Sometimes it can be hard to nail down the things that make a game special. For me, the Battlefield series has always been my go-to FPS, and while the franchise hasn’t quite felt like the Battlefield that I know and love over the past few releases, that hasn’t stopped me from hoping that one day I’d find myself enjoying it all again. For the past few years the Battlefield series has struggled with its own identity, unsure of what it truly was supposed to be. With Battlefield 1 it almost feels like DICE took a hard look at the past couple of releases, and the lightbulb above their heads finally dinged on, bringing them to the realization of the one thing that every Battlefield fan doesn’t want out of the series – just another Call of Duty game.
That isn’t to say that Battlefield 1 is perfect. There are still a lot of issues that need to be ironed out. I’ve spawned into games multiple times to find myself unable to drive tanks, planes, or even turn a turret. I’ve been revived from death to find my gas mask bugged, and my character constantly reloading his weapon.
But, deep down, in the core of the game itself, Battlefield 1 does what it is supposed to do. It feels like a Battlefield game, it works like a Battlefield game, and that alone is one of the most beautiful things that any fan could have asked for out of the series.
Short, Sweet, and to the Emotional Point
The Battlefield series has never been known for its compelling characters and storylines. For many the series was at its best in Bad Company 2, when the characters and story didn’t feel too serious. The campaigns for Battlefield 3, Battlefield 4, and even Battlefield Hardline all struggled to make their points, driving players through the same typical FPS campaign of one man taking on a legion. It’s an overplayed trope that we still see plaguing games and other media, and it's sad when a developer loses the chance to tell a truly meaningful story.
Battlefield 1 isn’t like that. I wouldn’t exactly call it a campaign, as the stories are broken up across six different campaigns. Each story follows a different character, giving players a glimpse into the various parts that made up the war machine in World War I. It’s a great way of putting you on the front lines of the Great War, as it allows players long enough to get emotionally attached to the characters, but no characters stick around long enough to overstay their welcome.
Bring on the Big Guns
Single-player campaigns aren’t what drive most the player base to Battlefield games. Wide-open combat pushes multiplayer modes to the top of the food chain. Battlefield 1’s multiplayer is a solid experience, with the new game modes and maps tweaked to be both interesting and engaging.
The new Operations mode, which combines Rush and Conquest, feels good, and while the odds are usually weighted toward defense, the diversity of maps means that conflicts can go either way, depending on your squad play. The biggest complaint that I have for Operations is that many times players don’t realize just how much access the enemy has to their spawn area. The safe spawns of Battlefield 3 and 4 aren’t a thing anymore, and flanking often plays an important role in taking down your enemy’s forces. I can’t tell you how many times my squad and I have sneaked behind enemy lines and come up from behind, allowing us to surprise them and take them down without much of a fight. It’s a wonderfully made mode that needs just a few tweaks to make it amazing.
The other game modes are straightforward Battlefield game modes, aside from War Pigeon, which is a mix of Team Deathmatch and Battlefield 4’s Obliteration. Players must capture a Messenger Pigeon, which they must then hold until they complete a written message. Once the message is written the pigeon is released into the air. If it isn’t shot down, an artillery strike will be called in, taking out any enemy forces it hits. It’s an interesting mode that gives players a nice frantic way to experiment with new options, but it doesn’t feel like something that will continue to be a staple item for Battlefield 1 players.
Battlefield 1 might not be the best Battlefield game, or the best FPS game I've ever played, but it succeeds at doing what it needs to do. It feels like Battlefield, it works like Battlefield, and it has plenty of opportunities for amazing things to happen that have only ever happened in a Battlefield game. It’s nice to see DICE returning to the roots of what makes this series so amazing, and I’m happy that, for the first time in years, a new Battlefield game doesn’t feel like it is in the middle of an identity crisis.
This review is based on a review code provided by the publisher. Battlefield 1 will be available October 21 for $59.99 on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. The game is rated M.