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.