Battlefield 1: Two Weeks in the Trenches
WW1 IS THE FOCUS IN BATTLEFIELD 1
Battlefield 1 immerses players in the horrors of World War 1. The gameplay moves at a refreshing pace which falls somewhere between Call of Duty 4 and ARMA 3. The online FPS hasn’t strayed too far from it’s predecessors but has made enough changes to make it feel refreshing. The overall package is near flawless for me in terms of gameplay however the crux of my enjoyment comes from playing with my friends.
We do things a little differently here at Versus Player, we’re a small startup games blog that gets to review the latest titles on release. While we do provide a score at the end our break-down is all about cohesiveness.
A game can look and sound fantastic but does it work well together?
It was clunky and full of bugs but it’s charm won me over and I love it!
As a gamer it’s all about my combined experiences that sway my overall opinion of whether something was worth my time so don’t be surprised if the overall score doesn’t match up with the individual elements that put this game together.
What follows is a collection of experiences and opinions I’ve formed during my two weeks with Battlefield 1. For a summary of the final score please feel free to skip to the end.
I played Battlefield 1 on PC for a total of 34 hours as of publishing and more than 60% of that was with friends. I played on a High graphical setting using a GTX 970 on a 1440p monitor at around 60 frames per second with the occasional dip to 50. My ping is an average of 3ms.
BACK TO 1942
I remember spending late nights at the local Internet Cafe where I grew up in Sydney. I would team up with a friend from school and we would play Battlefield 1942 until the early hours of the morning every week. Battlefield 1942 felt way ahead of its time, huge sprawling maps with ground and vehicle combat and such a huge sense of scale. You weren’t the hero of the story, simply one of the many that would have some minor impact on victory or defeat.
Battlefield 1942 (in its time) looked just as amazing as Battlefield 1 does today, I’ve never really considered just how real it all seemed and while Battlefield 1 looks absolutely stellar there is something to be said for the level of detail in Battlefield 1942 when it was released in September, 2002.
Heres a little taste of nostalgia before we step back into WW1.
SAND GETS EVERYWHERE
Enter Battlefield 1, the latest in the Battlefield franchise by DICE and EA. I’d first seen the reveal in early May, 2016 and I immediately contacted that same friend with a link to the video, he had already seen the trailer and was just as excited as I was. I had hoped that I would be able to relive the glory days of fighting side by side with my buddy and all the other online soldiers at the LAN cafe almost 15 years ago.
I first had an opportunity to play during the Open Beta and at the time there was only one map you could play, The Sinai Desert. I’d opted to travel by horse for my first foray and was immediately sucked in to the beautiful landscape they had created, everything looked spectacular, the weather, the blistering sun, the way the sand moves around the horses hooves. Of course stand around too long and you might have a few bombs dropped on you or be hit by a crack-shot sniper and unfortunately for me that’s exactly what had happened. I immediately rode for Butter (Point B) in hopes of capturing it for the enemy before they had a chance to when Caproni Ca.5 dropped it’s load on my poor horse and rider. My dreams of being John Marston with a sword were shattered.
I saddled up once more and just barely clicked on the option to spawn as a rider when something funny happened.
I watched my horse spawn with another eager solider as I’m left standing there fully dressed as a jockey with no horse of my own and beyond the beta this still seems to be an occasional issue. I imagine this has something to do with too many people selecting to spawn with the horse at the same time. While there were some bugs during the beta everything ran fairly smooth, there were some issues related to medics not being able to see who they could revive or matches ending after a specific time limit but ultimately I loved played the same level over and over again as I tried new tactics to best the enemy.
I won’t dive too far into the events of the beta as I now have the full game in my hands but it was an absolute blast.
On release there are 9 different locations to wage war. All of this information is readily available via the Battlefield website so instead I’m going to discuss two of my favourite maps.
Argonne Forest is one of the smaller Battlefield maps and in many ways is a take on Operation Metro from BF4. It’s also absolutely beautiful.
The shadowy depths of the Argonne forest is the scene for some of the most brutal close quarter combat in Battlefield 1. The world inside this forest features devious defensive setups combined with a labyrinth of bunkers and machine gun nests. Camouflaged field guns firing at point-blank range, Stormtroopers clearing out bunkers with gas, and the best use of sharpened spades will determine who owns the depths of this forest. Heroes are forged surviving the intensity of this infantry focused map.
I load up as a medic, I’ve played this map before and I know that there are a few points that are contested by the enemy. I’m squad leader which means two things:
- I absolutely must issue orders to my squad as more often than not it can tip the score in our favour. I find very few squad leaders will take this role seriously but please mark objectives for capture! If you find yourself guarding a particular point you can also mark to hold the flag for a similar reward.
- I have a sweet whistle! As squad leader you can push forward with a mighty GO GO GO followed by a loud yet triumphant whistle blow that I guarantee will improve the morale of your squad. Blow it!
There are no vehicles on this map so its pure infantry. Sticking together with your squad is paramount however a flurry of grenades will destroy your tightly knit group in seconds so spread out a little. There are a lot of (what I like to call) long leafy hallways of death and you will know them when you see them. As a medic you are prompted when soldiers around you have fallen and it’s not uncommon for half a dozen men to be trapped waiting for a revive in the narrow gas-filled walls of the forest. As a medic you need to know when to revive and you need to know when to let them go. Bringing someone back from the brink of death only to have them killed again is pointless and you end up risking your own life to do it. However playing the medic isn’t about keeping yourself alive, it’s about everyone else so it’s your call as to how you should handle it. Playing smart will give you that extra push to take the hallway and make it to the next flag, the gas mask is often your friend in this situation.
