Bringing an FPS back to World War 1 is a concept that most people would have laughed at last gen. With the upcoming release of Battlefield 1, EA and Dice try to recapture the essence of what helped make the FPS genre what it is today. Check out our Battlefield 1 beta impressions and find out!
Battlefield 1 Beta Impressions
I’ll be the first to admit, I haven’t played a Battlefield game in years. I think the last one I honestly played was 3 and even then the last one I really got into was Battlefield 1942. Battlefield 1 plays like your typical FPS shooter, aim and shoot, easy enough right? Where it changes things up is in the classes and battle mechanics.
During the open beta we had access to all the classes but limited access to equipment and weapons. You can pick from Assault, Medic, Scout and Support. All play differently and all have different weapons and equipment. Assault is your up close and personal class with equipment for bringing down vehicles, Medic plays the front lines for healing and reviving but also has a good range on their rifles, Support is the heavy weapon class and brings extra ammo to allies and places anti infantry mines and lastly is the Scout, the sniper class designed to take out enemies from afar. There are also special classes you can pick up on the battlefield that can give your team the edge. For instance there is a Flamethrower pickup that will help you clear out buildings and tight alleys or corridors.
The problem with this system is the limitations it imposes on players. I loved the Medic’s rifle but I also wanted to bring some anti vehicle equipment for when I ran into tanks and jeeps. This is nothing new to the Battlefield series but it just feels dated to me.
During the Beta we were only able to play on one map, Sinai Desert, and two modes, Conquest and Rush. Conquest is the big map mode with 48 players duking it out and Rush mode is the smaller section of the map with more up close and personal battles. We spent most of our time on Conquest which consisted of capturing and holding points A-G. It’s a pretty basic concept and one undoubtedly familiar to fans of the franchise but as with every first person shooter, players would rather rack up kills instead of capturing points. This was often the case during a match, one side would lose but their top player would be 21-0 or something like that.
Part of the problem is the lack of communication. You can only communicate within your squad and even then you can’t use voice chat. Outside of points there isn’t an incentive to listen to what your squad leader commands either. The easiest way to avoid this is to group up with players you know, but that isn’t always a viable option. I’m not sure there is a solution to getting players to drop the whole K/D thing without completely getting rid of the stat all together. It’s annoying but eventually you just learn to do what you can do to try to win.
Vehicles play a huge role in conquest and the team that better manages them typically wins. There are planes, tanks, horses as well as jeeps and gunner cars to help get around the battlefield. Horses are quick and agile, Tanks are slow and bulky and planes are just overall powerful. Tanks, planes and jeeps are pretty common in war-time video games but horses are a bit of a rarity. They are fun but difficult to use. You are vulnerable from all angles and sit much higher while on a horse. You can also cover distance much quicker and if you are close enough, the saber strike is a one shot kill. It takes patience to be a good Calvary rider, but it is worth it.
Tanks on the other hand, are a little too strong on the ground. Unless you are engaging in direct tank vs tank combat, odds are you won’t go down unless a pro pilot drops some bombs on you. This is something that will need to be addressed before the game comes out. Tanks should be strong, but people need more options when taking them down. If I wasn’t playing an Assault class when I ran into a tank, I knew it would be over. Normal grenades do some damage but you really need Anti tank weapons such as mines or dynamite which are exclusive to the Assault class. All too often I would spawn in with a heavy tank at the beginning of the round and finish the entire match without a single death – even when sitting on objectives the entire time. I’m not some pro tank driver, anyone was capable of doing it if they played smart.
There are also these large behemoth vehicles in the game that attempt to give the edge to the losing side in a match. During the beta there is a giant armored train with AA guns and cannons that rides around a few of the objective points. It’s a nice feature in some cases, but again, players just like to sit in the train and rack up kills instead of going for the objective points. You can destroy the behemoth as the opposing team with enough effort, though that requires teamwork which often times isn’t there. My biggest issue with this mechanic is how early in a match the team can get it. After 5 minutes if a team is down 50 points it will spawn. That gives 10 minutes for a team to turn things around. A well-coordinated team can use it to gain the lead in 5 minutes and then dominate the remainder of the match. Just another feature that clearly needs some balancing.
Lastly I want to talk about the servers. Day one they had issues from the DDOS attack which kept the servers down for a pretty good amount of time. Day 2 PSN was hacked so I can’t really fault EA on that one. Now every time I get on I have to wait a few minutes before I can connect and I am not alone in that. The game is less than two months out and they are still having server issues. I’d say “hey it’s a beta that’s what you should expect” but at the same time, if you don’t sort it out now – then when? It’s been much better since the first two days but I do still get kicked every now and then.
Overall I am having a great time with Battlefield 1. There are some balancing and server issues that need to be addressed before the game hits but hopefully that’s what they are having this beta for. See you all on the front lines in October.