|Developer||DICE (EA Digital Illusions Creative Entertainment)|
|release date||October 21, 2016|
The release of the next game of the world-famous series, gamers were waiting with great impatience. After all, the new Battlefield, which received an unexpected unit in the title, was supposed to give an updated setting dedicated to the First World War.
Back in 2002, the first game of the franchise appeared, the events in which took place during the Second World War. At that time, the legendary Medal of Honor had already taken its place, and a year remained before the release of Call of Duty. Battlefield 1942 did not offer an interesting story, moreover, the project did not have a story campaign at all and was focused on the multiplayer mode, although there was an opportunity to play with bots alone. But what was this multiplayer! The simultaneous participation of 64 players on huge maps, the presence of various classes of infantry, as well as military equipment — it was a breakthrough. Later, the game acquired additions and, of course, sequels.
Studio Dice touched upon the topic of modern war in the second part, managed to flirt with futuristic technology in the successful 2142 — both games became hits in multiplayer wars.
Bad Company, released on consoles, and Bad Company 2 for the first time gave the player the opportunity to see Battlefield in a single player campaign, but this experiment was not one hundred percent successful. History did not reach the main competitor at that time — the brainchild of Activision and Infinity Ward. Although the multiplayer mode still attracted a huge number of players. It was from the moment of the announcement of Bad Company 2 that the series’ strong point was the total destructibility of the game environment.
Battlefield 3 was a return to the big and «adult» canon set by the first parts. Modern warfare, the latest weapons, new opportunities. The game was a hit, and the single player campaign was suddenly good. A separate plus is the possibility of cooperative passage of several story missions. Battlefield 4 brought no revolution. The same conditions, the same modern warfare, but with changed game dynamics. True, there was more of all kinds of equipment and technology, which caused the appearance of a huge number of various glitches that caused a significant imbalance. Frankly, the number of dissatisfied was growing and Dice had to come up with something new.
Such an attempt was the spinoff Battlefield Hardline, dedicated to the confrontation between gangs and the police, who tried to take the laurels of PayDay. Despite the successful start, the game can hardly be called a classic representative of the series.
Thus, Battlefield 1 became a breath of much-needed fresh air. A sharp change in the time period at the time of the announcement was met with a certain amount of skepticism, but after trying the beta, many, including yours truly, changed their minds. So, what is the new episode of the franchise fraught with?
Let’s start with the single player campaign. The developers decided to present the story under an unusual sauce. In Battlefield 1, there is no long run by a squad of super-trained soldiers towards their goal — usually saving the world. No, here we will see stories from the lives of different people, find out the motives that moved them. Dice go out of their way to explain to the player that World War I should not be taken as entertainment by the players. Millions of people died for trying to realize the economic and political interests of the heads of opposing states. In the prologue, we are literally thrown into the crucible of war and the character under the control of the player dies in a matter of seconds, as well as several subsequent ones. The emerging years of life serve as a silent reminder of what a small part of the life the young soldiers managed to live.
After completing the prologue, the player has access to all mini-campaigns, which can be played independently of each other. They cover events that took place on various fronts with various people. Some characters are simply doing their duty, others are trying to show their skills to others, others are fighting to protect their family or freedom. The game tries to show the war from the inside through the eyes of a real living person, and not just another dummy running to complete the next task.
Immediately it is worth warning that if you are waiting for special realism, then you should not be deceived. Let’s just say that Battlefield 1 managed to get close to the canonical first two parts of Call of Duty in terms of the quality of the story, and maybe even surpass them, but the events unfold also cinematically and are designed to captivate the player with the atmosphere rather than amaze with believability.
The developers brought something new to the very organization of the gameplay, trying to transfer the spirit of freedom of action, which the franchise is famous for in its multiplayer mode, into a single-player game. The fact that the player was given a tank and sent to break through the enemy’s defense line does not mean that he should sit in it all the time. If you want to leave, please. Colleagues will follow you and try to cover fire. You need to get through the enemy position in order to return to your own — force your way through enemy soldiers, sneak into the village and kill the sentries, or simply go around the fields. Equipment can be destroyed with a gun, an anti-tank rifle, or simply by laying dynamite along a possible route. This element of freedom is very interesting, but still the world around you is a little empty and you are unlikely to find something to do with yourself, except to look for hidden secrets.
