The Battlefield 1 Beta may go down as one of, if not the biggest Beta in the series to be released upon the masses of players. This has been a hotly anticipated title since it’s debut and after tons of promotional videos, matches, and celebrities hawking their product we, the players, finally get to sit down and play. Even though we are only offered a single map, a handful of weapons, and just two game modes, there is enough available here to discuss and debate.
Go to the forums now and you will see a massive thread about how this doesn’t even feel like a Battlefield game. Now those are some bold words, considering this is a game directly created by the founding studio. However, many seem to share this player’s thoughts. Scrolling through this thread, and indeed the rest of the forums, there are tons of complaints regarding how Battlefield 1 looks and plays. Players are comparing this title to DICE’s previous game Star War Battlefront, even going so far as to excuse the studio has just reskinning Battlefield 1. However, others are rushing to the defense of this legendary studio, so it begs the question: who’s right?
However, to identify if this is even a Battlefield game, we need to figure out what characteristics make Battlefield so wholly unique. This will obviously vary from person to person, but there are some fairly big qualities we can assume are universally felt:
- Tactical Gameplay
- Large Scale Battles
- Balanced Vehicle Combat
- Objective Focused
- Easy to Play, but Very Hard to Master
There’s no denying that Battlefield 1 has large scale battles, as the map offered, Sinai Desert, is boasted by DICE as the biggest in the series. We’d also argue that the vehicle combat is incredibly solid and so far feels quite balanced, with a possible exception of riding on horseback. Hopefully, the horse’s health pool will be scaled back a bit to compensate for how difficult it can be to actually stop one zipping about the desert.
Where one of the biggest arguments comes in actually has to do with DICE’s choice to focus more on objective based gameplay by removing the ticket system entirely out of the game. This was mainly due to players focusing more on killing than the actual objectives in the game. This can be seen as DICE taking from last year’s Star Wars Battlefront, as that game was objective focused in the same manner as Battlefield 1. Yet, if they are going to take anything from Battlefront, it should be the push for players to focus more on objectives, as that has always been this game’s driving point.
The previous system tried to achieve a balance between killing and holding points, but this usually devolved into a game of Team Deathmatch. Even though the control points were important, they would usually go ignored unless it was absolutely necessary for victory. In this new system, the control points are weighted more importantly than kills, thus pushing this objective based gameplay the series is known for.
Rush, on the other hand, feels completely unchanged in terms of the speed, ferocity, and chaos caused by this game mode. Unlike Control, which has a habit of encouraging solo play via the massive map, Rush’s confined combat space fully requires teamwork. If you want to take or hold an objective you will need the assistance of your team. This is the best mode currently available in the Beta as it’s a culmination of everything that makes this series great.
However, some things have gotten muddled in the change to this newer and flashier version of Battlefield, as the tactical gameplay feels set aside for once. Rarely did I ever see teammates working together, let along focusing on the roles that they spawned into. Medics would run by corpses (though admittedly one shouldn’t have to hit a button to notify a medic), support classes rarely offered ammo to needy troops, and most people ended up ditching their squad. This, more than anything else, feels like the biggest contrast to other games in the series.
Most firefights were focused around Control Points, but rarely did I ever see teammates working together to take out particular areas. This could be due to the faster movement speed and almost blitzkrieg style of combat that the gameplay has warped into. Unless DICE slows down the actual pace of combat, it will be hard to tell if this can get fixed. On the other hand, this could easily be due to the massive scale of the Sinai Desert map, so we will have to wait and see if more confined locations push a more team-focused mentality.
Finally, there is a discussion to be had about the balancing issues and the general feel of actual firefights. Battlefront had a very deliberate style that felt far easier to control and gun battles didn’t feel nearly as deep or thoughtful. Battlefield 1 is an odd mix of new and old, which brings a large amount of success with only a few issues cropping up. The biggest has to be sniper rifles, which do not feel nearly as skill based as they have in the past. In fact, many of the weapons handle easier than one might expect, especially when compared to the rather large learning curve of a lot of Battlefield 4’s arsenal. Again, this is a beta, so it possible that there will be weapon balances to adjust these issues, but for now it’s an odd mix of the two games.
With all that being said, Battlefield 1 still feels more like Battlefield than it does Star Wars Battlefront. Yes, some elements were brought over, but as a whole, this is a game that truly feels focused around delivering that large scale warfare. Even though there needs to be some fine-tuning, it doesn’t feel as slapped together as Battlefield Hardline. There is room for improvement, yes, but my excitement to dive back into the world of Battlefield has hardly diminished.