This review is an unedited version of the review written by Zombie Dredd and published in the Tech Magazine: Issue 41 January 2017.
In an age of future-war first-person shooters, the World War I setting of Battlefield 1 is a refreshing change. Developers DICE did however place themselves in a very difficult position choosing the Great War for the 15th entry into the franchise, as it is certainly not humanity’s proudest period. Alongside any potential message that needs to be conveyed, there still needs to be an engaging game.
The singleplayer campaign offers six differing viewpoints of the war. Each chapter features a new lead character from differing backgrounds and nationalities battling for their small piece of dirt. There is no real connection between the characters, other than to emphasise that the war was one of diversity and adversity.
These ‘War Stories’ place the player in a variety of situations with each focusing on a theme. As an example, the story called ‘Through Mud and Blood’ is set in France where you are cast as a British tank driver. Others see you play as an Italian soldier, an Australian ‘runner’ and more across both air and ground battles. It is varied but also feels at times like nothing more than offline training modes for the game’s multiplayer.
To be fair, the stories are well told and really do offer a variety of approaches to achieve the objectives at hand. In some cases, stealth can be a very viable option. However, when the use of a weapon is the only choice, Battlefield 1 rewards with pleasing gunplay and weapons. Sniping is particularly satisfying and the melee options brutal and effective.
Vehicles are not handled as successfully however. The tanks are pleasant enough to drive, but the planes feel a little clumsy. Admittedly, I have never done particularly well in the air and prefer my feet planted firmly on the ground.
The graphics in Battlefield 1 are stunning and set a new bar in first-person shooters. They are top class in-game but they really shine during the cutscenes. As has become the norm with Battlefield games, the sound is immersive and wonderfully produced.
However, while the game’s multiplayer is – on the surface – another quality entry into the franchise which does not worry about stealth and focuses on satisfying gunplay, it arrives in South Africa without any local servers. This means players have to accept a subpar experience due to the latency. This is a rather unfortunate situation that doesn’t look set to change in the immediate future. The multiplayer comes with a variety of modes, quality of maps, uniqueness of vehicles and generally satisfying gameplay but the lack of servers really makes it difficult to recommend players buy the game only for the multiplayer component.
Battlefield 1 does manage to achieve exactly what it needs to, but it doesn’t achieve it conventionally. All the traditional elements of a Battlefield game are present and accounted for but there are inherent problems with them all. It may really be personal issues and preferences that affected my enjoyment of a game that wraps itself underneath its beautiful graphical veneer.
Available for: Xbox One, PS4 and PC
Distributed by: Prima Interactive and available at all retailers of games