Shortly following their press conference at E3 2016, EA allowed 64 gamers to play a massive conquest match in their upcoming title, Battlefield 1. Conference attendees looked on as actors and media icons, including Snoop Dog and Wiz Khalifa, took part in the chaotic battle.
If you’re unfamiliar with the multiplayer of Dice’s Battlefield games, players take sides in a large scale conflict between two teams of up to 32 players each. Each team is composed of several smaller squads, which attempt to capture objectives in conquest or push through the map in rush. Battlefield 1 takes us back to the First World War, where entire nations were pitted against each other in a massive and exhausting conflict.
Conquest, the only game mode we’ve seen, plays very similar to past Battlefield titles, with the addition of World War I era weapons and vehicles. Just as in Battlefield 1‘s predecessors, teams attempt to capture and control 6 points, draining their opponents of tickets.
The most important part of any first-person shooting game is, of course, the gunplay. Guns each sound punchy and authentic, and appear to be visually accurate to their historical counterparts. Weapons come in a large variety including machine guns, sniper rifles, grenades, and vehicles that each play uniquely. A new melee addition is the bayonet charge, a high-risk high-reward tactic where you charge frantically at opponents leading with your bayonet. Landing a hit results in a brutal animation and death for the target.
The weather in the game changes dynamically. In normal sunny weather, you have clear visibility of the battlefield and can pick off enemies from across the map. When the rain rolls in however, you have to change your tactics on the fly. The landscape before you is now obscured, and opponents can pop out of the fog and open fire without any prior indication of their location. It was absolutely incredible to see puddles form in blast holes and water flying off weapons in such a dynamic fashion.
Building destruction appears to be more substantial than in Battlefield 4. There seem to be fewer indestructible walls, which is reminiscent of the Bad Company games, where you could nearly level an entire map. On top of buildings that can be destroyed, craters can be blown into the ground by events like the destruction of a tank or the crash of a plane, giving you makeshift cover.
The demo didn’t showcase a lot of dog-fighting, but what we did see was impressive. The aircraft controls are build to be tight and instantly responsive, and the planes look and fly as they did historically. Anti-air guns were not shown during the match, leaving us to wonder if their are in the game at all and if air combat has been adjusted accordingly.
A major objective in the demo was the goal of destroying the giant Zeppelin that comes out mid-match. The airship aids the side that is able to summon it and is capable of causing major damage to the enemy. If teams can effectively coordinate attacking the airship via fighter planes, it can be taken down quickly. Once the airship is destroyed, it comes crashing to the ground. Destroying the airship leaves a giant mess of metal and fire which creates new obstacles and cover to play in, a continuation of the ‘levolution’ mechanic from Battlefield 4. The airship destroys any buildings in the area where it crashes, so it’s a bit more free-form than something like Siege of Shanghai in BF4, in which the same building collapses every time.
We only got a taste of what Battlefield 1 has in store, and from what we have seen, it looks incredible. It’s been a while since the first-person shooter genre went back to the World War 1 setting. Personally, enough time has past that I’m excited to get my hand on Battlefield 1‘s depiction of the gritty war that tore the world apart. We look forward to hearing more of what EA and Dice have in store for this ambitious title.