The latest, and rather erroneously named Battlefield 1 game has been receiving praise from various sources, but they all seem to highlight the accurate depiction of violence during the first World War as as huge plus.
But how would anyone know, to make a comparison?
My only touchpoint with the great war would be via all the (fictional) television shows and movies that I’ve come in contact with, and I honestly doubt those are any more or less realistic than this game.
As far as Battlefield 1 is concerned, the game is great when it comes to graphics and sound design. With a great pair of headphones, every bullet that whizzes through the air sounds spot on (Then again, I haven’t exactly had a bullet zip by my head, so how would I know? It’s probably from all the live firing I did in the Army, so that counts for something).
The way how the sunlight glints an opposing sniper’s scope is a good hint you had better hit the ground ASAP. And, when you’re on the ground, not many folks would appreciate the details of the mud or how sand flies up, as that sniper is trying to pick you off. It’s really the small details that DICE has put into the game that makes it stand out. Graphically, on my 970, I’ve seen little to no framerate drops especially once the action heats up.
Like with all video games, there’s plenty of effort put into making all that scenery pretty, and Battlefield 1 is no different. Unfortunately, you would be spending most of your time rushing from point A to point B, to ensure objectives are met so screw the pretty flowers and trees. War is a bitch and you’d be hard pressed to find such appreciative instances, when you’re always zipping around.
Perhaps the only reason why most reviews out there praise Battlefield 1 for its accurate representation of World War 1 is probably because single player was all they played. A friend who’s a seasoned Battlefield vet commented that the single player campaign is just training mode for the multiplayer.
And, he’s not wrong.
In fact, the single player campaign is very much Battlefield 1 on training wheels, because the campaign gives you the impression that you’re some sort of super soldier. If you moved anything like you did in the single player mode with the online crowd, you’re going to have a bad time. But, more on that later.
The single player campaign, however, does excel in its narrative. Whether or not the story is true is a tale for more accomplished individuals than myself to argue, but it does well to illustrate the valor in war, but still reins in the glorification of the Great War. World War 1 was grim and brutal, and DICE does not make it entertaining to the point of celebrating the destruction of human life. The campaign does suffer from pacing issues with the missions in the middle degenerating into fetch quests though.
While runners were important in war time, it doesn’t really translate into fun for the player. Thankfully, we’re saved with an excellent final campaign mission, because roleplaying as Lawrence of Arabia can hardly go wrong.
Someone in DICE must have had a brainwave and found that the weapons used in World War 1 actually sucked (as with real life), and it would be really painful playing through the game with ancient weaponry. Thankfully, the single player mode gives you access to prototype weapons which makes the game more familiar, in terms of how modern weaponry might handle. Alas, you’re back to square one once you make the leap into multiplayer.
When you enter multiplayer mode, be prepared to be fragged till kingdom come, as you’re no longer that super soldier you’ve grown accustomed to in the campaign. If you’re coming from Overwatch, there are going be long phases where you struggle with your mortality, before you hit the ground like all the good soldiers do, when the bullets start ripping across the sky.
There’s little that has really changed from the previous iterations of Battlefield. If you’re playing multiplayer solo online, you’re probably in for a frustrating experience. As the game is heavily skewed towards zerging, you’re gonna be mowed down very quickly. This is one game that relies on a high level of coordination and team play, to derive maximum enjoyment from it.
Otherwise, you’re probably better off picking a sniper scout and digging in, only to realize that most of your teammates probably have the same idea.
But with no limits on classes, nor visual prompts to encourage positive game play, Battlefield 1 gets caught up with the same issues of its predecessors. It is better for you to make some friends online to squad up together, than to go at it alone.
The real fun to Battlefield 1 would be to master the various vehicles that you’re supplied with. In most of the multiplayer games I’ve been in, there usually one dude who’s mowing down the competition in either a tank or a plane, and it does pay off. For the most part, the large packs of soldiers getting killed is largely due to the fact that most online players are rigid in their class customisation, and tend to not want to work together. Instead, they prefer to stick it out with their current class until they die. Rarely have I seen groups of players work together, to take down the tank in the middle of the warzone.
DICE might have noticed this phenomenon from past games, which is why the addition of the horse might be the best design decision they’ve ever made. We’re talking about a fast moving unit that has so much versatility, it is possible to even combat tanks.
While the equine individual might be a tad fragile, it spawns rather often, and gives you much needed versatility on the ground. Whatever you might call it, this class/vehicle might be the one design addition that has positively impacted the game.
Everything else about Battlefield 1, from the grindy class unlocks to spawn camping of squad members, are issues persistent in previous editions of the game. Even the addition of Elite Classes (think Heroes from Star Wars Battlefront) does little to lift the familiarity of the game. It’s old hat, and that’s probably the reason why DICE mentioned that Battlefield 1 might be the mainstay for the next few years.
Could Battlefield 1 have done away with the single player campaign? Sure, but look at what happened to Star Wars Battlefront. It got ripped to shreds. With the real sell being the World War 1 setting, there’s little the game could have really done to rejuvenate the series.
Still, it really does make you wonder why all those online gaming sites only focused on the single player aspect of the game, and little else?