Many look at World War I as a tragedy, many look at it with pride, others look at it as a reference in time so not to repeat the same mistakes. However, in the world of video games: it is the most underrated piece of history, overshadowed by World War II.
Electronic Arts (EA) is a company known for its boots-on-the-ground games, especially with the Battlefield franchise, along with many other games. The soon-to-be-released game, Battlefield 1, is one of the most hyped games of the year. This time around, EA returns to its shooter roots by bringing players into a piece of history through the eyes of the soldiers that fought in a war. EA goes where few companies have dared to go: World War I.
Although the full game has not yet been released, the multiplayer open beta was available to PS4, PC, and XboxOne players from August 31 to September 8. The beta only offered one map, the Sinai Desert, but offered two playable modes: Rush and Conquest. The map focuses on the teams playing as the British and the Ottoman Empire.
Veteran players may be familiar with these two game types, but for those not familiar with these modes, they are two drastically different team-objective-based games. Rush splits 24 players into two teams as attackers and defenders, then pits them against each other. The goal for the attackers is to run into the end-zone while they destroy two objectives simultaneously, whereas the defenders will use those same objectives to call in support. On the other hand, Conquest increases he player-count from 24 to 64 and adds more objectives. The map’s boundaries are pushed to a larger playing field, providing freedom of movement. In this mode, the two teams are both attacking and defending capture points scattered throughout the map. With a larger space, combat can go from a slow crawl to an intense firefight in seconds.
Since Battlefield 1 is owned by EA, it utilizes the Frostbite Engine, much like the previously released games (Battlefield 3 and 4, and Star Wars Battlefront), it brings realistic graphics, physics, and mechanics to the virtual battlefield.
In terms of graphics, the quality of texture is comparable to what Star Wars Battlefront brought. Alongside these textures, the Frostbite Engine made excellent use of particle effects. When a dust storm hit, it was as blinding as a real one with millions of grains of sand hindering the player’s field of vision. Similarly, when someone threw a mustard gas grenade, it was impossible to see unless you had a gas mask on. Much like other EA games, there is always a level of realism in gameplay by providing players a level of immersion. Environments are destructible, entering, exiting and changing position in vehicles require animation, and bullets drop.
Historically speaking, the weapon-designs are fairly accurate, including the bayonet tactics and trench-based melee and assault weaponry. These weapons focused around bolt-action rifles, classic machine guns, and vintage trench-rifles.
The vehicle designs are gorgeously accurate, from jeeps to tanks and planes. They follow the early-days of the WWI design. The machinery was big, bulky, and not user-friendly. If used right though, it still got the job done. Exclusive to the Sinai Desert map, there is a Hail Mary vehicle that can turn the tide of battle. Teammates can jump on the train,The Behemoth, with mounted cannons or conduct the train in either direction.
Gameplay does not stray from the standard Battlefield style. Scouts still rely on the bullet drop mechanic, medics are necessary for immediate team healing, support still provides ammo, and assault are the hard hitters. The large change is with the engineer class, limited only to vehicle pilots, who are primarily biplane pilots and tank commanders. Also, the newly introduced are the cavalry units, where players take the best of everything and bring combat up close on horseback.
The beta only gave a taste of what is to be offered in the full game. When the full game, releases there is still a full campaign that awaits, alongside more maps, guns, and downloadable content. Check out the full game when it releases on November 10, 2016.
Want to check out some gameplay? Check out these short clips from our author’s experience:
Photo and video credit: Anjeliko San Mateo