I love a good first-person shooter but even I was getting tired of exosuits, jet packs, superhuman abilities, and booster rockets. I longed to go back to a more simpler game. DICE must have read my mind with Battlefield 1 because they delivered a gorgeous title that takes the player back to World War I; back to a time when war was bloodier and well, real.
Battlefield 1 is visually stunning. I am not just talking about the cut scenes either. The whole game is just downright gorgeous. From the single-player campaign to the multiplayer, it’s all just so well rendered graphically that it is obvious this was a creation of pride. It doesn’t feel like a recycled story, nor do the multiplayer maps feel like re-skinned versions from games previously released. It’s all new and refreshing. Each region of the world Battlefield 1 takes place in feels different because of the painstaking attention to detail to the battles the team was wanting to honor. The voice acting is spot on as well, right down to dialect, and that really helps to draw the player into the story. Even the dashboard music is unusual for a war game. Rather than being all harsh tones and rough edges, the music comes across as more soothing, wistful, and sad. This really helps set the mood of the entire experience.
The campaign in Battlefield 1 is split into five stories, or mini campaigns. They can be played in any order you desire or you can go ahead and follow them numerically. Since the stories are not linked to each other than the fact they occur during the same war, at about the same time, you can decide which region you would like to experience first. Each mini campaign gives you a glimpse into a different battlefront of World War 1. Though short, you do get a sense of what these soldiers might have gone through during World War 1; each telling a unique story from the perspective of a soldier battling against the odds. Admittedly, some people might find the story disjointed and hard to follow since it doesn’t rely on the narrative of a single protagonist. However, it does an admirable job of giving the player a look into the lives of the men who were fighting in the various corners of the world. The stories themselves are engaging and in some cases heart wrenching. War is ugly and Battlefield 1 has managed to relay that to players through the realism of the campaign. It is as brutal as it is beautiful.
Multiplayer is as solid as you would expect from a Battlefield title with destructible environments and attention paid to even the most minute details. There are the usual game modes like Conquest, Team Death Match, Domination, and Rush but they have added new ones like Operations, and War Pigeons. War Pigeons is basically keep away…with pigeons. It’s chaotic and quick. The goal is to get the pigeon, hold onto it until it can be released, and then release it to call in artillery. First team that reaches three successful releases wins. Sounds simple enough except the opposing team can steal the pigeon from your team and the pigeon can be killed before it successfully flies out of range. Operations is a lot like Rush with a small twist, the defenders can reclaim a flag after the attackers take it so long as they haven’t lost the sector completely. This means the games can be a lot longer depending upon the skill of the two teams opposing each other. I did come across some balance issues on both sides of the Operations playlist. Generally it was because either the attackers or the defenders (depending on which map list was being played) were granted the majority of the armored vehicles and tanks with the opposite team having limited resources at their disposal to defend against these iron beasts of war.
World War 1 weapons are not as sophisticated as modern, or future (we imagine), weapons are. It will take some practice and skill to get used to going back to the old school weaponry in-game. Melee weapons are basic Battlefield 1 fare as well, consisting of items from the era like shovels, cavalry swords, or your basic trench knife. A fun addition to the mix are the horses. There really isn’t anything quite as fun as running your horse into the middle of enemies and either taking them out with your sword while on horseback…or just running them down with the horse. It’s really rather oddly satisfying. Controlling the horse takes skill as well, since it will buck and turn just like a real horse would if you pull those reins too hard. The horses can be killed as well, leaving you without a mount and at a the mercy of your enemy. Do not worry flyboys, there are plenty of planes for you to practice with, as well as a bomber. The bomber can change the tide of a game when flown by someone with plenty of skill and talent.
With all these compliments come some caveats; I have come across the rubberband-ing issue that has become commonplace for a Battlefield title. It can be extremely frustrating to not be able to move out of an area because you’re instantly snapped back to where you started; the unbalanced combat in the Operations game mode can make you want to throw your controller and never play it again, and the menu is clunky. Seriously, the menu is less than user friendly. It will take trial and error to find what you want or if you decide you want to see what the challenges are in the campaign, you’ll actually have to enter the story you’re interested in to view them rather than just being able to access them from the menu screen. This leads to constant popping in and out, loading and reloading, before you get all the information you want. I also found the medals a little daunting. You are given a list of medals you can earn for the week. The actions must be done in order, as listed on the medal. If you don’t finish it, tough. Medals reset/change the following week and the process starts all over again.
Overall though, Battlefield 1 is a must buy. It is safe to say it is DICE’s best work to date and a breath of fresh, historic air in a sea of futuristic warfare. I am hoping other game developers follow DICE’s lead and head back to their roots. I admit, I missed visiting real battles, in real wars, in real places though I didn’t realize how much until I played Battlefield 1.
War is Hell and I am glad to be back in the thick of it.
What We Liked
- Engaging, Well Written Story
- Gorgeous Graphics
- Solid Multiplayer with New Game Experiences
What We Didn’t Like
- Unbalanced Issues in Some Multiplayer Modes
- Rubberband-ing Effects in Multiplayer
- Clunky Menu