Battlefield 1 – War, War Never Changes

REVIEW – As per one of the most lethal conflicts in human history, World War I had a tremendous impact on the twentieth century. Besides both sides suffering a horrific number of casualties, but the geopolitical upheaval it caused planted seeds of division that would resonate throughout the whole century. Since the most ruthless side of the conflict widely though as the politicians and military leaders – on both sides – who let the war escalate into a prolonged stalemate, it makes basing a video game on the conflict a hard task.


Everybody was more than surprised when Battlefield 1 was announced since we have grown accustomed to modern and sci-fi warfare in every reiteration of Call of Duty and Battlefield. Even a World War I setting was more expected as it’s already proven to be a success. Still, here we are: Battlefield 1 is a reality.

To make the long story short

Breaking away from the Call of Duty mold in other ways, Battlefield 1 does something different with its campaign by giving the player a series of vignettes that can be chosen in any order.

It may seem a good idea on paper, but unfortunately, due to the short story format used, you never stay with any of the soldiers long enough to care about them, and most of the impact of the cutscenes is lost as the game plows ahead at a breakneck pace. It’s a shame that there isn’t a tighter focus on two or three of the theaters, with more missions for each.

It’s also unfortunate that the hero soldiers themselves are nothing short of being boring. There’s even a big missed opportunity that in the Lawrence of Arabia campaign we can’t even play the man himself, just a subordinate: an Arabic woman (!) warrior, without a distinct personality, which would make her more attractive. Since I was honestly waiting to play the historical character of Lawrence, it was a big disappointment for me, which I was not able to do so.

The other problem is that the need to offer the gameplay of a traditional shooter undermines realism of the war situation. Many of your characters will complete heroic feats that wouldn’t feel out of place in the most over the top action films, killing scores of enemies as they pursue their objectives, whether that’s sneaking around collecting parts to repair a tank or storming a fort single-handedly.

Multi-singleplayer or single-multiplayer?

Another annoying point is the glaringly obvious multiplayer mechanics thrown into the single player. When trying wrest a hilltop away from the enemy, you end up watching a glowing bar fill before the common conquest point captured message displays in a garish fanfare across the screen. Similar design choices have seeped into all aspects of the story mode, and the immersion built by other game elements is dispelled like smoke in the wind. It feels like nothing more than a multiplayer tutorial in places.

But what totally kill the campaign is the enemy AI, with the second Gallipoli mission being the worst culprit. Despite having a full-scale battle raging, shooting even one of the enemies will have every machine gun and mortar rain hell down on you from across the map, while completely ignoring the rest of the Anzac army. The rest of the game is not much better, and I was well and truly sick of the stealth sections by the time I had finished.

You are just another nameless soldier, my boy

After being vastly disappointed by the single campaigns, I jumped head first into the multiplayer modes. At no point, did I struggle to find a match – to say that this game is popular would be an understatement the size of a zeppelin.

Once the player does understand what’s going on, they should get ready for a chaotic and intense experience. Battlefield’s multiplayer has always felt like this, but BF1 ramps it up. Explosions are bigger and louder, guns are brutal and messy, grenades are scary, tanks are large and feel indestructible, giant airships made me hide, huge battleships bombard players with explosions, horses trampled over me, players charged at me and ran me through with their bayonet and gas grenades forced me into a claustrophobic mask.

Still, what becomes very apparent after a few rounds are how much everything has been stripped back in comparison to the last few Battlefield titles. There are far fewer weapons, and there are no longer a gazillion different attachments to put on them, either. The classes are also much more focused with tiny overlap, forcing players to pick a particular playstyle and work to its strengths.

Whether this return to a lean, no frills approach for multiplayer is enjoyable will be completely dependent on the individual. Many old-school franchise vets may enjoy the hearkening back to the games from the last decade, but newer players may be put off by the lack of options and the inability to play class types that are no longer catered for. On more than one occasion I caught myself wishing for all the silenced weapons from modern combat games, but alas they would not fit this period.

Run, soldier, run!

While Battlefield 1’s multiplayer is perhaps one of the better in the franchise’s history, there are still some parts of it that stand out as frustrating. One of my biggest problems is that the assault class is garbage. Its weapons are out-ranged by other classes, it has no way to help teammates, it can’t give ammo, or health, or fix tanks… It just shoots and doesn’t even do that all too well.

Another issue is that unlocking weapons is a dice roll. Battlefield 1 gives a bit of info about each weapon, but there’s no way to test them or watch a video of a weapon being used. Some way to test out weapons before spending in-game cash to unlock them would be a smart addition.

But putting my personal preferences aside, the multiplayer package being served up is the cream of the crop. And perhaps more importantly, it’s working exactly as intended, as I had very few hiccups at all in the week I had to play the game. There’s never any difficulty getting a match with a plethora of Oceania servers, and I didn’t have a single crash or disconnect. Compared to the nightmare that was Battlefield 4’s launch, this has been an uneventful start in the best way possible.

Impressive looks

Elsewhere, in virtually every aspect, Battlefield 1‘s visual presentation is seriously impressive. Whether you’re experiencing the utter desolation of the frontline or the sun-drenched hillsides around Gallipoli, the environments throughout the campaign and multiplayer are a visual feast. The dynamic weather effects on the multiplayer maps are also quite striking, and end up having a noticeable impact on gameplay, with sandstorms and fog impeding the operation of bi-planes in the skies above.

The top-notch work continues in the sound design – as you’d expect from a Battlefield title – which is some of the best out there. You’ll feel the thump of every explosion, the snap of the bullets close to your head, and the chattering rattle of machine guns conversing across no man’s land. It resonates so strongly in fact, you could worry about ending up with shell shock from spending too much time under fire.

Ups and downs

For me scoring this game was extremely difficult as I am mainly a single-player gamer and that part of the title was mediocre with no reason to do more than a single playthrough if that. In contrast, the superior multiplayer easily matches the franchise’s gold standards for team-based carnage on a grand scale. In the end, most people will likely be opening up their wallet for the latter, and so while it’s disappointing that it’s not a complete package, the pros do handily outweigh the cons.

If I were a British officer exactly a century ago, I would say that while I can see its merits, this game is definitely not my cup of tea.



+ Multiplayer with explosive, all-out war
+ Impressive graphics and effects
+ Novelty of WW1


– Disjointed, boring, soulless, short singles player missions
– Not even being able to play Lawrence of Arabia
– Brain-dead single-player AI

Publisher: Electronic Arts, EA Games, Sony Interactive Entertainment

Developer: EA DICE

Genre: First-Person, Shooter, action

Release date: October 21, 2016

Battlefield 1

Multiplayer - 9.4
Singleplayer - 6.2
Story - 5.1
Graphics/audio - 9.3
Ambiance - 8.2



If I were a British officer exactly a century ago, I would say that while I can see its merits, this game is definitely not my cup of tea.

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BadSector is a seasoned journalist for more than twenty years. He communicates in English, Hungarian and French. He worked for several gaming magazines - including the Hungarian GameStar, where he worked 8 years as editor. (For our office address, email and phone number check out our impressum)

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