EA Dices decision to travel back in time has paid dividends with a thrilling and visually impressive military experience
Battlefield 1 is a tectonic shift for the military shooter genre. By jumping back to world war one, developer EA Dice has not only discovered fresh game design ideas through the antiquated weaponry, it has also ensured that its game stands apart from other shooters, which have dominated disc-trays for the past 10 years.
There are other unexpected benefits too. Battlefield 1 discovers compelling and poignant stories, effective ways to tell them, and a campaign structure that should inspire any shooter after it. The newly invigorated multiplayer warfare adds the final flourish.
Well, not quite final. After the technical disasters that befell Battlefield 4, it is a relief to report that, well, Battlefield 1 actually works.
Rather than one long, globe-trotting odyssey, Battlefield 1 finds rhythm with a multi-part narrative. There are six War Stories available at the start, most featuring two to five missions which focus on different characters and fronts from the 1914-18 war. There are unexpected heroes and self-serving rogues; theres a British tank regiment making its way through the dense forests of Boulon before a climactic battle at Cambrai; theres a lone American sleazebag finding himself wound up in a combat biplane above the Alps before dog-fighting above London.
Elsewhere, a squadron of the Italian Arditi (The Daring Ones) assaults a mountainside base, while the Australian special forces act as runners through the artillery shelled coast of Gallipoli. Theres even a star turn from Lawrence of Arabia fighting a seemingly futile war against enemy forces in the desert. There are only slight hints of the one man army syndrome that so many combat shooters fall foul of and because of this, Battlefield finds a narrative flair its not had in years, if ever at all.