Tuesday, 17 April 2018

My Usual Spiel: Battlefield 1, the Great War, the same Game as before

Well I'm back, first post of 2018! you thought I was gone, I thought I was gone too, especially with that last post but it looks like we're back on, and what a game to start with Battlefield 1! Can't quite believe I wrote over 4000 words, guess I had a lot to say. Anyway welcome to 2018 and hopefully a good year of blogging ahead.

Release date: October 21, 2016
Genre: First Person Shooter
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: DICE, Uprise, Criterion Games
Engine: Frostbite 3
Platforms: Windows, PS4,Xbox One
Modes: Single Player Campaign and up to 64 Player Multiplayer

I can still remember the hype when it was revealed that the new Battlefield (BF) game would not be set in a modern-day era. This announcement came after the release of Call of Duty Infinite Warfare and I’m sure you all know of the rivalry between BF and CoD or the fans rather and so while call of Duty rocketed into the future the Battlefield series was going back to the past, you could imagine the glee we all felt where we thought for a second we would actually be getting a HD remake of Battlefield 1942. But no, we weren’t going back to WW2, the series had already had a Vietnam based expansion too, it was revealed that the fifteenth installment to the Battlefield series would be loosely based on the events in World War 1 or based on World War 1 or a Battlefield game with a World War 1 skin I’m not sure which one is the best way to explain. 

Anyway the new game came out with a bang and quite an epic trailer at that. My housemate was very interested being a staunch fan of Battlefield 1942 and also its predecessor Codename Eagle which was arguably the first of all the Battlefield games and the only one previously set in time of the first world war but occurs in an alternate timeline. After seeing the trailer and some of the parodies that were made for it, he decided with the help of myself and a few others to create a parody trailer using Codename Eagle itself. I enjoyed the process and it worked out really well, we had a LAN party and everything and we got quite a few comments on the video too. We spent a lot of time playing the demo Sinai Desert map which was quite large and featured almost every form of vehicle and weapon (except sea) I did notice now and in the trailer that there was a large emphasis on vehicles which is unusual for World War 1 as it was mostly known as an infantry war as per games like Verdun, but then again this is Battlefield and it’s the vehicles that rule.

Sinai Desert as shown from above
In any case, there was a lot of hype leading up to the release of the game, there was so much shit talking about how Battlefield went into World War 1 while Call of Duty was going into space with its Infinite Warfare, I of course wasn’t really too fussed. After Battlefield 3 I didn’t care that much about what happened to the game as it was now all the same, I never bothered with the Police-themed Hardline as it was basically just the same thing reskinned, the same gameplay, the same graphics just little things changed similar to the new Star Wars Battlefront 1 & 2 it’s the same freakin game all over again and I was expecting Battlefield 1 to be exactly the same. And as you can probably guess I wasn’t wrong, you remember the total conversion mods for your favourite games? it’s the Battlefield WW1 Total conversion we have here.

Though maybe I’m being a little too harsh, the singleplayer was ok I guess, It was a more enjoyable then Battlefield 3 and 4  as it was composed of 5 (and a half)  ‘War stories’ instead of one storyline so there are mini campaigns which show different theatres of the war. Unfortunately the authenticity just wasn’t there, a lot of over-the-top action in unrealistic scenarios but there were good bits there too and it’s a Battlefield game after all.

There's even a sequence where you control a messenger pigeon
The first ‘War Story’ Storm of Steel is basically a prologue where you take control of different allied soldiers fighting the Germans in a trench wasteland. The second Through Mud and Blood was quite enjoyable as you take control of a Mark V Landship though most of the time you are jumping out for some stealthy kills and reconnaissance but the tank battles towards the end were good.

Detail is incredible in this one.
Friends In High Places was probably my favourite, you were a fighter plane pilot and were in the plane most of the time also finding your way through no-man’s land and even walking on a Zeppelin.

The pretty epic but entirely fictional "Fort et Fidele mission

Avanti Savoia! was a short story where you play as an Italian Shock Trooper who wears a suit of armor and carries a large machine gun. This one was probably the most ridiculous as it seemed like you were this invincible space marine from the Warhammer 40k series, literally you were walking along mowing down German Soldiers like a one-man army, I felt this was so far removed from a realistic WW1 perspective it was silly, why the suit of armor? I actually saw soldiers wearing metal armor and helmets in the game art and certain classes in the multiplayer modes wear it too. Though it’s strange I never really saw this in any WW1 photos or footage and most movies and shows in WW1 the soldiers do not wear any kind of metal armor, but then again this is Battlefield so mowing down enemies with an LMG (technically though the one he holds doesn’t seem that light) and suits of armor are consistent with the series I guess.

