As a genre, first person shooters are one of the bestselling genres in video games. I appreciate the games and what they do for the industry as a whole, but I normally just play these types of games for the campaign and then move on. Maybe diving in to the multiplayer mode from time to time when I’m bored or nothing else sounds interesting. Battlefield 1 is looking to change that train of thought, and it’s moving in the right direction to do so. So was DICE able to recapture that magic from a historical standpoint that used to be present with almost every first person shooter a decade or two ago? Read on for our full Battlefield 1 review.
Title: Battlefield 1
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA DICE
Available On: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Reviewed On: PlayStation 4
Release Date: October 21, 2016
Copy purchased for the sake of this review
World War I. The War to End All Wars. It did everything but that. One of the deadliest and most brutal wars in history, World War I has been a mostly unexplored era in the video game industry. With weapons and a combat style that many thought would not make for an exciting and fun game to play through, developers and publishers have often steered away from it. DICE had the idea for something they could do with it, and fought long and hard to be able to work on it. Enter Battlefield 1, an emotional journey through the tail end of World War I that should be experienced by fans of the genre and history fanatics alike.
The approach DICE has taken with the campaign has paid off tremendously. Instead of following one or a few specific characters throughout the entirety of a set story, Battlefield 1 starts off with one of the most powerful opening sequences and tutorials I have ever had the pleasure of playing through. I won’t spoil what happens for those who are unaware of what is going to occur, but it’s extremely well done. From there, you’re given the option of playing through five individual War Stories, each set at a different point and place during World War I.
Each War Story is unique and has a different look at a section of World War I. You’ll join a group of British soldiers as they power their way through using a massive tank with the nickname of Old Bess. You’ll take to the skies as a Flying Ace for some air battles and escort missions. There’s a section where you play as a solider dressed in full body armor that has to clear a path for a squad. Not to give away every little detail about the campaign, but it’s griping and you’ll actually want to see these stories through from beginning to end.
The difficulty also feels perfect for this type of setting. I played through on Hard, and found myself actually being challenged and having to stop and think every few minutes. It was not a breeze by any means, and there were several deaths to be had on my end throughout the nine or so hours I spent traveling with these soldiers and searching for Field Manuals as part of the collectibles. I did not end up finding every single Field Manual, so completionists will certainly be able to get a few more hours out of the campaign if desired.
It’s clear that the multiplayer aspect always reigns supreme with first person shooters such as this. And thankfully, Battlefield 1 has one of the more enjoyable and memorable multiplayer modes to date. You can choose to either jump into a game that one of your friends is currently in the middle of, or you can select from a handful of different Operations to participate in. Each one feels different enough from all the rest to make them unique, and the map layouts are varied and fun to storm through with an entire group of people.
The multiplayer mode also has some of the best moments from the entire game, period. Running along a path while chasing down someone on the opposing side is instantly meaningless when a giant Zeppelin flies in overhead and starts laying waste to everything on the ground. Every single time one of these enters the battle, I found myself stopping and just staring at it because they are so massive. Actually spawning inside of one is a very cool feeling as well. Until it gets shot down. And that right there is another amazing moment in Battlefield 1.
When the Zeppelin’s catch on fire and eventually begin to descend to the ground, it’s truly a sight to behold. Granted, after you see it over and over again, it begins to lose the appeal, but the first several times it happens is great. When they make contact with land after being shot down, the explosion that occurs absolutely wipes out everything in the surrounding area. The wreckage also stays there throughout the rest of the multiplayer session, as well as the destruction that has occurred.
That’s another point that needs to be mentioned. DICE has talked a lot before about the “Levolution” in which buildings and environments are almost fully destructible. This feature is intensified in Battlefield 1, as I rarely found something that could not be completely leveled. Running through certain sections of the War Stories, I’d be sitting back, parked in a tank, and just firing mortar shells at buildings and watching them crumble in an attempt to completely clear out areas before moving on. It’s incredible to backtrack and see the path you’ve taken in each area, which for me typically looked like an F5 tornado had just rolled on through.
EA and DICE have done a great job with the overall updated look to the Battlefield portal. If you own the games digitally, you can select from a list of all of them through a built in portal, that will allow you to jump from Battlefield 1, to Battlefield 4, and back again if you so desire. It’s a hub that I expect more developers will begin to utilize as the industry moves closer and closer to an all digital future. The menus themselves are just very stylized and have a historical sense to them, and it was an absolute joy logging in to the game each time and being greeted by a personalized message and an epic piece of symphonic music.
With a campaign that tells a tantalizing story, and a multiplayer mode that belongs near the top of its class for the series, fans of the franchise have plenty of reasons to keep coming back to this until DICE releases another game. Battlefield 1 takes me back to the Medal of Honor era that I thoroughly enjoyed and quite miss, and makes me realize how badly we needed a historical setting once again in today’s first person shooter market. If Battlefield 1 ends up being a huge success, perhaps we’ll start seeing more releases taking place during Wars of the past.