by Preston Dozsa
previewed on PC
For A Hill, Men Would Kill
I’m hunkered beside a broken wall in the middle of a French village, bullets hitting brick as my squad attempts to take a small clearing. Above, biplanes circle a massive zeppelin as it drops bombs on the muddy trenches below, though it’s slowly lumbering towards my position. If we can take the objective in time, perhaps I’ll have the space needed to man an anti-aircraft gun and help destroy the beast quickly.
Before I can do that, a tank bursts out of the house across from me, firing shells that decimates half of the squad. I don’t have the gear to take the armoured vehicle out, so I instead mark it for my teammates and begin a retreat to a nearby windmill to plan my next move. Two enemies rushing the windmill are quickly taken out with my rifle, and I advance across the open field before turning around to see if the tank followed me. In place of a tank, I saw the airship from earlier descend towards my previous objective wreathed in flames. It’s impact annihilated much of the remaining buildings in the village, leaving only behind steel ruins that created it’s own hellish landscape to fight over. Soldiers from both sides advance towards it to begin the fight anew. I take a few steps, but I die shortly after a grenade lands by my feet.
This was just a brief moment in my 20 minute hands on session with Battlefield 1’s multiplayer. For those who think that the game could not capture the excitement and intensity of past Battlefield games, fear not, as Battlefield 1 reminds me of the polish of later installments combined with the chaotic fun that marked earlier entries.
The War To End All Wars
Set in the Great War, Battlefield 1 takes place in an era where new technologies entered the fold while armies fought with tactics and strategies not suited to them. Planes, tanks and inordinate amounts of new weapons and ammunition saw extensive use for the first time. The developers at DICE have fit the setting well into the best that Battlefield has to offer, meaning insane, over-the-top action and destruction combined with a multitude of tools to utilize.
Familiar classes return, albeit with appropriate weapons and tools for World War I. Assault, Medic, Support and Scout all make an appearance, each with familiar roles for Battlefield veterans. The Assault class is versatile and excels at a variety of short and medium range weaponry, such as submachine guns and shotguns. The Support packs a light machine gun that feels like the deadliest weapon in the world while dispensing ammo to allies. The Medic is exactly what it says on the tin, healing teammates and armed with a dependable semi-automatic rifle. The Scout is the sniper of the bunch, utilizing a bolt action rifle for long range combat.
Alongside these classes are two vehicle classes that players can enter before they spawn, though there are a limited number per team. You can either enter an armoured vehicle such as a tank, or be a pilot of a biplane. They have their own weapons, and can also repair vehicles from the inside, giving them a distinct advantage.
A More Methodical Carnage
Regardless of the class, gameplay in Battlefield 1 feels slightly slower yet more powerful than previous installments. Guns have incredible kick to them, and they each remain unique despite the number of weapons to choose from. Vehicles, despite the early stage planes and tanks that they were historically, are terrifying in combat, being tough opponents that require sustained effort to take down. Even though I only had a brief time with the game, the gameplay felt immensely satisfying, more so than recent installments of Battlefield.
Notably, the amount of customization options has been toned down from recent games, though some personalization will remain. Just don’t go expecting to choose from a vast array of scopes, grips and bipods for your machine gun when you enter the battlefield. Absent from the demo I played were horses, naval combat, trains, and most of the additional tools that classes can equip. Still, the demo I played was promising, and I look forward to reporting more on Battlefield 1 before it’s release in October.