Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Battlefield 1 (Video Game Review)

This game is a joke. A bad one at that, and the only problem is that the developers were completely unaware of it.

World War I is a setting which has been rarely explored in video games. Save for the odd exception, developers seemed to favour players gunning down Nazi stormtroopers over the Kaiser’s forces, which was a great shame. This was, after all, an era of great change, developing tactics and the first steps into an era of mechanised warfare. The problem is that the developer squandered this, ignoring not only how the war itself developed but even the hostile, horrific nature of trench warfare. While no one was expecting Verdun, especially given the Battlefield series’ broader appeal, most were hoping for at least a determined stab at authenticity in a few places. Let’s just say that DICE’s creation fell short of what we were expecting.


  1. You know what's truly bizarre about all of this? In Battlefield 2: Modern Combat their campaign had a feature that could have helped mitigate the problems that plague this ones campaign, and that feature was called Hot-swapping, it was used in that game, it was a fantastic mechanic, and it was never used again in this series even though this is far and away the best game for it. It's as if the feature was completely forgotten even though it received a lot of praise.

    Hot-swapping allowed the player to push a button, and immediately take control of whatever friendly soldier they happened to be looking at (you were automatically re-assigned the next nearest body when you died). Because of this Battlefield 2's campaign wasn't focused on one character or even a group of characters, it was focused on entire armed forces fighting each other and the player was some strange ghost possessing the bodies of the troops whose side they were on, and you'd only lose if your entire force was wiped out or you failed to accomplish a timed objective.

    Battlefield One very briefly has a similar feature, right at the start of the game. Unfortunately it goes away after that mission and it only affects the player if they die. It's a shame too because Hot-swap would have allowed the player to see the full scale of the war without making it not much fun to play. You could have dozens of people with the very basic weapons, rather than give everyone fully automatic rifles because this way, if they die then you just move on to the next person, if you run out of ammo you move onto the next, if you're in a position you don't want to be in you could just switch, and you could also put the player up against overwhelming odds to really show how many people died in the conflict. At the very least it would completely kill the 'one man army' syndrome the game's rife with.

    Now as for the multiplayer, I've got mixed feelings about it. On the one hand I get why everyone's using what was rare weapons for the time, however I also can't help but feel that they could have made them rare drops similar to the anti-tank kits and/or had the game start with a large amount of them in your starting zone, so as the match went on you'd lose the guns and either have to scavenge them from the field or you'd just end up with less resources as the fight drags on. Same with the vehicles, I feel that it's fine to have the same amount, but don't let them come back once they've been destroyed.

    1. I would actually agree, hot-swapping would be an excellent way to actually nail the full attrition rate of the whole war. While by no means perfect, as you cited, the game itself did experiment with this at the start, and small touches like how it actually noted the names of the soldiers killed or even their origins, but it didn't stick with it. If it kept that same quality for quite a long time and perhaps followed a format closer to the second Star Wars: Battlefront game (never following a specific hero character or protagonist, but playing out the battles while a single veteran narrates over the cutscenes before and after each fight) it might have been much closer to what people were expecting. Instead what we ended up with was more akin to a mash-up between the Imperial Guard and a Hellboy comic.

      The sad thing though, perhaps the worst thing, is that it easily could have been an excellent game if it was just aware of itself. If it fully knew how insane it was and the script was re-written to reflect that, well that and the ad campaign, there wouldn't be this backlash. the problem is that instead we end up with a horrific clash between tone and gameplay:

      Story - You are fragile and afraid, and destined to die. Comrades, friends and old allies are dying everywhere and the war is nothing like you were led to believe. You might even die in your sleep without ever seeing the face of the man who kills you.


      I'd also agree with you entirely on the multiplayer for the most part, but there is one key additional issue - Spawn points. Now, this might have been some misaimed stab at reflecting the attrition rate of the war, but what I noticed is that you die almost non-stop. They're so poorly positioned or designed that there's a one in three chance you'll spawn in and die almost immediately to gunfire from an enemy right next to you. While this might be impactful at first, it quickly turns playing against others into a relentless slog unfortunately.