At some moments, the narrative bewitches and gives you goosebumps, somewhere it just makes you shrug your shoulders in bewilderment, in some places it unsettles you with the absurdity of what is happening. For example, I can still understand when a novice is sent to clear and reconnoiter enemy checkpoints in the forest, thereby clearing the way for his combat vehicle — let’s say the crew is already small, the choice of applicants is small, and a person’s life is of little value against the background of the importance of getting out of a heavy tank to the target to break through the front. But a frontal attack in the armor of the «iron man» under massive enemy fire, and even with a machine gun in their hands … Yes, indeed, such armor existed and performed its function, protecting soldiers from shots even from a machine gun. The problem is that it was intended for snipers, who could not change position in this way, but not for running up the alpine cliffs in full combat gear.
On the other hand, if you want to die from one accurate shot, after 15 minutes of carefully calculated movement and reaching the necessary point — welcome to Arma, the Battlefield series is clearly not about that. In general, a single passage leaves only positive emotions. Tank breakthroughs, dynamic air battles, massive infantry attacks — the scale of events literally dissolves in itself.
This is facilitated by an absolutely flawless picture. Sometimes you just want to move the camera around and enjoy the colorful views. Wildlife, the glare of the sun, the play of shadows fascinate. Most importantly, all this is accompanied by realistic physics, which has become mandatory in the series. The tracks of the heavy Mark V knead the dirt, the windmills are spectacularly destroyed by a projectile hitting them, and you can take a breath in the craters from artillery fire. Well, of course, in the spirit of Dice, the optimization is still on the level. The game can offer its own version of the image for literally any configuration. I even managed to play the beta on an overclocked Intel i7-4790K integrated graphics, albeit with texture resolution down to 7-10%. Plus, a system of dynamically changing weather effects gives it its own zest — try to shoot down an enemy plane in a sandstorm or fog, then you wouldn’t crash into a rock yourself.
All this is accompanied by a crown soundtrack and simply amazing sound quality. By the way, Battlefield is one of the few games that allows you to really appreciate the possibilities of surround sound. The sudden clanging of caterpillars and the roar of the engine will make you frantically look around in search of cover, and the distant chirp of propellers will complain about the out of place protruding skeleton of the building, blocking the view of the sector from which the enemy bomber is flying.
And, of course, one cannot but stop at the multiplayer mode — after all, this is the basis of the entire series and the engine of its progress … probably the second after super profits. The developers decided to abandon support for the sensational Battlelog service, thanks to which the choice of game modes, search for maps, and monitoring of statistics were made through the browser. Now all these features are available directly in the game. It’s nice that the process of staying in the queue for the server can be «curtailed» and the player has the opportunity at this time to view achievements, inspect available weapons, etc.
The multiplayer mode has not brought global changes, although there is something new here. The Carrier Pigeons mode added tension to online battles. Team players appear in different parts of the map (usually opposite), after which a message appears about the discovery of a carrier pigeon in a random part of the map. The task is to capture it and hold it in the hands of a fighter for a certain time, necessary to write a «dispatch to headquarters.» After that, the fighter is obliged to go out into the open and release a dove, which, with proper skill, the enemy can knock down in the air. Delivering a dispatch causes artillery fire on enemy positions, and three dispatches must be sent to win. The mode is very dynamic and implies the need for team support. The player with the dove is looking for cover, and his comrades must cover him from enemy attacks. Such a flexible variation on the classic flag capture mode from Quake or Unreal Tournament.
Unfortunately, there is no cooperative passage of story campaigns, as well as individual multiplayer missions. The mode of operations is intended to fill this gap.
Each operation consists of several assault rounds, united by a single historical background and small video inserts. Attackers have a total of three attempts to capture all sectors on all maps within a single operation.
After the first two defeats, the attack continues from the last captured sector, and a unique piece of equipment comes to the aid of the attackers, which depends on the location. It can be an airship, an armored train or a battleship. In such a giant, 6-7 players can appear at once, each of which has its own function and weapons. Vehicles can move freely around the map, thereby dynamically changing the course of events, because in the absence of organized resistance from the enemy, the giant’s guns suppress any firing positions.
In this mode, the coherence of the team’s actions is especially important. For example, one well-played squad on a battle tank can break through the opponent’s defenses, supporting the infantry and protecting them from vehicles throughout the round.
