Who would have thought that the single player campaign of a Battlefield game would actually be a stand-out feature? Given the abject mediocrity we were dealt in previous iterations, the fact that Battlefield 1 offers an engaging campaign mode alongside the popular multiplayer component is a triumph of the highest order.
The key ingredient is the sense of scale DICE have provided to the World War 1 setting. From the narrative, to the setting and the level design, there’s an overwhelming sense that you and your struggles are just another thread in an intricate tapestry. For too long, modern military shooters have plonked you in the shoes of an all conquering badass who single-handedly turns the tide of war. It’s refreshing to see a story that allows for some Hollywood style heroics, but leans more towards personal tales of redemption, ambition, family and brotherhood.
Single player campaigns for popular multiplayer shooters often serve as tutorials for the multiplayer, and the same could be said here. You’ll be taught about tank control, piloting a plane, using sentry kits (suits of armour), capturing objectives and dealing with that pesky armoured train that shows up in the desert levels.
The reason why Battlefield 1’s campaign works is because this tutorial doesn’t feel forced. Instead of adopting the usual “jack of all trades” protagonist who can do all of the above, DICE have created six different campaign levels that offer six different types of gameplay that take place across the length and breadth of World War 1. It creates a campaign that teaches, entertains and makes sense narratively speaking.
Whether you’ve been shot down behind enemy lines, trying to make your way across no man’s land with your injured co-pilot, running around a hectic warzone delivering messages between the base and frontline, to waging war against the Germans as the little tank that could; each story offers clear motivations and are paced to perfection.
Sure, the campaign length isn’t that long, with a hard mode playthrough clocking in around 7 hours (2 hours of that spent on the last level…), but with plenty of collectables to find and challenges to tackle, there’s enough there to sink your teeth into for a few more hours afterwards.
However, as we all know, the real selling point of a Battlefield game comes from its massive multiplayer battles. Having multiple stories in the single player campaign actually feeds directly into the multiplayer; after you’re finished, you’ll come away with your own stories from your own personal online wars. Stories you can share around a campfire… or the water-cooler in your office.
Besieged on all sides by an Italian army baying for blood, our plucky group of Austro-Hungarians sought shelter in an underground turret base, and with the medics clocking in some serious overtime with their revive mechanic, we managed to hold off the assault. Our Alamo-esque victory, however, was short lived, as we stepped outside of the base and stared down the barrel of an enemy tank. Our body parts were quickly sprinkled across the Alps as fertiliser…
Another comical defense saw our merry band of British troops holed up in half destroyed abbey, attempting to stem the tide of German forces. Things were going great, until the shell of a destroyed bomber decided to cartoonishly land on our skulls, laying waste to our defensive line, opening up the objective for the enemy and providing a laugh for anyone who witnessed the event.
Of course, there are moments when you achieve your moment in the sunlight; when you’re the tip of the spear, laying waste to anyone that crosses your path. Point is, it’s the moment to moment, emergent gameplay that makes Battlefield unique and special, and it’s delivered in spades here.
Multiplayer gameplay comes in the usual Battlefield forms: Conquest, Rush, Team Deathmatch. All the favourites that you remember. New to this edition is the Operations Mode. Basically acting like a playlist mode for different Rush games, defenders must hold out against the attackers across multiple levels. Attackers get a set amount of chances to claim victory; chances being the amount of times their tickets get refilled after a defeat. It makes for longer games that players can drop in and out of at any time.
In fact the more you play Battlefield 1, the more it becomes apparent that the World War 1 setting hasn’t actually done much to change up the formula, so to speak. Vehicles still dominate the landscape, the game modes are the same and the maps are the usual mix of tight urban environments and wide open countrysides. The World War 1 setting does make a nice change of scenery, even if it is just a different time period of the same war-torn Europe you’ve been fighting and dying for in the previous Battlefield games.
That sounds like a criticism, but Battlefield 1’s 64 player combat is unlike most other shooters on the market, and the aforementioned emergent gameplay ensures that no two games are ever the same. Couple that with a great campaign mode and you’ve got yourself a war shooter that lives up to the hype.
Have you had a chance to get to grips with Battlefield 1? What’s your take on the historical shooter? Let us know in the comments, and check out the trailer below!
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War. What is it good for? Battlefield 1, apparently.
The old adage goes “War Never Changes”. The same could be said for EA and DICE’s historical shooter, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. With the single player campaign delivering engaging stories and informative training, and the multiplayer being as frantic and unpredictable as usual, Battlefield 1 offers shooting fans the complete package.