So, after the months of anticipation, and many hours spent mastering one of the best betas we have ever laid hands on, Battlefield 1 is finally upon us. And after years of fans of the FPS genre clamouring for a title to return to the famous World War era, it seems DICE have acted on one of their player’s biggest requests as Battlefield 1 takes players back in time…to the dark era of World War One.
By now it’s no secret that many players pick up FPS titles for the intense online competition, and whilst Battlefield is a series that often boasts an incredibly addictive multiplayer, there are still plenty out there like myself who like a good single player campaign offering to go alongside all that bloodthirsty multiplayer action. No matter whether it’s some run and gun multiplayer you’re after, or an intense and action packed story, DICE have certainly pulled out all the stops to ensure Battlefield 1 has something for everyone.
The story found in Battlefield 1 however is not the same as the traditional campaign found in most titles. Instead, players take control of several different protagonists through five different episodes known as War Stories, as well as a very brief prologue with a sixth character. Each episode contains several chapters which the player must complete in order to reach each climatic end. Each War Story focuses on various vehicles used in World War One. The first follows a British soldier and his crew, along with their war time companion Black Bess, a Mk. V Tank whose unreliability often causes difficulty through their attack on the ‘Jerrys’. Later episodes focus on a pilot within the British Royal Flying Corps, as well as an Italian artillery shock trooper unit and a naval feet storming the beaches of Gallipoli, all before a final attack against the Ottoman Empire as the one and only Lawrence of Arabia.
Whilst this may seem like a slightly strange route to take, it must be said that the added variety given by employing a story with several protagonists through different scenarios, rather than sticking with just one fixed protagonist, certainly adds a level of interest and quality.
A new approach isn’t the only thing to praise about the story implemented here either. Whilst it is certainly a design choice we’re sure to see more of in the future, the stories are possibly some of the most intense and engaging tales I’ve seen for some time. Whilst they may not be gargantuan storylines in size such as those found in RPG epics of recent years, they certainly pack a punch with their historically fresh content. Those wanting a little more than just an epic story will be happy to know that collectables make a nice return, with a total of 53 Codex Entries to be found as well as 66 Field Manuals spread out over the various episodes. Whilst the Field Manuals offer much of what you would expect with an insight into certain individuals, Codex Entries offer something new. These are found in both the solo and multiplayer aspects of the game and are found/unlocked by either finding a specific manual on a level or by performing defined tasks such as killing all enemy infantry in an area. Their multiplayer aspect sees players needing to win on a certain map or get a set number of kills with a weapon.
For those here with the multiplayer action on their mind, Battlefield 1 certainly provides a great experience that will keep you coming back for more. Six different game modes keep players occupied, with more due to come later. Included on release are Conquest, the classic flag based warfare, in which participants battle to control all flags on the map, a smaller variant on that with Domination played on smaller maps and Rush which sees teams of attackers trying to destroy telegraph machines, before all the allotted lives run out, whilst the defenders try to stop them. Team Deathmatch is the most predictable game mode and the classic mode for any FPS or team based shooter, whilst The War Pigeon’s game mode has players fighting for control of Pigeon’s found throughout each game, playing out much like a capture the flag type game mode.
The final multiplayer mode comes in the form of Operations. These are new to the Battlefield series, and this game mode plays out as a hybrid of the Rush and Conquest game modes, taking place over two, or three maps, depending on the operation chosen. There are four operations in total and these are presented much like the campaign’s War Stories, with short stories explained at the start of each battle. This is certainly the most unique way to experience the war setting on offer, as well as being incredibly fun.
Whilst EA and DICE have certainly worked well to provide fans and newcomers alike with an incredible experience, the issues that are present certainly add a dampener to things. Before I detail them though, let it be said that they are only multiplayer related, and for those looking for a stunning solo experience this is not just a must buy title, but more a ‘must own right now’ title instead!
Okay, so onto the issues then, and whilst Battlefield 1 is certainly a much nicer product at launch than the last series entry from DICE, there are issues that need to be addressed ASAP.
Firstly, we have the weapon variety. Now I know what you’re thinking, this is World War 1, what do I expect, I get it… but that doesn’t mean that including several variations of the same weapon is acceptable. For example, a weapon I found myself using a fair bit was the Medics’ Selbstladder M1916, and whilst I can agree that this certainly feels authentic and looks incredible, having three different versions and counting them as separate weapons just because they have a scope attached, or slightly better optics, certainly doesn’t sit right with me. This isn’t a one-time occurrence either as most weapons in the game have at least two variations that do the exact same thing; previous Battlefield titles would have simply brought this down to nothing more than an extra attachment. This in turn makes the seemingly large weapon selection nothing more than an over advertisement.
Next up are the missing game modes, and whilst many of you may look back to my previous statement of game modes coming later, the lack of a Hardcore mode at launch is certainly more than enough to annoy consumers, especially given that so many used this game mode for a more ‘realistic’ approach to warfare in previous titles. The other game mode stated as coming soon alongside the hardcore mode is Fog of War, said to challenge players with limited sights whilst fighting in heavy fog, as well removing the mini map and soldier name tags. Whilst this is certainly something that will be sorted once these modes arrive, it seems hard to see how the few extra settings used to make up these game modes weren’t prepared for launch.
The final issue that is sure to be resolved soon are simple old bugs, and whilst the multiplayer is certainly a fine improvement over the various bugs witnessed in the beta, the ones that remain can certainly take away any authenticity this otherwise impressive title brings to the table. Volcanic blimps spin terribly out of control in mid-air after being destroyed, and tanks seemingly hold a force mightier than the gods as they throw any horse silly distances across the map. But I’m guessing, and hoping, these will be removed real soon.
Overall and Battlefield 1 is certainly a fantastic title that adds an impressive story and an incredibly enjoyable multiplayer offering that will keep you coming back for months after release. Whilst there are bugs present and a limited weapon selection, those looking for some brilliant multiplayer madness need look no further.
Whilst Battlefield may not be the only FPS title due out this year, or even this month, those that choose to jump in will certainly not be disappointed.