Battlefield 1 Beta – A CoD Convert’s View

Many moons ago, when the Call of Duty franchise devolved into the Michael Bay-esque, roided up abomination of explosions and exo-suits that we see today, I made a choice: It’s time to convert to Battlefield. I’d always wondered why there had never been a definite shooter based on the First World War, so when Battlefield 1 was announced, I allowed myself to get excited. That hype only grew as trailers and footage were released, revealing a mesmerising, colourful depiction of the war which, I imagine, is reasonably true to life in appearance.

No, thanks

Nope

Before Battlefield, however, came Battlefront; as it was made by Dice, it was a logical stepping-stone on my way to becoming a fully-fledged Battlefield player. Although the Star Wars shooter wasn’t the most re-playable game ever made, it was undoubtedly good; it gave players a lovingly and meticulously crafted setting in which Star Wars fans such as myself felt like they were at home. In addition, the gameplay stood up to scrutiny and was hugely fun before I eventually put it down forever when I became bored by the lack of maps. To top it off, I did pretty well, so the game represented a happy introduction to Dice and, hopefully, Battlefield.

Finally, the Battlefield 1 open beta came to Playstation 4, and my first impressions were excellent. The graphics, as advertised, were terrific; I genuinely felt immersed in the Sinai Desert (the only map on offer in the open beta), the portion of the First World War fought between the British and Ottoman Empires after the latter attempted to take the British-held Suez Canal, significantly contributing to the fall of said Ottoman Empire.

I wanted to jump straight in and stride imperiously around the map, disdainfully cutting down impertinent foes foolish enough to blunder into my path as I had since time immemorial on Call of Duty and Battlefront. Those delusions of grandeur were, predictably, smashed out of me in double-quick time, as I cowered from the rounds kicking up the sand around me like a real-life conscript thrust into a hellish, chaotic battle he didn’t understand against hardened veterans.

You'd be lucky

You’d be lucky

Battlefield is undoubtedly a much more difficult, far less accessible game than CoD, the main reason being the game’s ballistics. The dropping and travel times of bullets and other projectiles meant that it took me a hell of a long time to actually be capable of hitting anything; sniping, for example, seems nothing more than a pipe dream at this moment in time. Having been comprehensively massacred in almost every ground engagement, I thought the skies would be my saviour. I’ve always been gifted at aerial combat (I dominated the skies in Star Wars Battlefront, if I do say so myself), so I thoroughly expected to be something akin to the Red Baron. As it turned out, flying in Battlefield 1 is REALLY hard. REALLY hard. The game gives you no hint as to how to pilot the planes, nor are the controls intuitive, meaning that I found myself constantly plummeting back to Earth for a fiery death. I know that difficulty isn’t a particularly legitimate complaint, but Battlefield is seriously intimidating and inaccessible. If you haven’t played before, it’s basically tough titties.

Furthermore, combat vehicles, including horses, need a serious nerf. Tanks re-spawn as soon as they’re destroyed and seem to be present everywhere on the map, often becoming a massive annoyance as an infantryman trying to have a firefight. Tanks et al roll across the map destroying all they come across, with multiple gunner seats available to make them a truly overpowered machine of misery and slaughter. Of course tanks should be powerful, they did revolutionise warfare after all, but they’re almost impossible to take out unless one happens to be in another tank; even the assault class, with its anti-tank grenades, takes forever to destroy the metallic monsters. I would suggest that tanks be utilised in the same way as heroes in Star Wars Battlefront, spawning rarely and one at a time. This mechanic would enhance the impact of their presence on the battlefield, creating awe and panic instead of just being irritating. Tanks suffer from the law of diminishing returns as they constantly turn up to ruin your day, instead of adding to the spectacle as they should. Don’t even get me started on the horses, which seem to be literally indestructible and, like their vehicular counterparts, are in dire need of balancing.

It's been nice knowing you

It’s been nice knowing you

So we come to the million-dollar question: is Battlefield better than Call of Duty? In my opinion, Battlefield 1 isn’t as “fun” as CoD was in its heydey, but Dice’s offering certainly provides the player with a more genuine, immersive, and ultimately more rewarding experience. Coming from a Call of Duty convert, it’s a fiendishly difficult game to master, but, once you find your feet in the Battlefield crucible, it’s an epic experience that’s more than worth your time and, I hope, your money.


Dan S

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