WW1 has been a very rarely touched point in history for first person shooters. It is understandable, though, especially if you are a history buff like myself. WW1 is a hard time to glorify, the war was straight forward and millions died in a war that was less than glorious. Battlefield 1 is a return to form and is a much different entry than battlefields of years past. It brings a level of emotional resonance that has not been present in the past entries, and it is a welcome addition. With shooters like call of duty infinite warfare, Titanfall 2, and Gears of War 4 releasing this holiday season does it stand out amongst the crowd? Let's find out!
Battlefield 1 is available on PS4, Xbox One and PC/Origin for $59.99.
Battlefield in the past has always just been a kind of okay story and something that you really just ignored. The story in Battlefield 1 is amazing, however. It was something I was honestly concerned about because there is so much in WW1 when you talk about a number of battles and the number of countries involved. Dice did something super intelligent here and instead of telling you the history of WW1 and all of the battles, it instead focuses on the people and the emotional responses they had to the war. The campaign is merely called war stories and follows five different individuals and the jobs/roles they played in the war. This is one of the smartest things they could have done in a WW1 setting.
To get a glimpse of how good Battlefield 1's story is, watch the Art of War video by our editor, Theo Crowshaw:
The war stories actually play a much smarter role in this game as opposed to previous titles and that is to actually teach you the multiplayer aspects of the game. One war story you play as a tank driver, another a pilot and some you are just a soldier. Each one will teach you a different role and all of the stories together last about a total of 5-6 hours. It was a little bit shorter of a campaign then I would have liked, but it does tell its story completely, I just kind of wished there was one more story in there. These war stories start off super emotional and had me personally in tears. It talks about the war and the amount of life that was lost as a result. Then as you start to play you are against impossible odds in the very first mission. You will die. Every death shows a soldier's name and their date of birth as well as the date of death. This is powerful storytelling and it makes it feel all the better. This could be mostly due to my personal knowledge of WW1, but regardless it still emotionally resonated with me.
Needless to say, you aren't going to be disappointed if you want a good and strong single-player campaign, it's a little short, but let's be honest, most of us get battlefield for one reason. The multiplayer.
Battlefield 1 is a great example of how old school weapons should be showcased. These aren't the common shotguns or rifles that we know today. They are slower, wood and metal, and they just feel awesome. I have personally handled multiple of these guns so when I say they look accurate, they do. The rifles have to be reloaded after every shot and they feel as powerful as they look. The machine guns have to be up close for their accuracy to be of any use, and the shotguns (or trench guns for you WW1 nerds out there) feel powerful, brutal and nasty, in single and multiplayer.
On top of the guns, there are also a variety of grenades and melee weapons. To me, this was important because every side in the war had different styles of weapons and what they felt was superior. For example, Germany had the potato/stick grenade, it was popular because of how far it could be thrown and the ease it could be used, but had a lesser explosion when compared to the pineapple grenade that America had popularized. Melee weapons such as clubs and hatchets were popular, as well as swords and shovels. The use of the shovels was dual fold, for a portable latrine, so seeing these types of weapons included in this game is a nice and welcome addition.
Explosions going off near you and bullets whizzing past your head feel and sound great. This a perfect example of how good a first person shooter can feel outside of a cutscene. Everything feels so good and sounds so natural that you will feel like you are in the middle of no man's land as you play. One of the best additions, however, is the new weather system. When fog comes rolling into a forest you literally can not see 5 feet past your current location, making those areas killing grounds for up close soldiers and good cover against snipers. When a sandstorm shows up it feels dynamic, it moves around on the ground and does not stick around in one area for too long, but just long enough that good players can use it to their advantage.
One of the things that battlefield has become synonymous with though is the tools that you can use during gameplay. From tanks, boats, horses and airplanes, there is no limit to the type of killing tools that are at your disposal. Everything here controls smoothly, except for planes. I don't know if I am just any good with them or what, but something feels off about them. Everything else though feels natural and powerful. One of the biggest vehicle changes I was afraid to experience was the horseback combat. I know that cavalry was used in WW1, but it was also deemed useless and kind of a joke, so I was interested to see how it was used here. It is kind of hit or miss. The maps decide what tools are available, and for the most part, it seems that the maps that have the horse make it a useful tool. It isn't overpowered though so it does feel just right.
Tanks that were used back in WW1 were a completely different beast than what we know now and several in-game cutscenes really do show what they were like. They were not really killing machines as much as tools to get over the trenches, but I understand. It's a game, they have to make it exciting. It would have been easy to make them super overpowered, but they actually feel very balanced and even a soldier on foot can easily take one out if they are playing properly. That being said they can be overpowered at a distance, especially considering that there is a lot of wide open areas in multiplayer that a good tank driver and gunners can take advantage of.
The only vehicle I feel that is a super powered tool, though, is the zeppelin. This is only used in the newest mode called operations, but I feel that it would have been better left out. It is way too overpowered and really just feels like an excuse to give the attacking side a way-overpowered tool. It feels great to be in the zeppelin shooting down the enemies while you score thousands of points to rank up, but it is way too easy and really feels like it should have been left as a single player component, rather than a multiplayer component. The other thing it was supposed to do was change up the battle. As Battlefield 1 was coming up for release dice had said that zeppelins being shot down would make it fall in the battlefield and make a new cover and change up the gameplay. It does make debris, but because these maps are so sprawling and can have up to 64 players on them, it really does not change up the combat whatsoever, just gives everyone an area to avoid.
