Developer: EA DICE
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre: First-Person Shooter
I vividly remember gruesome images of trench foot and mustard gas victims that our teacher showed us while studying World War 1 during my high school years in history class. I found WW1 to be one of the most intriguing pieces of history I have ever studied. This is because World War 2 was commonly depicted in movies like Saving Private Ryan and games like Medal of Honor and Call of Duty at the time, and the first World War is an event that no one ever really talked about. It is for that very same reason I was excited to hear that EA DICE was making Battlefield 1.
Making a video game like this is a bold move during a time where we have the Call of Duty franchise launching into space and soldiers jumping into mech robots with Titanfall 2. EA DICE took a shot in the dark this year—and their aim is on point.
Along with the realism we have come to expect from the franchise, there is plenty of violence in a game that intends to emulate one of the most horrific wars of all time. Players will be using artillery, automatic weapons, explosives, and close range combat to kill enemies in singleplayer and online competitive modes. Splashes of blood can be seen and cries of pain can be heard when enemies are shot, and characters can also be engulfed in flames when attacked with a flamethrower. Players can either kill or be killed by slashing or bashing enemies with close ranged weapons; some weapons include bayonets that can be used to charge and stab enemies. There is a particular scene that does show corpses on a war-torn battlefield. Both minor and extreme swear words are also used by characters across multiple points in the campaign and online battles.
Players have grown accustomed to the standard 6-8 hour campaigns that tends to come with the first-person shooters we play each year. The developers decided to take a different approach with Battlefield 1: the campaign tells a series of stories rather than one. These “War Stories” tell six different stories from the eyes of six different soldiers, each of them specializing in different skills and who are located in different parts of the world. They only come with a handful of missions for each, which helps keep things short and sweet rather than long and drawn out. One of my favorites is called “Friends in High Places,” where I spent a lot of time flying a biplane while taking out bombers and zeppelins.
The biggest problem I had with the campaign are the stealth segments. These moments can be rewarding when they are pulled off correctly, though the proper mechanics that should accompany a stealth game are not present. I was especially driven to frustration multiple times during a mission in the “Nothing Is Written” storyline; when being spotted by an enemy I would have the whole unit at my back as if they all magically knew where I was located. There is no alert system whatsoever—just a relentless assault until I was finally subdued. Despite this segment, the campaign is a solid experience.
Singleplayer has become a side note these days; people come to this franchise for the multiplayer. We get the standard handful of modes such as the signature Conquest, along with a few others like Domination, Team Deathmatch, and a few more. New to the franchise is the Operations mode, which works much like the Turning Point mode in Star Wars: Battlefront. Players will either be pushing or defending against different sectors of the map through control points, the full operation takes place across multiple maps too. Operations are a slightly longer time commitment than the standard, but there is much excitement to be had when your team is successful in achieving the objective after all of that hard work.
Soldier classes make a return this year as well, and they feel more unique due to the change of setting and era. The available classes are in pretty obvious form with Assault, Medic, Support, and Scout. I personally enjoy destroying vehicles and artillery as the assault class, though it can be difficult to move out in the open with all of the other long range weapons out there. Gamers love to open digital mystery boxes these days, so Battlepacks have also made a return for you to customize your favorite class with weapon cosmetics and other goodies. Don’t like something you received in one of these packs? You can convert that item into Scrap, which can be used to purchase more Battlepacks.
EA DICE has created some stunning visuals in the last couple generations, even outside of the franchise with games like Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst and Battlefront. They have put a certain spirit into each location, from the gritty dark tone of trench warfare to the mountains of Italy, and all the way to the vast desert of Arabia. I spent much of my time either running through war torn streets and fields or admiring the beautiful vistas while shooting down planes with an AA gun atop a massive zeppelin. As mentioned in the content guide, the developers also successfully captured the level of violence that World War 1 was known for.
The Battlefield franchise has a special spot in my heart. In middle school I spent hours at a cyber cafe with a friend playing many PC games— Battlefield 1942 was one of those. Battlefield 1 does not only return to its own roots, it returns to the roots of all military shooters of the early 2000’s. It turns back the clock while the industry is saturated with shooters that are now heading in the sci-fi direction. The developers have stayed true to the impact that this war had on the world, though things do still fall on the movie-like side of action. Numerous times I was fed with information on events and other things that related to the war, I was just as much educated as I was entertained.
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The Bottom Line
Some poor mechanics keep the campaign from being superb, but fans come to the series for its competitive multiplayer. Battlefield 1 is successful in turning back the clock while other franchises are aiming for the future.