> # Welcome to GameGrinOS v1.01 > # How can I help you? > # Press ` again to close
Hello… | Log in or sign up
Battlefield 1 Review

Battlefield 1 Review

There is a moment, in all the mud, blood and carnage that is driving a tank in EA and DICE’s new Battlefield title, that you are taken out of the jackboots of a soldier and put into the feathery body of a carrier pigeon. In any other game this would be seen as stupid, silly and downright strange yet like many aspects of the Great War, Battlefield 1 seems to nail it. Sailing above the war below, you can glimpse, just over the horizon of burnt mud, ruined buildings and flooded trenches, the green of the countryside. You’re flying above it all, oblivious. Then, when you arrive at your destination, delivering some firing coordinates to an artillery regiment behind the lines, the reality of war comes (quite literally) crashing down on you.

I have to admit, I was extremely sceptical when Battlefield 1 was announced. To bring a subject matter as emotional, vivid and culturally significant into the mainstream as a shooter was something I thought a major studio would not be able to properly accomplish. Yet, though the game retains its signature multiplayer action, it also has a sense of maturity and respect for its subject matter. Put simply, Battlefield 1 is as close as you can get to experiencing the First World War short of treading on the soil of the Somme.

DICE has gone all out to give players a credible single-player campaign that doesn’t seem like it was hastily tagged on to the end of the development cycle. Instead of giving us a nameless GI Joe-esque rugged jack-of-all-trades action man the game presents you with a choice of protagonists from all theatres of the war - from France to Saudi Arabia and the Italian Alps. Named “War Stories”, they tell soldiers’ tales from the war’s beginnings all the way to its last few weeks. Each section is as different mechanically as the protagonists are thematically. You can pick and choose, going from one mission as a cocksure American fighter pilot to a nervous newly-conscripted Welsh tank driver. The game even drops in some competent stealth missions as Zara - fighting on the Sinai Peninsula alongside none other than Lawrence of Arabia. What sets these sections apart, though, is that no matter which character you play as they’re not written to be heroes - they’re all ordinary people caught up in one of the world’s most cataclysmic events. Perhaps, though, a major drawback is the lack of perspective from the Central Powers: there are no campaign missions where you play as a German or Ottoman soldier. Perhaps, like the French or Russians, these will appear in DLC format.

battlefield 1 melee weapons 1

Sometimes - and this may be something that the average player would not mind to much about - the game’s story can feel a little divorced from the conflict at large. While there are lots of “yeah let’s go get the Jerries” there’s very little introspection or comment on the wider war by the characters in the game, something that seems like a missed opportunity since DICE has obviously gone to a lot of effort to humanise its protagonists. The opening mission, which, while well done and poignant and a well-deserved focus on the Harlem Hellfighters division, fails to point out that they fight in French armour and clothing because American generals didn’t want black soldiers near their white troops. On the other hand, the game features a codex filled with information about the maps, characters, weapons and vehicles in the game, shedding some light on an all-too-murky conflict.

Where the campaign is subtle, the multiplayer is heart-poundingly bombastic. There is none of the simulation-style trench warfare of Verdun here - in fact trenches make only a few appearances in a handful of maps - it’s all action, movement and explosions. The combination of biplanes, tanks and even cavalry all whirling around some beautifully-designed environments makes for extremely exhilarating gameplay. The gunplay is solid and the weapons (mostly nicked from experimental prototypes late in the war) feel weighty to shoot, some with a recoil that kicks like a mule. No-holds barred destruction is on the cards in most multiplayer maps. You can expect most buildings will be rubble by the end of a match, their ruins and masonry littering the ground around them. Trees shatter into wooden fragments, walls creak and tumble and rooftops come crashing down. This is destruction much more like Bad Company 2 than Battlefield 4. Once, as I piloted a tank around the mud-drenched fields of Northern France a sniper took a foolish pot-shot at my armour. Swinging around I spotted him retreating into the cap of a windmill. With one well-placed shell I blew the top of the building into dust and debris, watching as the sniper and his squad tumbled from their hiding spots. Each time you come away from a game there will be one Hollywood moment to tell your friends.

Classes in the multiplayer have been given a bit of an overhaul. Now you can play as Assault, Medic, Support and Scout. Some of the classes have a dual-role, with the Assault usually having to do much of the infantry tank-hunting and the Medic being more of a frontline trooper. The new elite classes seem to be slightly overpowered, though thankfully they are often rare finds, with most players (at this early stage) unsure of how to use them properly. Vehicles are still slightly too powerful, despite it looking like tanks in particular have been nerfed since the beta stage. Like most things in a Battlefield title, teamwork will win the day, so a well-coordinated tank crew can wipe the map with uncoordinated enemies. Similarly, the squad system hasn’t seen much of an overhaul, with bonuses for acting as a team still too low to incentivise players giving and carrying out orders.

