October 29, 2016

Battlefield 1 - Review

Battlefield has as a series covered almost every war since it started in World War 2, but as they kept coming to the present, there was one war they never interacted with, The Great War and now with Battlefield 1 that is now covered.

The game can be easily split between two distinct game modes the single player campaign and multiplayer and for the first time, both are equally worthy of your time. Starting off with the single player, rather than cover the entire war with a soldier whose luck never seems to run out, the team at DICE rather created individual missions, that take place over the course of the war, each from the point of view from a different solider. This allows players to have experiences in tanks, planes and on horses, without having to make you believe that one soldier can cover every speciality, instead we get to discover a different person for each mission.

Kicking things off, in numerical order, we start as a tank driver, who is working to take back the French town of Cambrai, but than just rather having you plough through the lines, the tank you have is prone to breakdowns, which helps mix things up. Then you take to the skies in a plane, taking the fight to the air is a mix of pleasure and pain, because of how planes from the era could handle more than anything. Then you step into the armour of an Italian soldier who wields a giant machine gun and can take a lot of damage, while dishing out even more, the fourth puts you into the shoes of an Australian soldier as he runs back and forth between locations at Gallipoli and finally the final mission sees you take control of a rebel soldier fighting against the Ottoman forces alongside Lawrence of Arabia.

What each of the mission’s offers is a simple point of view about ‘The Great War’, you are never expected to be a super soldier, just a regular person, thrown into extraordinary situations and adapting as best you can. Each of the people that you interact with has personality, something that many shooters don’t manage to get right, but more than that, it proves that the smaller bit size missions are the best way to cover something as vast as World War 1.  Perhaps what is the only real let down between these missions and the opening one is that, when you die it simply restarts at the checkpoint, where the opening mission has you swapping to another soldier, which helps prove the fact that you will not win on the battlefield, it is a really nice touch that is done away with almost immediately, which is a shame.

Of course, once you take the action online, things change, some for the best and others not so much, the usual Battlefield modes are back, with Conquest still proving to be a real treat, but the best addition to the mix now comes in the form of Operations. These are the real meat of the war itself, teams of 40 or 64 players will push forward, taking out the enemy over the course of several maps. Given how big the teams and maps are, it is not that odd to find yourself in a match that lasts for over an hour, so you should plan your time accordingly. The operations are the best time to figure out which class of soldier you are going to use, as they are all different here compared to the last few Battlefield games.  Now you have the choice of Assault, Medic, Support and Scout, each operating within a specific set of rules, the assault is your anti-vehicle class this time around, they pack some firepower for battles with shotguns, but they are not your every battle soldier. The medic on the other hand, does offer up perhaps the closest comparison to past games, providing recovery options for those that fall in battle.

The one big change though is that there are now specialist classes, like the Pilot or Tank Driver and if you choose to spawn in one of those vehicles, or even if you spawn on a horse, you will be limited to the same weapons for the rest of that life, so leaving your transport of choice is not ideal, as you would be under powered compared to the others on the battlefield. Perhaps the biggest change with character classes though is the addition of the elite class, these are only found on the map and only for a limited time, but they can turn any soldier into a flame trooper, sentry or tank buster. Each of these are super powerful and capable of dishing out insane amounts of damage, but with how rare they are to appear and even then, you must be lucky to get one, it feels more like a treat than something to spend time worrying about.

One area that Battlefield has always dominated is in just how good the games have looked and here there is no doubt that the team at DICE have recreated the war in every way possible. The weapons of course are the stars, because during the war, there were only a small number of weapons, but war drives progress, so you will get to experience some of those experiments as you play. The characters are dressed in the gear that is appropriate for the time, with British soldiers wearing those little tin hats, the aussies with theirs folded up on one side and lots and lots of green in the uniforms. The locations are just as impressive, with a mix of short narrow locations and large open plains, some of which offer up the chance to scope out your path of choice. The locations are also varied enough, with some set in the fields of France, others amongst the mountains of the Alps and some across the deserts of the Ottoman Empire, each stands out on their own looks, but as battles wage across them, they all feel ravaged by the war.

Perhaps the area that is at beast a mixed bag is the audio, the music is well enough, once again taking that familiar Battlefield tune and changing it into something new, but again sticking to instruments from around that timeframe. The problem is that because it keeps so close to its roots, it does not feel like it is anything special, the same can also be said for the weapons, which again is a sad point. While the tanks, cars and planes are authentic, it is the guns where things are not quite right. The rifles and shotguns sound fine, but its more with some of the experimental weapons where they just don’t seem to match the rest of what is being offered, which breaks things. The performance of the characters is just fine, due to the mix of the nationalities being represented, there is a lot of variety to be found, though you will only notice amongst the soldiers you play as, because most of the other soldiers make little noise.

Battlefield 1 has given the series a kick in the pants, because taking it back to The Great War has forced the team at DICE to work harder to deliver upon the expectations that players have. Operations are fantastic to lose yourself in, if you have the time, but the single player is also worth your time, which is the first for a mainline Battlefield game.

Thanks to Electronic Arts for supplying the game for review.

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