Almost steampunk-esque
The Runner was the Australian-Gallipoli based one which was ok, you played as an Australian message runner for the British at what was supposed to be Gallipoli and did a lot of running and gunning. Nothing Is Written was probably the best one, you were a female Beduin warrior fighting the Ottoman Empire with good old T. E. Lawrence himself, you did a lot of stealthing through the desert and around the camps and it was fairly open ended which was really good.

This mission was really good, you had to infiltrate three Ottoman camps in the desert and either eliminate the commander and steal the documents or both, it was very open ended unlike the usual linear-path gameplay from most other FPS story-modes.
So anyway on to the multiplayer, the new Battlefield Companion replaces Battlelog though this is inside the game itself so you no longer need to launch from a web browser and get those annoying update version errors and have to download the individual file just for the server list. And speaking of server lists after a lot of crying about how the new Star Wars Battlefront had no server browser Battlefield 1 thankfully has one though there’s enough people playing not to really matter to be honest. It’s only if you’re looking for a particular gameplay type like War Pigeons or the options of having rifle only deathmatch similar to Verdun which is regarded as the number one simulator in the trench warfare area though unfortunately these modes are not very popular with the average Battlefield player. This is one of the main problems with Battlefield nowadays, it’s a group  of players who want the same old thing and they got it.

The new-look main menu: beats the old battlog I gotta tell ya
As I mentioned I tried out the multiplayer demo on the Sinai Desert which was super awesome as it had everything in it, it was fun trying out the horses and flying the new planes and driving the new tanks. The kits ere relatively the same as usual, the Assault was the main anti-vehicle with Anti-tank Grenades, Mines, Dynamite and the AT Rocket Gun which was a lot of fun. The Medic has the usual kit, medic crate, rifle grenade, the new revive weapon is a syringe which is just as weird as the defibrillators. The Support now has some interesting toys available it has the usual Ammo Crate and Mortar but now has the Limpet Charge and Crossbow Launcher the latter of which can either shoot high explosive grenades designed to take out vehicles or Frag grenades designed to take down enemy soldiers. The Mortar used to be very very effective with the anti-infantry airburst rounds, so effective in fact that they nerfed it so now it is almost useless, even the HE mortar pales in comparison to the usefulness and mobility of the HE grenades and Rocket gun of the Assault class. But anyway I still like playing the class, I can still repair vehicles though now Tank Drivers and Pilots can repair their vehicles themselves without getting out which kinda sucks for the usefulness of Support but we’re still useful anyway.

The Giant's Shadow map was released some time after the main game, it featured a crashed airship as the centrepiece and heavy fog as you can see here. I play as Medic for this round.

And then there’s my guilty pleasure class, the Scout. I’ve found many ways to make this class useful. I’ve found many spots to set up camp and spot enemies with the Trench Periscope, this thing is basically the same as the tactical visor in battlefield 4, it auto-spots enemies in a cone in front of you and gives extra points if they are killed by your teammates. I’ve had many a round where I’ve found a nice spot set up a Sniper Decoy and camped, yes camped I spotted enemies and took pot shots at both infantry and vehicles thanks to the quite useful K Bullets, I also set up Tripwire Bombs so I was definitely helping my team to all those camping naysayers out there. It seems that hiding in a bush (or whatever) seems to be my preferred playstyle as it was way back in Vietcong, is currently in PUBG, and is while playing the Scout class in BF1.

Me using the scout trench periscope and sniper decoy
Among the new features there is a greater emphasis on melee combat with the new insta-kill bayonet charging which I keep forgetting to do and when I remember to do it I always just run in, not hit anyone and get shot. The melee combat does seem more refined with a chance for the victim to fight back rather than the attacker having the full advantage but to be honest it’s still just furiously clicking your melee button and hoping for the best. There is now more options then just knives yes there now spades, clubs, hatchets, pickaxes and weapons designed for the new mounted class such as the Cavalry Sword and the Elite classes such as the Raider Club.

Speaking of the Class system, it’s gotten a bit convoluted now so I’ll list them below:

Infantry classes

Infantry classes include Assault, Medic, Support and Scout, these are now similar to Battlefield 1942 but still only 4, the Engineer type weapons have been divided among the Assault and Support classes.

Vehicle classes

Vehicle classes include the Tanker, Pilot and Cavalry (if you can call a horse a vehicle I don’t know) are similar to the Pilot from Battlefield 4 as you didn’t spawn in the plain with a full kit, you just had your pistol and few other things. This is the same with the Tanker and the Pilot you have a different loadout with includes handguns and repair tools and other utilities. When I heard Cavalry was being introduced I wasn’t sure what to think and honestly I don’t use it much myself I prefer it in a Medieval setting such as Mount and Blade Warband though riding a horse with friends was fun none the less, the Cavalry also has its own kit which features a Cavalry Sword which is heaps of fun to use if you time it right. I had a few rounds where we all tried to get on horses and be mounted infantry like the Australians in the Battle of Beersheba.  

