It’s about time a top-flight developer took on the fertile territory for grisly combat yielded by World War I, and EA DICE makes up for lost time with the bold, brutal Battlefield 1. Packing not only the sprawling multiplayer suite Battlefield fans are used to, the game digs into territory the series usually glosses over by nailing a deep and engrossing single-player campaign. Seizing the opportunity to tell fascinating, globe-spanning stories that made up what was known as the Great War a century ago, Battlefield 1 feels like double the game for the usual price.
Game: Battlefield 1
Consoles: PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One, PC
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA DICE
Release Date: October 21
Few war games in recent memory open up with a sequence as breathtaking as the way Battlefield 1 gets things going. You flash from one deadly scenario to another, with no prompting or context. Whether you’re entrenched behind barbed wire at the end of a bayonet, behind the gun of a marauding tank or dashing through no man’s land amid a hail of bullets, death is inevitable. After each demise, the screen flashes with the name of the combatant and the startlingly young age at which he perished. A poetic voiceover then settles you in to a map of the globe, letting you choose from among several mini story campaigns, ranging from an Italian volunteer to a British flyboy to Lawrence of Arabia.
Throughout the countless missions, you gain a fast appreciation of the sheer animosity of the way war was waged as society stumbled into the Industrial Age, with befuddled commanders sending scared teenagers to use gruesomely efficient machinery of death to blow each other to bits for no discernible reason. Movies and games tend to glorify the heroism of combat, but this game is out to capture the sense of horror. You nearly always feel outmanned and outgunned, and the personal touches never let you forget that these are real people you are dealing with. You can’t help but wonder whether you had a forgotten descendant who was among the 60 to 70 million warriors who took part in the unfathomably bloody conflict.
Since the material the game takes on is so different, it’s a little surprising how multiplayer feels much the same as what you’d normally expect from Battlefield. Maps, though vast and open, take on a bit of the cookie cutter, lost-in-oblivion feel that nagged Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 4. The biggest change is the slower pace offered by lumbering vehicles and archaic weapons. The lack of firearm reliability puts a premium on melee, measured stealth and the overwhelming power offered by the likes of turreted cannons and portable flamethrowers. Going the lone wolf route rarely makes sense in a Battlefield game, and that’s more true here than ever. The vanilla opening offerings will no doubt be boosted by map and weaponry expansions, but there is a looming sense that developers held back too much.
As rival Call of Duty continues to push deeper into the sci-fi future of combat, Battlefield 1 feels all the more fresh by reversing the trend and going old school. In many ways, the trenches and smoke-strewn wastelands the game hurls you into feel more alien than anything the likes of Call of Duty, Halo or Gears of War have to offer. It feels good to be forced out of your comfort zone as a grizzled, cynical shooter vet, and even better to have an invigorating and thoroughly educational campaign to play through if you’re not feeling the multiplayer scene. Battlefield 1 is an eye-opener about the grim realities of war at its most savage, and as sharp and jarring as a bayonet in the spine.
Battlefield 1 Reviews Around The Web:
“Warfare has never looked so good.” –Digital Spy
“A refreshing, gorgeous shooter that breaks up the monotony of futuristic action games with solid mechanics and a setting that has never gotten the attention it deserves.” –The Daily Dot
“Packs a serious punch, and it looks damn good while doing it.” –Gaming Trend
Battlefield 1 Screenshots
The publisher provided a review copy.
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