BF1 Review: What to Know Before You Buy

Battlefield 1, Battlefield 1 Review, First Look Battlefield 1, Buy Battlefield 1
Clash of the Old World and the New

Battlefield 1 Trailer

Scoping Out the Battlefield

The much anticipated newest addition to the Battlefield franchise has dropped, and it’s probably generated the most hype for any game in the Battlefield series since Battlefield 3’s release in 2011. Shooters have recently steered towards futuristic settings, but Dice has decided to buck the trend and look backwards. We’ll take a look to see if the gamble has paid off, and fill you in with everything you need to know before you buy.

The Battlefield Franchise

The Battlefield franchise burst into the PC scene in 2002 with the release of Battlefield 1942. Fans will remember the original game was popular because of the size of its maps, the way it blended infantry battle and vehicles, and the fact that victory took a little bit of teamwork. In terms of the focus of the series, not much has changed since the Battlefield 1942.

“The more things change, the more things stay the same.”

For the most part, you know what you get with Battlefield, and it has been argued the series is suffering from fatigue with the rapid fire release of Battlefield 3, Battlefield Hardline, and Battlefield 4. Now Dice plans to shake things up with Battlefield 1 without losing what fans of the series love, and it’s a tall order.

The First World War

Dice is looking for a new angle with Battlefield 1, and it’s safe to say they’ve found it. Battlefield 3 & 4 focused on contemporary warfare, with a brief foray into the world of cops and robbers in Hardline. Battlefield 1 marks a whole new direction for the series, and drops players into the First World War, which has been largely ignored by video games, with the WWII getting all the love.

Gamers have felt that World War One would not translate to the PC because so much of the war unfolded in trenches. It’s true, poison gas and trench foot would not make for good gameplay, but Dice has proven that there is so much more to the First World War to explore and uncover.

There’s still some poison gas and probably some trench foot, too

Far from unfolding in the trenches the First World War lives up to its name and will have you traversing the globe. World War I makes for a heart pounding backdrop for the series. You’ll cut through soldiers with your razor sharp saber on horseback through the stunning Sinai Desert, soar through the clouds above the Venetian Alps, and love every minute of it.

What’s New

With so many releases since the return of Battlefield in Battlefield 3, it can be tough to continue to innovate and include new features to keep the franchise fresh, but Dice stepped up and made Battlefield 1 feels like something different in a few different ways.

Tank play is a whole new ballgame. The fact that there are no homing missiles means that you’re not a sitting duck in a tin can like many people felt they were in Battlefield 3 & 4. Tanks are formidable, as they should be.

If it’s fight or flight against a tank, flight is probably the way to go

Flying, too, feels different. For 30 war bond you can upgrade your plane and control the course of the battle unfolding below. Plane classes offer the same diversity that helicopters and planes offered in previous Battlefield games. The attack plane is sort of general purpose, the air-to-air combat planes can help you control the skies, and bombers can devastate players below, but you’ll need the nerve to fly low and slow over a raging battle.

“Levolution” included in Battlefield 4, which has huge game changing scripted events like the collapsing of a skyscraper has been tweaked for things like sandstorms in the Sanai Desert. The events seem more natural now and not forced like they sometimes felt in Battlefield 4. Destruction has also noticeably changed in Battlefield 1, making environments far more destructible similar to Battlefield 2: Bad Company. Fans of Bad Company, rejoice! Destruction creates cinematic moments like Levolution did, but they feel far more natural.

Gameplay

Battlefield 1 Gameplay Trailer

You’ll recognize the Battlefield you love in Battlefield 1. The maps are huge, just the way we like them. They’re also generally well designed, and matches tend to be balanced, which has been an issue in the past for Battlefield. Gameplay requires coordination, and the squad system is effective for the most part at keeping teams working together and towards objectives. The squad system now also allows players to join new games together, so if you find a crew you click with, you can spend the day together in the trenches.

Lone Wolves beware: Dice has made playing outside a squad much more difficult in Battlefield 1

With all that mostly being the same, there are also enough new elements of Battlefield 1 to make it feel different and special. New weapons are a huge part of that. Previous installments have emphasized the use of high tech gadgets, but Battlefield 1 brings it back to basics. We’ll take a closer look at weapons in a bit, but to give you an idea you have options between bolt action, semi-automatic, and automatic rifles. Outside guns, there’s also artillery, flamethrowers, and, of course, mustard gas.