If you find your team constantly dead in the mud then chances are Thomas is going to chug on in to help. Thomas is the tide turner on this map, he’s a big old locomotive with 4 huge guns that rolls on through the middle of the map and if manned correctly can get you and your team those much-needed flags.
Argonne Forest is brutal and fast paced, it’s probably the most fun I’ve had in Battlefield so far but it’s not all murder and mayhem. Every now and then you may find yourself at your teams spawn point taking in the beautiful surroundings, that is, until a mortar drops on your head.
Monte Grappa takes our solider from the canopy to the sky. Stunning weather effects and harrowing heights await.
Take part in one of the final battles among the peaks of kings in the Venetian Alps. High up above the clouds a desperate fight for control of mountain forts are challenging even the toughest soldiers. Utilize the massive fort cannons to stop the advancing enemies as they scale the mountainside. Up here, in this furious struggle, the Austro Hungarian Empire holds the upper hand, but the Italian Army won’t stop until they’ve taken back what’s theirs.
I opt for a sniper rifle with a scope in Monte Grappa, I’m a poor shot and even worse once the fog rolls in but it’s a fun class I’d love to improve. It’s a huge push to the top for both you and the opposition but that’s where the real combat begins. Having the higher ground is advantageous however it’s a slow push to the top as a sniper.
I find myself scurrying from rock to rock briefly peering out at potentials targets, I don’t want to look for too long or the glint from my scope will give away my position. It doesn’t take too long before I see three targets coming over the horizon, two snipers and a medic, I make sure to mark all of them for my team but to be honest it’s mainly so I can keep track of whats going on. I’m spoilt for choice and that’s when a mix of excitement and panic hits me almost every time I choose this class. Shoot too soon and you give away your position, take too long and the enemy has a shotgun or shovel waiting for you. I can assure you that nine times out of ten I’m going to stuff this up.
I briefly look through my scope again, line up the shot, steady my aim and fire. Theres one thing I absolutely have to mention here and that’s the amazing sound design in this game, I give it a high score in the end but don’t discuss it in-depth, it’s almost worthy of its own review. I have a pair of virtual 7.1 headphones that really add to the immersion of the game, it’s really unlike anything else I’ve played this year. The crack as the bullet sores though the alps is almost fighting and the feedback you get when the bullet passes through your enemies helmet is so satisfying.
Anyway, back to the shot. I steady my aim…I fire…I miss…I give away my position! The sniper notices the glint from my scope, the other one is already taking shots at my safety rock and the medic is alerted to my presence, I’ve probably been marked but it’s probably more to do with the fact that I’m not quick enough to crouch behind the rock. It’s game over for me, a bullet enters my skull and I lay then hoping to be revived except for the fact that I’ve already held down the space bar and ruined the chances of being brought back. I really need to stop doing that.
Playing a sniper is an interesting choice mainly due to the selfishness of it all. I love playing as a sniper and perhaps if I was a better one I could contribute more to the battle however I find more often that not I’m huddled up against another scope buddy taking pot shots at soldiers around a capture point we probably aren’t going to get. Everyone else is holding a critical point that can the entire battle around but as a sniper is a very singular focus. That being said it’s also incredibly satisfying.
We’re doing well, so well in fact that the enemy gets a little help from a massive war zeppelin that looms over the entire map. Timed with the right weather conditions this behemoth is awe-inspiring. My squadmate tells me to ride shotgun in a dinky little plane he’s decided to spawn in and what happens next is one of the coolest experiences I’ve had in an online shooter to date.
I find myself seated as the rear gunner with the ability to fire in all directions, most of my vision is obscured by the wings so I opt to fire from the back at other aerial foes. I’ve flown a few planes before, specifically in the beta and had a great time playing chicken with the enemy but when the behemoth is on the map it’s a different kind of battle. There really isn’t much hope for us as we strafe around the Zeppelin attempting to take out the gunners underneath and the infantry blasting us from the top. You can freely roam around the top section if you chose to release yourself from the gunner’s seat and it’s not uncommon to have snipers shooting down at infantry below hoping for a cool kill.
As expected we don’t last very long against the barrage of bullets from both the Zeppelin and enemy fighter planes around us so my pilot buddy does what he always does. He flies straight up for the sun for no reason other than it looks cool and I wait for the familiar queue of when to bail out. “GO GO GO!” squadie blows his whistle and I eject (fall out of) my seat. When this happens I rarely have a target, I just want to free fall for a while. This time is different, this time I pull my chute just in time to land on the zeppelin and down the very end is a sniper staring me straight in the eye. It’s almost guaranteed he’s going to kill me and in my panic I charge at him with the bayonet on my rifle, most of the time when I use my bayonet I either run out of gas before I hit the enemy or I press it by accident when I’m trying to melee. I charge down the Zeppelin slightly strafing towards the enemy, he gets a single shot off reducing my health to near nothing but not before I turn him into a human chicken skewer. IT. WAS. AWESOME.
I bailed off the side of the zeppelin like James Bond and in my excitement forgot to pull the cord on my parachute. Oh well.
I’m looking forward to playing more Battlefield 1 and I’ll revisit this review at a later point to see where the state of the game is in 2017.