Battlefield 1 full review

Battlefield 1 has been one of, if not the most discussed games of 2016. It created a huge hype at the initial announcement, and its’ open beta was the most popular game beta ever. Taking the FPS back to World War 1 was a risky choice for EA and DICE when you consider most FPS now take place in the present or future, but it seems the risk has paid off. We’ve sunk a good chunk of time into Battlefield 1, and here’s what we think. Read next: Best upcoming games of 2016 and 2017 and Nintendo Switch confirmed

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Battlefield 1 is about as different from its predecessor, Battlefield Hardline, as it’s possible to be. While Battlefield Hardline concentrated on the ongoing battle between the police and criminals, Battlefield 1 takes us back to “the war to end war” and the brutality that came with it. There were no drones, high-powered weapons or even that many vehicles in 1918, meaning you had to get up-close and personal with your enemies, something you also need to also do in Battlefield 1. The inclusion of bayonets on the end of weapons should tell you all you need to know about just how close range and brutal the fighting was – you had to look them in the eye and see that they were just like you, before killing them.  

You see, Battlefield 1 isn’t a standard war game with a flimsy storyline and explosions everywhere - Battlefield 1 puts an emphasis on the inevitability of death in war, and the story of those that did perish. Small historical facts sprinkled throughout the game are a constant reminder that this isn’t fictional, and that it all really happened over 100 years ago - it’s a sobering feeling to have when playing a game, but not necessarily in a bad way.

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Battlefield 1 UK pricing and availability: Where to buy Battlefield 1 - Battlefield 1 deals

Battlefield 1 goes on sale today (21 October 2016), although those who purchased the £69 Early Enlister Deluxe Edition have already had access the full game along with a few additional extras. Those who want to buy the standard edition of Battlefield can do so from the following retailers, with prices ranging from £40-50 depending on the platform and stockist:

Buy Battlefield 1 at Amazon from £39.99
Buy Battlefield 1 at GAME from £39.99
Buy Battlefield 1 at Origin from £49.99
Buy Battlefield 1 at Xbox Store from £54.99
Buy Battlefield 1 at PlayStation Store from £54.99

Following the initial release of Battlefield 1, sales monitor Chart-Track has announced that EA and DICE had sold more copies of Battlefield 1 during its first week than Battlefield 4 or Battlefield Hardline, combined. The company also notes that the sales are "just under the amount generated by Ubisoft's week one sales for Tom Clancy's The Division", and that the game dethroned EA's FIFA 17, sending it t the second spot. 

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Battlefield 1 review: Single player campaign

The tales of heroism in Battlefield 1 are told via a series of War Stories rather than one long campaign, offering a more focused experience, especially in terms of narrative, when compared to older Battlefield games. The War Stories are based on a non-linear format, and can be played in any order without ruining the overall storyline. This is partly due to the fact that each War Story is its own campaign and the protagonists aren’t connected in any way apart from that they’re all fighting in the same war.

Battlefield 1 review

Each war story has a distinct narrative, and presents you with different perspectives and motivations. Take the exploits of the largely unlikeable pilot Clyde Blackburn for example – his character represents the stories that get confused in the chaos of war, and leaves you to interpret his adventure yourself. Was he a reckless thief and gambler, or was he trying his best to save his fellow man and survive the brutality of the first world war?

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The story of Clyde Blackburn is just one of six stories, and is a world away from the post-war account of Luca Vincenzo Cocchiola, an armoured Italian soldier tasked with protecting his twin brother while pushing back approaching enemy forces. Amidst all the action is a sprinkling of heartfelt emotion, and it’s the emotional connection that you build with these characters that makes War Stories such an impressive and integral part of the Battlefield 1 experience.

War Stories also introduces you to the first generation of tanks and fighter planes, which were considered advanced warfare at the time. One story, “Through the Mud and Blood”, takes you through the early days of tank warfare, painting a picture of sheer destruction with a hint of panic whenever the notoriously unreliable tanks would break down mid-battle. It’s also where one of the game’s most emotional and hard-hitting scenes takes place with a carrier pigeon – but we won’t spoil that experience for you. Click here for more games news and reviews

Battlefield 1 review

Beyond the phenomenal storylines and characters that War Stories offers, it’s actually a fantastic training mode for Battlefield 1’s multiplayer mode. The six stories each have an emphasis, whether it’s on flight, operating tanks, stealth or surviving an all-out assault, all with helpful hints and tricks that can be carried over to the online multiplayer. Trying to fly on multiplayer before playing “Friends in High Places” was terrible but the helpful tips during the mission meant that we could take to the sky and have half a chance at inflicting some kind of damage to the enemy team.

