Grab your gear and get ready to dive back into Battlefield 1 as EA is bringing a whole series of updates.
EA just wrapped up their Gamescom 2017 press show, but if you missed it don’t fret as CGM has all the big announcements covered.
EA’s show opened with a look at Fifa 18. The latest installment of the beloved sports game looks great running on the Frostbite engine.
Madden NFL 18 is set to come out this week and it was mentioned during the show that the game will also be running on the Frostbite engine.
An extended look at the forthcoming Star Wars Battlefront II was shown off, specifically the space dog-fighting mode known as Assault.
New hero ships, class based ships, and objective based gameplay were shown during the live gameplay demo. Some notable ships include Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon and Darth Maul’s Scimitar.
Overall, the game looks stunning and recreates the epic high-octane feel from the movies perfectly.
EA Gamescom 2017 also saw a new trailer for Need For Speed Payback, with a real-life BMW M5 taking the stage.
The new trailer for the upcoming racing game will feature police vehicles that have been upgraded considerably from previous entries. One particularity interesting vehicle shown off was the Rhino—a super reinforced armoured police cruiser.
Fans of the Sims series will be delighted to know that the Sims 4 will be hitting consoles sometime this November.
Furthermore, The Sims 4 will be getting a Cats & Dogs expansion come this fall. The highly anticipated expansion was announced after EA brought celebrity dog Jiffpom to the stage during their conference.
The Sims on mobile will also soon be getting a international release, which should give fans of the long-running franchise the chance to play the game on their favourite smart devices.
One of the more surprising announcements during the EA Gamescom 2017 show came in the form of a brand new original title known as Fe.
Fe puts the player in a beautifully and artistically realized world. Players navigate this natural wonderland that is teeming with wildlife at their own leisure—which Zoink Game’s Creative Director Andreas Beijer explicitly mentioned being a key design choice element for the upcoming title.
New content for Battlefield 1 was also shown off which included a first look at the In the Name of the Tsar DLC.
Additionally, a new mode known as Incursions was shown off. Incursions will feature 5v5 firefights that promises to deliver a more intense and intimate Battlefield experience to players.
The competitive mode will have a closed Alpha sometime in September, those interested can sign up at the official Battlefield 1 website.
Finally, a complete edition of Battlefield 1 was also unveiled, known as Battlefield 1 Revolution. The title will be available on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
EA’s Q4 financial statements were released to the public, revealing a strong final quarter.
Only five months after the release of Battlefield 1, gamers are finally being given a glimpse of the content promised with the precious purchase of a premium pass.
In Battlefield 1’s first expansion pack, titled “They Shall Not Pass,” Electronic Arts brings the French Army into their game that recreates the brutality of The First World War. The expansion will feature a brand new mode and two new Operations, playable across four new maps.
“Did you know the French army during WW1 led the beginning of tank warfare?” a press release starts about the new expansion. EA highlights that players will be able to engage in the largest French tank assault of the Great War, taking control of new weapons and vehicles like the Char C2 tank in a brutal defense of their homeland.
The four new maps are: “Verdun Heights,” an incendiary uphill battle through a massive forest fire toward the fortresses of Verdun, “Fort Vaux,” a big engagement inside a fort with dark galleries and wet stone corridors, “Soissons,” where The French 10th Army moves to take back Soissons using their planes and powerful Saint Chamond tanks in the early hours of a hot summer day, and “Rupture,” a poppy filled battlefield over a rusty wreck from previous tank battles along the Aisne river.
The new Game Mode, “Frontlines,” is a mixture of Conquest and Rush, where players fight for chained control points in a tug-of-war like battle. Both teams will fight for one flag at a time, leading into the enemy’s HQ control, at which point the game turns into a Rush-style section where telegraph posts need to be attacked or defended.
Other highlights of the new expansion pack include a new melee-focused Elite Class, the Trench Raider, who uses the brutal Raider Club and an impressive arsenal of grenades, and a new stationary weapon called the Siege Howitzer, which can be operated by an infantry player and operated through indirect aiming/firing like mortars and artillery in vehicles.
More detailed descriptions about “They Shall Not Pass” can be found on Battlefield 1’s official page.
Today, Electronic Arts published their shareholder reports for Q2 FY17 (the second quarter of the company’s fiscal year, which includes June 2016 through September 2016), reporting an overall loss of $38 million USD. The company also noted that over 60% of quarterly revenue came through digital storefronts.
