Musings on Battlefield 1 Multiplayer Action
I’ve had the fortunate pleasure of checking out two of Battlefield 1’s mulitplayer maps. Sinai Desert was available to play during the recent open beta, while St. Quentin Scar was on the show floor at EGX. So, what do I reckon? Read on.
I’ve already touched on how I felt the announcement of the game was handled poorly, and others have done a bang up good job of putting forward arguments for why a game set in World War One, and a game as commercialised as this, doesn’t sit right with some people. I’m just hoping that EA pull off a good singleplayer side to the game. But for now, a few hot takes are in order.
Too many automatic weapons?
If you ever played Day of Defeat: Source, you will know that there were limits on the number of players from each team that could take up different classes. These simple limits prevented matches turning into sniper dominated battles, and could also be used to limit the number of players running around with heavy machine guns. And remember, Day of Defeat is a World War Two game, an conflict where automatic weapons were much more prevalent, but the average infantryman used an M1 Garand or a Gewehr 98, both are bolt-action rifles. For a game based on an earlier conflict to feature such freedom to go into battle with automatic weaponry feels at odds with what day-to-day combat would have been like.
On the other hand, when making a game for the mass audience, players have grown accustomed to using a wide variety of automatic weaponry, and imposing limits on their access to them in Battlefield 1 might not go down well with the crowd who are just looking for a larger scale shooter than Call of Duty. My feelings from goings hands on are that my preference for playing as a Medic in Battlefield games will leave me coming up against many a foe who can fire bullets into me at a much faster rate than I can to him. On the other hand, with the way most Battlefield games play out these days, I’ll be one of the few people around actually reviving my fallen comrades.
Too many ground vehicles?
Note that I’m talking about ground vehicles in general, not specifically tanks. This is a problem I felt most relevant when playing on the Sinai Desert, due to the size of the Conquest map, you really need some form of transport to get to the first flags, and then to traverse the desert landscape. During the War, motorised vehicles of all varieties were fairly limited, only 120 Rolls-Royce armoured cars were built by the British, and of the tanks, it was the Renault FT light-tank that was mass produced. To see so many vehicles of all sorts roaming around feels like a disservice to how they were actually used, especially the British heavy tanks which struck terror into the German soldiers. Seeing tanks on both sides of the battle in Battlefield also feels a bit off. The first time Germany pushed a substantial force or armour into battle was in April 1918 during the Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux. Indeed, only 20 completed examples of the main German heavy tank, the A7V were put into combat during the whole war.
It doesn’t help that the anti-armour weaponry on offer is fairly weak. This is reflective of a conflict where troops didn’t have to contend with mass tank battles, and the associated counter-measures weren’t developed as they would be for World War Two. Thinking about the nature of the War, it would have made sense to me if the heavy tanks only appear at the end of a battle, similar to the armoured train in Sinai Desert.
Age old Battlefield problems
I’ve been getting back into the groove with Battlefield 4 recently, and after about twelve hours of play over the past few days, I’ve only been killed by a plane once. The helicopters get me all the time, but only once has a plane killed me. I think back to the days of Battlefield 2, and the planes were a pretty dominant force, requiring effective use of anti-air, or allied planes.
How does this relate back to Battlefield 1? I wonder whether some long-running problems with the franchise are going to rear their head again, and the planes are just one example. There are some lovely varieties of World War One planes to fly around with, but one wonders what kind of impact they will have on the ground game. Hopefully players will get used to them and ensure a three dimensional battlefield is realised.
I’ve touched on the problems with medics not being used to…do what the medic is there to do. This has been an issue I’ve come across in every Battlefield released on PC since 2. Once everyone settles down and is used to the game when it releases, I hope people will remember what the medic is there for. To both heal and revive.
Better unlock system?
It’s hard to tell for sure how the unlock system will work in Battlefield 1. The beta was pretty limited with the unlocks that were available for each class, and you weren’t able to customise each of your weapons. The full progression system will be interesting to check out after release, I’m just hoping that everything is a bit more streamlined than in the recent games in the series.
There is something to be said for the days of Battlefield 2 where each class had three unlocks and there was a level playing field when it came to the vehicles. A recent frustration for Battlefield 4 is that you have to unlock the TV Guided missile for Attack Helicopters, a tool everyone had in the earlier game. While there will be unlocks for vehicles in the upcoming title, I hope they make a bit more sense.
The map makes the game
After playing the beta, I was left decided unimpressed with the Sinai Desert map. All Battlefield games have a dodgy map or two, and I think this was the one for Battlefield 1, everything felt so lifeless with massive distances between flags, and train apart, few distinguishing features. St. Quentin Scar on the other hand was much more like it and showed off the game at its best. There are more opportunities for close quarter combat, and the vehicles added a wrinkle to the action rather than dominating it.
Should EA have released a different map for the open beta? Maybe, a good map can make a game. Just think about Strike at Karkand and Zatar Wetlands. Which one do you remember?
Set for release
There are only a few weeks now until launch, and the big singleplayer push has started. Taking an anthology approach to the story could work out, allow players to experience different aspects of the War. But as ever, the focus will be on multiplayer, let’s see how it works out.