In an age marred by a constant stream of conventional and generic futuristic first-person shooters such as “Call of Duty”, the “Battlefield” series has been guilty of subtly moving in this direction. Now, EA Digital Illusions CE AB (EA DICE), the developers of the popular “Battlefield” series, have listened to fans’ and critics’ requests to journey back to a much simpler age in wartime, back to when almost every war shooter out there centered on the wars of the 20th century. For the first time, a game developer ventured into the untouched potential of World War I with stunningly beautiful and terrifying results. Contrary to its title, “Battlefield 1” is not the first entry in the series; its name is derived from the historical significance of the Great War and how it paved the way for future global conflicts.
“Battlefield 1” features the series’ signature multiplayer mode, but greater effort has been placed in providing a strong single-player mode, something that has always been a wrench in the gears for the “Battlefield” series. The campaign is told in a nonlinear format over the course of six different “War Stories,” each dealing with a different war front and nation during World War I. The first deals with a brief prologue involving the Harlem Hellfighters who, against all odds, attempt to stave off the inevitable against an overwhelming German army. You can play as different characters, and as each one is killed you become the next cannon-fodder soldier, showcasing the stark brutality of war. The second deals with a ragtag tank squad as they soldier on through enemy lines to break a path for their allies. The third follows a conniving and hotheaded American pilot as he bluffs his way to piloting a plane within the British Royal Air Force. The fourth and fifth ones—the shorter ones of the bunch—follow an Italian heavy infantry soldier and an Australian runner as they do their best for their friends and allies against all odds. The last deals with a Bedouin warrior as she embarks on missions of sabotage against the Ottoman Empire in Arabia, assisting friend and charismatic leader Lawrence of Arabia.
Each one of these stories are told well despite their brevity, with some good characters here and there. The campaign is a decent length of around seven hours, which is good for a first-person shooter (FPS) game these days, although you end up wishing for more.
Effects-wise, the game has immaculate detail and fantastic audio, from basic sound effects such as the pitter-patter of rain to complex sounds such as the deafening roar of a zeppelin. The multiplayer mode is the strongest aspect, as usual with this series, with the old-fashioned feeling of the weapons, gadgetry and vehicles being a welcome tread back in time over the futuristic feel of most other FPS games. The most striking and welcoming element to multiplayer mode is a massively scoped game mode known as Operations. In Operations, all nine maps of the game are combined in massive battlefields of up to 64 players as they attempt to protect and capture major points on a map, reenacting some major battles from WWI. My only gripe would be a lack of options when it comes to weapons, with some weapons simply being given different designations despite their overwhelming similarities. However, previous games have been criticized for having too many weapons, so stripping down to the basics is fine. Some vehicles may seem a bit excessive in their power, but nothing ever feels unfair and everything feels earned and natural.
Overall, this is a fantastic package, although the brief but enjoyable campaign may not be as fulfilling as the engrossing multiplayer, which may be a slight turn-off to those who look to the campaign and do not have time for multiplayer. But that should not be the deal breaker. This is a great concept for a game, and it has plenty of replay value, although you may want for more.
Game: “Battlefield 1”
Developer: EA DICE
Release Date: Oct. 21
Rating: 4.5 out of 5