By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on October 21, 2016
The Great War... a dark period in history that not a lot of us nowadays have witnessed for themselves. Four years of suffering and unimaginable hardships that cost the lives of roughly 20,000,000 men, women and children. For the first time, war was fought on such a grand scale. It was called the war to end all wars by some but, alas, nothing could be further from the truth. Instead of ending all war, it gave birth to a new kind of war; even more vicious and more deadly than any war had been before!
And now, 102 years later, it's time to become a part of that war by playing Battlefield 1; the latest installment in the Battlefield series and the first in the series to revolve around World War 1 and the atrocities that occurred in its 4 year lifespan. Straying from the path of previous Battlefield games, Battlefield 1 offers the player not one, but six different storylines, all seen through the eyes of another character. In the prologue, you play as a couple of members of the Harlem Hellfighters, also known as the 369th Infantry Regiment. The Hellfighters consisted of African-American and Puerto Rican soldiers and played a big part in the war effort on French soil. The subsequent 'chapters' are seen through the eyes of: a British tank driver, a British fighter pilot, an Italian survivor, a member of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps and a soldier that is under the command of none other than Lawrence of Arabia himself! Each chapter tells a different story and has its own look and feel.
If there's one thing I can be brief about, it is the look of the game. This can be summed up in one word: BREATHTAKING! The amount of detail that has been incorporated in the environment, the characters, the weapons and the cutscenes is absolutely ridiculous. Especially the brilliant use of lighting and fog / smoke is awe-inspiring. Together with the constant noises all around you, you are almost literally thrown onto the battlefield and left to fend for yourself! Battlefield 1 gives you an overall feeling of vulnerability, the likes of which I personally have not encountered in video games for a very long time. Yes, of course your regain health if you manage to hide from your enemies long enough to not get shot, but that's beside the point. It isn't as if one shot is going to kill you, but be honest: we're still playing a game here! If I wanted to be killed by one well-placed shot, I would have joined the army. Point is, Battlefield 1 manages to convey the chaos and hardship that was World War 1 and I, for one, would like to salute the people of EA DICE for doing an excellent job at that!
Another feature that makes this game my favorite in the series is the much more 'open' world. Instead of being herded towards the next checkpoint, you now have quite a few pathways that you can take, according to your chosen approach to any given situation. "Scope out the competition first, before running headlong into the fray", seems to be the message the game is trying to get across. Of course, being the stubborn idiot I am, I didn't listen the first time the game told me this. I think the loud noise of falling bombshells and the screaming of enemy troops might have had something to do with me not hearing this advice, but I'm not sure. But, all joking aside, it really pays off to take your time and thoroughly survey your surroundings. And just remember that melee attacks attract much less attention than firing your rifle every other second. If done right, this approach will eventually result in stealthier gameplay and significantly less enemy reinforcements, hell-bent on killing you. Of course, if you like, you can still try the old 'spray-and-pray' routine, but I personally wouldn't recommend it... just saying...
As I've just stated, melee attacks can be your best friend. To this end, the developers have faithfully recreated some of the most used melee weapons of World War I; Sabers, shovels and the dangerous looking trench club all help you to dispatch your enemies more silently than a gun would. This does not mean, however, that you don't get to play with guns. No sir, far from it! The guns are faithfully recreated and look and sound like they should. Fallen enemies usually drop guns that can be picked up as you make your way through the blood-soaked mud and across scorched battlefields. Once in a while, you'll come across weapon caches that supplies you with a whole new batch of deadly weaponry. Be it a packet of C4 with detonator, a hand grenade, a machine gun or a rifle; choose your weapons wisely so that they fit the approach you have chosen. One of my absolute favorites is the Tank rifle; a big-ass rifle with enough stopping power to cripple the rolling enemies of the armored persuasion. Before you can fire this rifle, you are forced to go prone, so think carefully about where to set up your firing position. It's things like this that make Battlefield 1 an experience in itself; no superhuman Rambo characters that can just fire every weapon from the hip and not even seem to feel the impact of the damn thing. No sir, just normal people trying to stay alive in this hell called World War I.
Of course, war is not only fought on foot. That's why, when playing Battlefield 1, you get the chance to participate in vehicular combat as well. Tanks, armored cars, planes, ships, airplanes; hell, even a zeppelin can be controlled by the player at some points in the game to rain even more death on his or her adversaries. You can even, if you are so inclined, jump on a horse and ride into battle, cavalry style! Another thing to notice are the destructible environments; don't, not even for a second, think that the cover you're currently behind will last forever. One well-placed shell of a field gun is sure to make rubble of the brick wall that separates you from the enemy soldiers. So, by all means, duck into cover. Hell, it's even the smart thing to do at certain times. Just don't expect it to save your life in the long run. Quickly dispatch as many enemies as you can, before moving on to the next available cover is always the smart way to go!
I personally think that Battlefield 1 has succeeded in bringing the best damn WWI experience anyone could ask for. Its story, which is really good by the way, is based on real-life historic events and accurately depicts the soldier's lives (and deaths) in this particular period of the 20th century. Everything feels authentic and immerses you in one of the worst conflicts this world has ever seen. The images, the sounds, the characters; they all work together to bring you an unforgettable game that a lot of gamers out there will absolutely love! Simply put: it's one hell of a good game that deserves to be played. Now lads, follow me. For King and country!