War never changes. But the ideas of war in the gaming industry are forever evolving. Battlefield 1 is a well crafted, thoughtful, and a very honest interpretation of humanity’s darkest period.
Upon loading the game you are greeted with an introduction mission, or missions depending on how you look at it, throughout the introduction you control a number of different characters, different soldiers and this is where the realism hits you- a black screen appears before you begin with some text saying “you are not expected to survive”. I had never seen this in a game but before I had time to gather my thoughts I was put into a frontline situation. The sheer volume of noise from explosions and gunfire in that first segment is overwhelming as you fight for your life until inevitably yours is lost. And the process repeats and you are taken to a different character in a different scenario. Although this was an unusual feature especially for the introduction I admired what DICE have done here, by doing this they are trying to get across the huge number of people involved in war, you see in a game we tend to play as one character and this new approach adds a new layer of depth to the world created in Battlefield 1.
Moving onto gameplay and controls Battlefield 1 continues to honour the franchise with fluid movement and combat mechanics, I’ve always admired how well animated the characters are in battlefield games it feels like you are actually in control of a person, from the way you can see the weight of the character shift as you suddenly prone or the way the gun moves around when you are walking or running across the battlefield- and this is one of my favourite things about the franchise they know what works well and they stick with it, there are exceptions obviously mechanics are updated and smoothed out but what you get is classic battlefield gameplay.
Speaking of true to franchise elements Graphics have always been highly rated in the series, and after seeing the quality of graphics in Battlefront last year then I’m sure it will come as no surprise when I say the graphics are simply WOW. Battlefield is right up there with the best this year as the environments look stunning, from the deserts to the forest to the suburban towns, the areas are very nice to look at, but honestly I didn’t have much time to admire any views in this game as most of my time was spent fighting. This brings me to the multiplayer. It feels like the maps are bigger than ever and having huge areas for battle is something no game does better, having 64 players in one game is hectic, loud, but brilliant. You see whether you like to run in guns blazing with an assault weapon or sit back and attack from afar with a sniper Battlefield supports all kinds of players in a way not many other games there is always somebody to shoot; the battlefield is crawling with people and this keeps the action intense and at times the hour long games flew by and before I knew it I had spent more than the daily recommended amount just playing operations mode which in itself is worth a mention as it’s a mode introduced with the latest entry – When you choose operations mode on the menu you are taken to a virtual map displaying locations of real battles fought in the Great War, you can select one area and fight in those locations, at the end of the game you progress to the next map and if you look over the horizon you can sometimes see that area you were fighting in in the previous game, this was a subtle but great thing to see in a game it’s as if the maps live on way past the loading screen and for this I salute DICE. Operations feels like a very well thought out game mode as the idea is to push the enemy back and with the huge teams the objectives seem to matter for once, in the past many FPS games have had objectives that just don’t seem to be followed by any of the player but it was fresh to see so many people working towards a common goal. Alongside the other classic battlefield game modes such as conquest and rush Battlefield 1 introduced ‘War Pigeons”, the game revolves around sending a carrier pigeon to call in strikes on enemy locations, however the pigeons are scattered across the map and you have to fight your way to them; I found the game mode enjoyable but it’s not going to stop me from playing operations mode anytime soon.
Going back to the environments the maps in battlefield have the potential to be best from the series, for example my personal favourite is ‘Monte Grappa’ in the Alps which is just a joy for sniping, well designed terrain isn’t the only thing that battlefield gets Historically accurate, you see whilst loading games you are given facts about the battles that happened at those locations and it’s this sense of realism and immersion that keeps you playing, the atmosphere created by DICE is at times haunting and although no matter how hard a studio works it will never be able to replicate such a dark time in human history, but Battlefield 1 gives you a sense of vague reality as you stand on the battlefield with bullets flying, bombs falling, planes crashing, and airships burning it really does make you stop and think, and I don’t think it could have captured it any better.
In terms of progression in multiplayer, the game has a very strong system similar to that of Battlefront and the predecessor Hardline, in the sense that you can actually get weapons that you want without having to play hours and hours to get to the appropriate rank requirement for that weapon. Each time you rank up you get ‘Warbonds’ which can be used to purchase weapons, attachments, perks and by doing this DICE has allowed the player to level grind for a specific weapon which undoubtedly takes less time if you just need to save up a certain amount without having to level up for example 20 times and unlock many guns you don’t want. I very much prefer this to the previous methodology, take Battlefield 4 for example, you had to use each gun from a family a certain amount to unlock the next, Battlefield 1’s system is far more user friendly allowing you to get your favourite weapon without having to put hours and hours into the game.
There is no doubt Battlefield games are made for multiplayer, however DICE have given the campaign a very good go this time round and honestly with every game I think the campaigns are only getting better. The campaign in Battlefield 1 comes in the form of ‘War Stories – a selection of short campaigns set in different areas of the world allowing the player to experience the Great War from multiple perspectives. By having shorter and individual campaigns Battlefield 1 avoids fillers missions, as many campaigns these days tend to drag along, each story in Battlefield 1 feels fresh in both plot and perspective, each soldier has his own reasons for being where he is and its very interesting learning about them.
Like every game Battlefield suffers from a few design flaws, for example before a game can begin you have to wait for every player to ready up, now I understand this was incorporated so players don’t feel rushed when getting ready for the game but there has been one or two occasions where I have been waiting for the game to start for an unreasonable amount of time. But this is a small price to pay for some really action packed adventures through history.
Battlefield 1 is the latest entry to a long running and well respected franchise that has delivered a structured, thoughtful, atmospheric interpretation of one of the darkest times in human history, with great gameplay, stunning graphics, refreshing games modes and the unique ‘War Stories’ its well worth checking out.