Battlefield’s formula for large-scale, exciting, tense, and diverse warfare is as good as ever in this new iteration. Mix it up with a touching and worth playing single-player campaign and you will enjoy one of the best object-driven FPS out there.
Developer: EA DICE
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows (tested)
I know, I know. You will get Battlefield for the multiplayer, but I will start this review with a special mention to the campaign because it is worth it: Battlefield 1 may have the best single-player in the series. I mean it.
Each story is touching and worth listening to. It focuses on the human side of war. It gives a name and last name to each person you play as, and it goes as far as it can to let you know that World War I had no winners, only losers. It ended nothing, as it tries to explain, and right from the beginning it makes you play in the front line, with a bold sentence that can only be devastating: You are not expected to survive. It won’t mark you as bad as This War of Mine probably did, but it will have a similar taste.
We have a short prologue that works as a tutorial for basic shooting, positioning and reload, and five War Stories. Each story will be, on average, 30 minutes to an hour. It’s not a bunch of time, but it is decent considering all the stories you will learn and the diverse environment you will traverse. Dodging the muddy fields of the Western front while riding a tank, to the sunny deserts of North Africa, the art department in Battlefield 1 is astounding.
The first story-driven mission, Through Mud and Blood, is a hint to several popular multiplayer modes like Conquest. You play as Daniel Edwards, a young, inexperienced soldier part of a British Mark V tank unit pushing through German lines into Cambrai, France. You will be capturing points along the way to Cambrai, and it will teach you how to operate and repair a tank. You will be also going on foot to scout out enemy encampments, battling enemy infantry, stealing weapons, weakening their position for our allies to finish them off, and holding against waves of enemies. I was amazed by this intro, as the game is not only telling you an interesting story, but also teaching you basic but important stuff. You will learn the speed difference in repairing your tank from both the inside and outside, positioning your vehicles to exploit the enemy weaknesses, sneaking, spotting, and to understand the risk-reward of each situation.
Each single-player level is large and open enough to feel like there is replay value, but you should keep in mind that this is meant for you to learn to play with different classes and vehicles. It is a little warm up for what is waiting for you in multiplayer, and as such, it makes a wonderful job. Later levels will tell you all sorts of stories, from American pilots to elite Italian soldiers and even rebels, all fighting for something or someone. I won’t spoil more than I did since you can get that “wow” moment only once, but overall, Battlefield 1 single-player campaign is a must play for everyone, with several memorable highlights.
This is where Battlefield shines in all its glory and where unique moments happen. This new iteration fixes most of the predecessor issues by delivering a smart selection of World War 1 weapons. SMGs, LMGs, rifles, shotguns and sidearms are unique in both charm and use. You never get the feel of a throwback because of the setting and era, retaining series staples like the point-capturing Conquest mode or the limited respawn based Rush mode.
But the big bad boy in town is Operations, a new mode that combines the large-scale, long-term intensity of Conquest with the close-quarters action of Rush. On top of that, it throws a narrative experience based on real campaigns such as the trench battles of the Kaiserschlacht. In this new mode of up to 64 players, two teams push for dominance across an entire map. But there is a catch: Operations is structured to focus on the frontline combat, and as such, sections of the map will come and go based on the objectives one team or the other have conquered. If you can secure a handful of posts, the enemy fall back to the next point, and is unable to access to previous zone. Once they fall to the final sector of a level, the battle continues with all the same players on an entirely new map. So, there is that, Operations is a new hour-long multi-map inter-connected campaign, where every fight matters. And the reduced space for battle allows to focus the action in the frontline while not shadowing Conquest, which focuses in the experience that Battlefield should offer in a huge and open map.
Vehicles are as fun as always, but they are in a short supply this time. This can be an issue for two things: first, the Conquest maps are larger, and while this functions as a big playground for absolute warfare, it also means that while on foot, you will spend a good amount of time running from one point to another when you respawn. The second issue is that vehicles serve as a long-term function, and you will miss a big chunk of action when you can’t get a seat on a moving fortress like the tanks, which can present a real problem in a way that they have not in previous iterations.
Classes have been shuffled big time too. Medics get the medium-range weapons engineers used to have and, in addition to reviving downed teammates and healing injured players, they are also responsible for vehicle repair. Remember, this is an era incompatible with a class like the Engineer, who could whip out an RPG and take out vehicles with ease. The offensive solution has been moved to the assault class, which can lay down anti-tank mines or use the rocket gun, but now they miss refills. That’s gone to the support class, which has the anti-vehicle weapons. It works and creates amazing riskier situations where teamplay matters, but it takes some time to swallow all the changes.
Dynamic weather effects and dynamically destructible environments are a pleasure to play with. The dynamic weather will sometimes fill maps with heavy mist, torrential rain, or furious sandstorms without warning, completely shaking the current situation, perhaps rendering useless the enemies top player favorite weapon. It avoids the feeling of matches in the same map being repetitive, and on top of it the dynamically destructible environments force the change of strategies if you want to win. Destroying covers and key camping spots with different weapons and vehicles can nullify an enemy defense, but also make it harder for you to defend later.
And while the multiplayer is as exquisite as it always was, one of the best features I found was outside the game. It is much easier now to create custom games and browse for the maps you want to play on, since the horrible and convoluted Battlelog social platform has been ditched for good, returning to an in-game server browser.
Should you play it? Yes. Battlefield 1 features one of the best single-player campaign in the series so far. The unique personality of the multiplayer action, the rich lineup of weaponry and vehicles of World War I, the dynamically destructible environments, the balanced mechanics of classes and gadgets, and the inter-connected battles of the new Operations mode will keep you engaged for more hours than you will be proud of.