- “Battlefield” is the latest blockbuster video game to add a Battle Royale mode.
- The mode, named “Firestorm,” is a free update to “Battlefield 5” for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.
- “Firestorm” is a surprisingly unique take on the Battle Royale genre, but it probably isn’t going to set the world on fire.
Another day, another new Battle Royale mode in a blockbuster game franchise.
First it was “Call of Duty,” and then it was “Red Dead Redemption 2.” Now, it’s “Battlefield 5” and its new “Firestorm” mode.
The new mode arrived in a free update earlier this week on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.
Good news: It’s pretty good! If you’re a “Battlefield” fan, chances are you’ll enjoy the new Firestorm mode.
The “Battlefield 5” take on Battle Royale has 64 players, a massive map, and some of the best-looking landscapes in Battle Royale gaming.
If you’re at all familiar with “Battlefield,” you’ll be totally unsurprised to learn that the Firestorm mode in “Battlefield 5” is just as gorgeous as the rest of the game.
The ridiculously massive map varies from waterfront houses to snow-covered hills to muddy bunkers. The vehicles are ornately detailed and the sound design is absolutely incredible. My footsteps echoed loudly throughout the empty houses as I furiously scrounged for loot – we’re still talking about a Battle Royale mode here.
But all of this could be said about the existing “Battlefield 5” game, pre-Firestorm.
What’s immediately impressive about Firestorm is its scale – it’s the biggest “Battlefield” experience I’ve ever played, in the most literal sense.
Firestorm is a slower take on Battle Royale, for better and worse.
Given that “Battlefield 5” is set in World War II, it’s no surprise that the general feel of the game is slower paced. Weapons are of the era, as are vehicles – which is to say that there’s a mechanical feeling to everything about the world.
It’s a setting that outright slows down the already pretty slow pace of Battle Royale games.
That’s both good and bad: The mode feels more tactical, and gameplay feels more deliberate as a result. In “Apex Legends,” for instance, movement is so fast and fights are so fluid that there’s little time to plan your next moves. But in Firestorm for “Battlefield 5,” there’s plenty of time to carefully plan the rest of the match.
That said, if I died quickly in a match, the amount of time to get into a new match is shockingly long. Not only does the game take a while to get out of the last match, but it takes even more time to get into a new one. When the game did finally matchmake me with other players, I was sent to a “preround” loading screen that adds another full minute to the wait between matches.
“Battlefield” vehicles in a Battle Royale setting are a genuine delight.
Some of the best moments I’ve had in the Firestorm mode have been spent either piloting or acting as gunner in one of the mode’s several different vehicles.
There’s a car that turns into a boat, an unbelievably silly helicopter-like vehicle, and a sort of half-tank/half-snowmobile…thing. The vehicles are bananas, and many of them require multiple people to operate.
As ever, rolling along in a tank with your crew – literally driving through buildings and crushing enemies along the way – is a tremendous delight. “Battlefield” still does this better than any other multiplayer shooter out there, and that joy transfers directly into the Firestorm mode.
You can play Firestorm mode as a solo player, fighting for survival against 63 other people – but you really should play it in the squad option, which is a far better example of why “Battlefield” is such a beloved franchise.
One major issue: The loot system is bad.
The initial experience of finding loot in Firestorm is similar to other Battle Royale games. You land and there are guns and armor and gadgets to be found inside of houses and near bunkers.
That part is more or less fine.
It’s the other side of looting, where you’ve taken out an enemy and you’re going through the spoils of your kill, that’s really bad.
It’s sort of like that scene from “The Breakfast Club” where Ally Sheedy finally empties her purse:
Like a water balloon of loot, players dump all their stuff onto the ground in a big, silly pile upon death. It is, frankly, a bad system. Figuring out what is what is extremely difficult, and you’re likely to get shot while looking. Which ammo do I need for which gun? Is that armor better than the one I’ve got? It’s all too hard to know quickly.
Firestorm is exactly what you’d expect from “Battlefield” being applied to Battle Royale.
My number one takeaway from spending a bunch of hours with “Firestorm” was that, in 2019, “Battlefield” is still a really good franchise.
It’s probably not a shocking revelation to the millions of “Battlefield” fans around the world, but I promise it has implications here: Though “Battlefield” remains excellent, the Firestorm mode only serves to highlight that the best version of the game is the already existing, non-Battle Royale modes.
Firestorm is essentially a more limited version of the massive, tactical modes that “Battlefield 5” already offers in Conquest and Rush. The major additions that Firestorm brings to “Battlefield” are limitations: You only have one life, and the game’s usual class system is nothing more than a cosmetic choice.
Is it fun? Yes, it’s super fun. But, arguably, “Battlefield 5” multiplayer was already very fun, and arguably more fun than this new mode.
That said, if you’re a “Battlefield” fan who’s been waiting for a Battle Royale aimed at you, Firestorm is absolutely that.
Firestorm is available as a free addition to “Battlefield 5” right now on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. Check it out in action right here: