EA is making changes to Battlefield 5's divisive Attrition System

Electronic Arts has posted a pair of Battlefield 5 updates that dive into the game's weapons, vehicles, and gear, and the "Attrition System" showcased in the open beta, where players sometimes spawn without full ammo or health. 

"After each encounter in previous Battlefield games, you were always quickly back at status quo with restored health and ammo. Now, situations will be special after each encounter," EA says in the Attrition System explainer. "You may not have full health or ammo, so you need to act accordingly. Simply rushing for the next flag may not be enough—you need to change your tactic. Say you’re down to your last mag, should you play it safe or engage those two enemies you have a clear shot on?" 

The idea isn't to make Battlefield 5 harder, but to encourage players to be more "mindful and tactical" of what they're doing and how they'll interact with their squaddies. The Medic, for instance, won't just heal players but will also provide supplies of Medical Pouches, which are used to restore players to full health. Ammo can be scrounged from dead enemies, and habitual campers will have to stay on the move to stay supplied. 

Some changes to the Attrition System have been made in response to the mixed reaction that arose from the open beta. Some players liked it ("Attrition is good") and others have a slightly different view ("Attrition sucks"). Both sides acknowledge that the scarcity of ammo and health forces players to stay together if they want to survive; the debate turns on the actual tactics (or lack of them) required to make it all work, and the ability of the average pick-up team to work as a unit. 

"Medics and Supports are now forced to be more conscious of their surroundings. Medics are now forced to pay attention to players health, and supports are the same with ammo, but they can now build fortifications which is a great addition," dtv20 wrote in defense of the system. "Players now pay attention to other players and not just themselves." 

But No_ID_till_now countered with the obvious response: "The Battlefield players' mindset hasn’t changed just because Dice decides to add an annoying mechanic that kills tactics as well as the flow of gameplay. Medics and supports on average don’t give a shit about other players unless they’re playing with buddies on voice chat." 

EA said that the system will be "dialed down" for release, meaning that players will spawn with more ammo, the ammo cap will be increased, and everyone will begin with a Medical Pouch. That will make it easier for players to survive and stay in the fight longer, without having to rely so heavily on competent (and interested) teammates.

"In fact, if you’re new to Battlefield, you might not even notice the Attrition system; chances are you’ll die before you run out of ammo," EA admitted. "New players won’t be punished by the Attrition system, but advanced players need to apply some additional tactical thinking with the slightly raised skill ceiling." 

If you are just getting into Battlefield for the first time, the update has some Attrition System tips for newcomers. Some of them are obvious—don't shoot at what you can't hit—but it never hurts to review the basics.   

Battlefield 5 will launch with 30 primary weapons, some famous and others a little more exotic, spread across multiple classes, with specializations enabling further customization to damage, accuracy, handling, and other characteristics. There are also seven sidearms, nine melee weapons (including a cricket bat), 16 "gadgets" like the Panzerfaust, PIAT, and sniper decoy, and seven reinforcements, including the V1 rocket and Churchill Crocodile tank that have appeared prominently in trailers. On the vehicle side of things, there will be 24 tanks, transports, and aircraft to choose from. More equipment will be added to the game as the Tides of War progression system unfolds. 

Battlefield 5 is set to come out on November 20. EA broke down the game's Companies and combat roles last month. 

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.