Electronic Art and Swedish developer DICE’S latest magnum opus, the first person World War 1 shooter Battlefield 1, is already available for release and can be played right now if you don’t want to wait till the official release on October 21. The Early Enlister package makes the entire game available for play and can be pre-ordered for $79.99, a mere 20 bucks more than the regular version that costs $59.99.
What are the benefits for purchasing the Enlister version? According to EA, the Early Enlister Edition features Hellfighter, Red Baron, and Lawrence of Arabia packs, which contain themed weapons and gear and five additional Battlepacks, which include bonus in-game items.
Early reviews of Battlefield 1 are in and critics are hailing it as a stupendous, action-packed experience with a fantastic single-player campaign that will make people interested in the first world war- an event that is rarely covered in popular culture and mostly sidelined to academic history studies. We decided to check it for ourselves to see how good it was (following review is based on the PS4 gameplay).
DICE Moves Away From Modern Warfare To The Grim Terror of the Great War
Over the past decade, EA and DICE have tried to conform their multi-player shooter according to the motifs driven by its competitors, such as Call of Duty. Success was achieved with Battlefield: Bad Company 2, but with subsequent titles such as Battlefield 3 and 4, the franchise resembled more and more like its rivals, and there was nothing unique that set it apart.
Until it decided to do something totally different.
With Battlefield 1, DICE moves away from the cacophony and jazz of modern warfare to work on a narrative and premise that would intrigue players- World War 1. The brutality of the war is depicted in the game with harrowing brilliance- right from the bleak prologue that is beset with the inevitability of death, to the non-linear anthology campaigns that follow six (largely unconnected) stories of survivors, to its pulsating multi-player mode that showcases a massive conflict encompassing several geographical locations.
Single Player Campaign Covers WW1 Through Different Perspectives
It is unrealistic that any conflict of a global scale can be imagined through a single protagonist of a video game. In Battlefield 1, you are introduced to different characters through six stories. Some are seeking redemption, some are desperate to survival, while some are looking to fight back occupation. The war stories are solidly written, with each tale having a distinct narrative flavor.
You can play as a British tank driver, an Arabian assassin, an American pilot, an Australian ‘runner’ and an Italian heavy gunner. There is no sequence to the missions and they can be played in any order. Death is a recurring theme in all the stories and to some extent, injects the required emotional weight that would be otherwise missing in the short span of playing the characters.
What’s more remarkable is that how much Battlefield 1 emphasizes on having each character behave as in a realistic war situation, instead of going all commando on the enemies. For instance, when you play as the tank driver, you have to navigate through a thick pea-soup fog in a shell-blasted swamp when totally outnumbered, while in the story as the fighter pilot, you have to reach and traverse the No Man’s Land after being shot down.
War Stories Set Up Solid Ground For Multiplayer Play
Apart from serving as poignant chapters of oral history, the war stories also complement the multiplayer mode as an effective training ground. You can command and control heavy vehicles and artillery, train yourself in melee combat, and learn how to survive against huge hordes of enemy forces.
You can also pick up valuable lessons on how to stalk enemies and quickly move wounded allies to safety. Integrating multiplayer elements into the campaign is a smart decision by DICE and a new player can get acquainted with everything- spotting, positioning, Conquest game mechanics, vehicles etc beforehand, thus getting a better idea how the multiplayer would play out.
Impressive Multiplayer With Chaotic Battle Action
There are several multi-player modes in Battlefield 1, with the mainstays being the traditional ones like Conquest, Domination, Rush and Team Deathmatch. In addition, there are two new ones- Operations, the centerpiece, and War Pigeon.
The larger scale vehicle-based Conquest (which remains the most popular mode), pits huge teams of 64 players against each other on gigantic, sprawling maps based on the Western Front, the Italian Alps, the Middle East, and other theaters of World War 1. Teams fight for control over different areas with advancing battle lines amid each successful push.
The new Operations mode includes conflicts where one side is pushing forward while the other is holding it back, with progressive changes in environment as a match moves across five areas in the same region (akin to playing five different small maps).
As the match progresses, you get engulfed into unhinged war chaos, with soldiers running to and fro across rolling hills, rushing helter-skelter through trenches and bombed out bunkers, manning vehicles, and calling artillery strikes.
An exciting twist is added when the losing side gets two last opportunities to win by securing the help of an airship, attack train, or a dreadnought. A particularly impressive fact is the amount of historical heft in the Operations mode (seen previously in Rush mode) through information bytes provided by pre- and post- match voice over.
War Pigeons is perhaps the most entertaining addition to the multiplayer section, where you have to capture a pigeon, write firing coordinates on it, and release it; while being protected by your team-mates. Ridiculous stuff, but fun nevertheless.
Old School Weapons, New Changes To Class System
Battlefield 1 has made more changes to the class system, mainly concerning the balance of power between infantry and vehicles. Medics are equipped with medium-range weapons that engineers previously used, and apart from reviving and healing wounded teammates, they can also repair vehicles.
Offensive solutions have been moved to Assault class while armor refills are part of Support class now, which also has anti-vehicle weapons. There is also the Scout, who can snipe enemies from far off, or commit war crimes by using a pistol to launch mustard gas into the fray.
Surprisingly, the old-fashioned weapons work pretty well practically, with loading time and accuracy nearly similar to what we see in modern warfare games. Well, not all similar, since they are less precise and less reliable, but also give you the opportunity to absorb the entire situation currently at hand.
For the guns, the weirder and older they are, the more fun to use- for instance, the sniper rifle which needs to un-scope to manually load another round. Tanks are fun to drive and shoot, while the biplanes, which I think would fall apart any minute, are also quite easy to control. In addition, there are the ‘behemoth’, such as the Zeppelins, destroyers and armored trains that appear in a map to help the losing team, thus ensuring that unpredictability remains a constant factor and things remain balanced overall.
Verdict: A Clear Winner
Apart from a few minor issues that dwell more on what the game could not offer, Battlefield 1 is a sure-shot winner on all aspects and likely to be the best shooter of 2016 and the best in the Battlefield series since Bad Company 2.
Reinventing an entire series to the war carnage of a global conflict overshadowed by the historically more significant World War 2 was surely an intrepid task for EA and DICE, and the end result is an extremely impressive shooter that succeeds in delivering the emotional punch associated with the sordid realities of war as well as a thrilling visceral experience for gamers.