General game information
Game name: Battlefield 1
Release date: October 21, 2016
Price: US$ 59.99 (Standard edition) US$ 129.98 (Ultimate edition, including the Premium Pass)
Available on: Origin
Genre: First person shooter
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Battlefield 1 is the latest installment in the long running Battlefield franchise. Just like almost all the previous entries in the series, it’s a class based military shooter in which two armies clash on wide open spaces, usually supported by different kinds of vehicles. This time around, the action is set during the First World War, a conflict so chaotic and deadly that it was nicknamed The Great War, or “the war to end all wars”. The game isn’t particularly accurate regarding weaponry or vehicles (there is an astounding amount of automatic and semi-automatic weapons, and both sides can access tanks at their leisure) but I felt that the developer made these choices with the players’ best interests in mind.
Aside from the unusual setting, Battlefield 1 brings another big change to the franchise, as it features an enjoyable single player campaign which doesn’t rely on strict scripting or bombastic set pieces. DICE took the criticism leveled at the solo mode present in earlier entries of the series to heart, and crafted six different mini campaigns, each featuring a different protagonist and showcasing various aspects of the war, such as a tank crew’s odyssey through the bloody mud of the French trenches, an aviator’s tale, or even a series of missions following T.E. Lawrence’s exploits during the Arab Revolt. The introductory mission is incredibly powerful, tasking players with the defense of a fortified position as German troops are about to storm it. Every time that the player character dies, the screen shows their date of birth and death, and another character becomes the player’s pawn. This is a very effective way of conveying the hopelessness of the situation, and the incredible losses that humanity experienced during that war. Not all the campaigns take this approach, as some missions will let the player behave like a classic action hero, taking on an army all on his own, but it’s quite obvious that DICE tried their best to make a memorable and respectful story mode.
But enough about the campaign mode, as we know that Battlefield games are all about one thing: large scale online multiplayer warfare. As expected, DICE‘s latest doesn’t disappoint in that front, letting small armies of gamers face off in extremely detailed and well crafted maps full of deadly chokepoints, sniper spots and all sorts of destructible buildings. The World War 1 setting works in the developer’s favor, since the game’s multiplayer matches feel truly chaotic and terrifying, with bullets flying, artillery shells raining from the sky and gas grenades prompting horrified screams and forcing the players to put on their gas masks in order to navigate the greenish clouds of poison.
The popular Conquest mode makes a triumphant return, tasking gamers with the all important mission of capturing and holding flags across the map, and creating an ever changing frontline that moves dynamically as the combatants clash over capture points. This doesn’t mean that DICE hasn’t been tinkering with the game behind the scenes, as a big gameplay addition makes its debut with Battlefield 1, the Behemoths. These hulking machines of war, which can take different forms, such as an imposing zeppelin, an armored train or a powerful dreadnought, are tools that get deployed when one team is losing the match by a considerable amount of points, and used correctly, can alter the course of the conflict. Behemoths are slow but resistant, and in order to take them down, whole squads must work together and man whichever weapons counter the war machines.
Aside from Conquest, Battlefield 1 features various game modes such as Team Deathmatch, Rush, Domination, a Capture the Flag variant titled War Pigeon, and last but not least, an all new game mode titled Operations. Combining elements of Rush and Conquest, Operations is a multiplayer mode that lets players engage in all out warfare across a series of maps, with one side acting as the attacking team, and the other having to defend specific points of interest. As the frontline changes, players get different objectives and the scene of the battle moves to new locations, creating a sense of progression that isn’t common in today’s multiplayer shooters. In my opinion, this is the best Battlefield game mode yet, and one that captures the chaos of the Great War incredibly well. Massive pushes and heroic last stands are commonplace here, and the Behemoths also make an appearance, often changing the course of the battle in ways that the combatants would not expect.
Battlefield 1‘s launch has been a far cry from its predecessor’s, as the game feels polished and well balanced, and I only experienced server stability issues once (during a massive DDOS attack that targeted an important DNS host) There are some annoying things, such as strange spawn algorithms that let players appear in the middle of dangerous zones, or some occasional physics malfunctions, but overall, the game’s launch has been incredibly smooth. This is also true of the game’s performance. Battlefield 1 runs on the latest version of DICE‘s in-house Frostbite engine, and it not only looks great, but it also runs like a dream even on a mid tier PC.
As one would expect from a game running on the Frostbite engine, Battlefield 1 looks stunning. Dynamic weather effects alter the flow of every match, destructible buildings collapse in millions of pieces, and the game has an almost photo-realistic quality that surpasses the developer’s previous work by far. Sound design is also fantastic, with bullets whizzing past the player’s head, the screams of the injured filling the air, and thundering artillery strikes deafening gamers as they charge towards enemy fortifications.
All things considered, Battlefield 1 feels like a massive improvement over its predecessor, and a genuinely great shooter. The single player campaign is fresh and exciting, and the multiplayer component rivals the series’ best.
9/10 – Great.