Six months into the first great war, is Battlefield 1 still worth playing, and are its updates and DLC’s worth it?
Developer: EA Dice
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: October 21st, 2016
Battlefield 1 has successfully broken its six-month lifespan milestone in leaps and bounds. Driving to the top of this years multiplayer expirence, and leaving its main competitor Call of Duty Infinite warfare in a powder caked shell crater. Although, is the game honestly good, or merely a better alternative to a terrible option? To be as blunt as the Trench clubs you’ll undoubtedly be using in game, yes. The real question should be “Is it worth the price?”
Right now retail prices are still sitting around their launch price of $60, depending on which version your buy. I can honestly say that the game is worth the asking price, even this long after launch. And no, Dice employees are not handing me spare stripper clips of ammo to say such things. The game is worth the sixty dollars for the avid multiplayer gamer who wants a fun experience based on skill and strategy. However, as with any game, this one has its faults that need to be addressed, which may discourage some casual players.
The campaign, in general, is rather lackluster. It takes place towards the end of the war and can be speed run in about 3-4 hours. There are six stories which can pretty much be broken down into “Grab a machine gun and go nuts”. There is literally zero reason to do otherwise unless you care about codex entries, medals, or are a completionist. The overall history of the war, and feel of being in trenches while fighting in a stalemate only really exists in the game’s opener. Sadly, the campaign is all downhill from there. In the end, the campaign ends up ultimately being a tutorial for the multiplayer experience, and while that is true for many shooters, it isn’t the rule. What compounds the issue is its waste of the WW1 setting, which has history and action points aplenty, leaving opportunities that have fueled all facets of media.
The only time you will ever use a single-action rifle is when the game shoves it in your hands and you haven’t had the luxury of finding a machine gun yet. Even the stealth missions can easily be completed by simply not being stealthy. Every mission will have you as the staunch hero who carries the day. Which feels in stark contrast to the game’s opener, which has you switching bodies in a losing battle accompanied by a name and age of each soldier you control who ultimately falls. Including a few “Forgotten Soldier” references highlighting the fact dog tags hadn’t been standardised yet. It really shows you the hopelessness those soldiers had during the war, yet it’s completely abandoned as soon as you finish it. If you’re looking for your game to have content deep and rich in story…you won’t find it in this campaign.
Now this is where the bulk of the game is. After playing about 300 hours, and unlocking nearly all the codecs and weapons, I can say the multiplayer is fantastic. Even though the usual complaints most people have with multiplayer apply. While no game is perfect, and not everyone will be satisfied all the time, these are usually uncommon enough to be easily ignored, or at least dealt with. There’s plenty to unlock to keep you busy, especially for the completionists, but not so much where it puts of the more casual players. There are plenty of game modes for just about every type of play style, and the gameplay varies enough to keep it interest in the long haul. The only real down side of the multiplayer is the class system.
As I said earlier, the game has its issues. While I do enjoy being able to pick my class, which gives the options of Assult, Support, Medic, and Scout. The classes feel both too restrictive and too free in the wrong ways. Certain weapons can only be accessed by specific classes, which results in a lot of people playing the weapon instead of their intended role
With that said, there is a common term thrown around in the community called, “The selfish Medic”. This is a player who only plays the Medic class for the semi-auto rifles which are unique to the class. This player carries a medi-pouch almost solely for his personal use, and you can bet he’ll run right over your dead body even if he has a syringe. He’s also likely to pack rifle grenades, these are basically noob tubes/pro pipes from the Call of Duty franchise. This person will never revive you, will never heal you, and almost always demand the opposite. It’s a problem common enough to the game that it’s not strictly unique to the Medic.
Another problem is that certain classes have access to certain pistols, yet others are universal for every class. This is an odd choice as some class specific pistols are far superior to others. The Borchardt C-93 pistols is by far the best of them all though, and this causes a lot of gravity wells in the weapons the game offers.
Now, do you remember that automatic weapons problem I told you about in Campaign? Yeah, that managed to leak over into the games multiplayer. Upon buying the game and getting into your first match you will be quickly introduced into the blender that is: “The Hellriegel 1915 Factory”. This is a weapon used by the Assault class, and is the most overpowered, overused garbage rod known to man. Besides the fact the weapon never saw combat, historically being a prototype, the weapon comes with a few large benefits.
It carries a 60 round magazine, originally with one extra magazine on backup. It has since been increased to 120 do to the defensive model (more on that in a moment). This rifle has a blistering 760 rounds per minute, which makes the five shot to kill average a breeze.
Making it worse, the gun has the benefit of an SMG’s tight hip fire spread. There is no speed penalty while carrying this 23 kilogram bullet Jose about the battlefield either. It even out performs 3/5’s of the machine guns in terms of ammo cap, rate of fire, and damage per second. The only balance this weapon had was its low ammo count, but that has since been redacted with the spurring of its defensive variant. A version of the weapon that comes with a Bipod, to relieve the recoil from moderate to absolutely none. If you add an optical sight to extend your effective range and accuracy, forget all semblance of “fair.” Along with a 120 round capacity with 60 rounds on back up, it makes this weapon effectively the best Machine gun in the game. Not an SMG which is typical for most online shooters, but a machine gun. I would not bring up this gun if it wasn’t for how annoying and widespread its use is. During the point where everyone had unlocked it for the most part, I would take week long hiatus from multiplayer just to avoid the voices in my head dispelling their fictional but not altogether bad ideas.
Right, so as I said before this a game where there is a multiplayer mode for everyone. The usually medley of TDM, CTF, Sabotage etc. are available, alongside the usual Conquest and Rush modes unique to the franchise. The three really interesting new additions though by far are Operations, Frontlines, and Back to Basics.
Operations gives you a variation on Rush that continues over the course of several different maps. It has that stalemate style fighting often seen during the great war. Frontline is similar, but instead of just defending or attacking an objective, you have do both, which pushing into enemy territory to destroy telegraph stations. Back to basics forgoes the automatic weapons and class system to equip every soldier the same set-up. Each player gets a single action rifle, a pistol, and grenade. Health is very minimal in this mode, which tends to leave it more for the avid role player than anyone else.
Taken as a whole. There is quite a bit of value to this game, but mostly if you are in it for the multiplayer component. The modes, the classes, the care taken by Dice to keep things fresh in what many felt like would be a stale platform. If you can stomach the often cheesy weapons, the historically inaccurate mechanics, and working with sour or selfish teammates at times, Battlefield 1 is worth the cash.
$60 is an easy asking price for multiplayer advocates. However, for those who want an authentic WW1 feel and don’t much care for multiplayer, $20 is a more reasonable price. Just keep in mind you’ll be waiting a while for it to drop to that. Or another route if you really want that authentic WW1 experience based on story and accurate themes with both characters and a plot. It’s best to take a pass on Battlefield 1 and buy something like Valiant Hearts.
This review was written by:
Park N. Robinson
Gaming activist since 2001, offering well-balanced opinions and personalised reviews and articles on gaming matters, because gaming matters.