I like Battlefield. There, I’ve said it, and I’m not even ashamed. If you were to offer me the choice of playing a Battlefield game (especially if EA would get its finger out and announce Bad Company 3) or Call of Duty, the result would never be in any doubt. I think it’s the feel of the series that hooked me in, roaming around in tanks and planes just seems more enticing. It’s helped along by the scale of some of the Battlefield maps. Remember Harvest Day, or Caspian Border? This is a proper fighting game to me.
Anyway, having said all that, the subject of today’s trip down memory lane is Battlefield 1, so called because it was set back in The Great War. So, let’s go back in time to an age when the guns were inaccurate and the tanks and planes were slow and hard to drive, shall we?
Despite its name, Battlefield 1 was actually the 15th installment in the popular shooting franchise created by D.I.C.E. and published by EA. The single player campaign was a particular highlight here, as it gave a different perspective on the war in each chapter, viewed through the eyes of a disparate bunch of fighters. Called “War Stories”, this was a very different way of presenting the story when it launched, as with games which came before, the Battlefield narratives were very much based around the same group of people throughout. BF1 was a real breath of fresh air.
We played people as diverse as members of the Harlem Hellfighters in the prologue, left to survive as long as possible, and swapped to another member of the platoon when killed, right up to Zara Ghufrain, a Bedouin rebel working directly alongside Lawrence of Arabia. Each of the War Stories has a series of subtitles that tell the story of what happened afterwards, when the campaign is finished, and while some of them are hopeful, others paint a gloomier picture of life after the war. I’m not going to go into any further detail about the stories, as they still stand up today, and are well worth playing if you haven’t already.
The single player modes were very good, but what about the multiplayer? After all, the majority of people seem to come to these games in order to shoot other people in the face and then boast about it. Well, it’s safe to say that the multiplayer aspect of the game wasn’t neglected.
The best mode, Conquest, was there and just as much fun as ever, and there was a slightly smaller scale version this time around called Domination, which had smaller maps and fewer flags to capture. Some of the Conquest maps were almost too big, with one memorable one having a flag out in the desert, miles away from anywhere else. This usually turned into a bloodbath as one side, then the other, tried to hold the fort, all while fending off people on horses and tanks
Rush made a return too, with the standard kind of attack and defend gameplay, and while I’m not usually a fan, it was pretty good this time around. A nice touch was found in the way that the telegraphs you had to defend could be used to drop artillery strikes on the attackers. That never gets old.
Operations was a new mode with Battlefield 1, with it being similar to a Rush/Conquest hybrid. The defenders are left to try to hold onto the control points, while the attackers have limited respawn tickets and need to push the defenders back. If the attackers succeed, the map changes to another sector, and if the defenders kill all the attackers, the attackers lose one of their “battalions” and have to try again. This mode could get genuinely tense, especially when you’d be left hanging on to your last flag by the skin of your teeth, and the attackers have a handful of tickets left. It certainly was never dull.
Team Deathmatch was also there, doing what it said on the tin (despite a lot of players thinking every mode was this one), and another oddity was War Pigeon, where two teams had to capture a pigeon and defend it while a message was written and attached to it, before releasing it to make its way to freedom. Enemies could (and did) still shoot the pigeon down, however.
Battlefield 1 was supported with a number of DLC packs after launch. The first was They Shall Not Pass, which featured the French Army and brought four new maps to the rotation. After that, In the Name of the Tsar, provided maps based on the Russian Empire and, in a Battlefield first, a playable female soldier from the aptly named Womens Battalion. Turning Tides, the next expansion, featured more naval and amphibious combat, and brought in the Royal Marines, in addition to another four maps, more weapons and another elite class to play as. The final DLC, Apocalypse, centered on the most brutal and bloody battles of the First World War, such as Passchendaele and The Somme – battles that even to this day live on as some of the bloodiest in history.
But there was more and with the release of those DLC packs, further modes were added, such as Frontlines in the In the Name Of The Tsar DLC. This was a mix of Operations and Rush, as each team attempted to either capture or hold a series of control points on the way to each other’s base. If the defender’s base was reached, two telegraphs have to be destroyed, as in the Rush game mode. Other modes added in the same DLC pack was Supply Drop, which involved getting to Supply Drops first; the team that captured them gaining ammo, vehicles and even Elite class pickups.
In the Apocalypse expansion, Air Assault was added – basically being Team Deathmatch with planes and other air vehicles. Finally, in a patch in June 2018, Shock Operations was introduced; a smaller, faster version of Operations. Featuring only a single map and capped at 40 players instead of the standard 64, it certainly brought an injection of pace.
On release, the reception of Battlefield 1 was very favourable, and the launch week sales exceeded those of the previous two games, Battlefield 4 and Battlefield Hardline put together. It was a brave move on D.I.C.E.’s part, to release a WW1 themed game, especially when Battlefield games had been about modern gadgets; stripping it all back to simple, period correct equipment was a gutsy move. But they made it work, and I for one really enjoyed playing the game almost because of the reliance on your aiming rather than having heartbeat sensors and things to make the game easy.
But what about you guys out there? With the release of Battlefield 1 onto Game Pass now there’s no reason to not give it a go, even if you previously played it back in 2016. Let us know in the comments and if you need to pick up a copy of Battlefield 1 for yourself, head to the Xbox Store.
Battlefield 1 is playable on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PS4 and PC.