Explaining Classes, Bayonets, and Gas Masks in 'Battlefield 1'

Tanks, planes and bayonets: 'Battlefield 1' is shaping up to be an impressive step for first-person shooters.

When DICE first announced their return to World War I during the Battlefield 1 reveal back in May, the gaming industry exploded with excitement. The focus on modern combat in first-person shooters has become all too common these days, with most popular franchises sticking to both current and futuristic weaponry instead of working towards creating something we haven’t seen before in video games.

While it may be some time before players will be able to get their hands on Battlefield 1 via the beta in the coming months, Inverse spoke with Christopher Strickland, a Twitch personality who played Battlefield 1 during the EA Play event last month.

Known for being the best designated marksman rifle player in the world during Battlefield 4, Christopher ‘Prophet’ Strickland is currently a member of Battlefield’s stream team on Twitch. Invited after his dedication to the Battlefield community through organizations like Don’t Revive Me Bro and Clan Lucky Strike, he’s always working to interact with the Battlefield community in order to relay their concerns with the game to the development team at DICE.

DICE has announced that there’s a huge return to manual weaponry - meaning that no lock-on equipment is present. How did this decision impact the gameplay for you?

CS: The removal of lock-on weaponry is going to upset a few people, not because it isn’t there, but because people will find out that aren’t as good as they thought they were. Having to manually aim, manually fire and optimally set yourself up for attacks feels different in a good way.

It’s been a long time since a game hasn’t featured lock-on mechanics, so people are definitely going to be in for a shock when they first play the game. It’ll upset you at the start, but also give you a stronger feeling of success when you pull something off.

How does that play into vehicle combat? Are they a more dangerous threat on the battlefield?

CS: Right now because of the way Battlefield 1 is setup, everything is dangerous, provided they are playing their respective zones. Vehicles’ biggest threat is the assault class currently, which has two methods of removing an armored threat: a giant stick grenade (one stick with 8 or so grenades tied to it) and an AT rocket launcher which can only be fired while locked down on the ground or another level surface.

The rocket does significantly more damage than the grenades at distance, while the grenades do more damage when tossed closer to the vehicle. The idea is to provide a system of high-risk, high reward, which applies to most of the character classes. Now, players don’t have the means to fight against vehicles wherever they please – which allows vehicles to feel safer when out in the open. Obviously when it close quarters they are easier to engage, but hold on their own compared much better than they have in previous Battlefield games.

You mentioned the assault class just now, but what about the other kits? How do you feel about the classes in Battlefield 1 ?

CS: We have four standard classes in Battlefield 1: Assault, Support, Scout and Medic. As it stands currently, Assault are masters of close-quarters combat against both infantry and vehicles with access to submachine guns, shotguns, AT weaponry and rocket launchers. The Support class has access to light machine guns, ammunition boxes and trip mines allowing them to focus on laying down fire and fortifying positions.

Then you have your Scout class, which has been completely overhauled from a damage standpoint. Now scouts have a lethal vector’, meaning that they have very high damage output while engaging at medium range. While at close and long range however, they don’t retain their effectiveness, which forces you to move consistently in order to remain effective with your primary weapon. The final class and my personal favorite is the Medic, which has access to the DMR and medical equipment. Theyre essentially the bridge between Assault and Scout, focused on medium-range engagements and keeping their entire team alive. The Medic isn’t a powerhouse anymore like you’d see in Battlefield 4, which is a great change of pace.

Christoper Strickland 

What about engineers at this point? Are they still present in the game?

CS: As far as engineers are concerned, they’ve been split off into two different classes: tanker and pilot. Theyre the only class that actually has access to repairs, which they can do inside of their vehicles now – but the action renders the vehicle immobile while underground repairs. In order to access the tanker or pilot class, you’ll have to spawn into a tank or plane from your base and will remain one until you die. Here’s the thing though, they aren’t dangerous outside of their vehicles. On foot these classes only have access to a low damage carbine and a repair hammer, but since vehicles now have enter and exit animations – it’s extremely dangerous for them to be outside of their vehicles. There’s no more jumping in and out in Battlefield 1.

How does vehicle damage work in this time around? Do we have a more systematic damage model?

CS: Well, the great thing about vehicles in Battlefield 1 is that the game rewards tankers and pilots for staying in their vehicles instead of running about while jumping in and out. This time around vehicle damage is much more systematic, meaning that vehicles take more time to destroy (especially when controlled by a tanker or pilot) and have more ‘weak points’ that have to be targeted. These weak points allow you to slowly take out some of the stronger vehicles by limiting their effectiveness in combat until they’re repaired. Here’s the thing though: a good tanker or pilot will be able to keep their vehicle in combat long enough to be repaired unless overwhelmed. Teamwork is essential to take out vehicles this time around, which evens the pace of infantry and vehicle combat in Battlefield 1.

How do you feel about the decision to step away from detailed weapon customization in favor of weapon presets?

CS: During the event at EA Play, we had access to two variants of each gun that was shown to us. Generally, there were accuracy-based weapon and a mobility-based weapon presents – typically one without an optic and one with an optic.

As far as how I feel, I see the presets as a better option. It removes the issue of bloating from previous Battlefield games, where there were so many attachments that didn’t do anything different from their counterparts. In Battlefield 1 your gun does feel like your own personal weapon.

Christoper Strickland

How awesome are the new melee weapons and bayonets?

CS: As a person who plays with DMRs, bayonets are an absolute godsend. There are far too many times where you’re going to be forced into a close-quarters situation against an Assault player with an automatic weapon. The damage is too fast and too overwhelming – and the bayonet is your option. When you charge with your bayonet, you’ll have a slight speed boost and run forward to impale your opponent. These charges are brutal and there are a ton of different animations depending on where you hit people, all of which feel true to the brutality of World War I.

With melee, there’s no more knife take downs or counter-knife systems in play. It’s back to a swipe and finish system. If you don’t have enough damage to finish of an enemy, you’ll swipe at them with your melee weapon until you bring their health down enough to trigger a finisher animation.

Do these new melee mechanics play well with the gas grenades?

CS: Well, from what we’ve got to see gas grenades are generally non-lethal. I say that because every player, regardless of class, has access to a gas mask in their loadout. Whenever gas grenades are thrown on the battlefield you’ll get a notification on your screen to equip your gas mask, which nullifies the damage you would receive from standing in the gas. But it has a significant drawback: when you have your gas mask equipped, you cannot aim down your weapon sights. So when you’re trying to defend a point as a Medic or a Scout, you’ll be stuck in a bad situation provided you have to put your gas mask on – which makes bayonets and melee weapons your best friend.

Christopher streams on his personal Twitch channel Thursday through Monday, and he is a host on the Battlefield Twitch channel Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. Battlefield 1 will be available on Xbox One, PS4 and PC this October.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

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