A discussion on Battlefield 1.
Battlefield 1 is finally here, and while it has delivered that authentic (I use this term loosely, more on that later) world war 1 experience I cannot help but feel that the game – specifically the campaign – was a bit disappointing.
Now I am not going to beat around the bush here, the cutscenes for the campaign are some of the best in the series of Battlefield games; the level of emotion on display here is really intoxicating, and I found myself drawn into the game when I first saw the cutscenes. There was even a point in time where I had a draft ready describing my “emotional experience,” and how I found the campaign to be one of the very best thus far in the Battlefield series next to the Bad Company games. However my honeymoon phase quickly disappeared when I saw Totalbiscuit’s video on this subject, and it really highlighted some key points here that I overlooked completely when I watched the campaign through to the end. Initially I was in disagreement and felt that he had not properly finished the campaign and thus delivered a sub-par first impressions of the campaign. When I first experienced the campaign it was truly something special, but after re-watching the gameplay sequences and analyzing it from his perspective I cannot help but feel similarly cheated by the developers who promised us a meaningful campaign.
Gameplay-wise the campaign is about as generic as any other modern first person shooter; super soldier X goes in solo to take out key positions WITHOUT A TEAM and accomplishes the mission because plot armour. This one segment where you play as the elite Italian infantry the Arditi you are fully encased in plate armour and cannot die; I mean sure if you stood there and did not fight back then thirty minutes or so later you will die, but you are at no point in that mission vulnerable to enemy fire. Then there is the section early on in the game where you are in a Mark V tank fighting for the British; again we see the tank deployed in a way that is contradictory to tactics at the time when the tank was invented. Send in the infantry first, are you mad?!? They built the tank to break the stalemate of trench warfare not use it as a means to give false hope to continue to waste manpower on enemy machine gun positions, come on folks where is the history here?!?
“But Writer, Battlefield was never about singleplayer – multiplayer is where the meat of the game is!” Okay, then can I ask for the game to be around 40.00 instead? No? Well then deliver a proper campaign and you will get your 74.99 or whatever the price is presently on release. When you ask for what is equivalent to a days’ pay to most people for a product you MUST deliver a full product. Sure Overwatch is in the same boat, and I am not giving them a free pass – why is their price point also god-awfully high? Why is it that they also can sell their title at 80.00 a piece when the only features in-game are multiplayer matches; their story arcs aren’t even any good.
When it was announced that Battlefield would take place during the first world war, I thought it was a nice change of pace. Now I never hated Call of Duty so I was not bothered by their Sci-Fi adventure that is coming out this year as well, but it was nice to have two different settings for FPS titles. Make no mistake as to my motivations, I never expected Battlefield to be realistic – realism and authenticity are two separate things, one being exactly a carbon copy of reality, the other being touched up for entertainment purposes. Still I was hoping for the campaign to follow the authentic route, and perhaps take place through the span of the war in which it is set, rather than all in 1918 with the Australian campaign taking place in 1915 in Gallipoli.
Now the atmosphere is good, and it delivers the grim reality of the war (DICE did an excellent job on the cinematic experience with the lighting and visual effects); but then you have sequences like the Arditi missions where you are hip-firing a stationary machine gun and are encased in full steel armour – you might was well call it Battlefield 40k at that point. That space marine mentality is what stuck out to me once it was brought to my attention, and after thoroughly re-watching all gameplay footage I realized that the points made in TB’s video are not unfounded – the game really feels like a shooting gallery when it comes to the campaign. Sure the soldier fantasy is the main attraction point, but right now it feels like a bit of a let down for myself who has been following channels that cover the war on a week-by-week basis (we are exactly 100 years from 1916, so we are in the middle of the war with 2018 being 1918 and the end).
Multiplayer is what will get a player such as myself to invest in a title like Battlefield 1, but until the price drops I will wait out the storm. Sorry guys, but I really wanted my bolt-action combat with hard-hitting close combat; instead we got shooting galleries and a lack of substance to the campaign: the game felt like a World War 2 shooter with a thin coat of World War 1 paint on top. Such a shame that the developers of Republic Commando were unable to influence the games industry to push for more interesting game mechanics like squad tactics and so forth – imagine a world war 1 story where the squad was also a tool for the player to utilize. From coverfire mechanics to planting explosives to helping to man a highjacked heavy artillery piece, squad-based tactics would have made the game all so much more enjoyable. Perhaps in the future my stance might change, but until then I will wait for Titanfall 2 to deliver a better story experience (fingers crossed, aye).
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Thanks for reading folks, and I shall see you next time.
Totalbiscuit’s video on the Battlefield 1 singleplayer: