It’s safe to say the Battlefield franchise is an extremely successful one for EA. Whether you enjoy first-person shooters or a slower-paced puzzle game I think everyone can at least see the appeal in the franchise, not to mention how well EA deliver storylines and character backgrounds in the majority of games they put together – , and the extensive budgets allocated for production don’t hurt either. It’s fair to assume that the tale told in BF1 would continue this tradition, and this assumption proves to be solid as the storyline here is one of the most captivating I’ve experienced in a long time.
Anyone else a little warm?
Battlefield 1 is the 15th instalment in the Battlefield franchise parented by our friends at Electronic Arts and EA DICE. It’s set in the early 1900s and is based around ‘the war to end all wars’ (Wold War 1 for those playing at home). You play in multiple scenarios as multiple soldiers whose stories and backgrounds differ wildly. This has the effect of showing the player multiple aspects of the character’s experiences and how it plays out in the greater theatre of war, giving you that realistic in-game feel we all need to enhance our gaming experience.
The first 45 minutes into the campaign option showcases the gruelling brutality of the war as you play the perspective of multiple soldiers while they’re ambushed by opposing forces, and in brilliant detail it lets the player see what the soldier is seeing moments before his death. It’s a really captivating way to start the game and it opens the in-depth story with such detail as to give the player a clear idea of just how violent and ruthless the rest of the story that unfolds will be, as well as visually explaining what to expect as you progress. It’s easy to wrap your head around gameplay in the first scenario too because it starts you off as an on-foot patrolman until your demise, at which point it quickly injects you into the eyes of another character in the squad, including ones in a tank or behind a missile launcher. It’s a cool effect, with the added bonus of allowing you to get the feel of how different machines or weapons operate.
There are a total of six characters’ stories to experience, and they can be completed in any order. I enjoyed how the game doesn’t restrict you in a single area but gives you the option to select your preferable scenario depending on your mood, eventually completing them all and obtaining another feather in your fedora. It’s a brilliant way to keep everything from becoming monotonous after hours of gameplay and makes you feel like you understand everything that’s happening, almost like you were in that debriefing room when the soldiers signed up to take part in this extensive war. I was also pleased at how the storyline didn’t portray every playable character as this gallant war hero that children should look up to like in most other war-based campaign stories. The campaign is content to give each character their own morally neutral personality, showing the player that a typical decision an actual fallible human would make in certain scenarios won’t always be a good one; they can make mistakes despite their best intentions and sometimes even enough to make you resent them a little. You can tell they were going for as much depth and realism as they possibly could, more than any previous Battlefield instalment. I feel it’s also worth pointing out the diversity of weapons and utilizable machines in Battlefield 1. From old, unreliable tanks that will need repairing mid-battle, to planes, turrets and even horses. In short, the campaign mode is well put together with a solid core and distinct personality.
Keep off the dang grass!
Frills and kisses aside, as much as that initial gameplay opens the book on what the game is based around and the severity of the war, the missions involving Daniel Edwards in comparison to the rest of the missions are pretty dainty, weak even. Edwards’ personal background feels a little shallow, and accompanied with a typical capture-the-flag feeling mission it falls miles behind the largely detailed and action-fuelled following missions. Don’t get me wrong it isn’t bad, it’s just nowhere near as good as the missions that follow. Also to me personally most of the excitement that comes with campaign mode is the unknown plot ahead so I feel replay value may be lower than some other games released around the same time.
Everything alright there?
The campaign option is good, in the way that you can enjoy some single player story time, but it really thrives in its multiplayer department. Players have a much bigger arsenal that is true to or inspired by WWI. Of course some liberties are taken with historical accuracy (fully automatic weapons for instance are probably overrepresented for instance), but it still feels authentic and recognisable. Instead of there being any typical standard of weapon power and usability, every single weapon acts and feels unique, and all of them are also at least a little customisable. The detail in areas are a highpoint too, as there are places you can stop and rest for a second while you snap a Dorito out of its bag or adjust your seating position, but never a place you feel you can safely camp while everyone else does the heavy lifting. Given the high player count across the modes, there will always be another player right up your tail-light waiting for you to reload, and obviously the more players online the greater the chaos; it’s ridiculously entertaining. There are maybe one or two maps that get a little annoying when most of the players pick snipers as their beverage of choice and climb ladders onto balconies to wait, but after playing the map once or twice you can easily work out where the hot spots are for this sort of horseplay and do a little pest control. Most of the maps are beautifully detailed and well made, and there’s a clear sense of space and where the main battle lines are. Argonne Forest for example (my favourite map because I love me some close-quarter action) has an area that forces everyone to be at least a little close in battle, and changes the dynamic considerably compared to the open spaces; just don’t loiter around the wrecked train in the middle too long, you’ll see why.
Pick your poison as to what you want to climb into and destroy things with
An exciting bonus in multiplayer mode is the fact they incorporate machines into battle. Large, devastating machines (also horses, but a few semi-rounds sorts out jockey’s steeds quickly). So at the start of most maps including these vehicles you’ll often see most players making a dash towards their spawn points, but if you happen to get into one first you end up feeling like this big, adrenaline-fuelled juggernaut that destroys everything in its path and mows down enemy players like a four-stroke Victor on a field of soft-bladed buffalo grass (not a sponsor), and is difficult to take down unless you’re in a similar vehicle, have some extremely heavy weaponry or there’s a lot of you.
I may just point out that there were times where I went in for a melee kill and the game seemed to glitch and resulted in my demise, and times where I thought I got the perfect headshot, only to watch my target skip away in still-surviving delight. But hey, I might just be making excuses for my poor marksmanship (or lag…keep calm and blame the lag).
The menus are easy to navigate and the objectives are straight-forward, Battlefield 1’s multiplayer option, in my opinion, is the best war-based FPS multiplayer mode I’ve played in any game.
Graphics throughout the game are gorgeous, as we all expected they would be, both campaign and multiplayer mode sport beautiful surroundings in various degrees of devastation due to war, whether it be abandoned villages with lush, green meadows still untouched by tank tracks or a blood-drenched, muddy warzone riddled with fallen comrades scattered amidst trenches, traps and makeshift bunkers. For the most part the physics are also relatively accurate with how things react in movement and impact. For example, if you roll your tank through mud it will naturally slow down, but it will never become snagged on a wooden fence or have any trouble charging through brittle cobblestone buildings, Also if you witness a rocket being fired far in the distance you’ll see the flash of the weapon discharging before you hear the explosion of it. Yeah, science!
The sweet smell of devastation
All in all, Battlefield 1 is a great game. We all had high hopes of it and as usual, the franchise provides. It’s good to see DICE move with the times with how much games can go into detail nowadays, and with the demand growing higher for photorealism I see this as being a very important consideration. Would I go out and buy the game for its retail price? YES. Campaign mode, though without much replay value is exciting and you can spend many hours searching for collectibles and hone your skills with more powerful weapons, but multiplayer mode will eat up your days. There are so many different weapons to try, places in maps to discover and game modes, it’s constant action and it never gets boring, Battlefield 1 is a no-brainer for any FPS fan or history buff and comes highly recommended.
Reviewed on PS4