Elite Classes

Elite Classes replace the weapon pickups around the map in other games, they spawn randomly in specific areas on the map and can be picked up by any soldier who will then be transformed into that class until they die or the round finishes. The Elite classes include the Flame Trooper which is pretty self explanatory, the Sentry which is similar to the Avanti Savoia! War story where you are an armored MG wielder, the Tank Hunter which is armed with a heavy rifle that can disable vehicles, and the Trench Raider armed with melee weapons and grenades who was released with the Battlefield 1: They Shall Not Pass expansion.

There's a Flame Trooper in there somewhere
Now we come to the subject of vehicles, now as you know Battlefield is a game that is known for having vehicles but when I think of World War 1 I think of trenches and soldiers and artillery and horses and gas, I don’t really think about tanks, but there actually were tanks, and there were planes lots of planes and boats and motorcycles and a lot of things if you think about it. So BF1 still has lots of vehicles though they took a bit of getting used to going from the very Modern BF4, I’ll start with the light vehicles which included the scout cars, new armored cars and motocycles with sidecars. As with all light vehicles in Battlefield these are vulnerable to just about anything and should be used only for transport and skirmishes, that said I really enjoyed zooming around on the bike and the armored car was fun too. I never really thought about tanks much in WW1 but there are three in the game, there’s a light tank though when I have the ability to spawn a tank I usually go the Landship (from the ‘Through mud and blood’ war story) or the A7V which is like a moving fortress of a tank. This one was quite funny because in the war these things were very slow and impractical being only able to go 15kmh on roads and 5kmh over rough terrain though in the game the tank is quite fast and can scale steep hills easily if manoeuvred correctly which is ironic but I bet DICE had to make it that was so they would be at least of some use.

Driving the heavy tank, you can see my emblem on the side.
I have never been very good at planes but I had a lot of fun trying out the fighter planes and using the keyboard to manoeuvre and got a few kills in some rounds, I spent most of my time being a gunner for my friend Brok who really knows how to fly them. I suppose you may be wondering at this point how I went with repairing vehicles and for those of you who don’t know I quite like being the support class and doing this. One of my favourite things to do in Battlefield 4 was to sit in the lightly armed and armored transport chopper and repair it while someone else flew which really helped as those things were huge targets and usually didn’t last long. Well unfortunately in this game there is no way to repair a vehicle while inside it, when spawning a vehicle as a pilot you have the ability to self-repair on the fly when driving, the support class can repair with their hammer but have to get out of the vehicle so in the case of planes that’s obviously not an option, but it’s ok I have enough fun in vehicles anyway. I also like the way you can get different version of the vehicles for example you could get the flamethrower tank upgrade or the trench fighter specialization for the Fighter plane though you no sooner chose that then get attacked by a tank or another plane, you can’t win really. It’s sort of like trying to decide whether to equip a frag or HE grenade usually when you spawn you find you’ll need the opposite one.

I found the planes a lot easier to fly compared to the jets in BF4, probably because they weren't so freakin FAST
Replacing Battlefield 4’s Levolution events are Behemoths featuring the Airship, the Armored Train and the Dreadnought, these vehicles spawn later in the game on the losing teams side in order to try and even things up. I’ve had a go at all of these and they do make a bit of a difference but often don’t last long as they are a pretty huge target, the airship especially. There was one game where it spawned in and then the opposing team immediately started pelting it with 3 Anti-air emplacements and it didn’t even last 2 minutes, however being in them is fun while it lasts and they have some serious firepower though I think the best thing about them is just the spectacle of seeing this huge thing thunder into the map oh and the explosions are awesome too, I swear I took so many screenshots of exploding zeppelins.

Ooohh that's a good one
I spent most of my time playing the conquest mode with friends as that’s all that seems to be played these days but was intrigued by the new Operations mode similar to Evolution from Battlefield Vietnam. Operations take players across an entire front of the Great War in a sequence of connected rounds, with one team attempting to push the frontline forward by conquering ground while the other attempts to defend their position. The next map played depends on the outcome of the previous one, and the attacking and defending sides will switch accordingly. This was great fun when doing it as it is much more realistic and you have an intro and can see how the battle progresses. The only problem with this is that not many people play it, most of the time when we tried there was not enough people to start the operation. I also tried out War Pigeons which was pretty ridiculous  when you’re hastily writing a note then throwing a pigeon in the sky in a hail of gunfire with your allies madly running around trying to defend you but I guess that’s how it was.

