Over the last decade we’ve seen first person shooters go from World War every title to Modern or future warfare, but now it’s time to go full circle as Battlefield 1 takes you back to the trenches.
I’ve lost count of how many first person shooters I’ve played over the years, my favorite setting has always been modern day, or near future, but there’s no denying that the original Call of Duty titles and the Medal of Honour series did a fantastic job of recreating the war’s gone by, while Call of Duty strides further and further into the future, EA seem to be happy to let Titanfall take on the latest Call of Duty games, while Battlefield now seems to have the entire World War genre to themselves.
Step up Battlefield 1, and after Activision announced yet another futuristic shooter, gamers went wild with anticipation from day one as the armoured hype train fired up and has carried us through to the October release.
Most people will be looking forward to the new operations mode which takes the best of rush and conquest in a front line assault that spans multiple maps and carries your score and awards through multiple inter-connected rounds to form one large battle, this mode alone is worth it’s weight in gold, but Dice have also reimagined the single player experience and that starts from the second you first fire up the game.
Once you step past the title screen you’re greeted with an intro sequence which quickly draws you into the prologue bullets are whizzing past your ears, grenades are exploding only metres away and you’re fighting to survive, cornered in what looks like the remains of a small building you need to fight for your life, protecting those around you as the enemy troops close in on your location.
This is the first time you get a feel for the actual gameplay, and as we’ve experienced in Battlefield games gone by, the gun play is just as excellent as you can imagine….
Taking down the approaching troops one by one, watching their lifeless corpses drop to the floor, there’s almost a glimmer of happiness as you dispatch another and another until, click…..
You’re out of ammunition.. You look around, but there’s nothing to hand, you hear enemy troops getting closer and start to panic with only the butt of your weapon as protection, finally you feel a bullet penetrate your chest, you drop to your knee’s and take one last dying gasp, and that’s it. Dead… No respawns.
From this very intense prologue section, the reality of war and the reality of death isn’t just showcased, it’s rammed down your throat.
People die, gone and somehow forgotten as the next soldier fights for their life.
This small introduction to the single player campaign isn’t just well made, it’s perfectly placed. There’s no main menu and your first play is taken directly into the prologue, which feels like EA and Dice have taken us by the hand to tell us how well they can do single player.
There’s less of your AAA blockbuster set-pieces, but there’s plenty of action sequences like those above scattered throughout the single player war stories.
After the prologue, you’re taken to the single player mode War Stories, these stories aren’t your averaged full fledged campaign, but between them they make up for an impressive experience. There’s no command screens, meeting hierarchy to devise a cunning plan, or travelling the globe on city at a time to single-handed change the momentum of a war.
These are soldiers, a small part of an army and each play a small part in the structure of the war, there’s no glorification, this is war and each mini novel does a fantastic job of complimenting the rest, they show the reality and the variety of a war being fought on multiple fronts,
It’s safe to say that throughout the war stories, I felt more attached to every single character than I have some protagonists that we’ve had pushed down our throats for an entire game.
Best of all everything feels natural, the characters mostly come across as very approachable and the stories not only show their personality but also, their mindset and dedication to the fight.
outside of the War Stories, there’s the Multiplayer mode that we know and love, an easy way to describe this would be a re-skin of Battlefield 4 or even Hardline, the core gameplay doesn’t change much, and the majority of the more familiar modes are in place, some might say if it’s not broken, don’t fix it… However as with the step back to world war one, EA and Dice have clearly been happy to take a risk, and keeping the core gameplay mechanics in place, is certainly a very wise move. Obviously not everyone will enjoy the WW1 setting, but knowing the style and quality of gameplay they’re getting, it still means Battlefield 1 is a tempting prospect regardless of which part of the timeline you prefer.
The most important thing surrounding Multiplayer is the exact same thing that really highlights the single player and that is the quality of the world war skin.
Battlefield 1 is literally stunning, and I don’t say that very often about any game, the setting is as realistic as anything you’ve seen on television and the lighting, dust effects and detectable scenery are as impressive as anything you’ll see at the cinema.
The destructive environments deserve a special mention because the quality of these is far better than most you’ve seen before, Rainbow Six Siege did a fantastic job of showing destruction through walls and windows, but Battlefield 1 takes that up a notch and shows destruction through an entire village which starts off as a quiet serene settlement and soon turns in to a scene from Saving Private Ryan.
It’s safe to say that the evolution of Battlefield, the pace of the movement, the weight of the weapons and the quality of the scenery are a perfect match for World War 1.
The audio that accompanies the visuals are every bit as immersive and from the cries of your comrades, to the rumble of the vehicles and while the World War timeline isn’t my first choice for a first person shooter, I can’t deny how much I’m enjoying Battlefield 1.
It’s often worth noting the longevity or proposed value of a title, and with games like Battlefield, the emphasis is often on the multiplayer experience as that’s what will keep the gamer coming back for weeks, months and even years. Battlefield 1 is no exception to this and with the new Operations mode, a single ‘game’ can last far longer than your average death match. Working through the ranks achieving unlocks and trading for scrap to save up for further items keeps things interesting but nothing quite touches the excitement of jumping into a party and forming a squad with friends , with 64 players, there’s always the feeling that you’re just a small part of a bigger battle, and yet great performances equally leave you feeling like your own actions are the difference between a win or a defeat.