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I’ve played most of the Battlefield games. My first was Battlefield 2, then Battlefield 1942 and Battlefield 2142. After that, mostly Battlefield 3. I’ve skipped Bad Companies and Battlefield 4, and only played the demo of Hardline. In fact, I wasn’t too keen on Battlefield 1 in the first place. But the more I heard about it, the more I wanted to play. So a few days ago I took the opportunity to get the bundle from Origin including Battlefield 1 (obviously) and Titanfall 2 (which I wanted to try out and will probably review too) for only £40. This review will be mostly about the campaign, though I’ll mention a bit of the multiplayer mode near the ending.

So let’s start with the official trailer of the single-player mode.

 

An Introduction To The Reality And Brutality Of World War I

Storm of Steel is the name of this introduction, and it will push you straight into the Great War. The stunning cinematics will show you the pure violence of mankind, from shooting what you can to hit your enemy with a rock or bare-hands. You must survive a German breakthrough in a position held by the US 369th Infantry, the Harlem Hellfighters. You’re not meant to survive, and each of your soldiers will be replaced as they die. Even details like the first and last name, and date of birth (and death) will be displayed.

The intro puts you in the middle of the action straight away, for you to realize how barbaric war is and how many people have died for it. To be honest, this environment didn’t quite sit well with me, with the realism of the graphics making it possible for you to witness such atrocities where a human being will do anything to kill the other one in front of him, simply because he’s on another side.

 

Drive A Tank Through Mud And Blood

In the first chapter you are Edwards, the new driver of the tank Black Bess. This is by far my favorite chapter. You will be driving the tank most of the time, but at some point you will also have to walk around. Each chapter will introduce a different way of telling the story, and you get into Edwards’ via a flashback which he probably gets after the war.

The main goal of this chapter is of course to give you the basics on how tanks work (driving, shooting, repairing). But at the same time, the story around Black Bess told through the stunning cinematographic cut-scenes will make you feel how it is to be in an actual tank. As powerful as this beast of metal can be, once it’s disabled, it’s vulnerable, and you feel powerless, just like a trapped mouse. The story is not 100% authentic, but it’s inspired on several facts. A tank named ‘Black Bess’ actually existed. A story of a tank trapped and bombed by Allies and Enemies before the crew got captured and killed happened in real life as well. It’s not what this chapter tells literally, but there’s some inspiration based on true facts.

On top of that, you have an amazing scene where you play a pigeon. Jokes aside, this scene touches you deeply.

 

Learn How To Fly In The British Royal Flying Corps

Friends in High Places is the second chapter of this campaign. You play Clyde Blackburn, an american pilot in the RFC. The guy gambles, lies, manipulates and only thinks about himself. You will basically learn the mechanics of flying in Battlefield 1 through this campaign, and I don’t know for other people, but it was awful in my experience. The whole flying movements, through the 3 parts of this chapter, were buggy as hell. For some reason, if I would try to move a bit too fast, all my actions – turning, firing – would be delayed. It would be such a delay that I wouldn’t even have control of my plane anymore, so I would need to stop touching my keyboards and mouse until the plane stopped moving on its own. Even though this flying experience was terrible for me, flying in  the multiplayer mode is free of bugs and way smoother.

Because of this, it kinda ruined the fun of this chapter, but the emotion was still there. Clyde makes a comeback to be a good guy instead of a jerk, you protect London from Zeppelins raid and you get this feeling, during the chapter, that yes: Pilots’ lifespan ranged between 10-15 days. Imagining how chaotic a battlefield could be on the ground, it’s just the same in the air.

 

Win Or Die In The Italian Alps

Avanti Savoia!  You are Luca Vincenzo Cocchiola as he tells his story to his daughter. You’ll fight the Austro-Hungarian forces as he remembers,  while supporting his brother Matteo during the battle. In this chapter, you are back to the ground, and you’ll discover the Sentry Kit. This is an extra gear that will pop sometimes in multiplayer, either machine-gun or flamethrower. For this chapter, will be the machine-gun which comes with a heavy armor that will protect you against – almost – everything.

You’ll discover the Arditi. It’s the Italian regiment Luca is part of. Their motto is: O la vittoria, o tutti accoppati meaning “We either win, or we all die”. Only volunteers were part of this regiment and the most daring ones were chosen, particularly those who were not bothered by loud incoming artillery fire close by. This was kind of a crazy regiment where they were rushing towards the enemy trenches and shelled by Italian artillery. In a single attack, they were likely to lose 25% to 30% of their numbers and that’s exactly what you feel when playing this third chapter. Among all the dead, Luca has to find his brother while keep pushing the enemy forces.