There’s a fine line to be drawn when basing a videogame on a war, especially in an era where social media and “outrage” culture are so prevalent. Ensuring that your game is respectful and honours those who were affected by these events while also creating a fun gameplay experience is difficult. When EA announced Battlefield 1 would be taking place during the First World War, there was a lot of trepidation. Despite the fact that we’ve had countless games that take place in the Second World War, the Vietnam War and, at least over the last decade, various Middle East conflicts, the brutality and sheer pointlessness of the Great War remained at least somewhat sacred.
With this in mind, EA and DICE put forth a lot of effort during Battlefield 1’s launch to swear up and down that they would take care to treat the conflict with the gravity and seriousness that it deserves (ignoring the Americanizing of the conflict and the lack of French and Russian campaigns). Of course, at the end of the day this is a videogame where you get points for killing other players, so their “concern” was certainly an attempt to cover their asses for the inevitable backlash.
However, Battlefield 1 received critical acclaim and players seemed to be enjoying it without much controversy or indignation– until recently. Some marketing genius in charge of the company’s Twitter account thought that #justWW1things was a clever and crafty way to merge modern meme-culture with the game’s setting.
“The game itself doesn’t exactly do the conflict justice either, why get mad now?”
Here’s the thing. You can make a game based on essentially any war from history that included grand-scale atrocities and make it fun. We’ve played as Romans fighting Gauls (a genocide the likes of which wouldn’t be seen for another thousand years), Russian soldiers defending Stalingrad (people were literally eating their children), and the unintentional firebombing of civilians in the Middle East (ballsy move Spec Ops: The Line). However, none of these games have had such blatantly misplaced marketing campaigns that promised to be respectful and then made mustard gas and flamethrowers into #squadgoals and “too hot for the club” jokes.
You’ve got to pick a side here, EA. Either admit, full front, you want to make a fun game in a First World War setting that takes some rather grand leaps in historical accuracy and roll with that. People will be mad, but people will always be mad. Especially when dealing with such an incredibly powerful, depressing, and sacrosanct event like the First World War. We all knew this game wasn’t going to be a perfect and heartfelt take on the subject; sitting in a trench for days on end only to get your legs blown off as soon as you step foot on the ladder does not make for entertaining gameplay. But don’t try to play like you’re paying tribute to the brutality and suffering and turn around and post goofy hip memes with obnoxious hashtags. It’s not so much that the company is being flagrant in their disrespect, it’s that they can’t seem to make up their minds about which direction they want to go. I mean, they made a war crime (poison gas) a usable weapon. Have you ever seen the effects of mustard gas? Even Hitler thought that was going too far.
Speaking from a personal standpoint, I have stayed away from Battlefield 1 because of my interest in the Great War. I don’t want to taint my knowledge of and respect for the conflict by playing a videogame where I can blast my way through the trenches with some American kid calling me names over the headset. However, I’m not against the idea of Battlefield 1, and I’m certainly not going to stand on a soapbox and chastise EA for making it or other players for enjoying it. I can maintain my reverence for the conflict on my own without attempting to make other people feel bad for having fun with it. It’s a videogame after all, not a historical documentary. However, the PR and Marketing for the game has been all over the place, and this is what offends me the most. You cannot guarantee you’re taking the war seriously and then try to sell the game using joke memes and hashtags. Have fun with the game, but don’t be a dick about it. Also, get a new marketing team.
Every week, Media Create releases sales numbers for Japan’s console market, showing the hottest games and hardware available within the country. Earlier, they gave readers a starting estimate for the amount of PlayStation VR units sold in Japan. Now, the chart reveals EA, Nintendo and Take-Two have all had a strong showing within the past week.
If you’ve been having some problems with your internet today, that junky old router covered in cat hair might not be the problem (though you should still clean that thing). Popular digital destinations all over the web today have been the victim of a DDoS attack on the DNS provider Dyn. Affected websites include Twitter. Soundcloud, Reddit, Spotify, and even the PSN network.
To meaningfully address the horrors of World War 1 while simultaneously using the subject matter as the basis for living room entertainment is to tread a very fine line indeed. In the past, action-adventure games set in this period have historically tended to glorify events for the sake of their genre, thereby avoiding such tonal inconsistency altogether. Indeed, when it was first announced with a bombastic reveal trailer, it looked as though Battlefield 1 would also continue this trend of hollow dramatization. Instead, however, DICE has taken an impressively mature and respectful approach to the period and, in the process, has produced one of the best Battlefield games since Bad Company 2.
