Review: Battlefield 1 (2016)

Battlefield 1 is the fast-paced, realistic, immersive, all-out war multiplayer that FPS lovers have been craving.

Battlefield as a series has been at the forefront of large scale battles filled with warfare of all kinds. This time the period featured is The Great War, which is a period that has largely been untouched in gaming, presumably due to the type of warfare involved. Although being set in the latter stages of the war, which notably involved the use of the tank in a larger scale, Battlefield 1 is the fast-paced, realistic and immersive, all-out war multiplayer game that gamers have been craving. DICE, part of EA, have listened to the ever increasing frustration from the FPS community and gone back to basics; we even have a solid single player campaign to go along with it.

Battlefield’s main focus of course is its multiplayer, but it is refreshing to see that they have spent a lot of time creating several single player campaigns, all of which consist of a few hours of tough gameplay and poignant storylines. This is an area where EA and DICE have listened to its fans and learnt from an area of criticism aimed at Star Wars: Battlefront, not having a campaign, and they have certainly improved upon previous campaigns.

The storylines are compelling, gritty and diverse. From the opening scene and mission, Storm of Steel, you get the sense that DICE really have put in an incredible amount of effort into the game’s detail so you get a sense historically what it might have felt like, whilst giving players a powerful message that so many died pointlessly in the war. It really does tug at the heart strings.

Continuing through the campaign, you re-enact notorious battles, playing as British, Italian, US, Australian and Bedouin rebel characters. From specific tank missions, to planes, horseback or on foot, it is almost certainly a precursor to the game’s core multiplayer element, teaching players all aspects of the game and how to combat your opponents; whether stealthily or all guns blazing as a special unit class. They consist of cool cut scenes, historical facts and even the opportunity to be a pigeon. What more could you want?

The multiplayer though is, to put it simply, where it’s at. With its variety of game modes, there is gameplay to cater for every player. The most popular is Conquest. This mother of a game mode is electrifyingly chaotic. Sometimes it’s even too chaotic, but that is the joy of it. Teams of 40 spawn at each end of maps fighting over a vast area across a variety of terrains from deserts to towns. If you have 4 mates and can form a squad of five with a good balance of classes to get health, ammo and firepower, your squad can dominate the field and be rewarded with recognition of being the best squad; certainly satisfying. The skill it takes to stay alive and work together makes the gameplay even more enthralling.

It is also a beautiful game graphically and what starts off as a stunning pristine landscape, with towers, forts and the like, becomes a graphically stunning mess. Craters left right and centre; rubble from collapsed buildings and walls; fires raging all over the map. With tanks; armoured cars; horses; planes; ships and artillery guns causing mayhem. On certain game types Battlefield’s new feature, if your team is losing particularly badly, the Behemoth (an armoured train, dreadnought or an airship), can spawn to help you attempt turn the tide of the battle. They look particularly fantastic, even when blowing up. The gameplay is further amplified by the sounds of everything going on around you. The explosions, gunshots and artillery fire, tank shells, troops shouting in their native languages, mixed with the terrifying mechanised sounds of vehicles and muffled sound after putting on your gas mask (one of the simplest yet coolest elements of the game), give the player the sense that they are in a chaotic war-zone.

Other large scale game modes are available and hardcore difficulty, adding to the endless supply of varying gameplay that Battlefield has to offer. A new game mode called Operations is a 40 vs 40 campaign like mode where players battle it out by attacking or defending over multiple maps to gain victory. Alongside this, just to name a few, infantry only game modes of 15 vs 15 like team deathmatch, domination or newly created war pigeons offer a change from larger scale all-out war (who would have thought pigeons could be the centre of a game mode in an FPS?). Although still undeniably fun, the smaller game modes have their limits. They feel somewhat lacking in an overall gameplay due to the deficiency of any major organisation being able to be involved. The maps are small and you inevitably end up somewhat running around in circles chasing each other, with no real cohesion unlike in the larger game modes.

Yet amongst everything that is fantastic about Battlefield 1, the absence of a split-screen mode is also a bit of a let-down, which is surprising considering Battlefront at least had an offline split screen. The lack of online multiplayer games with split screen on consoles is generally frustrating and a game like Battlefield is perfect for it. Despite the obvious advantages with online, playing with a friend on the same sofa is undeniably more fun (unless you get two consoles, two TVs and two Battlefield’s…effort but it’s awesome to do).

And in terms of gameplay there isn’t much to criticise, bar the behemoths. Behemoths generally leave much to be desired, despite sometimes being awesome to use (if you can even get in them…). The dreadnought in particular seems to be particularly useless being mostly parked out to see and too far to impact the battles; at least the airship and armoured train can distract and counter the enemy for a time. Yet their arrival is always somewhat tinged with frustration if on your team. Although, that might be because apart from being relatively easy to destroy, it’s almost being rubbed in your face that you’re terrible and need something to help your team, which in the end turns out to be more of a distraction. These minor criticisms however, should not take away from just how good this game really is.  

DICE certainly had massive ambitions and had a tough task in attempting to recreate the realism of warfare from the early 20th century and oh boy did they do it well. With a new DLC just around the corner (March 14th/28th), named They Shall Not Pass which includes a Battle of Verdun map, it looks like things can only get better for Battlefield, with countless more hours to lose yourself in. Overall this could go down as one of the best and immersive FPS games ever made. It does justice to one of the most influential wars in human history.

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