We like to think World War I, the Great War, was patently different than the global conflict that followed it. In some ways it was. The brutal efficiency of death was on display like never before, and the world wasn’t prepared for the mass destruction technology could bring. Even so, like all wars, killing is killing, be it in trenches or in the skies. Battlefield 1, the latest entry DICE franchise, takes there like never before.
Battlefield 1 takes place in 1918, deep into WWI, and paints itself as a unique edition of the series because it goes back to an old conflict. But after getting my hands on the game at E3, it feels like a battle we’ve already fought.
If you’re a Battlefield fan, you’ll be right at home in Battlefield 1. DICE has always excelled at large-scale combat, beautiful landscapes, and thrilling emergent set-pieces, and they do so here as well. I played Conquest mode across the muddy remains of a destroyed French village, crumbling homes and scorched trees dotting the landscape. It has the look and feel you would find in any film set in that era.
When it comes to the combat though, Battlefield 1 feels anything but new. Tanks rumble across the landscape, like they have in other entries, and bi-planes pull ridiculous maneuvers overhead, but can largely be ignored by the folks on the ground. DICE found a WWI counterpart for most of the features you’d expect in shooters set in WWII and beyond. Meanwhile, the elements I expected to see, like trench combat under heavy artillery fire or gas attacks, were either short lived or never made an appearance in my play session.
I have no doubt Battlefield 1 will be a competent shooter and a treat for those who love the wider Battlefield series, but will DICE actually use the historical setting to its full potential? I’m not yet convinced.