DICE have decided to move the Battlefield franchise forward by going backwards to World War 1 or “The Great War” as it is known. It was a risky move, EA were concerned that the younger audience wouldn’t even know about this war but they took a leap of faith and Battlefield 1 is now with us. Many people know about World War 2 but not many know as much about World War 1 so I can’t praise DICE enough for bringing the conflict to the attention of those who maybe aren’t aware of its significance to our history. We take a look to see if this leap of faith has paid off.
Taking the Battlefield series to World War 1 gives us gamers a welcome break from modern warfare and perhaps more importantly it’s a massive contrast to the direction Battlefield’s biggest rival has been heading in for the last number of years. In the lead up to the reveal at E3, gamers had been speculating that we would be visiting one of the World Wars, and they were right.
The reveal trailer was brilliantly done and set the internet alight. People loved it and its fresh setting played a part in highlighting all that is wrong with the Call Of Duty franchise. DICE know how to make good trailers and they didn’t disappoint with Battlefield 1.
So onto the game itself. Battlefield 1 doesn’t follow the normal formula for campaign which is just as well because Battlefield hasn’t had a good one since Bad Company 2. Instead we are told the stories of different people who fought in the Great War across various fronts and for the most part they are well told too. You get a sense of the waste of life as soon as you start the campaign when you are told that you are not expected to survive. The opening scenes do a brilliant job of setting the mood but I feel the campaign struggled at times to maintain that feel through out the experience which isn’t really a surprise given its length. You could probably get through the game at a leisurely pace in about 5-6 hours and it’s hard to tell one story in that time let alone six.
Some of the missions gave you choices in how you approached them and it was surprising how little shooting you did at times but it seemed to work. Giving you a stealthier option allowed you to take your time and appreciate the setting as well as give you different ways to play through certain missions. Everything looks authentic from the buildings to the trenches. No man’s land looks how I imagined it would have done at the time. I really enjoyed the campaign and found myself wanting more. I can definitely see myself going through it again. Graphically you can’t really fault Battlefield 1 as it really does portray the different fronts well.
In terms of looks DICE have done a fantastic job but sound also plays an important role in the immersion and DICE are industry leaders at this. Wearing my Turtle Beach Elites playing through the campaign was simply amazing. From the sound of the weapons to the cries of the wounded it was astonishing. The sound quality puts you right into the battles and it’s impressive hearing the rounds whizz past you. The weapons sound authentic
Unfortunately it’s not all good news as the AI is appalling. I cant remember how many times I’ve seen a soldier kneeling down on top of a wooden fence or facing the wrong way or ramming my plane for no obvious reason. I really would have expected better in all honesty. Another issue I have is that whilst DICE have done a great job with the campaign, I do feel they could have done more with it.
World War 1 saw a clash of modern equipment designed to kill with efficiency, outdated tactics and bad judgement from those in command. This inevitably led to mind boggling death counts on all sides in battles across all fronts and I feel it wasn’t really acknowledged well by the Battlefield 1 campaign as a cause for many of the deaths. There are countless stories that could have also been included such as the origins of the Unknown Warrior or Soldier as they are also known. It’s something that has been replicated by many nations since and is a fascinating story that would have further highlighted the scale of losses. I find it surprising that they failed to tell one of, if not THE most famous war story, the Christmas day truce and subsequent football match in no man’s land.
It was always going to be impossible to capture the full scale of the war though and overall I think DICE have done a brilliant job with the campaign but I still feel it falls short of the standard set by the Bad Company games.
Battlefield 1 wouldn’t be a Battlefield game without its large scale destructible multiplayer and it’s back with vengeance. I wasn’t particularly blown away by the beta, probably due to the map that they chose to let us play on but what about now that we have full access to the game? Well we have the standard offerings of Rush and Conquest along with smaller scale game modes like team deathmatch. Rush increasingly feels like a game mode that is on its last legs, mainly down to the maps being geared more towards Conquest. Add in the new Operations game mode and I struggle to see a future for Rush at this point. Conquest works well like you would expect and as a staple Battlefield game mode it’s fun to play.