The remaining modes will not come as a surprise to fans of the series. Classic Conquest is a huge map with control points that teams must hold. Team points are collected depending on the number of captured flags and are spent on the respawn of players, which takes place on the points. In the event of a serious backlog of one of the teams, it receives reinforcements in the form of giant equipment. Supremacy — the same capture, but in a limited space among the three control points and a random spawn.
Team Deathmatch is essentially a standard team-deatmatch, in which the game is played until the team reaches a certain number of kills. Players spawn in random locations on a small map.
And, of course, assault. This is a mode in which teams are divided into attackers and defenders. The map is divided into successive sectors, each of which contains two telegraphs.
The attackers are required to mine and destroy both, after which the possibility of attacking the next sector opens. The attack is limited by a time frame, and if the defenders did not allow to destroy all the targets during the round, then they win.
There are four classes in the game, the functions and weapons of which have been redistributed in comparison with Battlefield 3 and 4. The attack aircraft is designed to fight vehicles with anti-tank mines, grenades, a rifle and dynamite, as well as infantry — it has machine guns and shotguns. The Medic, as the name implies, carries with him a first aid kit and a syringe (apparently with a miracle of adrenaline), which can, within a short time after killing a comrade, return him to the ranks. His weapons are semi-automatic rifles, with one single exception. The support class is equipped with machine guns, a mortar, and is also called upon to repair vehicles and provide comrades with ammunition. Scout is a classic sniper class. Non-automatic rifles, trip wires, a sniper shield and even a hat on a stick as a distraction. Well, armor-piercing cartridges can be a surprise for vehicles at a short distance. In addition, each class has a second hand weapon — a pistol, grenades — fragmentation, shock, gas, incendiary, smoke and melee weapons. There is an opportunity to hit the enemy in a bayonet attack, after which it is no longer possible to pick it up with a medic.
There is also a wide range of vehicles to choose from. To our attention are armored ground vehicles, aircraft, motorcycles and even horses. After death, you can appear directly in a piece of equipment by selecting it on the map. Each tank, artillery truck and aircraft has its own weapon options. A tank, for example, can be equipped with cannons, machine guns, and even flamethrowers for shooters. Aircraft modifications depend on the intended targets — they can be focused on hitting ground vehicles, infantry, or air targets. You can also choose the weapon with which you will appear inside the vehicle and which will remain with the player if you leave it. You can even choose the color of the war horse.
Speaking of cavalry. A large-scale cavalry attack is not worth waiting for, because the number of available horses is usually limited in the same way as tanks. The ability to ride a horse and famously cut down adversaries is a novelty in the series. But very funny and dynamic. The enemy can be shot from a carbine at a gallop, pulled out with a saber, or crushed by a horse. Yes, and a maneuver with a deep bypass of enemy positions with such mobility is easy to perform. The main thing is not to fly head-on into a crowd of enemies, especially those armed with automatic weapons.
Game locations are filled with all sorts of structures, trails, bunkers, trenches and stationary guns. The number of possible tactics is simply endless and limited only by the imagination of the players. And of course, Battlefield’s strong point is a team game. Even weaker players can easily win the round if they act in a coordinated manner, medics raise and heal comrades, attack aircraft deal with the destruction of infantry, support provide ammo and repair their vehicles, and snipers knock out enemy shooters. The only pity is that such teams and players rarely come across. Usually everyone rushes around, ignoring the orders of the squad leaders and advocating only for a personal kill/death rating. But the meeting of adequate players in one squad can turn the tide of battle and bring simply unreal pleasure from the gameplay.
It wasn’t without problems. Of course, the launch of such a massive project will be associated with certain bugs. Sometimes it is not possible to join a party with friends, which will allow everyone to move to another round at the same time and be on the same team. From time to time the game crashes to the desktop. And the start of Battlefield 1 turned out to be slightly spoiled by a large-scale attack on American DNS servers. Sometimes the usual bugs for the series with hit registration slip through, although in comparison with the previous parts I died, even running around the corner so far only once. Plus bugs related to the work of the Origin platform from EA, which is still far from Steam. But usually these little things are corrected by patches, one of which, by the way, was already released yesterday.
Battlefield 1 brought back the life and enthusiasm of the beloved series. Large-scale multiplayer battles, an interesting storyline, amazing graphics and environmental physics — what else is needed to call the project a masterpiece? Yes, nothing more. Even despite the high price — about $40 for the standard version and $90 for Premium access to all future DLC — it will definitely become one of the contenders for the title of game of the year.