Battlefield 1 has been intriguing to me since its reveal. Going back to World War 1 wasn't exactly something I could have expected for the series given Call of Duty's inclination to look into the future, but I was pleased to see how things might turn out.
Enter the Battlefield 1 open beta, which isn't exactly open right at the moment -- not to everyone, anyway, who didn't happen to get a key. I would have preferred to experience the campaign mode, but given all the time I spent with Battlefield 3's Conquest in the past, I was more than eager to jump in and annihilate the competition -- the best I could, anyway.
I was able to jump into games easily enough, with hardly any wait time between selecting a class (I chose Assault for my first game) and was slotted into Conquest, siding with the Ottoman Empire. Although there were options for loadouts, I didn't have enough in-game currency (or any for that matter) to purchase a different weapon beyond the two I could select as the default options, and after I sped through the customization screens, I was finally ready to go.
Immediately my first reaction was "Ugh, sand" upon being spawned in the Sinai Desert map. The coppery sands and wide expanses of land didn't speak to me in terms of aesthetic, but the massive map offered plenty of hiding places even when I found myself charging forward to capture points by my lonesome since my teammates didn't quite seem to understand the point of the game, circling flags without waiting for the point to be taken and then zooming away in a tank. The gameplay videos sprinkled within aren't mine, they're our own Daniel Perez's, but I'm really lamenting that I don't have this gameplay captured.
Flying solo wasn't awful, though, which is what I preferred to do in the beginning anyway. I noticed right away a certain, tasteful heaviness to the weapons. I had been outfitted with period-appropriate attire, armaments and squad. Sprinting felt great, and I was able to gain plenty of ground when moving from one point to another. Unfortunately, when players began to swarm around capture points the enormous desert map started feeling empty rather than full of potential for tons of players and satisfying firefights.
More often than not I'd find myself taken out by a quick bayonet charge from an unidentified player, often behind me when I hadn't even seen anyone in my area before then. Either that, or one of the lumbering tanks edging my way ended up cutting my play time short. Neither would be an issue if it weren't for the awkward wait to respawn since I couldn't get a medic to revive me for love or money. I saw several scurrying around me as I requested assistance and then them leaving me behind as the screen faded and I realized the revive had automatically been canceled. I was sent to choose a spawn point over and over either from tanks or players charging toward me with their bayonets at the ready.
Conquest felt very much like a tank and sniper party, with vehicles obviously the way to go, but by the time I found my way into one either by hopping on a horse and jetting toward teammates, I was down for the count, spawning into the path of a tank or dropping from yet another bayonet charge. This probably all speaks to my lack of ability, but I'm hoping the tanks are nerfed a bit before the game is fully available with all of the maps, loadouts and weapons available.
I didn't get to play as much of the beta as much as I would have liked just yet and primarily played Conquest modes during my time before having to rush off to pick up dinner for the night, but I'm going to continue to evaluate it as it wears on. As a Battlefield 3 fan, I'm not as impressed with it just yet as I thought I'd be, but there's a lot more to experience, and I'll update this post as I've completed additional matches going forward.