Battlefield 1

⭐⭐⭐⭐ based on 1 review.

tl;dr: A light offering, but what it does provide is exceptionally good – until you get stuck in the mud.


Spoilers Ahead: My reviews are not spoiler-free. You have been warned.

I'll say right at the top: I haven't played the multiplayer. I borrowed Battlefield 1 from a friend and I wasn't about to pick up a PSN licence just to find empty servers or impossibly levelled opponents, given that the game is almost eight years old. Plus, I simply don't have time for online multiplayer. But, I was told that the single-player campaign missions were surprisingly well-made and interesting, so I figured I'd give them a go.

Having now done so, I'd definitely agree: this is a varied, impressive collection of playable war stories that offers a surprisingly diverse array of narratives and mission styles. Unfortunately, there is only one mission for each of those styles (and often only half a mission, forcing you to play through another half if you want to have another go at a specific bit), so there's variety, but very little depth. Unless you're a huge fan of having to creep around a battlefield, hopelessly outgunned and outnumbered, because that happens at least once per mission (with a single, notable exception).

Thankfully, the stealth is forgiving enough to keep this fun, and there are weapons crates everywhere. I still have absolutely no idea which guns are better and there's almost no repetition between regions or even parts of a mission, so you're always having to relearn names and guess at play styles, but for the most part they all work the same way. The game is also very kind when it comes to health, allowing you to re-heal – quite quickly, too – if you just hide out of harms way for a few moments. Vehicles are a little trickier, forcing you to forego a certain amount of defensive capabilities, but again, you can infinitely heal them and there's normally somewhere you can retreat to. This may not be that realistic, but with no quick save options (you're reliant on quite obtuse, invisible check points to save progress) it does make the game a lot more playable. There were still moments that I had to just turn it off, realising that the constant repetition of a particular section was no longer fun, but for the most part it feels well-balanced.

You certainly aren't coddled too much. There are some more gamer gimmicks, like the ability to mark enemies and then see their position, even through walls, but it doesn't give you heat maps, and marking people requires a clear line of site and a specific button combo, so if you aren't paying attention it's still very easy to find yourself pinned down or immediately overwhelmed. There are also a few enemy types which are near impossible to kill – particularly if they have backup – which keep you on your toes, and prevent you from simply stealth-knifing everyone you come across. Throw in a variety of enemy tanks, artillery, gun emplacements, and various alarm triggers, and the stealth is surprisingly excellent. I played through on Normal difficulty for all of the missions first (mainly because I couldn't work out how to change it; there are a few unclear parts of the UI 😂) and this offered a nicely balanced level of gameplay: never too hard as to feel completely impossible, but I still died quite a lot 😉

Still, the real ace here are the planes. I've played a few of the Battlefield games over the years, and the more modern fighter jets bore me quickly, but the older, clunkier air support from the 20th century are always hugely enjoyable. There's definitely a learning curve to flying (thankfully, that mission is the only one with a very clear tutorial section at the start), but once it starts to click, the dog fights are incredibly good fun. I must have played that particular mission 3-4 times already, happily chasing down enemy fighters and ignoring the specific tasks almost entirely 😅

I also thoroughly enjoyed the more stealth-oriented Lawrence of Arabia missions, and driving around in tanks or charging about with heavy machine guns (and plate armour!) is always fun. The worst bits are probably the most realistic: charging head first towards deeply entrenched lines of enemies with immense firepower. I always managed to get through it in the end, but there are a few missions I'm still not entirely sure what I did differently on the run that was counted as a success 🤷‍♀️

All together, then, I had a great time. There's room for improvement, and I'd love for the single player to be twice as long, but I guess they covered all of the mechanics with what they created, and keeping it short meant they could really polish the gameplay and the plot, which has paid off. Voice acting, animation (I can't believe how old this game is; it's far from photo realistic, but it still looks great), and narrative are all top-notch, which is just the cherry on top of an excellent, well-crafted first-person shooter.

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