Feb 062017

Summary: Campaign complete

Most Intriguing Idea: Playing as a unit, rather than an individual

Best Design Decision: Character-swapping in the first mission

Worst Design Decision: Stealth everywhere


I was very excited by Battlefield 1‘s prologue mission. The mission activities themselves weren’t anything remarkable by Battlefield standards: hold this point, shoot these dudes, drive this tank. What set the scenario apart was that when I died I didn’t just reboot in the same body at a checkpoint. Instead, the person I was playing was dead, and I switched into the body of another guy in the same general vicinity. This seemed to me like an almost perfect way to capture the bloody action of World War I, and also to ground a shooter in the reality of war, rather than resorting to absurd “one man” heroics as the default. I couldn’t wait to play a full game like that, embodying the action of a full unit as they fought and died in the futility of a bloody, brutal, and unnecessary war.

Well, technically I could wait—am still waiting, in fact—because that’s not what Battlefield 1 turned out to be. It turned out to be a stealth game, and not a good one. Stealth missions and mission segments show up constantly throughout the campaign (one sub-story consists of nothing but), even when the focus is on tanks or planes. It’s rudimentary line-of-sight stuff with vision indicators and see-through-walls tagging. Uniquely, enemies can also see the player-character through walls, as happened when an enemy sniper saw me through a giant rock AND a tent. Naturally, whenever spotted by anyone, every enemy in the area however far away instantly knew my location no matter where I moved to.

Even the dogfighting doesn’t perk up the game. The controls felt too limited and the mission objectives were dull and rote; I found myself longing to play Wings again (maybe I’ll pick up the reboot). The only real respite from crap stealth and shoddy level design is a pair of raucous levels focusing on an Italian dude with a big gun. The whole campaign feels like a colossal misfire and outside of the prologue and the Italian missions I can’t think of one moment of it I’d ever consider playing again.

Verdict: Avoid

  3 Responses to “Battlefield 1”

  1. I like this critique as a huge contrast to how others have critiqued it. Seems like many took the surface level mini campaigns and the first mission and used that as an explanation for how good it is. I wouldn’t begrudge anyone connecting with the pathos conveyed in some of the stories, but the stealth and seeing through walls and such seems completely stupid in a game that tries desperately to convey the realities of war.

    Are the stealth sections set in stone? It would have been nice to have seen a section that started out as stealth but when you screwed up you just had to forge on with non-stealth regardless – that would have brought some realism.

    • Well, if you can manage a one-against-dozens scenario with WWI-era firearms then every stealth breakdown technically allows the level to continue, but in many areas you will be nailed by field artillery within seconds of being spotted and/or alarms will summon trucks of troops. In one level I was able to survive being spotted and then re-establish stealth but in that instance no artillery was available to the enemy.

  2. Good to see Sparky Back.

    I thought the game started off badly with the over reliance on cheap presentation gimmicks of instead of at least some semblance the visceral horror of WW 1.
    Game speed that slows down when you got closer to death along with musical score changes, and the high quality audio… for me no way make up for the really bad AI, out of place weaponry, only a few enemies on screen at any one time betraying the sense of a large battle….

    When I died and switched to another player, it’s a nice idea but I didn’t feel anything because the game overall was badly missing the threat of war.
    Limited sentimentality couldn’t replace a small sence of the felling of fighting in a war thats missing in Battlefield 1.

    As for gameplay ( which I’m mostly usually interested in ) the repetition and horrible AI made me quit 3 hours in.

    If games are chasing the moving quality of Saving Private Ryan battle intro, then we’ve got a long way to go.

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