“Harbinger of the Lost Generation”: Battlefield 1 Review

Posted in Kulturecade by - October 26, 2016

For those of us fool enough to purchase an Xbox One or PlayStation 4 may remember the horribly botched launch of Battlefield 4. Due to bugs within the game, the single player mode could unceremoniously wipe your progress and the multiplayer was broken to the point that the game was unplayable for weeks after launch. The issues with Battlefield 4‘s launch soured me on the franchise and caused me to skip Battlefield: Frontline, despite my interest in the premise.

This brings us to Battlefield 1, the latest entry in this storied multiplayer franchise. The game caught my attention from the moment it was revealed before E3 2016, due in large part to its setting. The idea of a AAA development team tackling a World War I setting piqued my interest, and with it being a Battlefield title, I expected a high quality and polished production.

World War I was a fascinating time in military history, as it saw the transition to the modern style of warfare we are more familiar with today. This setting offered the possibility of some interesting story potential. This made it all the more exciting when I saw that Battlefield 1’s single player consisted of five stories, each set in a different location and time during the war. Each of these stories revolves around a different soldier, each fighting for various reasons. The stories were each told as flashbacks and featured a unique cast, which had me very excited when I began. Unfortunately, the feeling didn’t last.

The initial appeal of the campaigns was quickly wiped away when I discovered that each of them lasted only an hour or less. This killed a lot of my enthusiasm for the single player experience offered by Battlefield 1 and made sections of the campaign feel like a slog when they should have been an enjoyable experience. The single player as a whole felt more like a training ground for the online portion of the game. Maybe I expected too much from a game that is traditionally multiplayer, but the campaign here felt tacked on. I was looking forward to the game as a whole, but the campaign was where I felt Battlefield 1 had the most potential, and sadly, it was squandered.

It’s unfortunate that Dice and EA didn’t run with the interesting story threads introduced in Battlefield 1. However, while I may have found myself underwhelmed by the campaign, I was in awe of just how fluid the game felt in motion. Every aspect of the game felt so natural that I felt comfortable with the controls from the moment I first picked up the controller. Everything from basic movement to the game’s vehicles and gunplay is polished to the point of near perfection, and any time that my character died during either the single-player or multiplayer experience, I felt it was entirely on me and not due to input lag.

Sadly, despite this fluid gameplay experience it would be completely myopic of me not to mention the issues I experienced with the online portion of the game. When the online was functioning properly, the game played like a dream. However, for a significant amount of the time that I spend with the game, the servers were unavailable, and I wasn’t able to connect to the online portion of the game for any reason. While I’m not entirely sure if this was the fault of EA or due to the weekend’s DDOS attacks, the simple fact is that the online wasn’t available and my review should reflect my time with the game regardless of any outside factors.  

Battlefield 1‘s multiplayer suite offers up five different game modes, but most players will likely spend their time in Conquest, Battlefield’s most well know mode. In Conquest, you’re thrown onto a large map with up to sixty-four players as each side in the battle is split into squads and must work to capture various points on the map. While your team has control of any of the points on the map, you will gain points. The more points you accumulate, the faster your team will reach an adequate amount of points to win the round. Sadly, despite the need for teamwork in this mode, I found that during my experience with the Xbox One version of Battlefield 1, very few players used their microphones, leaving you to fend for yourself.

Despite having some of the best first person shooter mechanics on the current generation consoles, Battlefield 1 is held back by its lackluster campaign. Couple this with the issues I ran into with online, and the game doesn’t offer players much incentive to keep coming back. If the online issues are fixed, there is a lot of promise here for those looking for a robust multiplayer experience.

Each of Battlefield 1‘s environments looks incredibly realistic, and I found myself particularly fond of the desert settings. Environmental effects look fantastic, and I was enamored with the attention to detail, specifically on maps with rain, as seeing individual drops of water falling on my gun felt mind blowing. The visual package isn’t without its flaws, however, as I noticed some instance of clipping. This was most noticeable while the character was crawling while prone, and while it isn’t a deal breaker by any stretch, it did cause me to be pulled out of the experience each time I noticed it.

The sound design is also top tier among games in its genre and features a fantastic orchestral score during the game’s campaign. Musical cues will ramp up during the campaigns action sequences and return to ambient noise when necessary. Music is something that tends to be overlooked in first person shooters, but I am happy to report that the folks at DICE have provided a well-written score that fits Battlefield 1 perfectly. Complementing these compositions is some of the best sound effects I’ve heard in a military shooter. The guns and vehicles sound amazing and made me feel like I was watching a big budget film rather than playing a video game. The excellent use of reverb is also very noticeable, especially if you’re using a surround sound system with your game. 

Battlefield 1 features one of the most solid presentation packages I’ve seen in sometimes and that’s something that has made the game stand out to me. Every aspect of the game’s sound design feels nearly perfect, and alongside its incredible visuals, it is a treat to see in motion. As good as this game looked on the Xbox One S, I can only imagine the visual feast it offers on the PC.

Battlefield 1 should have been one of the best games of the fall, but issues with online connectivity have once again left a blemish on this storied franchise. It’s a disappointment that Battlefield 1’s fascinating setting was squandered on such a poorly done campaign. Despite the game’s fantastic presentation and gameplay, the weak campaign and issues I experienced with the online make Battlefield 1 a hard game to recommend. If the online were functioning properly, Battlefield 1 would have been a much better game, but in its current state I have to recommend a pass, which is upsetting since it was one of my most anticipated games at this year’s E3.

Final Say: Skip It

This post was written by

He is a senior editor at Kulture Shocked. A seasoned gamer, Zach has been playing video games since the early 90s and have owned everything from the NES to the Xbox One. Aside from video games, Zach is a nerd of all trades and dabbles in everything from collectible card games to Gunpla.

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