Game: Battlefield 1
Developer(s): EA Dice
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platform(s): Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 (reviewed)
Release Date: October 21st, 2016
The latest entry in the Battlefield franchise had a very tough task, taking one of the most brutal wars in world history and maintaining fun gameplay while still showing the war to end all wars its due respect. For the most part ( EA’s Twitter account excluded) it succeeds. The team at Dice clearly took great care in handling a war as brutal and bloody as WWI; it feels like forever since one of the big triple-A shooters have tackled a real war. Long gone are the days of WWII-centric shooters. It’s good to see that Battlefield 1 manages to tell a great story and still maintain the gameplay that makes Battlefield great even when focusing on a war consisting of mostly muddy, bloody trench combat.
Battlefield 1’s gameplay remain largely the same as you remember it. First person view of course equipped with a primary and secondary weapon as well as grenades and the like. BattleField 1 has a heavy focus on a number of explosives you’re carrying granting you dynamite or anti-tank grenades in addition to your standard stick or ball grenades. High powered explosives are a must on the battlefield as what armor does exist in WWI; namely, tanks are next to unstoppable without them. In multiplayer matches I’ve found that getting in a tank would typically grant me a ten kill streak minimum before another player dethroned me, to put that in perspective, I’m far from what you’d call “good” at Battlefield games.
Battlefield 1’s campaign mode, called “War Stories” rather than a larger narrative as one character you can choose to play one of these six instances taking place across diffrent regions at different points in the war. Each was story is generally anywhere from 3-5 missions following very different characters. Everything from a British tank team to a young Arab rebel working under Lawerence of Arabia. These bite-sized chunks of story are a refreshing way to play. It keeps the setting from getting stale as well as gives the player a perspective on the various fronts fought on during WWI. The campaign also has a rather surprising focus on stealth mechanics that you wouldn’t expect from a more action oriented series like Battlefield. During the story following a British pilot, you find yourself crash landed behind enemy lines where I took down a considerable amount of enemy soldiers with no more than a shovel. It was during the war story taking place in the middle east however that stealth mechanics felt a bit less at home in Battlefield. Without spoiling anything, I can say that during the final mission in this series, you are significantly outgunned, and I struggled to remain stealthy despite the game clearly pointing me in that direction. These War Stories make for easier more contained stories that can be easily played in a single sitting. I hope this style of story telling makes its way into the Star Wars Battlefront sequel. I’d like to see it work in a less bleak setting; it’s easier just to keep on shooting when it isn’t also a morbidly depressing history lesson.
Battlefield’s multiplayer remains mostly unchanged. If you have a lot of experience with the series, you’ll be sure to do well, so naturally, I got walked all over more than a few times. Most standard games modes are there. Your basic team deathmatch, point control focused modes like domination and a brand new mode that concentrate on retrieving messenger pigeons because I guess they were kind of big back before field radios and all. I didn’t rank up a terrible amount in my time with the game but came to find the starting loadouts a bit unreliable, on top of that the only time you can mess with setting up your loadout, even on a cosmetic level is in the middle of a multiplayer match. Multiple people have told me that this is the way Battlefield has always been, which makes me think this is a problem that should’ve been dealt with a long time ago.
In most maps on a typical game of deathmatch you won’t be jumping into tanks or planes, so instead it’s the elite kits that make you a powerhouse. Three elite class pickups can spawn on the battlefield. The Flame Trooper, Sentry, or Tank Hunter. With each Elite class, the player is given heavy armor, essentially turning them into a bullet sponge and a unique loadout. The Tank Hunter is equipped with explosives; the Sentry has a heavy machine gun, and the Flame Trooper has a flamethrower you get the idea. I got to try out each a handful of times. You can hear these monsters coming from a mile away, but you’ll want to keep your distance as they’re not easy to put down.
When it comes to the Multiplayer of Battlefield 1, the most fun I had was in Operations Mode. This new multiplayer mode aims to replicate large-scale battles ranging from 40 to 60 players. Each operations consists of three battles across three different maps in the same overall battle. The object is simple one team needs to capture objective simultaneously to move to the next phase while the other needs to hold them. The attacking team, however, has a finite number of soldiers at their disposal, if the attacking team’s forces are wiped out they’ll get another shot at attacking this time with some backup. This is where the large scale vehicles like the airship and armored train come into play. If the attacking team is put down even with back up the opposing force wins and you won’t even move onto the next battle of the operations, congrats the Germans now rule the world. Only three Operations are out in the base game, but I’m sure that season pass will add more and I’m looking forward to these large-scale confrontations. It’s also worth noting that even if it means you’re losing the airship crashing to the ground is a sight to behold.
Graphically Battlefield 1 is a beautiful game. It’s muddy and dark, but all that trench mud looks great, even on console. Dice made certain sacrifices to Battlefields look to maintain that 60 FPS framerate on Ps4 and Xbox One, so I can only imagine how great it looks on PC.
Battlefield 1 tries some smart ideas that work and manage to make for fun, exciting gameplay in one of the bloodiest wars in world history. The new War Stories campaign mode tells shorter more impactful raw human stories, and I hope it’s a format they stick with in games to come. Maybe it’s time to take a crack at a WWII-based shooter again. Battlefield is more of the same with a fun new mode in multiplayer, and a return to form in singleplayer storytelling. Until next time, see you guys on the battlefield.
Score: 8 out of 10