Battlefield 1 Ingame ScreenShot 4

A major new mode for introduced in Battlefield 1 is “Operations”. This combines a number of maps (between two to three) and the best parts of both the Rush and Conquest map modes: the team-based strategy of the former with the player size of the latter. Introduced via a cutscene, teams will have to capture zones on a map, with the attacker getting three or four tries at it, backed up by a super weapon (dreadnought battleship, airship or armoured train) if they fail the first go. Defenders have to hold on and make a fighting retreat, making Operations one of the most frantic and tense modes to come to the series. Trying to hold the line as a massive airship floats overhead spewing death and destruction is a tough ask, and the feeling of victory you feel when your team turns a superweapon into a flaming wreck is exceptional. In this mode, too, you get to see some of the other side of World War One, with well-voiced introductions for Austro-Hungarians, Ottomans and the Germans showing their feelings as the war draws to a close. Again, France and Russia are conspicuous in their absence, but you can imagine this will be fixed with DLC. Despite all this glorious destruction, there are still the same old flaws with a Battlefield title: team play isn’t properly encouraged, leading to a lot of people going lone wolf and half your team playing sniper. The game’s customisation screen, which one imagines was created to enable you to change weapons on the fly, is only accessible in the middle of a fight, making you rush at options to spend your hard-ground war bonds in-game currency on. These are mere flies in the ointment, however, and the ointment itself can work miracles.

GameGrin played the game during the “early adopter” phase, in which those who paid an additional sum could jump in before release. It’s a nice way to stress test the servers, which seemed to hold up well. Whether the incoming DLC packs will split the userbase and turn matchmaking into a chore of filtering out what packs you do and don't have (as the server system in Battlefield 4 has become) remains to be seen. Having played a little on release day, too, I can safely say the community was a lot more helpful and pleasant during the test phase. You’re bound to get an influx of trolls, salty players and exploiters in the first few days, though. There were few bugs, crashes or drop-outs to be seen, a few cases where bodies might stick in the ground, or vehicles would sink beneath the crest of sand dunes and terrain, but these instances are few and far between.

Battlefield 1 is a gorgeous game, there are no two ways about it. The sheer power of the game’s visuals and the ability of the Frostbite Engine are on full display, especially in the single-player, which creates some draw-dropping set-pieces to enjoy. Lighting is exceptional, glinting, reflecting and bouncing off surfaces, while bloom will flash your eyes when you exit dark interiors into the daylight. Maps are filled with historically-accurate buildings, right down to the architecture and furniture design. Grass, trees, rocky outcrops covered in moss, sand dunes, oases, bogs and muddy trenches - all are rendered in fantastic detail. If you took a screenshot every thirty seconds I guarantee most would make amazing desktop background pictures. On top of all this, dynamic weather will roll through multiplayer games, kicking up dust storms, dropping fog and blasting smoke over the battle, multiplying the atmosphere exponentially. Explosions, in their every form and flavour, are so epic, detailed and spectacular that you might catch yourself watching them instead of the battle around you. They also work perfectly with the destruction system, creating shell-holes, divots and furrows in on map that can be used for cover.


There’s very little to dislike about Battlefield 1. What the game is at its core is a beautiful-looking and exciting period shooter that will give fans of the series (and those that have been clamouring for a AAA historical FPS) hours of fun. Whether in the single-player or multiplayer modes, the game delivers a top-notch experience. There are a few missed beats here and there - which may or may not be patched using DLC - and a few historical quibbles, yet the game has surpassed all my expectations in how it has approached a conflict that, despite slowly lost to history, is still imprinted on the emotional subconscious of the European continent. You won’t find a better shooter for your money this year, I guarantee that.

9.00/10 9

Battlefield 1 (Reviewed on Windows)

Excellent. Look out for this one.

There’s very little to dislike about Battlefield 1. What the game is at its core is a beautiful-looking and exciting period shooter that will give fans of the series (and those that have been clamouring for a AAA historical FPS) hours of fun.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Alex Hamilton

Alex Hamilton

Staff Writer

Financial journalist by trade, GameGrin writer by choice. Writing skills the result of one million monkeys with one million typewriters.

Share this: