It’s time to revisit the battlefields of one of the bloodiest conflicts of all times: World War 1. A war that was brutal, unforgiving and on the brink of modern innovation. No heat-seeking missiles, infrared optics – up-close confrontation was part of every soldier’s life. DICE went in a different direction than other modern shooters, strayed off the path of integrating ever more futuristic scenarios. We already analyzed the potential of Battlefield 1 in terms of eSports and what it could mean to the competitive scene and delivered our thoughts on what we would wish to be included. Now it’s time to see what the final game is like and if DICE delivered on requests from community and media alike.
Battlefield 1 includes a full-blown campaign, set in different theatres of the first great world war. After there was no campaign whatsoever in Star Wars: Battlefront, this is a welcome addition. But does the Battlefield 1 single-player campaign deliver on emotional storytelling and does the campaign make sense? After playing through most of the campaign, both questions can only be answered with “Yes!” The campaign – albeit short – takes the players to six different stages and tells emotionally charged stories around the protagonists on the battlefield – and beyond.
Each of the six stories has only a few missions and scenarios, but conveys the brutality of warfare on the brink to industrial destruction very well. Since Battlefield: Bad Company 2 never has a war story been told so grippingly, drawing players into the story. The story and campaign also act as training grounds for the multiplayer maps, helping the players to learn all mechanics that will then be important when competing in the different multiplayer modes.
After our article on the multiplayer potential of Battlefield 1 we obviously were very interested in seeing how everything will play out in the final release of the game. And yes, DICE delivered on most of the promises they made in the past, but it is now obvious that eSports is again not the focus for Battlefield 1. For the first time in a pre-launch phase (available for all EA Access members) all servers were stable, the netcode was good (not great yet, but DICE are working on it) and there was a great and large selection of maps from the get-go.
The maps are fairly large and open with the occasional camp spots or choke points included. As well as the different map designs, the maps convey a great feeling of the brutality of war – much more than maps in the earlier installments of the Battlefield series. Zeppelin airships roam the skies and the overwhelming detail sometimes lets the player forget the objectives. Especially the integration of airships and planes above increase the feeling of scale on the maps.
For players that have played other Battlefield titles it will not be a surprise that graphical glitches are fairly common. In smaller streets the tanks often clip the walls, giving the team on the tank a wallhack. Players still get stuck in objects and walls or float around the battlefield after they are dead. All of those little glitches are not game breaking, but it is surprising that those kind of bugs still have not been fixed.
The battlefield is constantly changing, mainly due to the environmental destruction that is possible in Battlefield 1. Buildings crumble, exposing entrenched snipers, tanks literally breaking down the front door, bombers leaving only ruins after bombarding streets. The ever-changing landscape on the battlefield generates a feeling of authenticity and despair if players really get involved in the gameplay. Death is all around and the integration of poison gas and gas masks furthers the claustrophobic feeling. And multiplayer matches are even educational: Before the start of every match the players receive historic background information on the theatre of war they will be fighting in. A history lesson, told very differently.
We were looking for interesting modes in our potentials article and we got them, DICE delivered great modes for the multiplayer of Battlefield 1. Yes, there is traditional Conquest, Domination, Rush, and Team Deathmatch for every Battlefield fan. But there is more, especially the mode Operation, which we really liked. Operation spans more than one battle around a large territory, divided into smaller maps. One team defends the smaller map, one team tries to get that map under control. Step by step one side has the upper hand and wins the overall operation/territory.
A little mode that is somewhat like “Capture The Flag” has been integrated: War Pigeon. Instead of a flag the objective is a literal pigeon, which has to be brought into a hiding spot, where the carrier writes a letter and then needs to make sure the pigeon can fly outside and is protected and not shot down by the enemy team. A fun mode that delivers a little distraction from the cruelties on the battlefield.
The era of World War 1 was the time of the bolt-action rifle. Still in Battlefield 1 automatic rifles work better most of the time. Players simply are used to fully automatic shooting. DICE has balanced this well, fortunately: Players will never have the feeling of being at a disadvantage when using bolt-action rifles. The conflict is often very personal as well, with melee playing a big part in the gameplay. Players, who played through the single-player campaign gain an advantage there, because the campaign teaches melee movement and fighting very effectively.
Vehicle combat in Battlefield 1 has been balanced well: Not only can tanks be used effectively on the battlefield, they are not invulnerable if players work together. While in the open beta there were situations that made medium and light tanks superior choices for capturing objectives, in the final version of Battlefield 1 this is no longer the case. Thank you, DICE! Aerial warfare in planes has also been retuned and balanced far better than ever before. Controls were reworked to give newer players the chance to experience dogfights and bombing runs without too much training. For players on the ground there are also a lot of ways to down the fighters and bombers. Overall very balanced, DICE really did listen to their community.
Summarizing all these points, it is obvious that Battlefield 1 is the best Battlefield since the humble beginnings of the series and provides its players with longtime motivation. This is also true of the leveling system not giving veteran players as much as an advantage as it was in Battlefield 4.
Battlefield 1 is out now on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.