E3 2016 – Hands on with Battlefield 1

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BF1

“Welcome to the future of the Battlefield series.”

That’s what was said during the Battlefield presentation I attended at E3. It was weird to hear, especially considering that EA’s beloved FPS has gone against the growing trend of futuristic shooters, and opted to go back to World War I instead.

Why that particular era of human history has gone barely touched in gaming is a mystery to me. Is it because it was too brutal? Too sensitive to tackle perhaps? Would it not transition into a game well maybe?

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I don’t know the answers to those questions unfortunately. What I do know though is that EA have now finally decided to tackle the Great War, and based on my short time with the multiplayer, they’re nailing the aesthetic.

My hands-on time took place on a huge map (32 v 32 Conquest) filled with expansive hills and scattered buildings. Being adventurous, I picked the first class available, assault, which focuses on close combat and the destruction of enemy vehicles.

My squad and I made our way to the very first control point nearby. We took it without resistance, but only because it was the closest one to our spawn, and no enemies were around. Old-school fighter planes and tanks meanwhile, went on ahead to encounter the enemy.

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Soon enough, hell broke loose, and before long, I was surrounded by the noise and chaos of a war from a century ago. Gone were the high speed jets for example, replaced instead with fighter planes that look like they’ve been ripped straight out of a history book. Weapons too of course, are every bit as old as you’d expect.

Though that doesn’t make them any less functional or effective. The machine gun I had in my hands for example, was damn proficient at taking out two completely unsuspecting enemies. For such an old weapon, it felt surprisingly accurate, and it certainly packed a punch.

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So, all good so far, right? Unfortunately not. After just a few short minutes in-game, I had already formed some criticism. Battlefield 1 felt a little too much like the games in the franchise before it.

How so? For example, there’s a class that supplies ammo, one that revives fallen teammates, and yes, one that focuses on sniping. If you’re a fan, this is not a bad thing per se – the game will feel nice and familiar. I just fear some will feel cheated. During my hands on time, I genuinely felt like I was playing Battlefield 4 with a World War I mod installed. Load outs felt similar, and the gunplay, identical in some ways.

Is this a bad thing? I’m not entirely sure. I only worry that some gamers will feel let down because they were expecting an entirely different experience thanks to the classic World War I setting. There are glaring differences, but they don’t necessarily make Battlefield 1 a completely different shooter.

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Don’t get me wrong though –  Battlefield 1 still plays like a dream. It’s quite frankly really gorgeous to look at too. Calling it a mod is a real disservice to DICE actually, because they have done an excellent job in bringing the Great War to life. Sure this is early code, but the game already feels so nice and polished.

The experience it provides is top notch too. I can’t ignore that moment of glee I had when I rounded on a squad of enemies and popped them all from behind with my heavy machine gun, nor that one satisfying headshot I managed through some heavy fog. Moments like these are what make games of this nature addictive in the first place – at least to me anyway.

Will it be enough to make the game standout though? I don’t know. However, I can comfortably say that I loved my time with Battlefield 1. My hands-on experience may have been short (a total of fifteen minutes or so), but it got me interested in the game. I’m already craving more of the superlative, if familiar multiplayer.

Like I’ve said though, I think the shooter feels a little too familiar. Some people definitely won’t be too happy about that.

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Last Updated: June 13, 2016

Matthew Figueira

Defence of the Ancients? More like Defence of the cabbages! Have you seen my head? I look like a Merino Sheep on pole. NO SHANGE only SHAPPIES! :D

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