Battlefield 1’s decision to go back in time to World War I seems odd at first. After all, you wouldn’t think that the trench warfare or the slow armored vehicles would work well with the fast-paced multiplayer we’ve come to expect from modern shooters. And yet it does work, after a few tweaks to the source material. While Battlefield 1 ends up being more “inspired by” WWI rather than “based on”, it does manage to recapture the feeling of a true war game – something many modern military shooters lack. More importantly, it ends up being one of the best shooters of 2016.

When I say “inspired by” I really do mean that. Battlefield 1 tries to retain some sort of authenticity, but as a fast-paced shooter it need to make some sacrifices. For example, there are far more automatic weapons than there were in WWI, and all the vehicles and tanks move at blistering speeds compared to their real-life counterpart. Don’t get me wrong, DICE were very wise to make these changes, as otherwise the game wouldn’t have worked as a Battlefield game. However, some part of me is still sad that there’s just too much WWII in this WWI game. The surroundings and aesthetics all scream WWI, with barbed wire, trenches, and biplanes, but the gameplay isn’t all that different than any WWII shooter we’ve ever played. Well, apart from the horses maybe.

Battlefield 1 review

Before we delve into the multiplayer (which is probably what most of you really care about), let’s take a look at the single-player campaign. The Battlefield franchise isn’t known for great story campaigns, and I’ll admit I didn’t like those of the recent entries, but Battlefield 1 takes a new direction that really pays off. The campaign is actually divided into six small stories, each taking place in a different time and location during the war. This admittedly means that you don’t get to spend a lot of time with one single character, but you do get exposed to very different gameplay elements. For example, in one of these “war stories” you mostly drive a tank, in another you pilot an airplane, and in another still you get to run-and-gun while wearing a full suit of armor. While not all of them are as good, and some are way too short to form any connection to the story or character, they are all well-executed, diverse and fun. Plus, if you don’t like a certain story, you can always move on to the next, knowing that you didn’t miss on anything too big.

Each of the campaign stories also has a different vibe. Some are dramatic, some are more lighthearted, but all are definitely war stories. I’ve mentioned before how Battlefield 1 manages to recapture that feeling of being in a war, and it’s worth reiterating. Many modern shooters are relatively small scale, with only a small group of people fighting their way through a sticky situation, but Battlefield 1 brings back that sense of grandeur. Things are happening all around you, and you are rarely alone in the fight (apart from a few stealthier missions). Soldiers scream as they rush past you to get to the front lines, airplanes come crashing down in huge balls of fire, and explosions rock the ground beneath you. It can be very epic and very terrifying at the same time, and I absolutely love it.

Battlefield 1 review

That feeling makes a perfect transition to the game’s multiplayer modes, especially in the bigger, more complex ones. Conquest is one such mode, where two teams battle it out over control over key locations on the map. The combination of foot soldiers, horses, tanks, armored vehicles, and planes created a sort of structured chaos you would find on a battlefield. The same goes for Rush, a “attack-and-defend” type of mode, where one team tries to destroy objectives while the other defends them. Once the objectives are destroyed, the action shifts to a different part of the large map, and the whole thing starts again. This ever-changing battlefield create a very dynamic fight, where the tables can turn very quickly in favor of either side. Other modes are Domination, a faster, smaller version of Conquest without vehicles; the mandatory Team Deathmatch; and my personal favorite – War Pigeons, which is a take on Capture the Flag where you collect pigeons hold on to them for about 30 seconds, and then release them to send to summon an artillery barrage. It’s a fast, chaotic mode where people try and shoot birds out of the sky with old-timey machine guns.

But the biggest, most intense multiplayer event of Battlefield 1 must be Operations – a series of large scale matches between 40 or 64 players. Think of Operations as a combination of Conquest and Rush, but as one long continuous battle across multiple maps. If you have two equally skilled teams, these battles be quite the spectacle, with territory constantly switching hands as the attackers fight tooth and nail for every yard they conquer. However, if one team is better than the other, players might find the whole ordeal frustrating, mainly because the longer length of the match, and might even be tempted to quit in the middle of it.

However, since multiplayer in Battlefield 1 isn’t about kill/death ratio, even players who aren’t that good with a virtual gun can still shine. Battlefield 1 encourages players to join squads and work together during the fight, and to try and fulfill their class’s role. Healing or resupplying your teammates is just as important as taking down enemy soldiers, so a Medic will earn more points when reviving a downed ally than by avenging their death. Even Scouts have more to do than just score headshots from across the map, as tagging enemies through their sights helps the rest of the team immensely. A high score is important for leveling up quickly and earning more War Bonds, the in-game currently used to purchase new weapons and equipment. You also need to level up each individual class in order to unlock these weapons and equipment. This is why Battlefield 1’s emphasis on roles instead of pure combat works perfectly. Overall, playing as a squad and following the squad leader’s orders (and assigning these orders when you are the squad leader) is much more important, and ultimately fun, than running headfirst into enemy fire in hopes of improving your K/D ratio.

Battlefield 1 review

But no matter which mode you prefer to play, it’s difficult not to stop and admire your surrounding, which can be dangerous as there are snipers everywhere. Yes, Battlefield 1 is a very good-looking game. From the sandy dunes of the Sinai desert to the snowy mountains of Northern Italy, everything is just so beautiful. All this beauty only serves to emphasis all the destruction that’s going on around you, and there’s a lot of it. The sound design is, as always, top notch, with earth-shattering explosions and echoes of gunfire drifting through underground tunnels completely immersing you in the soundtrack of war.

Battlefield 1 is a tremendous first-person shooter, with a solid single-player campaign and phenomenal multiplayer that got me hook from the first match. While I would’ve liked it to be a more “WWI experience”, DICE did a great job adapting the source material and the historical period to the Battlefield formula. With an amazing presentation and gameplay, Battlefield turly makes The Great War great.

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