Battlefield 1’s campaign attempts to portray harrowing tales of bravery and courage, but its true success still lies in its thoroughly refined multiplayer suite
For a series that has been around for over 14 years, Battlefield has remained relatively consistent in overall quality. However, the last two entries in the series, Battlefield 4 and Battlefield Hardline, were considered to be flawed by some fans of the series. The former suffered from huge performance and server issues throughout the first year of release, and the latter was considered to be more of a glorified expansion pack rather than a brand new game. With the release of Battlefield 1, developer DICE has resolved many of these frustrations, and has presented a product that could potentially dethrone Call of Duty as the champion of military first person shooters, despite a lackluster single player mode.
For starters, Battlefield 1 includes a heavily refined campaign mode that aims to both entertain and inform, though it admittedly fails more often than it succeeds. Whereas past entries have placed single player modes on the backburner (excluding the Battlefield: Bad Company series), Battlefield 1 tries to present a more serious and grounded take on the military skirmishes of WWI in the form of War Stories. After a chilling and intense prologue sequence, players are able to choose between 6 different campaigns that take place across the different theaters of war. Each tale is presented cinematically with cutscenes events providing the bulk of the story material, but they unfortunately fail to provide a compelling reason to care for any of the characters. Dialogue is stilted, with bizarrely bland and boring storylines working against the game’s confounding efforts to convince players of the horrors of war.
The gameplay does fare a bit better in War Stories than the actual stories it attempts to convey. Each separate story focuses on a different gameplay mechanic, ranging from tank warfare, aerial dogfighting, and more. This setup is quite brilliant in the grand scheme of Battlefield games, as it definitely serves as a great introduction to the many elements players will need to master in order to succeed in the industry famous online component. Once you’ve shot down your hundredth plane in the aerial War Story, you should be more than well prepared enough to fly a plane against other players online. However, there are a few hitches throughout the campaign modes that detract from the experience. For instance, stealth gameplay is the focus of almost all of the middle chapters over all the campaigns and it feels extremely out of place in a military shooter. It certainly would have been nice of DICE to have focused on developing more interesting sneaking mechanics, as these methodical sequences slow down the game’s pacing to an absolute crawl.
As per usual in the Battlefield series, multiplayer is the main reason to pick up the latest entry. The best way to understand Battlefield’s online gameplay is to think of other open-ended gaming experiences that allow vast amounts of player freedom and strategy development. A recent example would be a game such as Skyrim, which allows you to decide your gameplay experience as you go. In Battlefield, players have an almost overwhelming amount of options in how they go about winning each 64 player match of Conquest, the defining mode of the series. Want to race your vehicle behind enemy lines on a vast desert map in order to capture an objective? How about setting up shop with your friends in a high up house in the mountains, consistently picking off enemies from afar? What if you want to choose a more fast paced playstyle, running and gunning through areas of heavy player congestion? Battlefield offers a wide variety of choices for players looking for a ever changing gaming experience with high replayability.
Battlefield 1 is no different when it comes to the multiplayer experience, and it feels like a “greatest hits” of the franchise’s best mechanics. The environmental destruction returns to the way it was back in the Bad Company series, with almost every building being capable of crumbling to the ground after being dealt enough damage. As it did in those prior entries, this mechanic forces players to rethink their strategies on the ground and allows malevolent pilots to devise spectacular crashes that tumble structures and eliminate the players within them. The map design and environments are a great mix of old and new, with the majority of them taking place in wide outdoor settings, though streamlined in order to prevent players from trudging across too much terrain on foot in order to get back in the battle. Sadly, the removal of commander mode is the most noticeable exclusion, as its emphasis on having a team leader “control” the game from an RTS style view was quite unique in earlier entries.
The new features added to Battlefield 1 serve to refine and reinforce the core areas of the series. The addition of specialized player kits, such as a randomly spawning armored, flamethrower wielding kit, help add more variety to corridor encounters. New, specialized vehicle types, called Behemoths, are also available, but these appear exclusively to the losing team in order to even the playing field in unbalanced fights. These include a massive airship( or “Zeppelin”) that reigns bullets from above, an armored train outfitted with multiple guns to fire at the enemy encampments, and a naval Dreadnought that deals a tremendous amount of damage. In accordance with the “greatest hits” element of Battlefield 1, these Behemoths are reminiscent of the Titans from Battlefield 2142, giving players on the opposing team a massive vehicle to concentrate their focus on during matches.
All in all, Battlefield 1 is a welcome addition to the series for fans and ordinary players alike. its slightly more streamlined approach adds fluidity and focus to online battles. Multiplayer continues to be the aspect of greatest appeal for the series, but the new single player mode certainly increase the value of the overall package, even if it doesn’t feature particularly interesting characters or storylines. Battlefield 1’s campaign attempts to portray harrowing tales of bravery and courage, but its true success still lies in its thoroughly refined multiplayer suite.