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Battlefield 1 review: Multiplayer

Many fans of the series felt that 2015’s Battlefield Hardline was too Call of Duty-esque with a lack of decent large scale maps and relatively tame gameplay, but Battlefield 1 takes the series back to what it does best: open-space combat, this time with WW1 weapons, vehicles and terrain, which present their own perks and challenges.

Operations is the centrepiece of the Battlefield 1 multiplayer experience, offering users the ability to join in a large-scale operation with up to 64 players. One team defends while the other team tries to take over the various points of interest, and while these games can go on for up to an hour at a time, the ever-changing environment helps to keep the experience fresh. A match can span across five different areas in the same region and is akin to playing five separate small games, but with one story and a unified effort from all players involved. The losing team will also get access to airships, attack trains or dreadnoughts as a last ditch attempt to help turn the tide of events, too.

Battlefield 1 review

Along with Operations you’ll find Battlefield classics Conquest, Domination, Rush and Team Deathmatch, which are largely the same as in previous games. Beyond the thrill of amassing the highest kill count and the best kill/death ratio, there’s a hidden charm in adapting to the battle as it progresses. Team players must constantly analyse the needs of their squad, and figure out how best to contribute. Should you be a medic that backs up your support and assault teams, or should you snipe from a distance? Should you jump in a plane and wipe out an advancing charge from the air? It’s the variety of options that you have which makes Battlefield 1’s online experience so enjoyable and varied.  

There’s another new addition to the multiplayer roster too – War Pigeon. While this game mode has the characteristics of a novelty game mode, it’s similar to another popular game mode, Capture the Flag, where the pigeon replaces the flag. The idea is to capture a pigeon, write your message and release it without it being shot down, with a successful release producing an artillery strike on the opposing team. The challenge comes in finding somewhere safe to write the note, which can take a minute or two depending on if you’re interrupted at any point. It’s a tense time as your location is made available to all on the map, and you can feel the chaos ensuing around you as you huddle, bleeding, in a corner as your wounded buddies defend you at all costs.

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Of course, the game mode is only as good as the map it’s based in and Battlefield 1’s maps are smart and frankly gorgeous in unique ways. Take the Argonne Forest for example: the light mist, detailed textures and layout of the map give it a certain charm, with many calling it one of, if not the best-looking Battlefield multiplayer map ever. Peronne is another favourite of ours, depicting a small French town in ruins with a windmill in the centre, surrounded by unkempt fields – it’s actually quite tranquil before the death and destruction begins.

Battlefield 1 review

It’s not just the look of the maps that makes them phenomenal, as the destructive nature of the game can reshape the look of the battlefield in moments. Take the airship for example – if an airship is successfully shot down, it’ll destroy anything beneath it. We’re not talking about people here, we’re talking about entire buildings - even the French palace in Ballroom Blitz can be rendered completely unrecognisable, littered with mangled metal beams, rubble and fire.

It’s not exclusive to the airship either, as tanks, grenades and RPGs can all bring down buildings and create craters in the environment – ideal for pushing up on a heavily fortified position. It’s due to this functionality that we have one of our favourite memories of Battlefield 1: we were playing online, running between buildings when we spotted an enemy tank. Of course, we couldn’t take out a tank with standard ammunition so we ran into the closest building for cover and to select a more appropriate weapon. “They can’t hit us in here” we thought – oh, how wrong we were. As we watched the entire building collapse on itself with us inside (killing us in the process), we couldn’t help but be in awe at the level of detail that the developers have gone to with Battlefield 1. Destructive environments offer new and exciting ways to play Battlefield, and helps to keep both you and your enemies on your toes.

Battlefield 1 review

While in other Battlefield games you’d be able to personalise just about every aspect of your gun, Battlefield 1 has fairly limited weapon customisation. You can still get skins via Battlepacks for a different look, but nothing enhances the weapon you have. This is also true for sights, as most weapons will only offer the bog-standard iron sights that were available during World War 1 – snipers obviously excluded. This means that shooting from a distance can be a challenge, especially when playing with evenly-skilled players online, and forces you to think tactically about getting closer to the enemy without being spotted and killed – just as you would have during World War 1.

One area where Battlefield 1 blows the competition out of the water is in the graphics and sound effects department. While the game would’ve been good with average graphics, the combination of a strong story, high quality textures (especially on PC) and intelligent sound effects make Battlefield 1 one of the most beautiful and enjoyable we’ve ever played. From the light mist of Argonne Forest to the dark, decaying wastelands of No Man’s Land, the high production values emphasise the sights and sounds that you experience. From the distinct clatter of empty bullet shells hitting the floor around you, to the bassy rumble of an approaching tank, it’s the small details that make the game so immersive to play.

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