Lets start with an uncomfortable truth. Pre-BF3 Battlefield games, and by that I mean BF 1942, BF 2, BF 2142, BF:V and the expansion packs, belong to a bygone era. They were awesome games – so awesome in fact I spent around 6 years playing BF 2142 almost exclusively. That’s never going to happen again. Games today are designed in a different way, with different teams under different circumstances. Am I happy about that? No. Do I accept that though? Begrudgingly.
And then we have those infamous rose-tinted-spectacles. There is no way any modern BF game is going to compete with all the incredible memories I have for those older games (especially BF 2142). My memories of the earlier Battlefield games are wrapped up in other experiences that were happening at that time. A game would have to be better than BF 2142 to be able to compete with both the game, and the memory of the game. Nah, ain’t going to happen.
So we’re left with two choices for people like myself who miss the original Battlefields. We can forever complain about how we’ve been betrayed and let down by DICE, or we can look at the next Battlefield game as-is, without the baggage of constantly holding it up to games and memories that are never going to be beaten.
And it’s when you look at Battlefield 1 as just another game, without that historical drag, that it starts to look really rather good.
Gone are the masses of lock-on weapons and the flashy UI. In their place is something which feels quite basic, but all the better for it. It feels like skill, as in the ability to aim, has been brought back into the game. You feel more in control of your character, especially as several of the default weapons are semi-automatic, so you have to ensure your aim is good. Doritos (the markers on top of an enemy to denote where they are) do not seem to last as long as earlier games, and it’s much harder to spam Q to find enemies.
When you join a game, you’re automatically given the option to join a squad. And your squad mates stand out in an obvious green colour. There are other small touches which have been designed to enhance teamplay, such as alerting medics to your position when you’re dead. Of course, if you’ve a good medic nearby then this should not be needed, but how often does that happen?
The point here is that a lot of mechanics have been refined, and a lot of new ones added. For example, watch this video to see what’s been added to tanks:
Of course, there still are negatives in there. Camera flares, suppression, losing control of your character when you vault over something, network lag, and what feels like a tiny amount of input lag when using a mouse, are still in the game. But they’re more minor irritations rather than the major annoyances they once were. Vaulting, for example, was very annoying when it was first introduced to the series. Battlefield 1’s vaulting feels much more intuitive, and can now be used in a surprising amount of places (more on that in a future video).
The closed alpha only had one map, with two game modes (Conquest and Domination). And although much has been made of the WW1 setting, the map just did not feel gritty enough to be a WW1 map. Unless the rain was slashing down, it seemed almost too pretty and colourful. WW1 was anything but.
There are also the obvious future pitfalls: there was a large difference between the BF3 closed alpha and the release version of that game, DICE could find some way of introducing lock-on weapons, the network lag could be even worse than earlier titles, or Battlefield 1 could suffer from a similarly excruciating lack of content at launch like Battlefront did. There are an insane number of ways DICE can screw this game up, but the signs at the moment are encouraging.
So we’re left with a game which, in a closed alpha state, is fun to play, refreshing, and has inspired me to create more Battlefield videos in 1 week then I have in the past several years. Heck, I’m even hoping Global Conflict fires up again so I can play in organised 32v32 matches. Battlefield 1 is a game which deserves a chance, not a simple dismissal.
If you’re a Battlefield “vet” then please approach the beta with no preconceptions and no closed opinions. Give Battlefield 1 a chance – you might just enjoy it.