The release of the next chapter of the Battlefield franchise is upon us, ready and willing to bring folks back in time to witness the birth of modern warfare. Like those games that came before it, Battlefield 1 delivers a massive warzone filled with epic moments while changing a few pieces of the traditional formula for the better. Some of those changes might be confusing though, and we’re here to help you prepare for your first few hours.
The Campaign Is Different This Time Around
When it comes to the single-player experience for first-person shooters like Battlefield, most development teams work extremely hard to produce a linear narrative experience that follows the same group of characters. Typically, a given campaign is filled with epic set pieces, grueling emotion, and characters we ultimately end up caring less about than we’re supposed to. But DICE is looking to change the entire formula with Battlefield 1’s War Stories.
Instead of working to intertwine different historical battles and stories from World War I into a single narrative, DICE built a series of short stories that, while largely disconnected, come together to offer a look into the brutality of war. Each of these are filled with the usual Battlefield moments, but largely focus on giving you a look into the hopelessness soldiers felt on the battlefield and the horrible human cost that was paid in World War I.
Based on the two stories we’ve played, campaign is one of the best parts of Battlefield 1. So even if you usually skip over it in favor of diving straight into multiplayer, make sure to give it a try. You don’t want to miss this one.
The Classes You Know Have Changed
The multiplayer component of Battlefield 1 is, as you might expect, an intensely refined experience. Surprise! DICE knows how to make a multiplayer game. That being said, a few things have changed since Battlefield 4 and Battlefield Hardline — including the classes you might’ve come to know and love.
There are four standard classes in Battlefield 1: Assault, Medic, Support, and Scout. Assault, as the name implies, are masters of close-quarters combat, armed with submachine guns and shotguns. Instead of having the ability to revive and heal teammates this time around, they’ve got an entire equipment loadout designed to deal with enemy tanks and armor since the Engineer class has been removed. Now, Medics are your dedicated healing class, armed with designated marksman rifles and the revive syringe and healing kit. Meanwhile, Support and Scout remain largely the same: focused on light machine guns and sniper rifles respectively.
Due to the Engineer being removed, Battlefield 1 has split the class role into two new classes designed for vehicle players: Tanker and Pilot. When you spawn into the main seat of a vehicle or plane, you’ll automatically be given one of these classes. Unlike the regular classes, Tankers and Pilots don’t have access to powerful main weaponry or equipment, but are designed stay in their vehicles and keep them in working order on the battlefield with repair tools.
Weapon Unlocks Are More Rigid
Just like previous entries in the franchise, Battlefield 1 organizes weapon by class, meaning that only certain classes have access to certain types of weapons. This time the limitation is strictly enforced, meaning there’s no crossover weapon types like the DMR or Carbine from Battlefield 4. Every weapon you unlock in Battlefield 1 comes with a pre-customized configuration that cannot be changed. As in, you’ll no longer be able to customize your weapon with a different scope or grip. That said, you can change the type of reticle, magnification, and recoil pattern of each weapon, which makes a huge difference depending on your playstyle.
Weapons within the classes are built for a specific type of playstyle. If you prefer long-range combat for example, every weapon in Battlefield 1 has a marksman variant designed for those type of engagements. If you’re a close-quarters individual, there’s a few different rifleman configurations as well. The weapons, and the configurations for each, require a certain level within a specific class along with currency (Battlefield 1’s War Bonds) to unlock.
Battlepacks also make a return in Battlefield 1, but, due to the lack of complete weapon customization, they reward you with unique skins for specific weapons in a manner similar to Counter-Strike or Call of Duty. These weapon skins have absolutely no impact on your weapon’s base performance — they just offer a great-looking skin and new configuration.
Operations Are Excellent — Play Them
New to Battlefield 1 are Operations, a mode with the combined mechanics of Conquest and Rush that focuses on historical engagements which took place during World War I. Each operation is designed as a large-scale battle spanning across multiple areas that delivers the most intense multiplayer battles seen yet in the franchise.
When you first start up Operations, you’ll be able to choose which of the four you wish to play: Conquer Hell (United States of America vs. German Empire), Kaiserschlacht (British Empire vs. German Empire), Iron Walls (Kingdom of Italy vs. Austro-Hungarian Empire), or Oil of Empires (British Empire vs. Ottoman Empire).
Each operation pits a team of attackers against a team of defenders, who work to hold all the defensive positions in a sector. Every map has multiple sectors which must be taken by the attackers through capturing and holding both points within each sector, but, unlike Rush, the attackers don’t just have to plant an explosive charge and blow up the point. They’ve actually got to hold it from the defending team.
Here’s the kicker: Every operation spans across multiple maps, meaning that you’ll be fighting in a series of interconnected maps in a narrative experience that changes based on whether you win or you lose. For example, let’s say you win the first map as an attacking team. You then move to the second map and see the map you just played over the horizon. If you win again, the same will happen until you’ve conquered each of the maps in the Operation itself. The same goes for defenders too; you may fail to hold a map once, but if you hold the next map you’ll return to hold the front line again. Operations are one hell of a ride in multiplayer, and we recommend you welcome them with open arms.
Photos via Nicholas Bashore, Electronic Arts