Review: Battlefield 1

Battlefield 1

Bullets whizz past your character’s face with a distinctive crack as tanks rumble past you, ripping up mud and soil that glistens on their tracks. Biplanes attack a huge zeppelin that bursts into a fiery explosion spewing debris across the battlefield. This initial entrance to the multiplayer aspect of Battlefield 1, rendered in all its muddy, bloody glory on developer Dice’s frostbite engine, is in many ways breathtaking.
As a triple A title, Battlefield 1 had some mighty boots to fill, and so far it has launched far better than its big brother Battlefield 4. Smooth and glitch free for the most part, it is easily playable. It’s here in these wide open spaces that the game shines. Vehicles and infantry work in combination across the map with it being so large, enabling everything from dog fights to tank battles. Quickly, I’ll talk about the obvious.

It looks amazing.

Anyone that’s seen any gameplay footage will know how gorgeous the game truly looks. The gameplay for the most part retains the classic Battlefield feel; conquest is the same, open maps with vehicles and flags to capture, and rush is also here along with a quirky new edition of war pigeons.

The major shakeup in multiplayer is the new game mode operations. In what feel like extended multiplayer campaigns, teams attack or defend flags, more in a rush style, with the background story of a campaign. The ebb and ow of the battle does feel compelling and heroic final pushes or last ditch defences do make the experience fun and personal. Overall, Dice haven’t reinvented the wheel here, if you’ve played a Battlefield title before you’ll immediately feel at home among its destructible chaos.

As feared, the single player is disappointingly poor. Although not as bad as Battlefield 4’s attempt at a compelling story, Battlefield 1 manages to throw away its huge potential. Its prologue, a vivid suicide mission where you play as characters doomed to die, highlights the pointlessness and horror of the game’s setting. Instead after this we are treated to a series of short, bland missions, full of good looking set pieces but lacking any real development or punch, and with some shockingly bad AI that struggles to kill you (although in one mission you are literally invincible).

The single player aside, the major problem, one that I can’t stress enough, is the poor map design. If Battlefield 1 shines in its huge, sprawling maps, it becomes an ugly, maddeningly frustrating death simulator on its small- er ones. In particular, the Suez Canal map is appallingly designed, pitting the British attackers on the first point against an armoured train. With limited if no cover behind flimsy sand dunes, it becomes an aggravating shooting gallery.

Battlefield 1 is, for the most part, a blast. Not only will it feel homely yet similar for returning Battlefield fans, but it also offers a welcoming refreshment from the saturated modern military shooter market. There are some pitfalls though, if you attempt the small- er maps expect some rage inducing, controller throwing moments where you swear you shot that guy yet still he got you, only to respawn next to an enemy tank and be blown to bits.

But at least it looked amazing when it happened.

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