Battlefield 1 Beta First Impressions
DICE has taken Battlefield in a whole new direction with Battlefield 1, swapping out the most hi-tech weaponry known to man for the more basic and brutal combat of World War One. But with the multiplayer beta open to the public, does the change in setting really move Battlefield into a bold new direction? Well, the answer is a bit of yes and a bit of no.
Let’s cover off what is familiar first. Battlefield veterans are going to feel right at home with this new iteration of the series. The ranking system, loadouts, gameplay mechanics, and modes are fairly similar to what has been featured in the past, so expect to get crushed by Battlefield experts in pretty quick fashion. The beta features two distinct modes for multiplayer: Conquest and Rush. Conquest is the frantic 64 player match where there is a LOT happening; planes rush above, tanks roar by, sniper bullets whiz mere inches past you (if you’re lucky) and grenades and gunfire are constantly bombarding your ears. Rush is a little more subdued with 24 players, with an attacking and defending team warring over limited control points, both modes are set on the same Saharan map.
“Everything from the noise of the gunfire to the brunt of a melee combat bayonet charge makes a heavy impact, a complete change of pace from the polished kills with modern weaponry.”
There are also a few select loadouts to choose from that will feel familiar as well: Medic, Support, Assault, and Scout. Each has their own advantages, but the scout is the only one that truly feels different in terms of gameplay, relying on distance and predicated shots rather than speed and efficiency.
Now let’s talk about what sets Battlefield 1 apart; the full brutality of WWI. DICE has embraced the setting and provided an experience that feels and sounds visceral. Everything from the noise of the gunfire to the brunt of a melee combat bayonet charge makes a heavy impact, a complete change of pace from the polished kills with modern weaponry. It’s brutal and death feels much more impactful and threatening. Guns have very limited ammo and reach, giving each shot a real sense of purpose.
Some things work better than others at the moment. Ground troop warfare is frantic and tense, while vehicle combat, like tanks and light armored vehicles, are heavy and at times feel very overpowered. Although to be fair, that’s reflective of the combat situation of WWI. Air combat is just as difficult and rewarding as previous iterations of Battlefield if you invest the time into becoming an ace pilot.
Battlefield has always been a technical game, with those who commit to its demands earning the highest reward. However, Battlefield 1 feels like it demands much more from the player this time around. This could prove to be a barrier to entry for some, with veterans dominating the field and beginners simply proving to be cannon fodder. I am no stranger to multiplayer, and I found myself getting mowed down constantly by much more skilled advocates. This isn’t a knock to the series, just a complication that could potentially limit the level of enjoyment for some.
Being a beta there are some issues with connecting to a server and lag time with a few matches, but I expect those will work themselves out with the full release of the game.
Overall this is an exciting direction for the series. Combat feels tense and dramatic, not simply a run and gun effort. During matches, I would constantly be on the lookout for the glint of a sniper scope or rush around corners to avoid the sights of an enemy tank barrelling down, plus you get to run people over on horseback, what’s more fun than that?