Now I know what you’re thinking: ‘Great, another first-person shooter, that’s just what we need’ and truth be told, you are not wrong. Now I’m not going to turn this into another title war, with the release of Call of Duty – Infinite Warfare, and Titanfall 2, all being released so close to one another. It can be quite daunting on which road you go down. With the CoD series delving into deep space, and Titanfall releasing a formula a lot like its successful predecessor. It would seem the future is where we are headed? Right? WRONG! When Battlefield 1 was first announced. I oozed with excitement at the thought of getting my trench boots dirty again. It has been a long time since FPS fans have seen a title that breeds raw emotion from an era of our time that was most horrendous for those that endured. “The War to end all Wars” is how the first World War was described.
Upon hitting the main menu you’re immediately thrust into a large-scale cinematic battle, taking up arms against those who would end your life if to see their nation rise. “You are not expected to survive” rolls up the screen as your take up cover in crumbling buildings with few squad mates around you. Whistles then blow as the encroaching force runs at you from behind their trenches, of all the introductions into games I have played Battlefield 1 is just madness. I have never felt such shock and awe playing an entire tutorial mission, where you really are fighting until your last breath, to then be shown your soldiers name. Their year of birth, and death. You are thrown from position to position, taking up soldiers at key points across the field, doing what you can until death, to again be reminded of those who gave their lives. It’s very hard not to get emotionally involved, you really feel a sense of what it must have been like, the life expectancy of a soldier. The barbaric manner in which people dispatched one another, it’s genuinely terrifying and many a time did I feel my skin crawl with goosebumps as my hair raised upon my arms.
The campaign plays differently in Battlefield 1. There is no single story, but multiple ‘War Stories’, which as far as I am aware, depict actual stories delivered through DICEs cinematic gameplay. A British chauffeur, turned tank driver, an American pilot, a gambler of such. A veteran Naval officer. An Italian volunteer, part of an elite squad risking what no one else would do. Each story plays out differently, but gives you insight into the life of ordinary soldiers, doing extraordinary things. The levels look good, the guns sound great and the gameplay is just out of this world. Long has a title like this, set in World War 1, been overdue. To go back to basics once more, losing the futuristic movement of exo-suits. The fast frantic pace of boost jumping into a wall run. To run from trench to trench, as bullets whizz past your head. It truly is a testament to what those brave men went through.
The multiplayer is obviously the key focus for a Battlefield title and my god have they nailed it again, Battlefield 4 still being played hugely across the world. Classes make a return, tailoring to each players style, are you the medic? The support gunner? Do you like getting up close and personal with tanks and vehicles?. Then the assault class is for you. Long range? Sniper class. Each unique soldier has access to their own set of guns and gadgets, unlocking more for that said class the longer you play as that class. The guns range as well with a full array of different capabilities. The assault class, being the only class that wields the SMG type guns. Medics, opting for single shot rifles. The return of bolt action snipers mixed with lever action for the long shots out there and of course, the LMG for the support player. A new addition to the classes is the ‘power’ classes if you will, and the vehicular classes. Again, varying depending on the map, you will have a chance to pick up. The spawning of these items works a lot like Battlefront, either the ‘Tank Hunter’ class – equipped with what can only be described as an elephant gun able to shoot through tanks and bring planes to the ground. The ‘Sentry’ class – clad in full frontal armour and an LMG you can shake a leg at. Last but not least, making a triumphant return to the battlefields is the ‘Flamethrower’ kit – which is pretty self-explanatory, also noting that spawning as a tank driver or pilot warrants a secondary class for both roles.
Game modes have not changed a lot for Battlefield, if it ain’t broke right? This time, though, DICE have added 2 new modes. ‘Operations’ and ‘War Pigeons’. Now I found War Pigeons to be the hidden gem. The game mode essentially relies on your team, to capture and hold neutral pigeon, write a message, and then release the bird into the skies with the opposing team having a small window to shoot down the flying letter. I mean.. A game mode.. Where two teams scrap over a pigeon!? IM IN. Operations are the more climactic game mode. It is a mix of the 2 more popular game modes of the Battlefield franchise – ‘Conquest’ and ‘Rush’. A defending side will try to hold 2 objectives, whilst the attacking team tries to advance through the map. Now, on paper, this feels a lot like Rush.. Where one team attacks and another defends whilst the map expands the further the progress the attacking team makes. The difference being, that the attacking team have ‘Battalions’. Basically, the attacking team have a certain amount of attempts to break the enemy ranks. How it gets interesting is the addition of the support the attacking team receives if they are unable to fortify their position on the map. Giant hulking zeppelins known as ‘Behemoths’ take to the skies, colossal ships cruise the ocean, decimating everything with artillery, and last the heavily armoured train. Each support vehicle depending on what map you are playing on.
The game feels and plays the same as any other battlefield title. But, it does lack variety in certain aspects. There is literally 12 guns in the game at the moment, between the 4 classes. Each with 3 different variations. Obviously, this is put down to the time zone that the game takes place in. The vehicles feel awfully unbalanced compared to others. This is notable when you realise that out of the 5-6 different land vehicles you are able to spawn. You only ever see the same heavily armoured tank that takes around 3-4 assault troopers to gang up on to even stand a chance. The aircraft is fantastic. It’s amazing to have a sense of what the devils of the skies use to zoom around in.. Musket gas. As horrific as it is, it adds a change of style to the gameplay when an area is nailed with gas, leaving you gasping for your mask. A personal favourite is definitely the cavalry unit. A class that enables you to ride a horse. Through a war stricken land. Slashing at foes as you canter on by.
I can’t begin to describe the horrors of what our ancestors went through during this period. But Battlefield 1 will truly open your eyes to the cruel malice of what one human is capable of doing to another when nations are hanging by a thread. The War Stories leave you breathless, while the multiplayer has you gasping for more. The visuals are stunning, from field guns firing over your shoulder, to planes thundering down on your position.. Everything is just visibly stunning. The audio is sublime. From the triumphant roars of soldiers clambering out of their trenches to farm houses crumbling around you. I have never felt such shock and awe playing an FPS title since World At War. I truly believe that DICE have peaked with Battlefield 1, and in my opinion, this will be one of the best titles you will be able to play this side of Christmas