Battlefield 1: A Post Mortem

Battlefield 1 trench WW1

I’ll be honest; this review is going to focus on the multiplayer aspect of the game. That being said, for the past 13 years I’ve been quite a big fan of the Battlefield series. While it’s had its ups and downs, I have very fond memories of the franchise and have certainly gravitated to it over many other FPS’s over the years. That being said, I believe my little love affair with the series might be coming to a close.

As most of you know, Battlefield 1 decided to shake things up a bit by being set in World War 1. A nice change, I might add, certainly better than following what Call of Duty did by escalating the same game, more and more, into the future.

 

Operation: Adapt

 

Battlefield 1 featured a colourful amount of game modes, some old, some new. On the whole, the new ones played like dog flying a kite but the Operations mode was certainly a success. At least it sort of resembled what an actual battlefield would have been like.

In this mode one side defends and one side attacks, seeking to capture all the points until the game is won. It allows the snipers to camp like the introverted emos they are, while also letting the other classes run around the place like a child on a sugar rush with the only parent being the Keiser.

On the whole, the modes also change their respective maps, while other maps can only be played in certain modes. This doesn’t always make sense, but it generally works and encourages players to mix up the game for themselves a bit.

Areas of Attack

 

The maps are a wide variety of good to bad, depending on personal preference. As with most things on the Frostbite 2 engine, the landscapes look stunning. The weather and mountains all the way to the obliterated cities and desert plains all look gorgeous. The crux of, what is turning into a huge issue for EA games, is that while the game looks pretty that’s it. I feel that all of EA’s resources go into the polish of a game rather than anything meaningful inside it.

My biggest complaint for these maps was they were sometimes too big. The point of the games are to have a huge open area for players to run, fly and drive around in but in Battlefield 1 it feels different.. While we’ve experienced huge maps in the past they usually had enough vehicles or areas to make them interesting. These maps feel empty; there aren’t enough vehicles or turrets. This in turn rids the game of any high intensity moments that the series is famous for.

Soldier’s Sorrow

A despairing part of the experience is how Battlefield 1 doesn’t feel like WW1. Yes, the maps take place in historical settings and they perform quite well but most people remember The Great War for its trench warfare. The famous battles and films usually focus on the Somme and charges to claim a trench. Thankfully, in the latest patch the Somme was included and it was bloody fantastic. But come on EA, it took almost 18months for this iconic battle to be put in.

It was nice to learn about these other areas of battle that took place, but there was never an authentic atmosphere whenever a map featured a trench. Games like Verdun managed to capture the intensity of the struggles soldiers had to overcome a lot more than this game’s version of the war.

Another sad occurrence in some maps, in particular modes, is how flag points become a meat grinder. After going back recently to play a lot of these spots have moved but this is after being out for a substantial amount of time. One team couldn’t capture a point because the enemy team could just camp inside, have full protection and everyone could be revived.

The Battlefield Moment

 

One of the things Battlefield has become famous for was the ‘Battlefield moment’. In previous instalments players could fling tanks across the map, shoot a jet with it and land. Others would fly a jet straight up, jump out, RPG another jet then fly back into their jet. This has been lost in this game.

These moments are lost due to the map design in my opinion. There’s either not enough cover or too much of it creating a killing fields vibe with the occasional meat grinder. It doesn’t allow for people to sneak around nor does it let people take a tactical position by driving through a wall. It just turns into a free for all with just a handful of players. This is helped least of all by the vehicles.

The classic example of the jet seat switcheroo can’t be done now, not most of the time anyway. When spawning in, players can spawn in a plane, in the air, meaning any James Bond shit you want to pull won’t happen as they’re likely to fly off without you. Instead of jumping out and in again, players can just change seat to man the machine gun.

Battlefield’s Barracks

 

Battlefield 1 used to manage vehicles wonderfully. Seeing a tank coming down the street towards your team used to be terrifying. This isn’t the case these days, they almost feel like riding a llama, sure it’s cool to show off but it has very little use.

While there are several vehicles to choose from none pack the same punch they did in Bad Company 2; this is due to the lack of destruction. Tanks are good at killing tanks; they are not good at killing infantry. It seems the Gods at EA decided that splash damage was too unfair and so you’ll be lucky to get a kill if a shell lands more than a quarter inch from their face.

Moving on, I guess a special mention should be given to the horses. The nimble beasts are often harder to kill than the actual vehicles in the game. Being able to dash around so quickly and only needing to breathe on a person to kill them the horse was certainly a welcome addition. I found it a shame that they weren’t used better. If maps could have several horses per side would have been interesting. Certainly would have made the dynamic of each game different and could have prevented large maps with choke points.

Land to Air

Then there are planes, the wasps in the game; wholly unreliable but pack a nasty sting if they hit you. On the whole planes are just a nuisance. That is until there’s that one person who can utilize them really well. This has become more evident over the past few months where more and more people have been using a certain bomber which can literally wipe out the entire team in one run. When this happens, this person becomes unstoppable; nobody uses the AA’s and planes haven’t been nerfed much.

The addition of behemoths was, arguably, a nice touch, linking together parts of the map once the team as pushed back far enough. Taking the form of a blimp, train and massive tank, behemoths sort of balance the battlefield. They only come in when a team is losing, but when there’s only a small margin between the two teams the behemoth acts as overkill. They help progress the game and I think they’re meant to be intimidating. They’re not though, unless people are constantly firing a gun they don’t care. So nobody wants to drive these things.

Terms of Surrender

 

When announced, the idea of taking place in WW1 took the internet by storm. People absolutely adored the idea. It’s just a shame that the end product came out like a chassis of a Tesla. Who in the AAA space is going to compete with this? It’s not like CoD ever listens to feedback, they’re perfectly happy to slowly drown their meal ticket.

Alas, while the game did well it failed to innovate or feel like a battlefield. The only way this captured a sense of real war was if you gave each person you control, online, a backstory where they had a wife and kids. So when you inevitably die you can lock yourself in the bathroom and feel ashamed of yourself.

White Flag

I didn’t expect for the game to make me reflect on philosophies of war and how young men were sent to the slaughter. Battlefield just acts like it’s trying to give a history lesson where everyone learns morality. So the question had to be asked; what was the point in setting it in WW1 if it acts like the WW2 and modern day variants?

By trying to solve one problem they created another one. With overpowered vehicles and underpowered classes the game becomes a cluster-fuck of who can expend all their ammo quickest, first. It doesn’t feel authentic, not with everyone running around with automatic weapons.

I know this next bit is a personal gripe but it stops me from playing a quarter of the classes so I feel it’s fair. The snipers in this game are a bloody nightmare. Why isn’t this sodding gun a one shot kill on the torso to the head? I’m not a great shot, but I’m not a terrible shot either and the amount of times I’ve finally shot someone, just to have them keep going makes the whole thing pointless. In a game where there are more automatic weapons than thought reasonable, you’d have felt they’d give the bolt-action guns a bit of a fighting chance.

Conclusion

Battlefield 1 hasn’t done anything, particularly drastic, to make me come to this conclusion. I just think the series has been going downhill for a while now. But, I do believe this installment is what finished me off with the whole “being excited” for another Battlefield game. Gone are the days of Bad Company 2 and Battlefield 3, where structures could be blown to smithereens. And gone is the grand sense of scale the game has to offer.

With the state of AAA FPS games at the moment I think it’ll take some huge innovation for people to really get excited about them again. Until that day there are far superior Indie shooters which are trying to bring something new to the table.

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