Over the last few years we’ve seen many kinds of shooters. Mainly gun games that take the form of futuristic warfare, which is great. I’m not really complaining, but there were times when firing your laser gun and wondering why you’re switching between games that are all relatively the same. This is why Battlefield 1 is so refreshing, and has received so much hype up to release. World War 1 was a devastating and tragic event that to this day still haunts the world. DICE has done a beautiful job in recreating some of the horrors that our lads felt on the frontlines.

The Battlefield series since the start has been known for its large-scale multiplayer warzones. Each map filled with 64 players from around the world, taking on either an Allied or Axis team to reign chaos down on each other. Handheld weapons, airplanes and even large steel machines are on offer as each side battles to take control of the map. It’s a surreal feeling, and also an extremely frustrating one at the same time, especially with the new Battlefield 1 game. Cover is scarce, and weapons aren’t hugely accurate, which to be honest, looking back at documentary series on World War 1 is historically accurate.

Multiplayer has always been at the forefront of the Battlefield series. Even when I launched it for the first time, I jumped straight into a game of Conquest. However, DICE has brought us a well crafted, well written single player experience that is definitely worth checking out. It’s not very long, maybe around five hours of game time or something like that, but wow, it’s engaging enough to keep you hooked.

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What? There’s a decent singleplayer?

Getting it out the way now as I know you’re all probably wondering about multiplayer, the singleplayer campaign puts you in the body of several soldiers, on both Allied and Axis sides to bring ou dramatic mini stories set in various locations of war around the globe. Each story line houses five separate missions, and there are different difficulty levels to set to challenge yourself.

Tanks and trenches, flaming airships over Parliament – it’s all there in Battlefield 1, a story of separate WWI heroes and what they did to win the Great War. It’s muddy, bloody and pretty much action packed. BUT, there are moments when stealth and cunning help. Navigate and fly ancient flimsy aircraft, be a tank driver and gunner and so much more. Heck, you are even a pigeon in one scene of the single player campaign. This is made up of five individual stories told from the aspect of one man’s fight to survive. BF1 is a tough game.  The other stories involve fighting through the alps, a naval mission, and yet more trenches. Battle through each one in turn and learn all the skills required to at least give you a fighting chance when you finally do what this game is all about – online.

You may need a bit of a beast PC to run the game properly, but there is always its mirror image on the XBox One, which is brilliant, albeit with plenty of controls to learn. Old hands of the Battlefield series will know all about that. It’s a tough game to walk away from and then face having to relearn all those button pushes, but many are second nature to anyone used to first person shooters. It looks glorious and the tank mission is a favourite of mine – perhaps because that runs in the family.  The developers had been hard at work making destructable scenery ensuring it is a brutal bruising you will take before eventually coming out the other side intact. BF1 is also an emotional ride – the writers tried hard to take the player in to the lives of those that endured the horrors of WWI, on both sides. But there is also the crazy spectacular where the player has to firstly shoot down giant Zeppelin style airships, then crash land and clamber through its still burning carcass above London, and then… well, you need to play it to find out. It does look amazing, though. I am never keen on mountain missions or anything with snow, and this was also a grind, but rewarding at the end.

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Where most people spend their time…

Multiplayer is glorious. Fighting across the sand dunes of the Sinai Desert or through the dense woodlands of Argonne, Battlefield 1 is violent, rewarding and frustrating to breaking point. I mean that in the nicest way possible, but of course being large scale warfare, a lot of bullets come flying towards you, pretty much from start to finish. There is never a dull moment when trying to take control of the warzone.

It’s broken up into several game modes which first-person shooter and even Battlefiled veterans will instantly recognise. Conquest is where most players spend the majority of their time. These battles are the intense ones. Pitting a maximum of 64 players against each other, each map contains capture points that your team must hold. Using the World War 1 inspired phonetic alphabet, for example A is refered to as Objective Apples rather than Alpha like we’re used to, the game hasn’t changed much since Battlefield first hit our screens in 2002 with 1942. There is also Rush which is an attack and defend scenario as well as a team deathmatch for close quarters warfare.

Two new game modes have arrived, which is an absolute warm welcome in my eyes. The most intricate of them is Operations. This game sees two teams fight over multiple matches across the globe. The first game is really the decider. If you’re on the attacking team and win the round, you push the enemy back across Europe to the next map. If the enemy wins, you’re pushed back. It’s a balancing act, which is really quite intense and brings the worst out of you. Countless times I’ve found myself yelling down my microphone orders to my squad to flank some holed up enemies in a trench. It’s insanely immersive.

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The last I want to mention is War Pigeons, which is similar to team deathmatch in size, with a twist. A random pigeon is located on the map. You have to capture that pigeon, find somewhere to hide while you write your letter and let off the pigeon outside to deliver that message back to HQ. It’s not very popular, with sometimes waiting for up to 30 minutes to actually find a game using the quick match option.

Where I feel Battlefield 1 does fall down is within its customisation options. There are five classes to choose from, each with unique weapons and gadgets for each. But there are only a maximum of three guns to choose from. Yes you do earn war bonds when you level up to buy new weapon changes, but these are small. Things like an extra sized magazine or a different type of red dot sight are available, but they’re part of the same weapon you’ve been using for a while already. Whether or not there will be more guns in the DLC packs – knowing EA they’re holding back for these – I don’t know. What was surprising however is that there doesn’t seem to be any sign of micro transactions for people who want to really skip levelling. KUDOS TO YOU EA! MICROTRANSACTIONS SUCK!

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There is a lot in this game, and it is thoroughly worthwhile. We had ours from the Origin servers and it has run without a glitch so far, so well done EA for fixing the ones that have been seen floating around the internet. For a new title as complex as this, being able to jump straight into a server to kick some military butt wins points in my book. A few more guns would have made it more interesting though. Now I’ve got to go, my squad is calling me. Battlefield 1 currently retails for £49.99 for the Standard Edition. For the Ultimate Edition, which includes a number of bonus skins and also access to the DLC when it arrives will set you back a whopping £104. So choose carefully.

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Stef Murphy

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