That’s guns that go pew, but what about melee? Trench clubs and shovels will be available for your bashing pleasure, but the sabre is another options and ideal for use on horseback. Speaking of horses, there are also more traditional horse powered ways to get around in machines. There are light and heavy tanks, battleships, armored trucks, and even zeppelins that predictably explode in spectacular fashion.

"Ooh, the humanity."

The gameplay itself is still quick, more like Battlefield 4 than the slower experiences of earlier Battlefield games. Overall, Dice did the impossible and crafted an experience that brings back all the beloved aspects of gameplay, while managing to inject enough new life into the game to revitalize the franchise.

Campaign

Battlefield 1 Campaign Trailer

Battlefield 1’s largest departure from previous installments in the series is probably in the campaign, and for good reason. In the past, the campaigns in Battlefield games have for the most part been considered secondary to the multiplayer. This probably remains true for Battlefield 1, but the campaign is a huge leap forward for Dice.

Unlike previous Battlefield games, the campaign can be divided into six unique stories that concern six soldiers from six different countries. It’s a brilliant format because of it gives Battlefield 1 the chance to tell six great war stories, and because the unique setting for each story makes for varied and interesting gameplay. Dice also capitalized on the scale of each location by making missions more open than past games, leaving players more choice in how they tackle each objective. We’ll take a quick, spoiler-free look at each of the six parts of the campaign.

Storm of Steel – The story’s prologue concerns the Harlem Hellfighters, the most prolific African American unit to fight in The Great War. The Hellfighters take on wave after wave of German troops on the frontlines. There’s a unique element of gameplay in the first part of the story that we won’t spoil, but will say is a brilliant way of demonstrating the real life cost this massive war, and insight into the true nature of war.

Through Mud and Blood – Part two drops players into 1918, and as history buffs could probably guess, into the Hundred Days Offensive. Danny Edwards is a Brit and the hero of “Through Mud and Blood.” With a crew of four others, Edwards pushes deep into German territory in a Mark V Tank dubbed “Black Bess.”

Friends in High Places – As the name suggests, part three follows an American pilot by the name of Clyde Blackburn. Blackburn embarks on an aerial exercise that turns out to be much, much more.

Things have a way of escalating quickly in Battlefield, and Battlefield 1 is no exception

Avanti Savoia – Part four concerns Luca Vincenzo Cocchiola, an Italian fighter in Dolomites near Northern Italy. “Avanti Savoia” perfectly shows how WWI pitted the old war against the new in its depiction of Luca leading an assault on an Austro-Hungarian fortress in heavy armor.

The Runner – Back in 1915, part five centers around the Gallipoli Campaign, specifically an Australian message runner named Frederick Bishop. “The Runner” depicts a relationship between Bishop and a young, naïve recruit and their stark difference in attitudes towards the destruction and death of war.

Nothing is Written – The sixth and final part of the compelling campaign is probably the most unique. Players control Zara Ghufran, a Bedouin rebel, in the Arabian Peninsula waging war against the Ottomans, in a pulse driving battle centering on an armored train.

Multiplayer

Single player is a thrilling experience that does a fantastic job of breathing life into the First World War, but the center of Battlefield 1 is multiplayer just as it always has been. Dice has done a fantastic job here, too, and a large part of their success lies in the fact they’ve created a fully customizable experience

Let’s talk classes. You have the choice of four different classes, and each is going to give you a fundamentally different experience. Snipers will favor the Scout class, so they can pick off enemies, and probably more importantly mark enemies to give a clear layout of the battlefield to teammates.

Picking your class is only the start of customization

Medics, as you’d expect, has players reviving teammates. Support uses light machine guns to plow down enemies, in addition to the typical support duties in Battlefield including providing ammo and acting as an engineer to repair vehicles. Lastly, Assault gives players SMGs and shotguns to kill enemies and destroy as many enemy tanks, planes, and trucks as they can manage.

Outside of the standard four classes, there are also vehicle specific classes that you automatically are assigned upon spawning in tanks, planes, or on a horse. There’s also the Elite class, which can be found on the battlefield and gives you a leg up on the competition by giving otherwise unavailable weapons like the flamethrower.