For the first time in the series, Battlefield 1’s campaign isn’t centered around a single story or protagonist. Instead, it is divided into five separate tales that take place across the global theatre of conflict during different stages of the war. It kicks off with a remarkably powerful prelude, which immediately makes it clear that DICE will not be holding back on depicting the tragedy and brutality of war. One particular mechanic employed during this sequence, which I won’t spoil here for the sake of impact, hauntingly reiterates the staggering rate and needlessness of death during the Great War. It will likely stay with you for long after you’ve put the controller down. Come the end of 2016, it may well stand out as one of the most memorable videogame openings of the year.
Following this brief overture, players are able to jump into any of the aforementioned vignettes in whatever chronology they please, as each narrative is isolated from one another entirely. They all differ remarkably in tone – one plays out like a pulpy Steven McQueen adventure, for example, whereas another takes inspiration from tank movies such as Fury. They also vary in regards to gameplay, and it is here where the episodes diverge in terms of quality. “Friends in High Places”, for instance, excels in entertainment value largely due to the fact that it involves air combat, which feels more responsive and satisfying than ever in Battlefield 1. “The Runner”, on the other hand, feels far too familiar as a ‘one man army’ adventure, which the FPS genre has been using as a narrative blueprint for decades. Sometimes the emphasis on sequential objectives, too, can make the experience feel instead like a glorified tutorial for what’s to come in the multiplayer. However, the episodic structure ensures that you’ll never be doing the same thing for too long.
The mini adventures tend to be over within 90 minutes, which doesn’t allow for much in the way of meaningful character development. That said, the cinematic quality of the frequently employed cut-scenes, anchored by impeccable voice-acting performances all round, make it easy to immerse yourself in the scenarios of the protagonists, even if none of them stand out as incredibly memorable characters. In addition, the Battlefield 1 score – a healthy mix of stirring anthems and sombre soundscapes – has never been better, and is finally able to once again incorporate the classic Battlefield theme in all its pure goodness; an endeavour the last three titles in the series somehow managed to botch.
If Battlefield 1’s campaign demonstrates the maturity of DICE as storytellers, the game’s multiplayer portion is a positive reflection of the studio’s ever-expanding ambition when it comes to scale and immersion. After the many troubles we encountered in the game’s beta testing last month, it is immensely pleasing to be able to report that Battlefield 1 boasts a satisfiable, if not perfect, deal of polish that has clearly been a priority for the studio here. I did notice a couple of technical hiccups in both the singleplayer and multiplayer components of the game on PS4, the worst of which was a visibly jarring screen-tearing issue when riding on horseback. Still, my extensive time spent with the experience has been mostly free of bugs. The online servers too, at least for those who own the early access edition of Battlefield 1, have held up fine, which bodes well for the netcode over the coming days and weeks.
Online gunplay retains the intuitive punchiness from the campaign, and the audio-visual fidelity is – as you might expect from a DICE game – sublime. Contrasted with the unengaging dogfights of Star Wars Battlefront, vehicular gameplay has a renewed sense of heft and weight to it as well, and the new ‘Behemoths’ represent game-changers in every sense of the word. These multi-manned war machines are often awarded to the losing team halfway through a match, essentially making them the Blue Shells of Battlefield in their ability to completely redress the momentum of the fight. The airship is as visually imposing as it is dangerous, but to take one down and see it collapse across an entire section of the map is indescribably exhilarating. Overall, the diversity of small but significant enhancements to Battlefield’s multiplayer gameplay makes the experience feel more intense and grounded than its predecessors, which synchronises perfectly with the WW1 setting.
All the usual Battlefield game types are here too, including the classic Conquest and Rush modes (which are still, in case you were wondering, as entertaining and addictive as ever), but the biggest changes arrive in the form of two new modes; Operations and War Pigeons. Operations allows for the same offense-defense dynamics of Rush, but raises the stakes by extending the fight across several maps within one game. These are intensive, lengthy battles that can last for over an hour at a time, which itself adds a new dimension of scale to the already engaging moment-to-moment gameplay. War Pigeons is a little less ambitious, as a capture the flag variant wherein two teams fight for control of the titular pigeon to earn points. It feels almost like a party game compared to the rest of Battlefield 1’s more operatic modes, but it at least offers another option for small-scale firefights to those who need a break from the all-out warfare.
