When I first heard that Battlefield 1 was going to be set in World War I, I shook my head. I thought that the multiplayer combat would be very slow paced. The weapons would be very unsatisfying and mostly ineffective. And the sessions would involve a lot of walking and running to get to the action.
Thankfully, I was wrong. The 64-player Conquest Mode in multiplayer is a crazy battle, where 32 players fight 32 from the other side. Everywhere you go, even in a big map, you run into combatants. I played a series of sessions after Battlefield 1 debuted Friday on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Windows PC. And I’m quite satisfied that this is still a real Battlefield game. Fans are going to be OK with it, if they liked all of the past Battlefield games. In just about every match I’ve played so far, I’ve had some kind of Battlefield “moment,” where something nutty happens.
This game is one of the biggest titles from Electronic Arts and its DICE studio since the Battlefield franchise was born in 2002. The developers took the risk of leaving the familiar modern war environment for the novelty of World War I. It’s an epic game that spans many different environments, such as Saudi Arabia and the French Alps. It captures the horrors of war, including fighting hand-to-hand in the trenches and pitched tank battles.
I wrote my review of the single-player campaign, dubbed War Stories. I found it inspired and fresh, though perhaps shorter than I would have liked it to be. And I interviewed the senior producer about balancing historical accuracy and fun in the game. So far, with multiplayer, I love playing Conquest, which is just one of many modes (including Domination, Operations, Rush, War Pigeons, Team Deathmatch, and Air Superiority).
Now I’ve captured a lot of video of my initial multiplayer game sessions, and I’ve embedded the videos below so that everybody can make fun of how bad I am. I’m enjoying getting immersed, and I’ve been impressed with how well the Battlefield servers have held up, at least when I’ve been playing them. I’ve made use of a lot of weaponry, including machine guns, tanks, knives, airships, sniper rifles, anti-tank weapons, and grenades.
I found that the weapons are very deadly, if you use the right one at the right time. Snipers can take you down if you go into the open, and tanks can be quite devastating with multiple gunners. But with each match, you can improve and figure out how to stay alive for just a little bit longer. So far, I’m enjoying Conquest Mode because it has so many players that it feels like a real battle, and there’s always action no matter where you go.
In my first round (video above), I played the multiplayer map at the Battle of Mont Saint-Quentin, which took place in 1918, near Peronne, Picardie, where Australian forces overtook a strategic defensive location along the German front line. As you can see in the video below, I was almost immediately taken down a few times while running in the open. I tried to find cover as quickly as I could, but enemies kept coming out of nowhere to sneak up on me.
I got five kills in that Conquest Mode match, which was lucky considering the guns weren’t making it easy for me. But I live for those moments when something surprising happens. I was about to shoot my gun at a tank when someone blew it up, just as a cavalry soldier took a leap over the flaming tank. That was an amazing visual. But it was a fairly pitiful performance.
The next time, I listened to the advice of some gamers and joined a squad before getting into the game. That meant I could spawn on my teammates and go right to the action. In the next battle (video above), I managed to stay alive for a very long time by hitching a ride in a German tank in the battle for Amiens. This map was in the midst of a city, with plenty of wide parks, a narrow river gorge, and narrow streets. Every now and then, a target would flash before me for two seconds, and then we would pass by. I enjoyed staying alive for a bit, and I felt like a tourist in the city. If you spawn into a tank, that’s a great way to stay alive for a while, unless you have a really bad driver. My driver was good, moving from victory point to victory point, until he flipped us over.
I had a harder time in the Gallipoli invasion, where the Anzac troops took on the Ottoman empire. This Fao Fortess (video above) features the British empire against the Ottomans. The map has a Dreadnought as its Behemoth. Every now and then it bombards the heck out of an area. But it didn’t do my team much good. You either spawned on the beach areas or near the Al-Faw peninsula fortresses. It was fun going up high and shooting down below, but I didn’t have a sniper rifle. And the Turks were better shots. I got some kills in, but it was tough. I loved going into the fortresses, which had lovely views of the whole area.
I had a very hard time in my first foray into the Argonne Forest (video above), where American troops squared off against the Germans in the forest and fog. I found that gas grenades were pretty deadly, and if I saw the green haze, I should immediately put on my gas mask. I kept on getting killed over and over in this match. And the enemy had the Armored Train Behemoth. I tossed a grenade at it, but couldn’t do much damage to it.
I had a fun start hopping into a tank at the outset of this map (video above). I couldn’t figure out where to go in the Ballroom Blitz map, which takes place in a French château in the Argonne Forest. But I figured out that the place to be was in the big ballroom inside the big palace. I hitched a ride in the armor and I did what I could as a soldier. I saw one soldier hiding near the edge of the ballroom, in a spot that was protected by stone on three sides. So I shot him and took his place. It could have lasted for a while, but someone took me out right away.
I loved going up into a German zeppelin, high above the battle. I could see the little soldiers on the ground and try to take them out with my machine gun. Then I could switch positions, from one side of the zeppelin to the other, or from the top to the bottom. My job was to hunt down aircraft. I missed shooting one plane as it made a suicide run into the engine of the zeppelin. That suicide crash was enough to bring the whole zeppelin down.
There were a few times I got lucky. In the St. Quentin Scar map in France, I got a few kills with a primitive sniper rifle, and with my shotgun up close. It was tense work taking objectives and hopping rides in vehicles. The shotgun is great for surprising people when they come around the corner. The sniper rifle was accurate and very deadly, but it was so slow when it came to loading.