Back at E3 2018, DICE announced that Battlefield 5 would be getting a battle royale mode with one word: "Royale."
Now that DICE and Criterion Games' take on the ultra-popular genre is here, we've tried it out and found that it's not a huge departure from the PUBG format (there are tanks, so that's different), but if you prefer BF5's ballistics, it's pretty fun. It's also gorgeous—definitely the best-looking of the battle royale games.
Here are all the details, and what we think of it so far.
Battlefield 5: Firestorm release date
Firestorm is available to all Battlefield 5 players right now, and Battlefield 5 is available on Origin.
Battlefield 5 Firestorm's map is 10 times the size of Battlefield 5's biggest existing map, Hamada
Halvøy is 10 times larger than Battlefield 5's next biggest map—but you won't play on all of it all the time. The circle—a ring of fire—moves to give the map some unpredictability.
The map features Conquest-style objectives. Some are in the same place every time while others will be placed randomly, and capturing them earns teams or solos a bunch of loot. There are also vehicle hangers containing tanks and loot, but you have to slowly turn a wheel to open them up.
How many players does Firestorm support?
Firestorm supports 16 teams of four, which comes to 64 players—the usual for large Battlefield matches. Solo play is also possible.
You can also play Firestorm duos now, but only for a limited time while it's being tested.
What we think so far
Battlefield 5 has the prettiest battle royale mode in existence, with the best sound design. It's so spectacular that I spent most of one match sitting on a dock enjoying the view of another player's artillery strike. As I enjoyed my sit, I heard the ruffling of a parachute behind me. How a guy dropped so late, I don't know, but of all the places to land on the giant map, he chose the worst possible coordinate—it was sort of impressive. (See that in the video above.)
Aside from the unparalleled snow and tree rendering, battle royalefield is mostly a familiar experience. The best advice I can give is: be aggressive, aim well, and abandon vehicles when they've stopped serving you. Or, do the opposite of all that and maybe you'll win anyway. I came in fourth in one game after a peaceful, 10-minute solo nature hike, which was so often my experience in PUBG.
It's funny how slow it can be, because Firestorm was built for speed. The TTK isn't too high, even with the weird armor system where you have to stick metal plates on your chest. You can gather items and reload at the same time, and each gun has a rarity marker so you know instantly whether or not it's worth picking up. Everyone's ready to start shooting seconds after landing.
And then no one shoots anyone for a long while, at least in most of my experiences. The map is huge, and with most of my games starting with under 64 players (which is the max), it's easy to get lost alone in an abandoned seaside town. Everyone knows how vulnerable they are, and many fights end with both of us scurrying away to heal. I've never been caught outside the circle, and only once have I seen a tank in the final circle.
Tanks are pretty easy to take out, have limited ammo, eat up gas quickly, and have to be acquired by slowly opening a vehicle hangar (which blares an alarm), so they aren't a huge factor, at least in solo. They do create a good reason to stock up on explosives, but Firestorm is littered with stuff. I found a shotgun and dynamite on an island no one should drop on.
I like that I'm never starving for a gun, and that tanks aren't an instant win, but I was hoping to see them come into play more. Battlefield's take on battle royale is fun, but it only sets itself apart from the rest with its details: its particular weapon design (lots of big machine guns when you really want an SMG), gadgets (love the artillery strikes), lowish TTK, destructibility, and so on. Apex Legends' character abilities are its hook, and Fortnite's got building, but there's no one thing about Firestorm that really changes things up. It feels like a direct response to PUBG.
I'm sure opinions vary on the speed. Someone with a different playstyle (ie, someone who plays better than me and racks up 12 kills per match) might find the circle pacing right on. But that doesn't help the waiting outside of the game.
Matchmaking in solo can take a couple minutes, and then the map has to load, and then there's a PUBG-style lobby for another minute, and then the air drop, and then, if you're unlucky, you land on a dock behind a guy who doesn't want to be disturbed. Five or more minutes of waiting for nothing.
If you don't mind alt-tabbing through all that, and you already own BF5 or have an Origin Access Premier subscription, then I absolutely recommend mucking around in a tank or helicopter with a couple buds. Absolutely demolishing houses is fantastic.
Firestorm is a good mode and makes BF5 a better package (and I think it was a pretty good one already). I just wouldn't buy BF5 for Firestorm—not when Apex Legends is right there in the same launcher for free.