If you thought Battlefield 1 could not pull off a gritty portrayal of World War 1, while delivering a fun shooter to boot, you were wrong! However, if you are looking for a deep and complex game that truly depicts the horrors of man’s earliest ventures and missteps into the beginnings of modern warfare, then you will be sorely disappointed. But lets dig in a little deeper into DICE’s latest shooter, and see if this was the game you were waiting for all this time, while pounding that like button on its YouTube trailers.
Lets start off with the single player campaign. The game starts with a brief introductory level that throws you into the frontlines. There’s an immediate sense of scope, and chaos. There’s bullets flying in from every direction, enemies coming at you, the screams of wounded comrades, the sounds of bullet hitting armor and flesh, the roar of tanks and artillery. It’s overwhelming, and sets the tone for what is infamously called ‘The Great War’.. You’re sent in with the expectation that you will die, and you do. Every time you die, the name of the soldier is displayed, and you’re thrown into the shoes of another soldier. Rinse and repeat, for about 5 minutes. And it’s all done in a solemn and respectful manner.
It’s right after that when Battlefield remembers that it also needs to be a video game for the modern generation of gamers, and satisfy the power fantasy that the average gamer/consumer craves. And thus begins a series of vignettes, each telling the story from a different perspective, which can be played in any order. Each vignette has 4-5 missions in them, and usually take an hour (longer if you play on the highest difficulty, and try obtaining trophies/achievements) to get through. Each of them is set in a different time and place during World War 1.
But instead of being a serious look at war, the campaign missions are glorified tutorials for the multiplayer, with the most barebone of stories in video games. Don’t get me wrong, the missions are fun to play, and Battlefield multiplayer have a fair amount of depth to them that tutorials are welcome. But Battlefield 1 does not deliver on DICE’s promise of a gritty World War 1 shooter. You are taught on how heavy infantry (elite classes) work, taught how to maneuver tanks and planes, and even minutiae like the spotting mechanism are explained in the campaign. There are some heartfelt moments in the game, and the set-piece moments are truly spectacular. But the overall campaign and story is mediocre, and does not bring anything new to the FPS genre.
Speaking of spectacular set-pieces, Battlefield 1 is definitely one of the best looking games out today, and definitely benefits from it. Explosions, and particle effects re absolutely fantastic, immersing the player in the moment to moment combat. Everything sounds great, from tinny sounds of bullets hitting metal, or the rumbling of tanks, planes whizzing above in the skies. The game looks and sounds phenomenal, and is highly polished and well optimized.
The multiplayer is where the meat of Battlefield 1 lies. Returning fans of the series will find the usual modes like Conquest, Rush, Team Deathmatch, that ease them into the competitive component of the game. New players will want to get a hang of the maps and the weapons, and veterans might want to do the same, because things are very different in the multiplayer from the previous games. It’s still Battlefield, but the weapons feel a lot different. Many of the weapons are single fire or semi-automatic, as it was back then. Map design is once again top-notch, with each having certain aspects to it. Sinai Desert is a sprawling map with little cover, and snipers are abundant. Argonne Forest is a much tighter map, and gives way to much more frantic style of gameplay.
There are enough variety in the maps to keep players hooked for a long time, and there’s sure to be more coming by means of DLC soon. One of the new modes, Operations, definitely stands out. It’s a mix of Conquest and rush. The teams are divided into defending and attacking sides across multiple maps, with neat twists added as each round is completed. It’s lengthy and can lend to some really intense matches, though the length may put off some players.
My only complain with the multiplayer is the lack of customization, both for the classes and for the weapons within the classes. Again, that can be fixed with future DLC. One thing that the progression does do really well is that it needs you to play as another class, in order to unlock weapons for a different class. This has the players getting out of their comfort zone and trying new weapons.
Overall, without talking names, this is the best multiplayer shooter among the ones released recently, and while the campaign could’ve been done significantly better, specially given it’s unique setting, it’s still fun while it lasts.
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