Title: Battlefield 1
Where To Buy: PSN Store, Xbox Store, Origin, Local Retailer
Companies like Activision, EA, and Bungie have managed to drop us into several different combat scenarios: from World War II to Vietnam, to the Middle East, and even into the future. But never has an AAA title taken gamers into the barren space between trenches during World War I. Battlefield 1 aims to not only do just that but present it to players through powerful stories and truly chaotic combat.
Battlefield 1 is a first-person shooter developed by Dice set between 1915 and 1918. Similar to other titles in the Battlefield series, multiplayer is primarily the focus. But along the side of that, this time around is a fairly remarkable story told in an innovative way.
The campaign is split into five separate stories, each depicting a separate part of the war. Instead of following the same character around for the entirety of the story, Battlefield 1 takes a vignette approach to each character. Similar to an ESPN 30 for 30, each of the five stories is also told in a different way.
For example, the first of the stories “Friends in High Places” follows Clyde Blackburn, an American Pilot who impersonates an RAF pilot named George Rackham in order to fly with Britain in the war. The story is told from his perspective, but he admits to the audience in a fourth wall style break that he’s extremely good at lying. At the end of his story, he even admits that everything he has said could be made up. The voice acting in this particular story was especially remarkable. Blackburn and Wilson (voiced by Jeff Burg and Michael Jibson) brought these two characters to life.
In a different story, “Avanti Savoia”, the main character Luca Vincenzo Cocchiola tells his granddaughter the story of his search for his brother Matteo who he got separated from during an attack on the Austro-Hungarian positions in Dolomites. Luca dons a suit of heavy armor as he makes his way from outpost to outpost trying to find any sign of Matteo’s group.
In addition to these, the campaign also follows the Australians in Gallipoli, a British tank crew making their way through Cambrai, and a Bedouin rebellion working with T.E. Lawrence to upset the Ottomans on the Arabian Peninsula.
The game also opens with a powerful prologue where you play as numerous different characters on a battlefield, where each fights until they die and their birth and death dates are displayed. Both here as well as after each campaign segment, a short historical summary is given to explain a portion of the war, such as the importance of certain events or the number of casualties experienced.
The other half of the game is the renowned multiplayer that is a staple in any DICE shooter. There are five game types to choose from. Conquest brings 64 player battles where each player tries to capture and holds flags on the map and eliminate the enemy team. Domination is the same, only on smaller maps and with smaller teams. Rush has players facing off over telegraphs, with one team destroying them as they advance, and the other defending them in order to call in artillery strikes. Team Deathmatch removes the objectives and focuses solely on teams getting the most kills. And finally, War Pigeons, a new mode where teams fight to find and release messenger pigeons to call in artillery strikes on their opponents.
Of all of these, the one that was most profoundly awesome is the traditional conquest mode. This 32-on-32 combat mode is honestly hilariously chaotic. Several times while I was playing I would spawn in with a light tank in front of me, two enemy squads trying to take my base and a friendly bomber plane overhead. The explosions are disorienting, the sound of bolt-action sniper rifles trying to pick you off as you run across a war zone, the feeling of using an anti-air gun to shoot down a fighter plane aiming right for you. Even if you’re overwhelmed and feel like you’re not contributing, it’s extraordinarily difficult not to smile when looking at the sheer amount of carnage in front of you.
The multiplayer also brings back the distinct classes, each with are customizable with different guns, grenades, and melee weapons. The fortunate part is that no one weapon seems significantly better than any other, but rather is entirely based on preference. Since I mainly played the Scout class, I dabbled with a few different snipers before I found the one that was most comfortable for me.
My complaints with the game are few and pretty insignificant, but they are worth mentioning. For one, it’s not exactly an easy game for gamers who haven’t played Battlefield before to jump in and feel like an equal. Having only played a few before, I found myself struggling in certain maps to figure out what exactly was going on before inevitably being blown up or sniped across the map.
Also, while the vehicles on the map are important and add to the competition, it can become a little tedious when you join a game where the enemy team has every single tank on the map. This becomes especially annoying when the game allows players to pick what kind of tank-vehicle they want, despite what’s already present on the map. If there was a limit to how many of each could be present, this problem would be alleviated.
Also, the interface for joining a game with friends or customizing your class is a little arbitrary. Instead of having a pregame lobby, the game pops up an invite screen that will interrupt you no matter what you’re doing when a person in your party is in a game. You also can’t customize your load outs from the main menu but have to wait until you get into a game to manage any of them. When winning a game often comes down to taking some of the central points, any time trying to customize classes midgame can bring the whole team down.
Finally, as with most games of this size, there is a fair share of technical glitches. Whether it’s twitching bodies or strange random instances of falling through the map, the game can become little broken under the weight of its size. While it’s never been game breaking, it has caused me to have a few moments of irritation as I would try to crawl my way onto a cliff edge and fall halfway through the ground.
Overall, the game is impressive. The voice acting is remarkable; the campaign tells a story that matters; the multiplayer makes you want to come back for more. Despite its few flaws, Battlefield 1 manages to capture the magnitude of destruction. The story is great, the world is great, and this is all while the gaming world had high expectations of what their World War I would be.
- Gameplay: Magnificent, Occasional Glitches
- Graphics: Stellar
- Sound: Solid Sound FX, Excellent Acting
- Presentation: Powerful Story, Great Gameplay, Poor Interface