Hopefully you didn’t plan to buy Battlefield V this year for its new battle royale mode. The key feature, called Firestorm, won’t be in EA’s hallmark shooter until March 2019. Developer DICE revealed as much in its road map for the game today.
The blog post revealing the image goes well out of its way to list everything Battlefield V will have at launch. There are “eight exciting game modes” and “outstanding gunplay” to enjoy. The road map mentions plenty of other goodies between now and next year, too. But Firestorm still feels like a glaring omission.
Battlefield V would be late to the battle royale party regardless. Fortnite is well-entrenched as the genre’s monarch. And Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’s new, quite good Blackout mode might siphon some of the “modern military” crowd from PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. Now Firestorm is falling an extra five months behind the curve. I just can’t picture the game’s more casual fans flocking back nearly half a year later just try out this particular take on the genre.
But maybe I’m wrong. The full game was already delayed by a month earlier this year. It was originally scheduled for Oct. 19—just a week after Black Ops 4 and a week before Read Dead Redemption 2. The WWII shooter would have surely smothered between that kind of competition. So, just maybe, getting some extra distance will leave players hungry for another battle royale game next year.
The problem is that 2019 also looks full. EA’s own Anthem drops in late February. Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 arrives in mid-March (although Ubisoft promises that game won’t have a battle royale component). And those are just the multiplayer shooters. It honestly doesn’t feel like there’s a good time to release Firestorm—or perhaps Battlefield V in general.
Battlefield 1 certainly didn’t need to follow gimmicky trends to sell quite well, of course. Far from it. That game appealed in part because it brought multiplayer shooters “back to basics” just as fans tired of futurism. Activision got that particular message loud and clear, however, and scaled back its most recent Call of Duty games to match.
It feels like DICE’s turn to respond again. Battlefield V is another boots-on-the-ground shooter, but besides hopping aboard the battle royale train, there’s not much setting it apart from BF1. Now it won’t even be on that bandwagon in time for launch.
One thing about Battlefield V does still interest me, however. Fortnite, PUBG, and even this year’s Call of Duty don’t have much in the way of story modes. BF1’s single-player content was awfully strong by series standards. I’d love to see Battlefield V build on that momentum. And, given the success of single-player games like God of War and Spider-Man this year, maybe I’m not alone.
We won’t have to wait another five months to find out, anyway.