Historically, video games usually paint a picture of a glorified time with heroes abound and it’s such a wonderful time and always a successful mission. In reality, we know this isn’t the case. “War is Hell” as we’ve heard time and time again. Battlefield 1 is the first time I’ve played a FPS about a war where I finally felt like it’s not a perfect encounter. Instead it’s a gritty, humbling representation that grounds the player in reality.

Old Classic, New Take, Still Battlefield 1

Battlefield as a franchise has grown and evolved quite a bit. From my first experience of the franchise in Battlefield 1942 up to the (formerly) newest in Battlefield 4, the scale and variety within the games are incredible. The number of people able to play with each other is one thing that helps to set it apart from other First Person Shooter games, and Battlefield 1 hits it home once again. The multiplayer maps fall right in line with the single player maps, and all are spectacularly executed. In their call back to the past, EA and Dice focused on solid gameplay and engaging environments.

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Flying Solo

In a move that I greatly appreciated, Battlefield 1 initializes the player in combat just as any shooter does, but they do it in a way that is not overly exciting and something to really pump you up. Somehow, it actually pulls at emotions. The very first mission shows you playing as multiple characters, each dying in their own part of a major battle. This style of storytelling continues with episodes instead of one long story. Games have had episodic content before, but in this case the campaign follows several different people at different portions and locations within The Great War. Nations from Italy to Britain and even Australia are portrayed. The enjoyment factor is huge, as in a few moments you just feel incredibly bad-ass. That is, only to realize something is about to finish you off in the next section. It’s such a great juxtaposition and never are you left helpless, but never are you invincible.

Not only is the overall structure of the single player missions done well, the missions themselves lead through a huge variety of locations with diverse environments and settings. Without giving too much away, there are a few missions which allow both a fully stealth approach, and a full on guns blazing approach. Each are perfectly viable, and each are individually different. Far too many times other games missions are structured so there is not only a single linear way to play, but a single play style that the player is forced into. Battlefield 1, smartlykeeps players away from this.

Each episode adds something unique, and tells the story of one character. However, each one it isn’t necessarily a ‘good’ story. Sometimes, it’s an epic tank battle. Next, a pilot’s tale that raises more questions than it answers, and then a illustration of revenge. They’re all enjoyable, and even have a bit of replay value, both for difficulty as well sheer enjoyment. Overall, the tone is truly telling of how dark and desprite times were during WWI. It doesn’t focus on one single group as the main enemy which is quite a different thing than most shooters, and at times I didn’t fully know nor did I really care who the enemy was. Moving through missions was more about survival than defeating an enemy.

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Muddy Terrain and Smoking Ruins

When it comes to the visuals, simply not enough can be said. At no point do maps seem empty or devoid of content when they should be, the environments are always filled with something. Be it buildings in multiplayer or overall environments in the campaign, things really stand out to be well done. Even looking at things as basic as individual textures on rocks. My mind was blown at the level of color and variation of everything. Despite almost every AAA title coming out with solid and well done graphics and environments, there always seems to be something. In this case, somehow Battlefield 1 created a dark and forbearing enemy in just the environment. With every mortar or tank shell that impacts the ground, dust or dirt is flown up and brief bouts of tinnitus plague the player. Then, for the rest of the match, that crater will be persistent and will include it’s own pitfalls if playing as a vehicle, or temporary fox holes if a soldier.

It doesn’t stop there. Even the gun in your hands shows the effects of what location maps are in. If it’s raining, you can see wet spots on the barrel. In a very muddy and wet area? There will be mud caked onto the gun itself, and even the rounds loaded into the semi-auto rifles. To couple with the look of the environment, movement through wet areas results in sploshing and squishing sounds. As is now expected with AAA titles, a good pair of headphones can really help too. Audio from all sources is incredibly crisp and clear. The rumble of a tanks engine, or the sound of the metallic hatch squeaking open or closed, and the metallic clang of clips just are incredibly satisfying.

Several times, it’s clear just how much time and effort went into Battlefield 1 when multiplayer games really start getting close quarters. With over 64 people on a single map, explosives can combine with hundreds of rounds flying in all directions from both sides, and can quite frankly get pretty scary. Seeing and hearing motors, planes, and artillery soaring across the skies can get pretty distracting and terrifying. Despite this all happening, somehow the game still managed to show detailed textures on the broken walls and blown out craters.

Limited Liberties

There is a lot to be said in Battlefield 1 about the authenticity and how much Dice and EA stayed true to the time period. There were several times when I lamented the lack of guns available in Multiplayer, but there really just weren’t that many in 1917 as there are today. Even with the limitation, solid efforts are put forth to not make every gun feel like it’s a carbon copy of another. Add in the guns and turrets on the field, as well as vehicles, and there truly isn’t a shortage of killing devices. The relatively slow reload of clip-fed weapons, the look of some of the original machine guns, as well as the availability of bayonets on every gun out there is true to form for the time.

As for the rest of the multiplayer, it rings true with the rest of the Battlefield games out there. Large, flowing and complex maps with countless buildings. Long, flat terrain which is a haven for the arguable over-powered snipers, and intimate close-quarters fighting of villages and bunkers. While the concepts are the same, the implementation of such a huge variety is critical to the enjoyment. Never in a single map does it feel like another location. When running like a madman across huge swaths of desert, it’s easy to feel the magnitude of the maps when it takes a full minute, or more, of running between two far strung objectives. Vehicles aid this movement of course, but even they don’t feel quite as impervious to damage as before. An infantryman can actually take out all but a heavy tank on their own if played smartly.

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Classes have received an overhaul this time around. While Carbines were the creme of the crop for the Engineer class before, they now belong to the Medic. In fact, there is no engineer role. Assault, medic, support, and scout are the primary roles in Battlefield 1. The assault is armed with SMGs and is tasked with taking out enemies as well as vehicles. Medics have the dominant mid-range weapons, and still heal/revive teammates. The support is all about suppression fire and refilling ammunition to the team. The only class which doesn’t directly contribute to overall team works is the Scout class, who focuses on sniping long range enemies.

Of all the benefits and amazing parts of the latest installment of Battlefield, the biggest complaint is really based on User Interaction with the menus. When in the after-game leader board, there are Battlepacks awarded randomly to some of those who participated. However, during the time waiting to see if yours truly received a drop, the quit button disappears. If you’re feeling as if you’ve had enough for now, you’ll have to wait until the next round of action starts to escape and return to the main menu. Such a minor thing actually causes a lot of annoyance. In addition, a problem that has been in this game for years is that we still cannot modify load-outs outside of the game. Only when the goal is to support and defend objectives is the player allowed to update the configuration and contents of their packs.

Solid Addition

When all is said and done, EA and Dice have forged their own path and kept true to the Battlefield  roots. With no comparisons to other popular First Person Shooters, they have clearly created this game’s own unique feel to the genre. Ignoring modern advancements and innovations actually somehow allowed them to innovate and come up with new elemnts to shock and awe audiences.

Battlefield 1 Review
The Good
  • Incredible Graphics
  • Solid, fun gameplay
  • Addictive Multiplayer
The Bad
  • Somewhat annoying UI
9.5Overall Score
Reader Rating: (3 Votes)
8.6

About The Author

Bobby C
Director, Editorial/Reviews

Bobby C is a veteran FPS and adventure gamer, starting with the NES and Super Mario Bros. The game that really started his love for the FPS Genre was Goldeneye for the N64. Since then, the love grew. From casual, to semi-pro COD with Modern Warfare 2 and 3, and back to casual, it’s a bad week when there isn’t at least 15 hours of games played.