Battlefield Firestorm dropped today, and after playing several rounds of solo and squads, I feel like I can give a pretty good review of what the mode is like. Firestorm isn’t a whole new game by any means. It’s just a battle royale mode for Battlefield 5. However, it’s so different from what we’ve seen in the past in Battlefield that it does require special notice. Since we already scored Battlefield 5 in our initial review, just take this as an impressions piece to help you decide if Firestorm is for you.
Battlefield Firestorm review | It’s not Battlefield
First and foremost Firestorm is going to be a pretty divisive mode. I know for me, Battlefield has always been appealing because of the giant clashes between two big teams. Firestorm does away with all that for something that’s more similar to PUBG.
There’s still a lot of Battlefield here. The gunplay, vehicles, environmental destruction, and general gameplay systems carry straight over from the rest of Battlefield 5. There are no massive changes as far as how shooting, driving, and all those common actions work. The most significant difference is that it seems like Time-to-Kill has been reduced, so you die a little quicker than you do in other modes.
Other than the above, though, Firestorm just doesn’t feel like Battlefield. You can choose to either go solo or squad up with three other players. There’s one map for Firestorm mode at debut, Halvoy, and it’s an amalgam of existing maps. There’s a snowy region to the east that takes cues from Narvik, and the grassy areas in the west look a lot like Twisted Steel or Panzerstorm.
There’s a lot of asset reuse here, so don’t expect to see anything stunning or brand news. It’s an interesting enough map but doesn’t have the character or variety of Fortnite, Apex Legends, or even PUBG‘s maps.
Battlefield Firestorm review | Weapon of choice
Firestorm’s weapons come directly from the same arsenal that’s available in other multiplayer modes. You start a match by dropping from a transport plane, and weapons, items, armor, ammo, and health items are scattered throughout the map. As in other battle royales, most of the equipment you find is littered inside houses, and it’s a mad rush to get that first gun and get any nearby foes before they get you.
Weapons do come in different tiers, but I’ll be damned if I know what the difference between them is. It seems like the better the gun, the better the tier, but that’s not always true. The new inventory system made for Firestorm doesn’t do a good job letting you know just what the advantages of switching guns are, and it’s somewhat of a mess in general. Looting or dropping an item from your inventory is somewhat of a clumsy process, requiring you to navigate menus and hold buttons, both of which can slow you down and lead to your death.
There are also vehicles available, which should be one of Firestorm’s big draws over the competition. Tanks, APCs, cars, tractors, and weapon emplacements are all available to use, but in practice, I haven’t actually seen many people use them. Sound plays an integral part in Firestorm, as everything you do makes an absolute cacophony. You can hear another player’s footsteps from 50-100 meters away, and using a vehicle will lure every player right to you.
Using something with no armor, like a Schwimmwagon or a tractor is basically a death sentence if anyone sees you. You can get powerful vehicles like tanks by finding them in unlockable depots, but again, sound just prevents this from being very advantageous. To unlock one of these caches you have to find it, activate an unlocking mechanism by holding a button, then manage to make your way in and grab the vehicle. The problem is that even the act of unlocking one of these buildings makes a ton of noise, and is really only feasible in squads where you can have two people unlocking to speed up the process while two others watch their back.
While the idea is interesting, and will likely develop as time goes on, right now tanks are about the only vehicle worth driving. They still suffer from the issue of being paper targets, but anti-armor weaponry is rare enough in Firestorm that you can put up a fight before someone inevitably Panzerschreks you into oblivion.
Battlefield Firestorm review | Riders on the storm
Firestorm is one of the more rooted battle royales and shares that vibe with PUBG. No real fantastical things are going on here, so if you’re into a more serious environment for your battle royale time, then Battlefield Firestorm is a good pick. Even the titular firestorm itself makes a bit of sense given the World War 2 setting.
Unfortunately, the firestorm mechanic doesn’t bring anything new to the table. It’s just the same as PUBG‘s forcefield, Fortnite‘s storm, and the countless other similar systems in battle royale games. When you get right down to it, the mechanics behind the battle royale gameplay are just the same as in PUBG, except there are fewer players.
Only 64 players can battle in Firestorm at a time. Though, when a match begins, at least for me, that number was always around 60. The matchmaking has been somewhat buggy so far for me, with the game matching me with a squad, erroring, having to match me with another, and so on before I can actually get into a match. I also had the issue that I was loaded into the lobby; then I was kicked from my team, and then the game loaded me into the game solo. So, I had to play that round of squads as an army of one.
Battlefield Firestorm review | Is it worth buying Battlefield 5?
The big question about Firestorm is definitely whether or not it’s worth spending money on. It’s not free-to-play, so you’re either going to have to get an Origin Access Premiere account or buy a retail copy of Battlefield 5.
As of right now, the mode is an excellent addition if you already own BF5, but it’s not a game seller. It’s a bit buggy and doesn’t bring anything new to the battle royale genre. About the only thing that sets it apart is the fact it has vehicles and destructible environments. However, neither of those things are particularly useful since vehicles are a death trap and you rarely get enough explosives to be able to blow through walls. Your ammo is best spent trying to kill enemies you can see, not trying to blow holes through walls to get at them.
This is the launch day for Battlefield Firestorm, though, so time could improve it dramatically. Even something as simple as just adding the ping system from Apex Legends (which is inexplicably missing) would make it a lot more competitive. Unfortunately, EA shot themselves in the foot by releasing Apex Legends, which is much more unique compared to the competition than Battlefield Firestorm, and just a lot more fun in general.
Firestorm is something to keep an eye on, but for now, it’s more of a curiosity than a game-seller.