The Operations selection main screen
One thing about this game I was impressed about was the graphics, it’s probably the only thing I really enjoy the Battlefield series for as it’s gotten kind of stagnate, I mean the Frostbite 3 engine looks great though I don’t know how much better we can get. In this game actually I though they looked a bit over-the-top and colourful, especially with the ‘Friends in High places’ campaign where there were explosions of sky and clouds and colour everywhere though I digress, Battlefield isn’t exactly known for being subtle, if it was a movie I suppose you could compare the war stories to a cross between a Baz Luhrman and Michael Bay film. That said, everything looked great, the amount of details was crazy as with most Battlefield games these days and now that I have a 27 inch 2k screen with Gsync its gonna be even better, in fact I don’t even think I’ve played it when my new screen yet. The multiplayer maps are nothing less of amazing with rolling hills of green grass or poppies, and hellish crater-pocked landscapes of mud and blood (like the first singleplayer campaign) Of the initial maps a few stood out including Empire's Edge and St. Quentin Scar both of which have beautiful countryside landscapes in Italy and France respectively. As before I loved the maps which had the full range of vehicles, I did get sick of maps that came up all the time including Ballroom Blitz and Argonne Forest which was the only infantry-only map though it still had the Armored Train as the behemoth.

Although I didn't like Argonne Forest, it still looked pretty good
Playing with friends is the same as usual though it’s slightly different again with the menu’s you can sort of add each other as a squad through Origin to make sure you’re all in the same squad when you go into the game, it took a bit of working out to get right, then choosing a server is something else again, from the main menu you can choose four options. The first Operations, which are new to the Battlefield series, these are a series’ of maps in the same theatre of war set out like a storyline with the attacking team pushing the frontline forward until they conquer the map while the defenders must reinforce and keep hold of it in a mode similar to Rush. This mode looked very exciting as it would seem practical to play a series of similar maps together while taking part in a grand storyline though sadly this mode just doesn’t get enough players, they all just seem to just go to the regular servers and play conquest like they always have.  There is still the others modes such as Rush itself, the entertaining War Pigeons and Team Deathmatch but these are played sparingly with most people going straight to the server browser and playing Conquest as before sadly. As I mentioned before I enjoyed going Medic, Scout and Support and shying away from the Assault class only because it’s the one that doesn’t interest me but then again it's the one with all the anti-vehicle ordinance this time around. I do miss being Support and hanging out of the chopper repairing it as this has now been replaced with the Pilot and Tanker classes being able to self-repair, so it’s basically same-old conquest mode and I’m again seeing myself playing around with the Scout and Support toys such as the K Bullets, Trench Periscope, Mortar and Crossbow Launcher.

With my Trusty Hammer I can repair anything
In regards to the expansions the only one I have been able to play extensively is They Shall Not Pass which introduces the French Army and arrived with new maps, new weapons, new vehicles and the Trench Raider Elite Class. Among the new vehicles was the ever-popular Saint-Chamond Tank and the new Char 2C Super Heavy tank which is classed as a behemoth and boy is it fun when you can actually get in it though I’ll admit not quite as fun as the Rattetank from the BF1942 Mod Forgotten Hope Secret Weapon, man that is something else. In the launch there were 4 news maps with the expansion though I was disappointed to find out that two of them were infantry only maps. Soissons with its sunstroked fields is a great map especially for planes and I’ve had plenty of aerial combat rounds there, Rupture is a bit more gritty but the red poppies are a nice touch. Verdun Heights is a rather large infantry-only map set in the artillery-blasted forest of Verdun and Fort De Vaux is basically just Operation Locker. This was annoying that when you just wanted to play the new French maps you had to contend with two infantry-only maps where there was only one out of the 10 that were on release for the main game.

Squad work on the new French Expansion Rupture map, I play as medic mostly.

Unfortunately I have not been playing the game much at all in the past months as this is due to the rise of the infamous Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds and my usual ‘squad’ of buddies are now firmly entrenched with this game with some being discouraged with BF1 and uninstalling it altogether including my friend who was once so happy for it, so any foray back into it would most probably just be on my own. Which is a shame because I did originally purchase a premium account which automatically game access to the rest of the expansions, In The Name Of The Tsar, Turning Tides and Apocalypse all of which are now released, so I will definitely be having another delve in to see these at least once. So on the whole Battlefield 1 is ok though it’s far from the Battlefield 1942 HD remake we’re all hoping for and sadly I think if it ever gets created it will just be same old thing as Battlefield has been since BF3 and won’t have the magic that made the original one so special.



Things I liked:

Old-school feel of WW1 theme

Entertaining new vehicles and gadgets

Amazing graphics

Server browser included

Behemoths were fun and a good addition to the game

Things I didn’t like:

Same old Battlefield game with new skin

Not enough people playing new modes

Unrealistic take on WW1 especially in War stories

Support unable to repair vehicles while sitting in them.

Infantry-only maps should be abolished this Battlefield not COD

The original reveal trailer

My friend Brok's  Codename Eagle parody trailer

I miss helicopters because they haven’t been invented yet

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