Hands on: ‘Battlefield 1’ multiplayer

Biplanes and horses and tanks, oh my! 'Battlefield 1' is a fresh take on proven fun

The great exodus from present-day first-person gunplay is upon us. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare has gone all in on sci-fi, and the next entry of the Battlefield franchise, Battlefield 1, is going back in time, returning to its roots as a historical shooter, this time set in World War I.

The decision to move back in time is sure to illicit a bunch of questions from modern Battlefield fans — Will there still be vehicles? (Yes) Will you still you be forced to use a bolt-action rifle? (No) — all of which could be combined under a larger banner: Is this still going to feel like the Battlefield you’ve become accustomed to playing? After spending playing some 64-player multiplayer, the short answer is “yes.” In fact, while not every aspect of Battlefield 1 works exactly EA and developer DICE intended, Battlefield 1 stands to deliver the most substantial and exciting entry in the series in years.

A round of Battlefield 3 and 4 felt like a match, but a round of Battlefield 1 feels like a battle.

The demo was predisposed to conveying that, despite the changed settings, this is still a Battlefield game. The demo showed off a 64-player “Conquest” match, where players have to capture and hold six positions across the level. The map, called “St. Justine’s Scar,” was set in the decimated ruins of a northern French town, and featured a balance of wide-open spaces and debris-laden structures that would make a Battlefield fan feel right at home. At the outset of the match, players still choose from a familiar range of classes, including assault, medic, scout, and a heavy machine-gun wielding support. They can also sync up in squads of five, and can grab a limited number of land and air vehicles from their “home base.”

And yet, changes are evident. Those vehicles, for example, are period-appropriate tanks and bi-planes. The tanks move more slowly than their modern counterparts, and are more susceptible to grenades and heavy machine-gun fire. Compared to a Battlefield 4 helicopter, flying a bi-plane felt like driving a boat. But those changes make the combat more interesting. Trying to shake an enemy plane on your tail is challenging, and thrilling.


Despite some aesthetic flourishes and technical nods, the game does not fully embrace the setting. For example, DICE has played up the role of melee combat. Every player chooses a melee weapon, such as a hand-axe or trench shovel, as part of their loadout, and players with a bayonetted weapon can charge and skewer an enemy by running straight at them. While that type of fighting may come into play in other maps with networks of trenches or other close quarters, the open nature of this map made it possible to spot enemies easily, making melee combat useless. Moreover, since multiple classes carry machine guns, it seems unlikely that they’ll ever be especially useful.

E3 2016: Nintendo dives deep into Pokémon Sun and Moon

Even if it isn’t “realistic,” the game’s World War I setting feels better suited to the series’ signature sprawling levels and multi-theater battles. A round of Battlefield 3 and 4 felt like a match, but a round of Battlefield 1 feels like a battle. The less advanced weaponry has given DICE the motivation (or excuse) to fix some of Battlefield’s more annoying hallmarks, as well. It’s much more difficult to shoot an enemy across a giant open field without a sniper rifle or mounted machine gun, for one thing. Of course, it’s possible for a plane to fly overhead and turn you into mincemeat at any time, but drawing enemies closer together seems like like a good thing: Win or lose, you’re more likely to fight in a skirmish with many players than get taken out on the way.

Plus, the things most players come to Battlefield for, like impressive visuals, are still intact. Playing on high-powered PCs, the environments sported some of the most detailed textures I’ve seen in a game. Looking over the lip of a hole in the ground made by an artillery shell, you could see the dirt was “fresh.”

Similarly, In addition to the standard tanks and planes, each level will feature a Behemoth, a massive vehicle given to the losing team near the end of a match. In the demo, a massive Zeppelin appeared over the center of the map and reigned down bombs and heavy gunfire on most of the map’s primary targets, including tanks and planes. The game was close, but even if it hadn’t been, the extra pressure might have been enough to give the losing team a chance to make a comeback.  At the same time, while it may serve a technical function, the Behemoth’s main contribution seems to be spectacle. When we destroyed it, the Zeppelin went down and exploded in a spectacular torrent of fire.

Battlefield 1 may not be a great “World War I” game, but it feels like a breath of fresh air relative to the overused sci-fi tropes in today’s first-person shooters. Most importantly, it seems like it could be a lot of fun. We’ll find out when the game comes to Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC on October 21.


Activision not doing itself any favors with Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 loot boxes

New loot boxes added to Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 have caused a somewhat uneven playing field for those who choose to spend extra money. Certain limited-time items can now only be found in loot boxes.

From the beta to dark zones, here's everything we know about The Division 2

The Division 2, the sequel to Ubisoft's most successful new franchise, arrives on PS4, Xbox One, and PC on March 15. The Division 2 has a new setting, interesting new systems, and much more. Here's everything we know about The Division 2.

You're never too broke to enjoy the best free-to-play games

Believe it or not, free-to-play games have evolved into engaging, enjoyable experiences. Here are a few of our favorites that you can play right now, including Warframe and the perennially popular League of Legends.

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.

Take to the virtual skies with these free flight simulators

You don't have to spend the entirety of your paycheck to become a virtual ace, at least when it comes to flight simulation. Our list of the best free flight simulators will let you unleash your inner Maverick.

Logitech’s G MX518 gaming mouse pairs classic looks with all-new tech

Logitech is relaunching one of its most popular classic gaming mice, the MX518. Now called the G MX518, it sports upgraded internals that give it a 16,000 DPI optical sensor and new and improved memory.

Apex Legends adds its first new gun, the Havoc energy rifle

Respawn added the first piece of new content to Apex Legends, the Havoc energy rifle. It's available now for PS4, Xbox One, and PC players. The fully automatic rifle can be modded to shoot single-shot energy beams.

One game console is better than the rest, and we're not afraid to say it

We've seen a relatively large influx of new consoles in the last year, including the Nintendo Switch and Xbox One X, so we've updated our recommendations for the best dedicated game hardware.

Everything we know about Devil May Cry 5, including characters and combat

Devil May Cry 5 is just around the corner, and is the first game in the original series since Devil May Cry 4 in 2008. Here is everything we know about the game, including its playable characters.

Samsung Galaxy S10 optimizations make it great for Fortnite

Samsung's new line of Galaxy S10 devices have been optimized for gaming. All three offer improved support for the Unity engine and the S10 Plus also offers vapor chamber cooling, similar to the Xbox One X.

Having problems with your Xbox One console? We have the solutions

The Xbox One has evolved over the years, but so have its problems. Thankfully, we have solutions for some of the console's most enduring problems, whether you're experiencing issues with connectivity or your discs.

Did Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown fall victim to the Madden Curse?

Join us as we take a tour through the long-running history of the Madden Curse -- and Tom Brady's recent accolades. We all know John Madden is a longtime NFL talent, but is he also an agent of dark forces?

These are the coolest games you can play on your Google Chrome browser right now

Not only is Google Chrome a fantastic web browser, it's also a versatile gaming platform that you can access from just about anywhere. Here are a few of our favorite titles for the platform.

Need help getting the Sleeper Simulant in Destiny 2? We’ve got you covered

The Sleeper Simulant is one of the coolest new Exotic weapons you can unlock in the Warmind expansion of Destiny 2, but it's an involved process that will take awhile. Here's everything you need to know.