Battlefield 1 takes place, unsurprisingly, during World War I. This is a time of massive wartime technological advances, but ones that obviously pale in comparison to the modern day. For many, this will be a historical throwback (and a good-looking one at that), but once the immersive history lesson wears off, is there enough here to keep a player coming back for more?
And per the usual, I’ll answer that question immediately: it depends on your tolerance and perspective of modern day FPS shooters. For one, the guns are (better) versions of their older selves. That is until you realize they’re balanced for the modern day “gamer”: you know something’s up when your machine gun is out-classed by a pistol at close range. In addition, aiming has a sort of loose, heavy, and fairly unresponsive feel. While I don’t expect it to feel like Call of Duty, it definitely could take a lesson in tightening up its feel. For a 60fps game, it does not FEEL like 60fps responsiveness. Add to that the official servers all being only a 30Hz tickrate, and for once, having actual servers is not necessarily providing benefit. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there: the primary mode most people will play is the awe-inspiring 64-player Conquest mode. This mode SHOULD give you the feel of a proper battlefront, but it doesn’t. Prepare to find yourself in a constant cluster@#$%. Prepare for enemies to spawn right behind you. Prepare for there to be an entirely unorganized and chaotic feel that does not represent the era, as previous large battlefields in prior entries actually had maps designed to create a “meeting point” which serves as a front line. There is no such thing here, and I can best describe the game’s biggest mode as a bunch of people running around like headless chickens with guns. The only time there is any semblance of satisfaction is in the series’ long-running reputation for vehicles. They’ve upped the ante here, and whether you’re in a map behemoth, fighting one, or watching one go down, it’s definitely worth the moment. Sadly, these moments are far and few between, and you’ll find yourself dealing with said loose, questionable gameplay most of the time.
The campaign, or campaigns, pass by fairly quickly. Depending on your experience between infantry and vehicles, you’ll get around 4-5 hours out of it. It’s not a whole lot of time, and it definitely felt like a prep course for the multiplayer experience. That multiplayer experience is where you’ll spend most of your time, and it’s got plenty of maps at launch as well as a handful of modes in which you’ll most likely be focused on Conquest like I was. There are also some decent customization options and plenty of weapon variations to unlock by leveling up your class, so IF you can stand the gameplay design, there’s plenty of growth here. Like most Battlefield entries, hundreds of hours can be lost in the multiplayer suite, and if you’re like me, vehicles are your primary allure. If you can stand the gameplay, don’t fret: multiplayer will get you your money’s worth.
There’s more good than bad here, so let’s start with the good. This game is a looker, plain and simple. They targeted 60fps, and yet have a showing that rivals some other games running half the framerate. That’s impressive work, indeed, and it is often beyond visually and aurally immersive. The weather is even dynamic, and I can’t fault the workout that Frostbite 3 is giving any platform this game is on. Now the bad: that workout often hits the limits of what a console is capable of. Expect frequent stuttering and framerate dips, especially when the action cranks up. These are less of a problem in the campaign or small player-count modes, but in Conquest, it WILL go low, and it only compounds with the lack of handling responsiveness to give you a literal “hit or miss” feel. This often even affects the UI. Keep in mind, though, that there’s currently no other game out right now that can compete with what this game pulls off… Even though more effort could have been put into the abrupt and often hammed up war stories.
This game has huge problems, and it’s primarily in one key area: gameplay. If it wasn’t for the loose feel, the poor responsiveness, a questionable spawn system (and consequently unorganized chaos), I’d have enjoyed this game as much as I wanted to. As a person who has several hundreds of hours into previous Battlefield games, I came away disappointed here. I can find my moments of awesomeness only this series can provide, but they’re quickly wiped away by what I simply summarize as awful shooting mechanics all around compared to other modern shooters. It never feels visceral, and that’s a problem. Sure, its multiplayer suite is expansive enough, and Frostbite 3 churns out probably the most immersive presentation yet, but with framerate dips that simply outline how poor the gameplay is, I’m heartbroken.
I give Battlefield 1…