 

Discover Why Australians Cannot Die

Coming from a land where all types of creature are deadly, you can imagine Australians are tough. In this chapter, you are Frederick Bishop, an ANZAC soldier in the carnage of the Dardanelles Campaign. There’s no specific mechanics to be discovered but only the idea of this historical moment of the war. You start by landing on a beach where there’s pure carnage. It even feels like landing in Normandy where artillery bombs the beach and you have to doge between bullets and flying corpses.

Bishop is joined by a young Australian fan who has lied about his age to meet him, and during the chapter, the link between the young and old is made. Bishop, as grumpy as he might be, will learn from Foster and vice-versa. After you land, you’re assigned as a messenger with the mission to run back and forth between the Commanding Officer and the Frontline.

This chapter will be a reminder of the introduction as you walk by foot on the battlefield, in the middle of a carnage. Just this time, it’s sand instead of mud.

 

Join The Resistance With Lawrence Of Arabia

You are Zara Ghufran, a Bedouin rebel during the Arab Revolt against the Ottomans. The resources are nothing alike the Ottoman and Bedouin. Antique rifles against machine-gun and artillery. Horses against tanks and armored trains. This last chapter will actually introduce you to the armored train which you will find in multiplayer.

You’ll feel vulnerable, even ridiculous, surviving shells on your horse and fighting this train with whatever weapons you find. But it’s actually an awesome feeling and this is why this is one of my favorite chapters. While Zara is of course a purely fictional character as of the patriarchal nature of Bedouin culture, she’s a total badass. You’ll also meet the famous Lawrence of Arabia, when you’ll even imagine there’s a thing between them.

This chapter is a mix between infiltration and destruction. You start the first part only with a knife and move in the shadow under rocks. By the end, you’re throwing everything you have against the train. And the chapter in between? You simply choose if you want to infiltrate or go all-in.

 

Remember Us

You’ve been through all of it? Remember Us is a closing message from the Battlefield 1 team. A tribute. Where you see that war is one side fighting another one, but in the end, we are all human beings.

 

Bonus: Multiplayer

This won’t be long. The multiplayer is the key for Battlefield. We have the classic game modes, Conquest, Domination, Rush, but we also have War Pigeons – which I haven’t tried yet – and Operations.

Now, this last one is pretty sick. You are either attacker or defender. You will have to conquer (or defend) the different sectors. Each sector will have one, two or sometimes even three flags. Once the attackers get all the flags, the sector is conquered. You continue until the last base of the defenders is conquered. Attackers have tickets, and once you reach zero the round restarts from the last sector that has been conquered. There are three attacks available. If any of the two teams struggle too much after a sector, they are reinforced with a behemoth (Zeppelin, Armored Train or Dreadnought depending on the map).

This mode is quite long. It even has a cinematic intro to put you within the context of the team you’re siding with. There’s also a quick summary of the battle that happened in real life.

For the rest, there’s a progression system, 4 classes (assault, medic, support, sniper) and you unlock weapons with warbounds that you accumulate with your progression. The different weapons will stay locked unless you have a certain level of the class required. There’s skins for the weapons that you can unlock, and finally some choices for the different melee weapons.

 


Battlefield 1 is an incredible game. It doesn’t pretend to be 100% accurate. It’s not a simulation of World War 1. In my opinion, it’s more of a tribute. Of course they’ve already explored World War 2, Gulf War or even the future. World War 1 is a mess compared to the 2. I liked their direction, it’s inspired on real facts (Arditi, Harlem Hellfighters, The British RFC, locations of the battles etc) but of course, it’s a video game. Some weapons might not be completely accurate etc. but the essence of the war is there. It’s brutal, violent, awful and horrible. The soundtrack in the menu and the picture of the globe gives you the real feeling of a World War. Even the loading screens have some quick facts.

Battlefield 1 is not to be seen as a simulation but as a fun FPS instead, while at the same time it pays a tribute to anyone who has served during this horrible part of human history. I’d say the only real cons are the bugs – sometimes too much.


Final Verdict:

To me, this is Gold.


Fenrile

French geek. Let's get this straight. I've put my ass in front of a computer at the age of 4 or 5. I couldn't even read but I could put a password on the family computer. My first videogames were Pacman/Galaga/Pole Position trio (& Dig Dug for the bonus). I've always been a gamer. Aging, I've started expanding my horizons.

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