Dude taking this picture probably didn’t make it

All in all, multiplayer is varied, satisfying, and most importantly pretty damn fun. It’s safe to say that fears the First World War wouldn’t translate to a video game have been put to rest, and there’s talk it might even inspire other franchises to follow suit.

Weapons

Battlefield 1 Weapons Trailer

There are a lot of weapons in Battlefield 1, and it can be tough knowing what to use where. To better help you hit the ground running, here’s a quick breakdown according to class.

Assault

Automatico M1918 – Automatico lives up to its name, and churns out bullets. It’s deadly in close quarters, but constant reloading opens you up to danger. Don’t expect to mow down crowds like some large magazine guns of previous installments allowed you to do.

MP 18 – Accuracy is the name of the game here. Recoil is minimal, so even if it’s not as quick as other weapons in the Assault class, it’s dependable at medium range and gets the job done.

Hellriegel 1915 – Hellriegel fixes the problem with the Automatico M1918 by providing players with a drum magazine. If you’re up against numbers, look no further than the Hellriegel.

Model 10-A – Pretty typical shotgun, and that’s not at all a bad thing. Get in close, and win the war in spectacular faction by quite literally blowing away the enemy. You’d be better off throwing your gun at the enemy if you’re at a distance, however.

The Model 10-A kicks like it’s in Bloodsport

M97 Trench Gun – Trench gun is similar in use to the 10-A, but faster. You’re your own worst enemy here: deal out devastating damage but if you unload too quick you’ll find yourself with your pants down on the front lines.

12g Automatic – Oh look, a shotgun that isn’t completely useless at longer ranges thanks to its low spread. If you’re a good shot 12g is a great choice, but you can’t point in a general direction and kill everything in its wide path like you can with the other shotgun options.

Medic

Cei-Rigotti – More or less a starter gun. Reasonably well balanced, the Cei-Rigotti has a healthy fire rate, but a shallow clip and damage on the lower end that make this a less than ideal choice once you’ve unlocked alternatives.

Mondragón – Very balanced weapon that’s an all-around solid choice in terms of accuracy, damage, and speed. An improvement over the Cei-Rigotti in just about every way possible.

Perfect for picking people off sand dunes

M1907 SL – Has its uses, but leaves much to be desired. The 1907 deals little damage making it more useful in closer quarters than at a distance. The saving grace is its deep 21 round magazine.

Selbstlader M1916 - Magazine are large, and that’s a plus here. Each round packs a punch, too, and you can do real damage when you’re not healing with the M1916. One thing to be warry of is the kick, which is comparable to a mule and can slow you down if you’re not patient.

Selbstlader 1906 – Good damage and accuracy make the 1906 great on paper, but it suffers in practice because of its 5 shot clips. It’s easy to get frustrated when you spend more time reloading than you do actually shooting.

Autoloading 8 .35 – Like the 1906, the Autoloading 8 has a five round clip, and that hurts its performace. The damage does make it a decent choice for closer quarters combat, but don’t expect to be blowing people away like you could with the Trench Gun.

Support

Lewis Gun – A great gun for beginners. Like most support weapons, the Lewis Gun has substantial recoil that lessens as you continue to unload on the enemy. It’s a strong choice for suppressive fire and cutting through groups of enemies.

Madsen MG – A far more balanced gun than its somewhat goofy appearance would suggest. It’s decently balanced, but works best in the trnch where you can shoot right from the hip.

Huot Automatic – The Huot is a decent jack of all trades, but its focus on balance leaves much to be desired, and it functions as a slightly improved alternative to the Lewis at a higher cost.

M1909 Benét-Mercié – The 30 round clip is more than enough to do real damage, and even better you can fling out those 30 rounds with devastating accuracy. The one drawback is that it does better stationary than it ever could while you’re on the move. Great for holding positions.

MG15 n.A. – The super heavyweight of the bunch, the MG15 packs on hell of a punch. The magazine holds a staggering 100 rounds, but it’s predictably slow when reloading. When used correctly the MG15 proves that slow and steady can indeed win the race.

This alley just became a dead-end

BAR M1918 – Much more mobile than any other weapon on the list. You can run and gun in style, but a necessary shortfall of its mobility is the fact that its magazine holds a disappointing 20 rounds which dry up fast.

Scout

SMLE MKIII – A shockingly capable starter rifle that more than holds its own. Great from range, and extremely satisfying bolt action to use at close range.

