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Unquestionably the Belle of the E3 ball, “Battlefield 1” has only continued to remain one of the most anticipated titles of the conference, even though EA Games initially where skeptical about a WW1 game working. Still with the “Call of Duty” games only heading further into the future with the forthcoming release of “Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare” it almost makes sense that the Battlefield series would go further into the past.
If anything, this recent multiplayer beta has only raised excitement for this game, compared to the recent tech demo for “Titanfall 2” which was met largely with disappointment by the established fanbase while in turn creating a notable loss of momentum for the game, which had been one of the hot properties at the conference. This however can’t be said for the “Battlefield 1” beta, which also gives players the choice of two game modes to battle out on the Sinai desert map.
The first of the two modes is “Conquest” which is probably the one I spent the most time on especially when it offers massive 64 player battles as the two sides fight for control of target areas on the map. Each conquered area giving that team a new position in which they can spawn from as long as they keep possession.
The second game mode is “Rush” which plays similar though on a smaller scale with only 24 players with the attacking force attempting to destroy the defending force’s telegraph poles.
It was an interesting choice to use the Sinai desert map for the beta, especially when all the gameplay footage we’ve seen including the celebrity gamer multiplayer we saw at E3 was on the more traditional village ruins map. On one hand this was great as it eliminated any potential advantage perhaps those with too much time on their hands might have garnered from studying this footage, at the same time it showed us a different aspect of the game while showcasing the armoured train.
Considering how WW1 with its images of bloody trench warfare might not conjure the most exciting FPS setting, here DICE really make this unique setting work while the fact that we haven’t seen it played out numerous times in rival titles feels like being given a huge box of new toys as within the beta players are given access to from tanks and armoured vehicles through to biplanes and bombers to try and gain the advantage over your opponent. This change in setting also brings horses to the fray, as players can ride into battle cutting down the enemy with their sabre or snipping them with their rifle which when theirs explosions and chaos erupting around you is an absolute thrill.
Outside of the vehicles players can access mounted machine guns and field cannons which can help considerably when attempting to hold a location, while site D should be noted for it’s handily placed field gun which if aimed correctly can eliminate a potential snipers nest, who are still a pain players scrambling between positions, but thankfully can be spotted via the lense flair coming off their scopes providing some kind of balance, even if by the time you spot them its normally too late. It should be noted though that the other advantage or disadvantage for players comes from the environment itself as Sandstorms can obscure vision making players harder to spot, while cliffs and buildings can be hidden in, as well as often hiding much valued support artillery to aid the player trying to hold a position.
Largely this latest edition to the long running series plays like a reskinned version of the previous games making it easy to pick up and play, while the option to choose which area you spawn in helps the battle keep flowing and largely balanced. The real standout however comes from the spawning behemoths such as the Battle blimp and here in the beta the armoured train which appear for the losing team providing them with an opportunity to claw back positions and possibly a win. The train is unquestionably one of the standout elements at play here as while it can essentially only go back and forth along a section of track in the middle of the battlefield, comes with enough big guns to provide mass destruction as it rumbles back and forth and while the drive might only be able to sound the horn, its still incredible run to drive it back and forth as you hear bullets pinging off the armour while your teammates reduce the surrounding area into smouldering rubble.
As it stands there is little to grumble with on this beta outside of the map having all its action essentially focused one side of the screen leaving one of the target area easy for one person to claim and hold with the large area of desert between it and any of the other areas. Equally “Rush” felt like something of a come down after playing “Conquest” with the large multiplayer element really adding to the excitement and creating a perhaps a more Hollywood version of the period being represented.
Ultimately this beta has certainly done its job in adding to our excitement for the games fast approaching release, but how it will hold its own against the current leader “Overwatch” remains to be seen. Still for the newcomers and grizzled veterans alike this is a promising taste of things to come.
Developer: EA DICE
Platform(s): Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Release: October 21, 2016
Genre: First-person shooter
Mode(s): Single-player, multiplayer