With the arrival of the open beta for Battlefield 1, it was time to jump in and have a look at the future of the franchise… set in the past. Instead of looking up any materials online to get an idea of what to expect, I went in blind to get my first taste of it and after a couple of rounds of getting smashed I began to get a hang of it and had some genuine fun. The choice of time period might just be an inspired choice because the game players have loved for a long time is still here but with a pile of tweaks and some neat additions thrown in too.
The beta presents to players two modes in Conquest where 64 players are fighting over key objectives, and Rush where 24 players fight over telegraph posts which the defensive side need to hold against attackers and avoid being pushed back. The map being used is Sinai Desert which is has a mix of open and enclosed spaces covering a town, a canyon and open desert.
Classes share some similarities to Battlefield 4 but in some cases their responsibilities have been switched around a little. Assault is all guns and explosives, Support keeps team mates stocked with ammo, Medic not only fixes team mates but also vehicles, and Scout plays Sniper/Recon. These classes also have variations in relation to when you start driving around in a tank or a plane. I’ve yet to fly a plane but taking the gunner role and providing support when you’re under attack from a biplane is thrilling stuff. Tanks feel muck like they do in previous games but some of the other vehicles on offer are very different.
Then there are the horses – after many games that make riding horses more trouble than they are worth in a fight, they are brilliant fun here. Before too long you’ll galloping around and firing your weapons like a pro. As the picture above shows though, when a player dies the horse tends to just stand there waiting for the next rider which can create some odd moments and the occasional bad taste joke when you kill one.
Seeing a lot of sand might just seem boring but wait until a sandstorm blows in and totally wrecks your vision – it’s a great effect and that it can blow in at any time can quickly for a change in your tactics when visibility is impacted as much as it does. The first time I saw it happen really, REALLY impressed me. The game really shows that DICE continues to up the ante in the presentation stakes.
I really enjoyed the weapons and a bayonet charge never gets old… that scream as you dive forward into a sprint is perfect… and the first time I ran into a flamethrower by accident was a shock to the system too. Towards the end of the match an armoured train runs straight through the map giving the losing side a chance to improve their situation and the carnage it causes just upends your expectations of survival or success. Admittedly any time I was in a leading team it didn’t make much of a difference but the knowledge that it was on its way made people very careful of the middle of the map.
If you’re curious to know more, the Battlefield team have also put together a nice little page with tutorial videos to get you acquainted… perhaps something I should have looked at first! It can be found here.
Anyways, Battlefield 1 multiplayer is a lot of fun in a big group of friends and it’ll be VERY interesting to see the finished product when it arrives on October 21.