Gewehr M. 95 – Very fast rifle and effective at all ranges if you can manage to keep up. Be prepared to find, spot, and pop off rounds quickly to make the Gewehr work for you as it should.

Russian 1895 - Essentially a slightly altered version of the MKIII that is excellent at longer ranges thanks in part to its improved magnification down sight.

Gewehr 98 – A sniper’s sniper rifle that really only works at long ranges. If you’re patient and you have great shot placement, you can land satisfying head shots from across the map in style.

Like shooting fish in a beautiful barrel

M1903 – Probably has the best range of any sniper rifle making it ideal for larger maps like Sinai, but less useful in the more dense maps.

Martini-Henry – More like a cannon than a gun, the Martini shoots one round at a time with devastating results. Fun to play with, and that’s what counts. It also happens to do its job well at mid-range.

Maps

Ballroom Blitz

It’s 1918 and American Forces have organized an offensive that centers around a stunning French chateau that once housed officers, and now is rocked by gunfire and tanks. Ballroom Blitz clashes the beauty of Europe against the ugliness of war in a map that embodies the chaos of the First World War.

Argonne Forest

A close quarters, infantry heavy map, Argonne Forest has most of the gunplay unfolding in trenches and bunkers. The fighting is claustrophobic in one second, and spills into the beautifully rendered Argonne Forest in the next.

Basically the movie "Stand By Me" with guns

Fao Fortress

A beautifully diverse that maps that begins on the beaches with amphibious machines, and ends with a hard-fought assault on the ominous fortress. Blood will be spilt on sand dunes and coves alike in this quest for the castle.

Suez

Suez is a sprawling map that has the Sinai desert unfolding at your feet. The canal must be controlled at all costs, but victory means surviving a barrage of artillery and lead.

The St. Quentin Scar

The destructive power of Battlefield 1 is never more clearly on display than it is on St. Quentin Scar. Travecy, a village in northern France, is ravaged by the sheer destructive force of the German army crashing against the British front line.

Sinai Desert

Massive in scope, Sinai Desert proudly shows the scope Battlefield 1 manages to capture. From cliffs to sand dunes, you’ll use tanks, planes, and your own two feet to fight for control under the white hot sun.

Amiens

It’s a fight for the French city of Amiens. The map has players dodging fire down alleys, and through beautiful architecture including a beautiful French courthouse that meets an unfortunate fate.

Still beautiful in the midst of all the chaos

Monte Grappa

The Venetian Alps is home to one of the final battles of the war. The scale of the mountains is humbling, as the war rages through clouds and on perilous mountainsides.

Empire’s Edge

The once beautiful Adriatic Coast is transformed into a mass graveyard and the Mediterranean washes over the fallen that gave their lives to protect a collapsing empire. Make a stand along the fortified shore alongside dreadnought battleships.

Player Complaints

For all the good there’s always going to be some bad, and Battlefield 1 is certainly no exception. First, the campaign is stunning, but by all accounts it’s way too short. The six stories unfold at a clip, and it leaves you in something of a daze when it’s all over. Luckily, you can take to the battlefield on multiplayer when the war ends, but all the same it leaves you wishing there was more meat on the bones.

Load times are another problem that players have been reporting. The good news is that you have time to file taxes and run errands between matches. The game also happens to be stunning, so it’s well worth the wait.

Get used to this view

Also, grinding… unlocking weapon skins can feel more like a chore, making it less than enjoyable.

Probably the biggest complaint is that at the end of the day there’s plenty new to explore in Battlefield 1, but at its core it’s another Battlefield game and the WWI setting doesn’t make for an entirely novel experience. If you were hoping for something completely different, you’re out of luck, pal.

Last, it might not be fair considering it hasn’t happened yet, but you expect paid map packs down the road, and if history tells us anything it’s that players will be divided, and you’ll end up paying more and more for your Battlefield 1 experience. Speaking of paying…

Price

The bare bones version of Battlefield 1 will set you back $59.99 on Origin, but you have options. The Deluxe Edition comes with themed weapons and gear, and five extra Battlepacks, but it’ll set you back $79.99. For diehard fans there’s also the Ultimate Edition, which gives you everything in Deluxe with added expansion packs, 19 battlepacks, new maps, elite classes, and more. The Ultimate Edition has the price tag to match at $129.98 on Origin.

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