Battlefield 1 PS4 Review
Publisher: EA Developer: EA DICE Genre: FPS Players: 1-64
Age Rating: 18+ Other console/handheld formats: Xbox One
Remember when the games market was saturated with World War 2 shooters? Well, could we be headed towards an era in which World War 1 could be the popular choice for first person shooters? To my knowledge, Battlefield 1 is the first big budget FPS that takes place during the Great War, and with sales currently booming, it’s not unthinkable that other shooter developers will follow suit with the setting.
At least with Battlefield 1’s War Stories campaign it does feel as though there’s a World War going on. With six different stories and six characters, the game definitely allows you to see the Great War from various angles. There’s an American fighter pilot, an Italian soldier of the Arditi Unit, a British tank driver, an Arab rebel working alongside Lawrence of Arabia, an Australian Message Runner, and a Harlem Fighter (a single prologue level). Splitting the stories up in such a way is a smart way to design a campaign that takes place during a world war, showing the efforts of various soldiers as opposed to a single person implausibly fighting in every single battle as seen in many other games over the years.
After completing the Harlem Fighters utterly devastating prologue mission, it’s then up to you as to what order you play the different stories in. It’s a thrilling campaign that is a nice mixture of action and stealth, and this is whether you are scouting ahead for a tank, attacking from the air in a period plane, or being stealthy through the Arabian desert. None of these stories last for very long, although credit must go to DICE for managing to flesh the characters out just enough to make caring about them worthwhile in each of these brief stories. I did often find myself wanting more from each story, however, which is both a good and a bad thing. It’s a good thing in the way that desiring more from the campaign means that what is there is a huge success, but it’s bad in the way that in some ways the individual stories feel underdeveloped.
More positively, the campaign is great in the way that it educates you on various things about World War 1, with on-screen text displaying facts at the beginning and end of each story, although the amount of soldiers who lost their lives through disease in the trenches is oddly something that the game ignores. The campaign is also over too soon, ending after only five or six hours of play, but collectibles do give reason to return, particularly as they unlock content for the multiplayer mode. The AI is also completely dense and reckless, and the enemy is definitely at their best in numbers. Overall though, it’s still a grand enough campaign that is on a world wide scale.
Whether playing in single player or multiplayer, Battlefield 1 definitely gives you a real sense of place. The visuals are absolutely stunning, and I mean stunning in the way that it’s one of the best looking games that I’ve ever seen, with the grey and smoggy environments making it believable that the world is at war. Explosions and impressive particle effects add to the thrill, lightning is never anything less than beautiful, and the rich sound design is also expertly done. Further giving you a sense of place is the period weapons, uniforms, war machines, and famous figures that were present in the world just over a hundred years ago during this major global conflict. The detail in both the sound and the visuals is really quite splendid.
The slower and more cumbersome weaponry of the period has also been captured brilliantly, and this makes for a different type of Battlefield game. You really do have to approach the game differently, and it might take some time for you to adjust to the antique weaponry, with some weapons having slower reloads between each shot. There are even some firearms with bayonets attached to them, allowing you to charge towards an enemy to impale him. This is all authentic stuff.
The multiplayer options are vast, and this is all well and good as this is where many players will be spending most of their time. There are six different modes and nine maps, which are pleasing numbers for the game to launch with. The larger scale modes have support for up to 64 players, and it’s all typically wonderful stuff as far as online shooters go, with masses of appealing reasons to play.
While you get your usual assault, support, medic and scout classes, Battlefield 1 also features power-ups of sorts. You are notified when these elite power-ups appear on the map, and it’s then a mad scramble to get to it before someone else does. When you are able to get to one of these, you suddenly find yourself equipped with armour and a chaingun or perhaps a flamethrower, and you can then potentially do a load of damage to the opposing team if you are able to make use of your new toys smartly.
As for those earlier mentioned modes, here we see the return of the Team Deathmatch, Conquest, Domination, and Rush modes, and these are joined by the brand new Operations, and War Pigeons modes. Operations is easily the headline mode out of the two freshly introduced modes, and it’s an intense, chaotic and lengthy mode that has teams fighting over territory across multiple maps in scenarios that are based on real life battles from the Great War, with one team attacking and the other team defending different areas of the map, and avoiding being pushed back in such a manner that they are forced to retreat. It’s a brilliant new mode that is well worth getting stuck into, and it’s like a combination of the Conquest and Rush modes, which makes for a thrilling concoction. As for the War Pigeons mode, as the name suggests this is indeed all about pigeons. You’d be forgiven for wondering as to how DICE have managed to work pigeons into a Battlefield game, but they have done just that. Essentially, the mode works in a similar fashion to Capture the Flag in which you have to hold a pigeon for as long as possible in order to write firing coordinates on it, and releasing the pigeon will then result in an artillery strike being called in on the opposing team. It’s possible for the poor pigeon to be shot out of the sky though. All in all, War Pigeons is a fun mode that takes inspiration from a popular and regularly seen multiplayer mode but also has been altered enough for DICE to call it their own. It’s also ridiculous, but that doesn’t matter one iota.
The nine maps are also a varied bunch, taking place in towns, forests, deserts and the dirty trenches. In typical Battlefield fashion, multiplayer warfare results in buildings and walls being turned to rubble and the ground forming craters as the battles rage on, and Battlefield 1 also introduces dynamic weather, which adds some extra unpredictability to each match. DICE have also mentioned that a tenth map will be offered for free in December.
Battlefield 1 was a bold move on DICE’s part. Moving the series into the simpler times of World War 1 has made for a slower and more methodical shooter, and both the War Stories single player campaign mode and the multiplayer are both well worth playing, which makes for a mostly excellent package. As good and as varied as the memorable campaign is though, it would definitely have benefited from having a bit more meat to it and with some of the stories being expanded, but there’s very little wrong with the excellent multiplayer options, which are just as amazing as ever.