The vehicles play a huge part in making Battlefield 1 a unique experience. They give everything a type of old-fashioned feel to it, and for the most part, none of them are too overpowered that you feel there is not an answer to anything that the other side can throw at you.
Now let's be honest, the majority of the people who play this game series care for one thing and one thing only….Multiplayer. I used to never be a fan of battlefields long-running online multiplayer, mostly because I always felt like I never had an answer to the what the enemies had, as well as feeling like rank was the only thing that mattered due to you having better weapons and gear the more you played. I still don't feel like that is necessarily fixed here, however, it does still feel better than any battlefield I have played in this past. No matter what class you decide to play you will now have some kind of answer to another class. Whether that being the fact that Assault class has a tank buster, Scout class has trip mines as well as a special type of ammo that is effective against armor, or you still have classes that can fix vehicles or give out med kits. Every class has a purpose in Battlefield and it has never been more evident than in Battlefield 1.
Let's talk modes, though, there are five main game modes, team deathmatch, conquest, domination, war pigeons, and rush. Conquest, domination, rush and war pigeons are all very reminiscent of classic modes like capture the flag or king of the hill, they just vary on the number of players, and deathmatch is just classic kill em' all and let god sort em' out. The one thing that is new is a game style called operations. Operations do to Battlefield what Overwatch did for MOBA-inspired shooters: they give an ebb and flow to the power struggle.
One side defends, while the other attacks. Defenders have unlimited respawns, and both sides have three rounds to either push the enemy out of their zone or to push through to the very last zone. Once either happens it is game over, these rounds can last anywhere from 20-30 minutes, to almost an hour in the several I played. The only complaint though is that some maps feel unnecessarily one-sided, and this is where I hate the zeppelin. You see once the attackers get pushed back once, they get a zeppelin. Meaning that they are really overpowered until you can take it down, which would be okay, but you have to use an airplane to take it down, and in operations, the further back defenders are pushed the more defensive options you get. Meaning that there are some instances where you have absolutely no way to take the zeppelin down until it is much too late in a match.
There is still a leveling up system with every new rank giving you war bonds to buy new gear for your respective class. No weapon feels super-over powered yet, so nothing to worry about for which weapons you buy, but many of them will feel very similar due to the time period. You also have a separate rank in the class you play and that will unlock more weapons, and now there is a thing called battle packs. You can buy these in-game and they are just special skins for the weapons. I don't really know how I feel about them, though, the system seems to be flawed and I have played over 30 hours of multiplayer and only got two drops of them. It does not seem to matter your ranking in the match or the type of accolades you accomplish as most times I would finish in the top 5 at least.
Overall the multiplayer in Battlefield 1 is a great multiplayer and I can't wait to see how it compares to CoD this year, especially since the two games are going in completely different presentation styles this year. If you have liked BF's multiplayer in the past, there is no reason you won't like it this time around.
If there is one thing that I thought would have been a little bit of a mess for this game, it would have been the presentation. Thankfully Dice and EA nailed it down and really did make a war that occurred 100 years ago feel as real as what I had read in history books and watched in documentaries. I was really afraid that they were going to make this feel like it was glorious, that there were heroes and that there were villains. When in reality WW1 it was just humans vs. humans killing each other for no other reason than their country told them to. There is one scene in the single player campaign, in the beginning, that was super powerful and I believe sold me on the fact that dice knew what they were doing. A small battle in the no-mans land had concluded and it is one black more solid against a soldier on the other side. They stare at each other with their guns drawn, they both just turn away from each other and walk away. The feels.
This happened in WW1, many of the types of sacrifices and feelings of the soldiers are so well represented here it is hard not to just be proud of the hard work and dedication that must have gone into making this game. You can also see just how much work went into explaining details of this war that even a history buff like myself did not know. In multiplayer as you complete certain accolades such as killing X amount of people with this gun, or get so many kills as this class, you actually unlock codex's that give background history on certain items, people, and events. So if you want to more about the war to end all wars you can. This is also backed up in the aforementioned operations mode before the battle starts an announcer tells you the importance of this battle as well as when it ends what type of effects losing or winning the said battle would have had on the overall war.
Battlefield 1's presentation is just oozing with so much character and history, I just really hope that they do this for WW2. It is such a relief to know that a developer took the time to learn all of this history and actually present it to the players. It makes a history buff like myself happy and even if you don't care about any of this, that's okay because it is not forcing you to experience it, also the game is so freaking beautiful that you won't believe some of the sights you see.
I loved Battlefield 1, after putting nearly 40+ hours into in just a little over 3 days I can not even start to tell you how much of a great experience I had with it. The multiplayer is addicting and fun, the single player is short, but it does tell great stories instead of trying to rehash the entirety of WW1. It's a ten on the fun factor scale. The gameplay is pretty and I don't regret buying my new GTX 1070 for this game, because wow is it a freaking great looking game. If you buy this game this holiday season you are going to have a blast. With so many multiplayer games coming out this holiday season, Battlefield 1 should be a definite buy on your list.
|+ War Stories, great short stories that give a taste of WW1||– Multiplayer can be bit hectic with some of the bigger maps|
|+ Vehicles feel great||– Except for the zeppelin|
|+ Operations||– Short single player campaign|
|+ Great emotional resonance for a WW1 shooter|
|+ Presentation is fantastic, explosions feel real, WW1 has never looked prettier|
|+ Every class feels important and useful|
|+ More content than you will know what to do with|