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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