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Battlefield 1 Review: Pigeons Ahead

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There’s always a bit of fanfare when a video-game series returns to its roots, the move usually seems to rekindle any optimism that may have dwindled within the established fan-base over the years. The ‘Battlefield’ franchise has been cranking out war-themed titles for almost fifteen-years now, and while a few of the games have strayed from the beaten path, the latest installment returns players to the first World War.

After ‘Battlefield Hardline,’ a game that had players taking on the drug-trade in Florida, the franchise needed a serious reboot. While the multiplayer side of Hardline’s gameplay was moderately well-received, the overall game wasn’t a hit with most Battlefield players. The franchise had pushed the storyline too far from the war-themed originals, and the studio realized it was time to return to form.

Moving the game’s story to the World War 1 era was an instant hit with fans. The game’s first teaser-trailer on YouTube was one of the most-watched, most liked gaming-videos from a publisher at the time. Filled with airships, bayonets, calvary and smoke, the new setting promised to take players across the campaigns of the first World War.

The game follows Hollywood’s example implicitly, juxtaposing the grittiness of war with sweeping cinematic style. The new installment will release on the PC, PS4 and Xbox One later this month, and few games have achieved such pixelated brilliance on a console.

It’s interesting to point out that instead of going the usual route of utilizing the most heavily-used, most celebrated, artillery in the war – the game actually seems to enjoy introducing the unusual tools used at the time. Airships, pigeons, bayonets, swords, and grenades that almost look like they were homemade, are all part of your standard issue in the game. The constant footnote used in the narrative and tutorials is that DICE didn’t even have to alter the historical accuracy to illustrate the narrative. The arsenal of the Great War was as varied, and often as hodgepodge together, as the game portrays – and it makes for some thrilling gameplay.

Since the guns and munitions of the previous era are less accurate, less powerful, and fewer in supply; the gameplay feels more skillful. There’s a human element to the madness, reflecting a time where muscle and wit were needed before system controls and UI did our calculations for us. The gameplay still feels as fast-paced and violent as ever, but it’s a perfect diversion from the modern-warfare atheistic that has dominated the market for the last few years.

On the single-player side players will take-on the roles of several members of the Allied forces, viewed within different campaigns at different locations. These locations usually build towards a significant battle that took place within the first World War. What the game truly succeeds at is keeping the story interesting. Not only do the characters and locations change, each are uniquely equipped with their own backstory and purpose.

The gameplay offers generic war-heroism, which is highlighted with wonderfully crafted humanizing moments that feature insight on the troops that fought in the battles. The game really comes together when it focuses on these individual moments, but the cinematic styling is often expressed in the grander, more generic battle scenes. The game never tries to disguise itself as a documentary, and it won’t hold a candle to your favorite Oscar-worthy film or best-selling novel, but it’s entertaining and well-paced throughout. While the game does introduce the survival aspect and ominous fear that is embedded within a war-zone, it doesn’t offer an opinion on war, or guns, or the brutality of mowing down other humans. There are a few games that try to highlight the horrific atrocity that is war, but this isn’t one of the those games. This is more of an entertainment piece, which in the past have been quite popular in the video-game market. You can watch the game’s official single-player trailer below.

Of course the multiplayer is the reason why most players buy a Battlefield game, and those players should be more than excited to jump into the new installment. The game is filled to the brim with unlockable equipment, customizations and gear.

The 64-players maps offer the same diverse planes, guns, vehicles, boats and mayhem that the single-player offers, only unleashed onto opposing players. The game’s unique artillery brings the same thrilling gameplay from the single-player as well, which is easily one of the best aspects of the new title. There’s just an incredible feeling of marksmanship and survival fused with using guns that don’t have laser-sights, semi-automatic capabilities and robotic upgrades.

The maps and modes are usually set within the context of a famous location or battle, and they serve as the backdrop to the online battles that you visit in each round. The objective-based maps were easily a few of our favorites, and in the past these modes were the most popular in the recent Battlefield games. The Domination maps offer smaller, more chaotic and fast-paced action, while Operations is a round-based skirmish taking place in a miniature open-sandbox.

While the game suffers from the same ‘safe’ portrayal of war that most multiplayer-games are based on, the single-player campaign does offer an interesting and diverse storyline. The 64-player maps are brought to life in remarkable detail, even with our slightly older MSI 980ti the game’s brilliance was absolutely astonishing. The weapon choices and vehicles in the game offer a skillful retreat from the modern-weapons used in other first-person shooters, and the maps and modes seemed well crafted and thoroughly enjoyable. On an entertainment scale the game should provide almost countless hours of fun on the multiplayer side, with more DLC and unlockables sure to be released over the next year.

Battlefield 1 can pre-ordered in several bundles and editions through authorized retailers like Amazon.com. The game will release on October 21, 2016.

Rating: 4.5 / 5