Sunday, July 23, 2017

Battlefield 1 (PC) Single Player Review

The single player portion of Battlefield 1 consists of a collection of individual missions called War Stories, set in different parts of the world. War Stories are definitely better than Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 4 campaigns, though not as good as Bad Company 2 in my opinion. I obviously did not give the single player any consideration when buying Battlefield 1. I purchased it purely for the multiplayer. I would have preferred to pay for the multiplayer portion of the game and skip the single player entirely, but that is not possible. Hopefully Battlefield will go back to its roots of being a multiplayer only game, at some point.

That said, I wanted to see what DICE did this time around. Here are all the missions ranked in the order I enjoyed them.

1. Storm of Steel

Battlefield 1 starts strong. They did a great job with the setting, and even though it is highly linear, it plays out well, and I liked the concept behind it. I played this mission in surround (3 x 2560x1440), and it was quite an experience. Although this war story is fairly short, I enjoyed it the most.

I know this is an overused term in game marketing, but this mission is very cinematic, and I mean that as a complement. It is unfortunate that this is about as good as it gets for the rest of the game. Once the first mission is completed, rest of the war stories open up and they can be played in any order.

One thing to be mentioned here is how the game is not optimized for a surround setup. There are sections where the game does not recognize the additional monitors and only renders on the primary screen. This is disappointing because I wanted to play the entire game in surround mode.

2. Friends in High Places

This is the story about an American pilot who manages to sneak his way into the Royal Flying Corps. What starts as a basic training in dog fighting, turns into a full scale war on the western front. The visuals are excellent, and I enjoyed the flying mechanics. I never play as a pilot in multiplayer, but I enjoyed it in the single player. The production value is very high here, just like in the first mission.

In terms of story, everything becomes very absurd towards the end, and all suspension of disbelief is lost. However, the gameplay is entertaining. I highly recommend playing this missions without the HUD elements.

3. Nothing is Written

This mission is set in the middle east, and the later part of the mission takes place in Sinai Desert. It is one of my favorite maps in multiplayer, and after playing this war story, I wish DICE would release a night version of the map. It looks beautiful.

Gameplay was enjoyable because its varied, and there are some interesting weapons that can be picked up from weapon crates. My favorites were the tank hunter rifle and automatico. I thought it was rather funny that main character, Zara Ghufran, gets to run around the desert, mowing enemies down with a Lewis Gun.

4. Avanti Savoia

I have absolutely no idea if any of this is historically accurate, but this mission felt very out of place in a WW1 game. That said, Monte Grappa looks great, and the weather effects are very well done. Another mission that needs to be played without the HUD.

5. Through Mud and Blood

In this mission, you get to drive a British landship through the enemy lines in Germany. I felt that the initial part of the story was well done, but yet again, it devolves into an absurd scenario towards the end. This is a thoroughly run of the mill mission.

Through Mud and Blood. 

6. The Runner

My least favorite mission of the lot. There is nothing original about this particular mission. You run from checkpoint to checkpoint, killing waves of enemies, and predetermined events will trigger cutscenes and it’s very reminiscent of Call of Duty like mission design - I am not a fan of this at all. Thankfully, it is over very quickly.

The Runner

Overall, the single player had a lot of potential especially after the excellent start the game got, but it was not capitalized. They resorted to the same gameplay design choices that we saw in countless modern military shooters.

I am hoping that DICE will give up on single player and focus their efforts on the multiplayer, especially if they cannot do justice to it.

Verdict - If you are contemplating purchasing this game, do so for the multiplayer, not for the single player.

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