Battlefield 1 Review

Screenshot from Battlefield 1
Those magnificent men in their flying machines...

  • Reviewed by: Mark Goninon
  • Developer: EA DICE
  • Publisher: EA
  • Release Date: 21 October 2016
  • Time played: 14 hours

What is it

Back in 1992, four Swedish developers founded the studio Digital Illusions (which would later become Digital Illusions CE AB) and proceeded to develop a whole bunch of pinball games during the 1990s such as Pinball Dreams, Pinball Fantasies and Pinball Illusions. In 1998, the company was listed on the Swedish stock exchange and in 2000 bought the company Refraction Games which developed a WWI first-person shooter called Codename Eagle: the game received mixed reviews but DICE re-used the game's engine (known as the Refractor Engine) to develop the WWII FPS Battlefield 1942 which was released in 2002, and the rest is history. DICE went on to develop 14 Battlefield games (excluding expansions) over the next 16 years with a new one, Battlefield V, just around the corner.

While earlier Battlefield games were set in historical wars (e.g. WWII and the Vietnam War), the later games (besides spin-offs and expansions) tended to focus on near-future conflicts: this changed with the release of Battlefield 1 in 2016 which sets back the clock to WWI which meant jet fighters, helicopters, assault rifles and main battle tanks of the modern era were replaced with early sub-machine guns, bolt-action rifles, primitive tanks and biplanes. It was quite a shift, that wasn't too popular with some of the fans but welcomed by others (including myself).

Battlefield 1 consists of a single player campaign with five "War Stories" and a prologue where you take on the role of soldiers fighting on different fronts during WWI. The multiplayer is very similar to previous Battlefield games offering 64 player multiplayer with modes such as Conquest, Domination, Rush and TDM making a return along with new modes such as Operations (which seems like an extended version of Rush) and War Pigeons where the goal is to release three pigeons (which call in artillery strikes) before the other team.

How I got it

Since I was a fan of the Battlefield series since playing Battlefield 1942 and since my wife was still into the Battlefield series, pre-ordering Battlefield 1 seemed like a good idea at the time, so I've had the game since release and even played it during the beta.

Screenshot from Battlefield 1
"The Runner" was probably my favourite war story. Am I biased because I'm Australian? Yeaaaah.... naaah

What I like:

War Stories

Overall, I enjoyed the single-player campaign especially the codex entries that give you facts about WWI. Since I completed most of the single-player campaign in about 4 hours, I'm guessing in total the single-player campaign probably takes 5-6 hours, which is probably par for the course for AAA FPSs.


It took some guts for DICE to stop pumping out shooters set in the present era and go back to a historical shooter. I tend to prefer shooters set during earlier eras as it means you get to experience the weapons, vehicles and tactics of the era such as bolt-action rifles, biplanes, triplanes, horses and Mark V tanks.

Funny objective names

BF1 has decided to use the old Royal Navy military alphabet so you have points such as "Apples", "Butter", "Charlie", "Duff", "Edward" etc.

Beautiful graphics

The game definitely looks pretty and it runs pretty smoothly on my rig too.


For those sick of the wub-wub-wub, scratching and stuttering of the electronica that pervaded the soundtracks of Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 4, then you're in luck because Battlefield 1 returns to the roots of the franchise with an orchestral score.

Specialised driver classes

There aren't any dedicated engineers in the game anymore but you do have the "driver" and "pilot" classes now. Basically, when you spawn in a vehicle or plane you're assigned to the Driver/Pilot class. You only get a basic weapon but as it was with the engineer class in BF4, you can repair vehicles - you can even do so from inside the vehicle, although any hits to the vehicle will result in the repairs being interrupted. One good thing about this change is that you can't be armed to the teeth if you decide to be a class that can repair vehicles.

The Assault class is the new Anti-Tank/Close-quarters class as they're able to equip a Sub-Machine Gun and they also carry anti-tank grenades. Scouts are the snipers of Battlefield 1 but they also have the ability to use armour penetrating "K bullets" which does slight damage to vehicles.

Medics and Support are the only two classes that are pretty much the same as before.

Vehicles are on-demand

No longer do you wait at the spawn for vehicles to appear. Now you pick a vehicle on-demand (provided there are any available at a particular spawn or objective) and you'll instantly spawn in one. This is great because no longer will you have players loitering around the spawn waiting for a plane only for me to take one and then hear them scream "THAT'S MYYYY PLANE COLONEL MUSTARD!!!!!" over the mic.

However, while this means there aren't people being idle on the battlefield, it might mean they're being idle on the spawn screen instead, which is still a problem. Also, when you pick a tank for example, you get to decide whether it's a light, medium or heavy tank. Medium and Heavy tanks allow multiple teammates to join you in the vehicle but if you pick a light tank, it only fits one player: you. Consequently, I can see a scenario where all tanks are light tanks which means you end up with hardly any transport vehicles for your team - which is not a good situation if you've got no objectives to spawn from.

Medic requests

Downed players that need to be revived no longer show up on your HUD by default, unless the downed player actually wants to be revived. When you've been incapacitated by another player, you have the choice of not calling a medic and skipping back to the respawn screen, or requesting for a medic and hoping one can get to you on time. On the death screen you're actually able to tell if medics are a few metres away or not so you can gauge whether it's likely a medic will get to you in time or not. Neat!