Operations feels like a hybrid made up of Conquest and Rush. Attackers must secure objectives to move the battle forward, and when they do, the defending team must fall back. In Operations objectives are areas that the attacking team must secure like in Conquest which leads to a much more aggressive attack and counter attack between the teams. It’s great fun to play and I can see it becoming a staple game mode in Battlefield. This new game mode is probably my favourite addition to the Battlefield series.
When playing the multiplayer on my own I struggled to enjoy myself as I found squads would be locked with just a couple of players in them, or find myself in a squad with no orders coming from the leader. it was frustrating and ended with me just leaving the game. When I joined with people I know the game changed entirely and I can honestly say it was amongst the most fun that I have had in a FPS this current gen. Using squad orders and working as a team greatly improves the multiplayer experience.
The maps in Battlefield 1 are a bit of an enigma to me. Some of them are downright beautiful both in appearance and in design whilst others feel unbalanced and bland. I like the destruction and the variety of weather effects that can completely alter how a map plays though and it does it with little or no effect on the performance of the game.
Battlefield 1 suffers with the same issues that other titles has faced in the past, namely the sheer number of people who use the sniper rifles and hide out in the hills. Sniping in Battlefield is far too easy for my liking and the overall balance of the weapons and indeed the classes feels off to me but I expect DICE to tighten things up in future updates. The support class to me feels pretty useless at the minute and I hope that some tinkering on DICE’s end can help to make this class more usable in the future.
When I learned that we would be heading to World War 1, I was excited at the prospect of getting back to basics with no lock on or fancy weapons but it seems fully automatic weapons feature heavily which I think is a shame. Yes there were fully automatic weapons in the war but I feel they are a bit too common. I would have liked to see the standard issue weapons be front and centre with the more exotic weapons being rarer.
This leads me on to my biggest issue, historical accuracy. If you make a game such as Battlefield 4 then you can use whatever artistic license you want to change things because you aren’t basing your game on historical events. I do feel with Battlefield 1 DICE might have been a bit too free and loose with their artistic license and would have preferred they tried to aim for a more accurate representation of the conflict. The multiplayer just doesn’t feel as true to the era as the campaign does and whilst I understand that they most likely did that for gameplay reasons, I don’t think it was necessarily required. At times it’d be hard to tell it apart from a World War 2 game.
Issues aside I think Battlefield 1 is one of the finest releases of the year and is certainly the finest Battlefield title since Bad Company 2. DICE have done an amazing job overall and many of the issues will be gone in future patches, of that I have no doubt. The strange thing is that Battlefield 1 makes me want to see the series go back to World War 2 and more specifically the European conflict as I can only imagine flying through the skies in a Spitfire offering support to ground troops. Having the sound of the Merlin engine humming away in my surround sound headphones would be amazing.
The thing about Battlefield is that it is supposed to have plenty of hilarious and/or jaw dropping moments that you just don’t see in any other FPS game and Battlefield 1 is no different. Whether you’re playing well or not, the game manages to find some way to make you yell out in amazement at something that has happened on screen and Battlefield 1 seems to be producing more of these moments than what I experienced during games in Battlefield 4.
Wherever DICE decide to take the series next, if they do just half as good a job as they have done here then the future of the Battlefield series is looking very bright. Should you have this game in your library? Yes. Is It enjoyable to play without friends? Yes but it plays so much better with friends. Has it paid off setting the game in World War 1? Absolutely, with the conflict being 100 years ago it’s wholly appropriate that we make sure as many people as possible are aware of the war to end all wars and remember all the young men who never made it home.
DICE have done a fine job with Battlefield 1 and I applaud them for it. It has a few issues but I would recommend this to any FPS fan. Battlefield 4 got off to a rocky start and Battlefield 1 manages to avoid many of the issues that plagued its predecessor. I’m confident that DICE will address the issues that are present and we can all be confident that Battlefield 1 will continue to adapt and get better as time goes along.