Where do you go from there? You go bigger, of course. New to Battlefield V, Grand Operations lets up to 64 players battle it out over several in-game days to achieve their goal. While EA briefly showcased Grand Operations during their EA Play 2018 Press Conference, we hopped into some hands-on to get up close and personal with the heavily upgraded mode.

Playing as the Germans, day one charged us with holding off an Allied attack on the snowy Norwegian port of Narvik. Under the cover of night, Allied forces parachuted down to the battle zone in an effort to plant explosives on key artillery cannons. Our job was to stop this from happening by any means necessary.

Initially, that meant playing to our class/kit combination, Support Engineer, by building barricades and machine gun nests around the first artillery cannon position. Every class can build, but the Engineer’s ability to quickly whip up walls afforded more time for our squad to take up a safer tactical position. That didn’t last long, as waves of Allied soldiers quickly descended from the heavens.

The game suddenly kicked into gear, with bullets pelting the gorgeous, crunchy snow (thanks, Frostbite engine!) from every direction. Within moments our field of vision was blurred by smoke and obscured by charred buildings. Few games channel the chaos of war as effectively as Battlefield, and in short order we were tempted to Rambo our way to higher ground.

Grand Operations, however, rewards players who stick together by placing a greater emphasis on squads. Players of any class (not just Medics) can revive downed squad mates, a feature we indulged in after an unfortunate run-in with a Recon Sniper. A well-oiled squad will eventually earn resources to call in reinforcements like smoke screens and the devastating V1 rocket; coordinated squads will undoubtedly swing the tide of battle.

Unfortunately, our squad of Battlefield V newcomers was uncoordinated, though thanks to some competent running and gunning, our side survived day one and managed to protect two of the four artillery cannons, thereby hamstringing the enemy a bit for day two.

Set during a snowy afternoon, the second day changed to the Breakthrough mode popularized in Battlefield 1 as Allied forces attempted to sequentially capture control points. We wasted no time trying out another bold new Battlefield V feature by hopping into an AA gun being towed by a truck. Despite the jostling, we managed to take down an enemy plane before meeting the wrong end of a tank shell.

Respawning as an Assault Grenadier, we moved around the battlefield trying to hold positions, which was easier said than done thanks to Battlefield V’s outrageous sense of destructibility. We gaped in horror as an enemy tank blew a squad-sized hole in a building filled with teammates, concrete crumbling and bodies tumbling out into the snow. In another sequence, we tossed a grenade at an enemy soldier hiding behind a wall only to have him throw it right back, demolishing our cozy barricade. While the game lets you sandbag locations, lay razor wire, dig trenches and more, cover is clearly a temporary luxury in Battlefield V.

Amazingly, we held out just long enough to hold two of the three positions and walk away the victor, though Grand Operations in the final game will span up to four days. According to DICE, reaching day four ratchets up the tension with a Final Stand in which every player has only one life and extremely limited resources. Brutal.

Rife with thrilling, emergent moments and tactically rich objectives, Grand Operations certainly looks like a crowd-pleaser. We’ll surely learn more about this mode – and several others – before Battlefield V comes to Xbox One on October 19.