There are two sore points to Battlefield 1’s online offerings, the first of which is the varying quality of maps; some of which are fantastic and others totally unappealing. Argonne Forest, for example, feels like an immediate winner and excels as a model example of beautifully realized aesthetics and smart level design. The same, too, can be said for the St. Quentin Scar and Amiens. The desert maps, however, are lacking both in terms of visual diversity and emergent gameplay. The sparsity and largely flat gradient of the landscapes gives an undeniable advantage to snipers, often leading to firefights that are no fun at all if you prefer more dynamic gunplay.
The second issue with Battlefield 1 concerns Battlepacks. Though this reward system has been simplified since Battlefield 4, and made less “free-to-play”-esque to some degree (there are now only three tiers of Battlepacks), it still means that progress for new customization options still depends somewhat on luck and chance rather than ability or effort, which inherently feels unfair as a reward system. For some, this may not be a problem, but it shouldn’t be discounted as negligible considering this is a $60 title.
All in all, Battlefield 1 is a game that benefits tremendously from the mountains of experience and acquired talent that DICE now possesses as one of the leaders in multiplayer gaming. With the surprisingly mature campaign, the studio has proven itself capable of sophisticated storytelling, and the multiplayer is as engaging as it’s ever been. In a market crammed with games focused on the future, it’s safe to say that a return to history was a seriously smart move for the franchise, and it’s paid off in dividends.
CGM looks at the first sections of the EA Dice shooter, Battlefield 1
Ever since its incredibly well-received announcement, DICE has been promising players that Battlefield 1 will let them “experience the dawn of all-out war” later this year. On the evening of August 31
, however, most of us were experiencing nothing but serious connection issues. Within hours of launch, the open beta of Battlefield 1 was KIA by crippling server issues across all platforms. These lasted for around 10 hours and left many unable to connect into the game at all. This, on top of all the problems we encountered once we were finally able to get into the game, has left us (and I’m sure many others) wondering whether DICE and EA are in danger of repeating the same mistakes that led Battlefield 4’s infamously rocky launch.
After just two hours of playtime in the Battlefield 1 beta, I’d already encountered dozens of technical problems and glitches, both big and small. At one point, the vehicle that myself and my squad were driving in suddenly just disappeared, leaving us stranded and bewildered, looking at one another in complete shock over what had just occurred. Battlefield 1 also suffers from that classic Battlefield problem of everything feeling slightly out of sync, with delayed responses for grenades (among other things) and sprinting often feeling as though you’re attached held back by a giant bungie cable. With every DICE game, I always think to myself “next time, they’ll definitely have the resources to ensure that everything work.” But truth be told, the beta for Battlefield 1 honestly hasn’t left me in high hopes.
So that’s the worst stuff out of the way. With regards to pure gameplay, Battlefield 1 is something of a mixed bag. The sound design looks set to be the best it’s ever been; bullets whizz and crack when they fly past your ears, your fellow soldiers scream commands with audible fear, and vehicles roar as they steamroll into battle. Together, it all helps in building a genuine sense of intensity and scale to the combat. While the visuals fail to impress quite as spectacularly as that of DICE’s last title, Star Wars Battlefront, the game’s still a clear frontrunner for the best looking shooter of this holiday season. With open, flat plains and a general lack of visual diversity to it, the Sinai Desert map available in the beta is unlikely to become a series favourite. Here’s hoping that DICE have some more exciting environments in store for the game’s full release.
The gunplay itself is spiced up by the World War I era the game is set in. We’re treated to a variety of early 20
century weapons that provide something of a challenge wrought by the limitations of the time. Sniper rifles, in particular, lack the precision or range of those from the modern age of Battlefield 4, but learning to use them and scoring a headshot feels much more gratifying as a result.
There are a number of new features that DICE have brought to Battlefield 1 too, but these tend to be hit-or-miss as well. Horses feel weirdly clunky to ride or score any kills from, and spawning into airborne planes without being able to take off, as was the case in Battlefront, can make the air combat feel like it’s completely separate from the ground war at times. The added ability to charge at foes with your bayonet injects some much needed viability to the melee kills, and also works as a strategic way to cover ground more quickly. In addition, the new “behemoth” vehicles, which – in the Sinai Desert – is a fully weaponized train, can act as genuine game changers, ensuring that the momentum against the losing team never accelerates too far.
DICE and EA have only a little bit of time to iron out the pretty noticeable kinks of Battlefield 1 before its October 21
release date, but we’re undoubtedly excited by the prospect of the game’s potential. That potential, at least in the beta, however, is severely hampered by a number of practical issues that could be the game’s undoing. The promise of all-out war may still be delivered upon come October, but we’re crossing our fingers until then.