Server Browser is back

For those that hate matchmaking, rejoice, since the game has a server browser. For those that hated Battlelog, you get an added bonus because this server browser is an in-game one.

Screenshot from Battlefield 1
This is probably one of the few times in the game you get to fight in trenches...

What I dislike:

Lack of authenticity

If it's a choice between fun gameplay and realism/authenticity, I'll pick gameplay any time, however it must be said that Battlefield 1 moves even further away from the realism end of the spectrum in this latest iteration. Many of the weapons available in the game were either experimental or were never mass produced; even some of the tactics (e.g. wearing platemail and wielding a machine gun) wasn't used extensively during the war. Also, if you're expecting a game based on WWI to be all about trench warfare, then Battlefield 1 isn't the game for you; I'd recommend checking out Verdun if you're looking for that kind of experience.

Another minor issue I have with Battlefield 1 (which is a similar problem I had with Battlefield 4) is that the weapons don't seem to be faction-based: this means you're just as likely to see a British soldier using a Lee-Enfield as an Ottoman soldier (yes, technically the Ottomans did use captured Lee-Enfields, but it definitely wasn't their service rifle). Vehicles are also the same regardless of which side you're on (i.e. the medium tank is the British Mark V and the heavy tank is a German A7V).

Cutscenes are laggy

While I don't have any issues with the framerate in the actual game (especially after upgrading my PC) the single-player cutscenes are pretty terrible and seem to run lower than 20FPS. It's a minor complaint but annoying nonetheless.


This isn't specifically targeted at Battlefield 1 but it seems like each iteration of Battlefield has become more casual to a degree ever since the days of Battlefield 2. Instead of having multiple, but more rigid classes, limited weapons and a rewarding commander mode, these seem to have fallen by the wayside in an attempt to make the game more accessible to the masses. I believe this is why this is the first Battlefield game since Battlefield 2 that I actually lost interest in, mainly because I was distracted by Rainbow Six: Siege.

Rainbow Six: Siege is quite a different game to Battlefield 1 but it seems to have quite a few of the qualities I think the older Battlefield games did better such as making it so players had to cooperate with each other to succeed and where executing a well-thought-out strategy was the key to success. Of course, Battlefield 1 requires teamwork and a good strategy to succeed as well, but it doesn't seem to be as crucial and your contributions definitely don't seem as critical to a team's success. Consequently, when I participated in the Battlefield 1 beta after playing a game like Rainbow Six: Siege, the game felt too casual, which isn't necessarily a bad thing but I felt Rainbow Six: Siege was now my go-to FPS and I never returned to BF1 again (until recently, of course, and only to complete this review).

AI and level design

This only applies to the single-player campaign but the level design leaves a lot to be desired. There were a couple of missions I played where what I had to do became very predictable and playing the game felt like a chore. The AI enemies and where they spawn are also another area needing improvement; for example, on one of the Gallipoli missions, I attempted to sneak back to base around the outskirts of the map. I'm guessing the level designers didn't think anyone would consider doing that because as I went around, enemies spawned out of mid-air in the field in front of me (which kind of breaks the immersion)! Also, the enemies seemed to all follow the same route as they stormed the British HQ, meaning you had a pile of about 10 enemy bodies all on the same spot – surely, they could've tried more than one route in?

Elite kits

Elite kits are a relatively new concept to the Battlefield series although you were able to acquire "Battle Pickups" in Battlefield 4 that offered you fancy weapons such as railguns, so I guess they were a precursor to the Elite Kits available in Battlefield 1. The base game offers three elite kits: The Sentry (a guy with a large machine gun and platemail), the Tank Hunter (who is able to deploy an anti-tank rifle) and the Flame Trooper (who likes to dance to "Disco Inferno")

Score – 7/10 (Good)

DICE is to be commended for taking the risk and returning back to historical wars as a setting for their Battlefield games and Battlefield 1, for all intents and purposes, is a solid FPS: it has beautiful graphics, a glorious orchestral score and multiple gameplay improvements. The single player campaign also reminds us why World War I was so important to the evolution of warfare yet also shows us personal tales of courage, loss and sacrifice. Unfortunately, the game does have minor issues (e.g. laggy cutscenes, dumb AI, poor level design, etc.) and it seems to be even less authentic or realistic than previous Battlefield games in terms of pacing, the battles and the weapons – so much so that it's the first Battlefield game I really didn't get into.

Is the game worth $49.99?: $49.99 will get you Battlefield 1: Revolution which includes the base game plus the four DLC expansion packs, They Shall Not Pass, In the Name of the Tsar, Turning Tides and Apocalypse. This is a loaded question since I have no idea if the current playerbase will move on to Battlefield V which is releasing very soon, or whether they'll stick around a bit longer with Battlefield 1. If it's the former, then no, it's obviously not worth it since you're only really playing for the single player campaign, however if there continues to be a sufficient playerbase for Battlefield 1, then yes, I think it's worth it.

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[ LINK: Official Battlefield 1 Website ]