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The new entry in the Battlefield series takes the game to a place few titles have ever been. How does the change in scenery impact the franchise? For the most part, it works out ok. The game is fun and the look at numerous aspects of World War I through numerous different sets of eyes certainly makes for some unique gameplay. The game tries to tell a story about the horrors of war while still be a first-person shooter, a game that can't help but glorify the same to some extent. It does about as good a job in this as can be expected. It's not perfect, but it's a solid effort.
Following a rough entry is the series with last year's Battlefield 4, EA and Dice have gone back to basics, literally. Battlefield 1 takes place during the "war to end all wars," which was the first World War. It's an interesting choice. In many ways World War I has become a forgotten war due to it being overshadowed by it's larger and more terrifying sequel. As such, it's an opportunity for some potential education on the topic and while the game is not completely without that it feels like it could have used more.
Rather than give you a long single player campaign that covers the entirety of World War I, the story is actually broken into six parts, following six separate characters on different fronts of the war. The introduction follows the Harlem Hellfighters, a group of African-American enlisted soldiers in France. It's a truly unique intro, which better than any other game I've played, is able to display the horrors of war. The action hits you immediately and it all happens so quickly that it's difficult to make sense of what's going on around you.
While this introduction works in the sense that it shows the madness of war, it's never made clear here, or really at any point in the campaign, exactly what anybody is fighting for. The events which led to the war are never explained, which feels like a missed opportunity. In addition, following the all too brief introduction, the Harlem Hellfighters are relegated to voice overs in the other aspects of the campaign, we never play as them again. While diversity was hardly an important consideration in 1918, it's unfortunate that what opportunity there was, was relegated to the fringes.
Each of the other story quests mix traditional first-person shooter elements with different mechanics. "Through Mud and Blood" follows an English tank driver through France. "Friends in High Places" puts you in the seat of the Royal Flying Corps. "Avanti Savoia" is presented as a flashback from an Italian soldier and "Nothing is Written" sets you as a female Arab soldier under the command of Thomas Edward Lawrence, and focuses on stealth elements. "The Runner" follows an Australian soldier in Gallipoli who's job is to traverse the environment and get from one point to another as quickly as possible.
If you're looking for traditional first-person shooter gameplay from start to finish the Battlefield 1 War Stories may disappoint you. However, if you're interested in a variety of different gameplay styles, then you'll likely appreciate the different things there are to do here. The biplane dogfighting was particularly fun in my opinion and, if anything I found myself slightly annoyed when it paused for more traditional FPS gameplay.
The downside of not spending a great deal of time with any single character is that none of them necessarily have the time to become fully realized characters on their own. Just about the point that you begin to get attached to your character, the story ends and you have to pick somebody else to play with.
While the campaign has some reasonable length to it when taken in total, each individual segment is not particularly long. In addition to this only giving you sketches of the characters, it also means the gameplay elements that are unique to each segment don't make up a great deal of the total game time. If you particularly enjoy the tank driving or dog fighting, you may find yourself becoming an expert at the brief portion of the game that highlights them, because that's about all there is.
When it comes to the multiplayer, your standard games of Team Deathmatch and hard point capturing are there. However, there are a couple of unique and interesting modes as well. The major new feature is the Operations game type. It works essentially like most games where teams try to hold and defend points on a map. However, rather than simply try to hold points for the most amount of time, one team starts with control of the points, while a second team makes an attack, and tries to take them. If the attackers succeed, the game continues and two new points spawn further down the map. The game continues until the invading force takes the last set of points, or the defenders successfully defend by killing enough of the opposing team.
Considering the game's overall theme of all out war, the new game mode works really well. The maps are huge and open making it all feel vast and feeling you feel like a very small part of a massive war.Vehicles like planes and horses and tanks are available, and they're not limited to those players who are leading the scoreboard, so any and all players can take advantage of them.
While Battlefield 4 became famous for its bugs and glitches, Battlefield 1 appears to be pretty solid. I experienced some minor issues where enemies randomly popped into existence right in front of me, but this issue was rare.
First person shooter fans will clearly find enough to love in Battlefield 1. What's more interesting is that gamers who appreciate a bit of a deeper dive into their games may also find something to enjoy. It's a fun game, but it's also a good story about an event which had major ramifications that the world is still dealing with today.
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