Guns, gas, and grenades…
I told myself at the announcement of Battlefield 1 that I wouldn’t be interested in it, that the World War I setting wouldn’t work, and that DICE was grasping at straws. I was extremely glad to find out that Battlefield 1’s open beta is packed with action, and the retail release appears to be primed to make a big impact when it is unleashed on consoles and PC.
More Of The Same?
The Battlefield franchise has been a staple of the first-person shooter genre, providing players with large-scale combat and a teamwork focus for some time. Battlefield 1doesn’t appear to be groundbreaking in that regard, but the WWI setting is absolutely fantastic. The framework hasn’t changed and the basics of how it operates isn’t different, but there’s something to be said about how the atmosphere sucks you in and makes you claw for every inch of territory.
Combat seems more balanced as a result. Vehicles are present, as always, but they’re precious commodities that are even more dangerous in the hands of a skilled operator. Melee combat has made a push forward into the game as well, and DICE has even included the option of performing a Bayonet Charge when sprinting forward while carrying a bayonet-equipped rifle.
Weapons have the ideal level of oomph to them. Like all other Battlefield games, great care seems to have been put into making sure the firearms have a satisfying noise associated with them, and the developers even made sure to include the telltale crack of a sniper’s round whizzing by your head.
This all will likely sound very familiar to those that play the series, but there’s something that Battlefield 1 has that hasn’t been present since the Battlefield license graduated from WWII to the modern era.
No Fancy Gadgets Here
Since Battlefield 1 is set in a fictional version of WWI, combat flows differently. There aren’t any the same types of gadgets to help out; reflex scopes, drones, and missiles aren’t present here. Battlefield 1 is all guns, gas, and grenades.
In my time with it, I played primarily on the Conquest mode, wading through the sand and bullets to each objective. I had my fair share of losses in the beginning, though after finding a good squad, the tide began to turn. This is where Battlefield tends to shine. Teamwork makes a comeback from the weakly received Battlefield Hardline, where being a lone wolf seemed to pay off more.
The Battlefield 1 beta runs at a far slower pace than the most recent previous entries. With firearms becoming the primary method of combat, and melee taking the passenger seat, each firefight requires more deliberate action. The battle I remember best still is one where I had to face off against a lone soldier…
We were both face down in the sand, firing back and forth for some time. He had found cover near a bombed out house, and I had the misfortune of being in the open. Over the dunes flew a potato masher, fuse sizzling. I had only moments to react, so I stood and dodged out of the way.
The explosion scrambled my head for a while. Blood smeared all over my face.I fumbled for my rifle and shook the sand from it. The crater left by the detonation looked to be just the right fit for me, so I threw myself in. Our spat felt like it had been going on for hours and I knew that I’d be dead in a matter of moments if I didn’t end it myself.
So I stood tall and took aim. I could see him shuffling closer, trying to find his mark. I knew we were far from each other but I swear I could see the glint in his eyes. We both fired…
And here I am…
I don’t mean to sound too dramatic, but this is how I felt while playing. Of course not every fight is so glorious. I’ve had my share of awkward failures.
Battlefield 1 just seems to have a certain charm about it. It feels weighted with history, something that the modern Battlefield games are missing. Fights feel like there’s more at stake, but that may be just me.
Ugliness Rears Its Head
That’s not to say that it’s all good news. The menus are hopelessly sluggish on the Xbox One and I’ve witnessed multiple glitches with player’s equipment as they’re on the move.
I made the mistake of attempting to change my settings mid-battle and got locked up in the menu as the game attempted to comprehend what I wanted to do. Trying to exit the menu only resulted in me staring at my HUD for over 30 seconds, while another player shot me in the face.
Luckily issues on my end have been fairly uncommon, but DICE seriously needs to address the sluggish menus.
Once More Unto The Breach, Dear Friends, Once More…
Battlefield 1 may be part of a long running series of games, but this reinvention appears to be on the right track. I found myself getting invested in battles, cheering alongside my fellow players, and trying to keep us all alive (I always play as a Medic). The fights brought with them a little adrenaline surge as my fireteams drew a line in the sand, and managed to hold it.
In time, everyone will get to play the full game and see for themselves. In the meantime, I’d recommend everyone interested in the game take a chance to play the open beta, which will be accessible until September 8th.
I may have been wrong in my initial assumptions about Battlefield 1. Does anyone know a doctor that specializes in removing feet from mouths?
Have you had the chance to play the open beta? What are your thoughts? Are you ready to report for duty?