"War does not determine who is right - only who is left."
Nothing gets me more excited these days then a straight up ball's to the wall first-person shooter and the Battlefield series by DICE is always on my radar. I'm bored to death with flying around maps using jet packs and having cyber enhanced super human abilities. Battlefield 1 with its World War One setting and grounded combat could be just what I have been looking for. But does an old school approach still have what it takes?
Standing in a field up to my ankles in mud, blood and shit, surrounded by the burnt and mangled bodies of my comrades and enemies alike wasn't exactly how I'd planned to spend my Friday morning. Rockets explode around me and bullets whizz overhead and around me and then slam into my body. I hadn't even had time to take in my surroundings properly before I was cut down in a hail of bullets. What happened next took my breath away. Instead of respawning at a checkpoint or restarting the level I found myself in the body of another soldier. This happened over and over. There is absolutely no let up here and you move from one casualty to another knowing that each new soldier you embody is already living a death sentence. DICE want you to know the futility of war. This isn't a war where an invisible shield will protect you or an exoskeleton will allow you to take multiple hits before going down. This is as real as was gets on a console and it's fucking brutal with no second chances.
Battlefield 1’s single player is divided into five different campaigns. In a surprising move none of the campaigns are linked to each other apart from them all being in the same timeline so you are free to choose which campaign to start from. Each campaign is short and I recommend playing at the highest difficulty setting to get the most play out of them. Each campaign transports you to different battlefronts during World War One and seeing the war through so many different viewpoints adds a unique perspective to each story. I found the narrative of each campaign fascinating and unflinching in its depiction of war. Some games might laugh at the idea of hard to follow because there is no narrative joining each campaign together but when each campaign is harrowing and heart breaking those thoughts soon disappear.
The multiplayer is exactly what we have come to expect from the Battlefield series. It's a solid as a rock apart from the ever present destructible environments. The usual multiplayer modes make their annual appearance so expect to play Team Deathmatch, Conquest, Rush and Domination but also look out for the new kids on the block War Pigeons and Operations.Operations or Rush 2.0 is a frantic game on large scale maps with no quarter given as the defending team try to keep a flags/sectors from falling into the enemy's hands. There is a slight twist though because two flags need of be captured and the surrounding sector cleared of all enemies before it can be claimed by the attackers. As long as the sector is still being raided by the enemy it is not completely lost. Games ebb and flow as the advantage switches from one team to the next. The losing team are also granted a last stand with reinforcements in the shape of an airship, a dreadnaught or an attack train which can really help turn the tide. It's a great rush gaining the advantage back just as you're about to completely lose a sector or charge in all guns blazing to claim a sector just before the timer runs out. War Pigeons tasks you with keeping hold of a pigeon until a predetermined amount of time runs out so it can be released to deliver a message to command to send forth a bombardment onto your enemy. Camping with the pigeon is encouraged because the timer counts down quicker but camping brings about its own dangers as grenades are guaranteed to come flying in from all directions. I love War Pigeons it's frantic nature keeps you on your toes and it's short and sweet end goal of the first to three might make you think it will be over quickly but even when the pigeon is released it can still be shot down. There are balancing issues on certain multiplayer maps due to armored vehicles being more abundant on one team for some reason but nothing too bad that it breaks the game.
Battlefield One is bloody brutal and I can't stress that enough. There is no such thing as a clean kill here. Everything is so visceral. Every bullet hits with a solid thump and every melee kill feels and sounds like you would imagine it would in real life. Bludgeoning someone to death with a shovel, trench knife or sword is satisfying and horrifying all at the same time. The weapons are in old school first-person shooter territory and it took me some time to readjust. A new addition to the Battlefield series are horses and there is nothing like charging down an oncoming squad of enemy soldiers with you sword held aloft and ready to swing down to cause some serious damage or failing that you could just run straight ever them. Planes also feature quite heavily and the new bomber is a fantastic weapon of mass destruction that can level a building of camping enemies and help swing things in your favour. There are four different classes to choose from which are made up of a Medic, Support, Assault and Scout. Each is has there own era specific weapons and gadget setup. The progression system in Battlefield is simple and very rewarding and adds that extra push you might need to rank up just once more.
From the single-player campaign all the way through to the multiplayer Battlefield 1looks stunning and that's no exaggeration. Everything looks exactly how you would expect it to. No matter which map you find yourself playing on in multiplayer or the campaign you can see the care and attention that has been put into them. No two maps look or feel the same and that's quite a feat considering the amount of maps on offer. Each region is as unique as it should be and they draw you into their surroundings unlike any other game I have played before. The sound and voice acting is also top notch and serves the game well while pulling you deeper into the game's narrative.
Battlefield 1 is a no holds barred blast from the past must buy. It's stripped back combat without any of the ridiculous drone strikes and killstreaks that most gamers have come to expect these days is a refreshing change. DICE have produced their best game to date with Battlefield One and I'm sure other game franchises (I'm looking at you Call of Duty) will take note and follow DICE’S lead. Sometimes a trip back in time can be a painful reminder of the times gone by but when war looks and feels this good it's a trip worth taking.
Review code supplied by XCN.