The first-person shooter space has seen a few thematic shifts in the past few years. Moving from the second World War to modern warfare, with the eventual shift to a whole array of sci-fi shooters, the market has found itself in a stand-still point, where it desperately needs new, though a-little-bit-familiar ideas. Stepping away from years of modern combat, Battlefield 1 marks DICE’s shift towards this idea of changing up the market. Welcome to World War I.
The Battlefield franchise has never quite been known for its single-player experiences. Often resulting in non-essential cannon fodder, and campaigns which weren’t exactly filled with any substance for the player to cling onto, with the possible exception of Bad Company, which even then relied heavily on its dialogue and character interactions.Battlefield 1 changes up the formula in this regard, exchanging the larger over-arching storyline for shorter and separate ‘War Stories’. These focus on scenarios which are basically tutorials, getting players ready to enter the multiplayer arena. However, this criticism can be seen as a bit of a double-edged sword.
Whilst it’s undoubtedly clear from gameplay alone that War Stories are meant as an introduction to Battlefield 1’s landscape, its presentation, combat scenarios and narrative qualities undoubtedly offer an extra layer of depth to an experience, which aims to showcase the serious themes of WWI. The narratives and the episodic formats of the episodes (which can be played in any order) are well-told and there’s actual emotional depth to its narrative, which is where not only DICE has failed in the past, but where many FPS developers still have trouble with today. Overall, even if the gameplay structure is somewhat simplistic, War Stories is still fun to play and Battlefield 1‘s singleplayer is definitely worth trying out despite some of its faults.But like with every Battlefield game, the biggest and best slice of pie is its multiplayer component. While the core gameplay mechanics of BF1 resembles the classic series formula, it’s apparent that things have changed since we last stepped onto the Battlefield. DICE has used the shift in era to their advantage, by making small adjustments to these core mechanics. The new ranges of weaponry and the technological limitations of the time period, add a more simplified, yet deep combat experience. And although core modes such as Conquest and Rush have returned in all their glory, it’s these small details where BF1 sets itself apart from the rest of the franchise.