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Out of the three big shooters coming out this holiday season, Battlefield 1 is taking the chance to be different. Sure, it still plays past entries in the franchise, but the change in setting is exactly what the genre needed today. Many gamers feel fatigued of the modern and futuristic eras that Call of Duty popularized starting in 2007. There’s Titanfall 2 and Infinite Warfare to fulfill that, but what about DICE’s latest iteration of the Battlefield franchise? The open beta just ended on all the platforms it’s releasing on and left fans wanting more in a good way.
Battlefield 1’s open beta consisted of one map, the Sinai Desert, and two modes playable. Franchise staples Conquest (64 players max) and Rush (24 players) were there. During the duration of the beta, Conquest was under a time limit. It was rare teams reached the score limit of getting kills and capturing points. Time runs out during the majority of matches I played. That was adjusted in the last days of the beta where there’s no more time limit. Instead it was first to 300 and matches lasted at least more than 30 minutes. I didn’t play a lot of Rush however, but it’s there for those who prefer smaller scale battles. DICE can still include team deathmatch in the final game as well.
I personally approach the Battlefield games more casually compared to the other shooters. Due to the bigger scope of the Conquest matches, I tend to not care about which team wins and rather do what I can. There’s too many players in one map to do work. Sure, there’s gonna be a pretty good player that wreck shop but I usually hover around a few kills per match. I’m fine with that compared to more arena-based shooters where I have to pull my weight to have my team a chance of winning. Battlefield to me is always been messing with the weapons and vehicles in huge multiplayer battles.
The toys in Battlefield 1 are fun to play as, but vehicles feel unbalanced throughout my time with the beta. The World War I setting alone is a breathe of fresh air these days. I never felt so happy holding weapons of an older era because of being so used to modern or futuristic tech. Classes are the norm of the series from assault, medic, support and scout. Experienced players will be familiar with them like riding a bike. Guns even have a bayonet charge as a melee attack that is satisfying to kill a foe with. More satisfying personally is slashing opponents with a sword via horseback. Horse sword duels are just one of many moments Battlefield is always good at as well as vehicular combat.
From horses, jeeps, armored cars, tanks and planes, there are plenty of vehicular choices to no surprise. I did enjoy being in cars and tanks switching seats easily to get a better vantage point of scoring kills. The tanks however are a bit overpowered during the beta as the anti-tank options offered are not good. This is more of an issue in Rush due to the smaller nature of it where a tank can dominate a capture point if players struggle to take it out. At some point during Conquest matches, an armored train spawns for the losing team to have a chance of coming back. This is similar to the zeppelin in the map offered in the E3 build and closed alpha in June. Planes have been fine even though I have a better time controlling them in Star Wars Battlefront than Battlefield 1.
As expected, Battlefield 1 looks amazing so far on maxed out PCs and consoles. Performance stays consistent throughout the matches at 60 fps on consoles and likely more on PCs. The gas cloud and sandstorm effects are also top notch. Gas masks actually be useful in those situations are nice to see even though you can only hip fire weapons. Every time I see the sandstorm in the map, I hum that Darude song and not ashamed to admit that. The sounds of combat in an older era are also refreshing to hear in this game as well.
We’re just a few weeks away from Battlefield 1’s launch and the open beta left a great impression on me. The tanks could use some tweaking for balancing reasons, but it could be also players not knowing what to do against them. At the end of the day, it still plays like Battlefield, but taking the franchise to World War 1 was a great decision. DICE had to stand out from the rest of the modern and futuristic shooters. Players that feel fatigued by that alone may give Battlefield 1 the edge this holiday season. We’ll see however if the complete package is the real deal with a solid campaign, something DICE still struggles at, and multiplayer that players are still having fun months after it’s launch.