I've been looking forward to this one.
It's been three years since Battlefield 4 was released and I've felt the Battlefield-shaped hole in my gaming life starting to throb. Battlefront was a nice aside, if lacking in the depth that I'd become accustomed to while Battlefield Hardline did absolutely nothing for me.
This year DICE has decided to go against the grain by shunning the trend of near future/sci-fi combat and take things back to the historic setting of World War 1. A controversial decision for sure but one we've all been crying out for.
It's been fun to see what plausible near-future technology can do for first-person shooting but there's something to be said for stripping everything back down again and trying to create something a little more relatable. Whether it's a morally correct decision or not should probably be left for another article by another writer. For me, it's exciting to see how DICE approaches the subject matter given the limitations it brings with it.
It's surprising how much we've relied on the modern day gimmicks that have become standardised. With free-running and holographic scopes being understandably absent, Battlefield 1
feels almost archaic at first. Guns fire at a slower rate, traversal is slower and there's a distinct lack of exciting flashes of light filling the screen, but if anything this rollback of the clock is incredibly fitting for the Battlefield
With its roots firmly in past conflict Battlefield is at its best when it's representing real warfare. When you're no longer a super hero, but a soldier of war reliant on those around you because going it alone will result in nothing but instant death.
DICE has embraced the time period it's presenting. The maps feel torn straight out of World War I movies. From muddy trenches to sand dunes, everything feels like it's focused on giving an authentic feeling of 'The Great War' albeit with some poetic licence sprinkled on top.
And there are moments during play where you see the chaos unfold in front of your eyes as buildings explode and gunfire skims past your ears that you can't help but think back to real life events. It's powerful.
These feelings hit home even harder in the surprisingly decent single-player campaign. The opening section reminds you that you're not expected to survive and introduces soldiers as quickly as it moves on once they're dead.
Of course, it's impossible to truly represent a real World War in a videogame. After all it has to make sure that the player has fun. This is entertainment. But if anything, forcing my mind to think about what really went on was more than I was expecting.
The single-player portion of Battlefield 1
isn't the game's main focus and I wouldn't recommend buying this for that alone, but if you have bought it then you shouldn't overlook it. If it does nothing else for you, it'll guide you through the main mechanics and skills that you'll want to take with you online.
There are five individual stories to work through, each asking you to do things that most first-person shooter campaigns won't. They're not incredibly well written, but the characters you'll meet are worthy of your time and it'll take you places that you'd never expect... like flying a pigeon across wartorn countryside.
However, if you have no interest in playing alone, then I don't blame you because that's not why you've bought this game. It's the competitive multiplayer that Battlefield
is known for. The large-scale warfare filled with up to 64 players running, shooting, flying, riding and driving around the huge maps in an effort to defeat the opposition.