“Battlefield 1” is my favorite shooter since “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.” Going in the opposite historical direction than its Activision rival, “Battlefield 1” is a breath of fresh air. The archaic, old-school weaponry bring a new level of intrigue because, unlike the lasers and alien weaponry of new CoDs, these weapons existed and they are stranger than fiction. If you are the slightest bit interested in history or World War I, just the sight of these technical marvels will kickstart your imagination. On top of that, strong graphics and sound design build the immersion to unbelievable heights; never have the horrors of war been so gorgeous and unsettling to experience.
The Campaign Tour
The campaign of “Battlefield 1” is an original and masterfully-executed piece of the bloody World War 1 simulator. Broken into six vignettes, the stories follow different soldiers in different nations who have entirely separate experiences and skills. This anthology-style storytelling is absolutely perfect for a first-person shooter because it never gives you time to get bored with a setting, a cast of characters, weaponry of the region, or story. Instead, these vignettes feel like true war stories and the emotional punch is superbly strong in most cases. Most notably, the campaign never relishes in the violence and gore of World War I; the war is, thankfully, depicted as a tragedy and much respect is given to those who fell in battle. These quick, powerful stories deliver beautiful set pieces without Michael Bay-esque explosions and let emotion guide the player through the trenches, forests, cities, deserts, fields, and skies of Word War I.
Each of the six story missions are gorgeous, hand-crafted experiences which prove that DICE are masters of sound design; bullet whizz by your head and rifles snap when they report. Mortar shells and tanks offer concussive, bombastic explosions which accurately indicate their power. If you’ve ever played DICE’s Star Wars shooter “Battlefront” then you have experienced just how impressive and reverential their sound design is. Once again, the graphics here are some of the best on offer from the current console generation; there were multiple instances where I wanted to stare at a destroyed, muddy field or the sunrise over a foggy French village, but the war rages on. Also, destructible environments are back and this allows for the same type of strategic gameplay that has worked so well for “Battlefield” games since “Bad Company.” While the buildings don’t seem to crumble as easily as they do in “Bad Company,” it is safe to assume that “Battlefield 1” reuses a similar physics engine to that used in “Battlefield 4.” It might not be fully realistic, but damn is it pretty and fun to use when flanking.
Additionally, the six-hour or so campaign is short, sweet, and a strong primer for multiplayer; the true reason why people play the “Battlefield” series.
Wether you’re a returning “Battlefield” player or a newcomer, expect to be slightly overwhelmed by the new multiplayer suite in the first couple of hours. The most jarring and impressive accomplishment of “Battlefield 1” multiplayer is how well it captures the confusion and random chaos of war. Do not expect a mini-map to show you which direction the enemies are shooting from. If you want a red dot sight, there is a solution, but it ain’t pretty. Does that guy on a horse have a sword? Wait! Is that a train with artillery on it?
“Battlefield 1” multiplayer is shocking in its randomness and constant threat of death. Don’t expect to 360-no scope noobz while chugging a Mountain Dew; this game is difficult and the guns are not highly accurate. Aiming takes time and spray-and-pray tactics will not work. The unreliability of the aged guns might be a deal-breaker for some, but I love the underlined focus on skill rather than twitchy response times; I’m getting older, folks. If I want to get in a tank, rest my legs, and blast some fools, why can’t I? Of course, there are counters to the vehicles, but the new tanks, planes, and motorcycles are a sight to behold in action.
As always, “Conquest” mode is the standout here; these massive-scale battles further capture the randomness of war as well as the simultaneous beauty and horror that only “Battlefield” games can provide. Add in vehicles and some Elite Classes, which act as power-ups to provide metal body armor, archaic mini-guns, or flamethrowers, and you have one of the most intense and wild multiplayer shooters of the past decade.