Also On: Xbox One, PC
As burned out as everyone seemed to be with World War 2 themed shooters last decade, it still feels a little weird to be excited by a game that focuses on history once again, even if it is the oft-overlooked backdrop of the first World War. But Battlefield 1 proves to be a game worthy of that excitement, with a really solid, remarkably reverent campaign combined with the same reliable, large-scale multiplayer the series is known for. Honestly, I’m hesitant to point out much in the way missteps here, outside of some late-game pacing issues for single-player, and your standard set of multiplayer launch hiccups, this is easily one of the better Battlefield entries.
While single-player campaigns have never been a Battlefield strong suit, I think DICE definitely made some leeway in Battlefield 1. The campaign is divided up into a series of individual episodes, self-contained that focus on different areas and armies from around the globe, roughly all in the year 1918. While most won’t be recognizable events to non-history buffs, the final chapter does focus on the slightly more recognizable exploits of Lawrence of Arabia, but not quite in the way you might expect.
All in all, the small character stories that pop up in each chapter are pretty well done, the cutscene performance and direction is top-notch, and the actual missions are fun to play. There’s a lot of open battlegrounds to run around in, with optional stealth mechanics that are satisfying to pull off. And the vehicle segments, both on ground and in air, are generally exhilarating. The only real complaint I have is with the final mission, which is a bit of a slog to get through. That’s about all I can say without spoiling things here.
Obviously the multiplayer is a key component to the Battlefield series, and that’s no exception with Battlefield 1. The new Operations mode is particularly noteworthy, featuring large scale maps with 64 players that re-enact a series of military campaigns from the first World War. This mode is a basically an attack and defend mode, where one army will attempt to advance across a series of battles, taking control points as they push through the front in order to claim an entire region. This mode, along with most of the 64 player battles, really does a great job of capturing the overall feel of the Battlefield series, and gives the game much of its unique identity. It’s less about racking up the most kills, and more about owning the particular class you decide to play. Teamwork and Squad focused gameplay are key to victory, and that remains constantly true throughout the rest of the game’s multiplayer modes.
As far as the additional modes go, you’ll have your standard selection of Team Deathmatch, Conquest, Domination, Rush, and uh, War Pigeons? That last one might sound a little odd, but it’s actually more of a Capture the Flag variant, where there’s one pigeon on the map, and your team needs to hold on to it long enough to successfully send off a message to HQ. It’s fun, much like the other modes, but not as wildly odd as the name might suggest.
Another area where Battlefield 1 really manages to nail the landing is in the presentation. This is an absolutely fantastic looking game, playing this on PS4, it’s easily one of the best, if not THE best, looking shooter on the platform. Everything from the environment to the character models looks top notch. And those zeppelin scenes in the second campaign story? Hoo boy. Adding to the excellent visuals, Battlefield 1 also features some exceptional sound design. The echo effect when firing guns indoors, the actual distinct blast to all the different weapons at your disposal, and a pretty memorable soundtrack combine to make something special here. And again, the voice acting is pretty top notch, and actually mixed in a way that you can hear it despite all the explosions, which is another plus.
I’m absolutely impressed by every aspect of Battlefield 1. While it’s easy to think that the weapons and machines available to a game based on the first World War might feel like a step back for military shooters, I think you’ll be surprised by how exciting and modern Battlefield 1 still manages to feel. It’s also nice to have a game with both an excellent campaign and multiplayer, making you feel like your $60 is well spent here. While this isn’t the game that’ll turn non-FPS players into fans, it’s certainly a solid jumping on point for those that haven’t touched a Battlefield game in the past. And if you already enjoy the series, well, I can’t really come up with any reason why you won’t love this.