Over the years, the Battlefield franchise has successfully carved out a market for itself with ample online player counts and stunning graphics. Indeed, the team at DICE has done a good job at keeping the series relevant amongst a widespread of competition. Everything has been going well for the brand, but then the developer did something none of its fans had expected – it took the property all the way back to World War I. Branded as Battlefield 1 in honor of this change in setting, I went hands-on with the PC version of the multiplayer featured within this next installment. Don’t worry, just because it takes place in the past doesn’t mean it feels at all dated.
Being thrown into the traditional 64-person Conquest mode, littered with vehicles as has been the case for several iterations, the visual enhancements are made immediately apparent. As I spawned into a plane to begin the match, the camera panned and soared over the vast landscape of Battlefield 1‘s multiplayer map, with allies and enemies alike doing battle beneath me. The entire area was rendered in stunning detail, true to the expectation that accompanies DICE and its prestigious Frostbite Engine. Every little skirmish occurring below me was visible from hundreds of feet in the air, as I barrel rolled to avoid enemy fire originating from tanks below – all before eventually being gunned down by an airborne zeppelin which occupied an entire quarter of the map.
I then jumped into an old school tank that allowed me to tear through other players with a mounted machine gun. Various teammates would spawn in one of the two side launchers from time to time, but it all literally went downhill once I rolled the boxy beast. Fortunately, gravity carried the behemoth back to its upright position, and I proceeded to drive the monster through the corner of a building before shifting down a narrow alley in a successful attempt to give hapless users an immediate scare. Eventually the steel stallion was taken out by another player-controlled tank that had a similar strategy, but the match was far from over.
Taking to foot, I finally took on a more traditional boots-to-ground effort. I weaved in and out of buildings trying to get an angle on others that were busy capturing points. As I did, the building was shot to pieces by artillery fire, leaving me with little health and even less cover. Simultaneously avoiding a rampaging tank and incoming gunshots from other players on the ground, all hope seemed lost – then I heard it. A plane went roaring overhead, bombarding the opposing side with a myriad of explosives and almost wiping them out entirely. In the wake of this insanity, I captured the point and the battle waged on.
This is one of the most engaging aspects of a multiplayer mode this massive. There are so many layers of combat that continuously interact with one another and add depth to the online experience present in Battlefield 1. Having a pair of 32-person online teams going after one another ensures happenstance interactions that are more true to life of real-world conflict, as all of these different weapons and armaments continuously interact with one another in different ways. It’s this volatile and unpredictable mixture that keeps every single match interesting, while other modes aspire to switch things up by providing fans with more traditional bouts.
DICE and Electronic Arts have seemingly done a bang-up with Battlefield 1, making sure its familiar combat stays intact – all while changing things up with a wide array of new weapons and vehicles thanks to its newest setting. Graphically the game is as stunning as all of the trailers have lead consumers to believe, and the effort put into making sure that the in-game world is as convincing as possible is almost insane. This is the best the series has ever been, and fans the world over have a lot to look forward to in the wake of DICE’s decision to look back.
Battlefield 1 arrives for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on October 21, 2016.