Battlefield 1 Campaign Review

Battlefield 1 takes gamers back to the Great War and introduces all the technology and lack thereof of the era. So how does the newest Battlefield stack up? Below is a quick Battlefield 1 campaign review. Given the nature of a title like this, I’ve split my review into two parts, Campaign and Multiplayer.

War, War Never Changes

Battlefield 1 War Stories menu.
Look at all these War Stories…


My disappointing experience with the Battlefield 1 campaign did not start at the beginning. The initial prologue Storm of Steel really hit me and actually had me excited to explore the coming story. You begin the level as a soldier with a simple goal, push forward and survive. The level looks like hell, with a charred landscape and rubble strewn about. On top of the hellish landscape is the usage of various brutal weapons of war. Weapons like flamethrowers, gas grenades, shovels and knives all inflicted unspeakable damage to fellow soldiers around me. Immediately I was engrossed.

As I pushed forward, my soldier soon fell. Just like that, a life on the battlefield was erased. To highlight this point, Dice then moves your perspective to another soldier and continues to do  so (when you die) until you reach the end of the level. I really enjoyed this storytelling approach as it highlighted the meaninglessness of life in World War I. Forward progress was all that mattered, regardless of cost. Coming off the prologue I was feeling good and riding high, but that quickly came crashing down as I began the ‘real’ campaign.

Battlefield 1 screenshot.
The hellish landscape that greets you.

Battlefield 1 does not present a storyline in traditional video game fashion. Instead Dice opts to create a collection of mini storylines, which show various perspectives on World War I. I do not think this approach was inherently bad, but there was a few reasons this approach hurt my experience. First and foremost the mini campaigns are far too short to build any meaningful emotional connection with the characters. War is hell. It has an everlasting impact on those who experience it. This can be hard to portray over stories that are as short as two levels long. Some of the longer War Stories do a better job of at least attempting to make the characters less one dimensional, but still there wasn’t enough meat there to really dig in.

DLC Stories are Coming

The second reason I did not enjoy this story approach is that it appears to be setting up the narrative for DLC content infusions. Dice and EA have oddly chosen to omit a French or Central Powers centered storyline, which is unfortunate and comes off a bit suspect. This could’ve helped broaden the perspectives a bit. With that being said this is a minor gripe as markets themselves determine how products are produced (fans buy what they like).

Battlefield 1 Harlem Hellfighter.
This is Barry. He is a Harlem Hellfighter. I just added more exposition to the character, then Dice ever does!

Battlefield 1 also heavily marketed the game’s inclusion of the Harlem Hellfighters, even so far as building a preorder around them. However the characters do not even get their own story campaign and are simply used in the opening and for their ‘Hellfighter’ style weaponry. This is unfortunate to see because¬†Battlefield 1 had something at least somewhat interesting available to them (The Harlem Hellfighters), but instead decided to produce a vignette of uninteresting War Stories.

Same Old War Games

Gameplay wise the campaign is very standard shooter fare. Players are tasked with moving from point A to B, killing the enemies which spawn or get in their way. As players progress, intermittent cutscenes push the narrative along and transition players into the next level. Battlefield 1 includes a few War Stories which are vehicle based, but these follow similar shooter tropes also. The game’s shooting mechanics feels good. Guns have a unique weight and feel to them and come off as realistic. Dice is good at making shooting mechanics and it shows in the campaign. Unfortunately after about the first few gun fights, you’ve experienced the bulk of the campaigns gameplay. Not much is introduced to add interesting new layers besides some ‘stealth’ missions and a few minor, ‘use this fixed gun here’ sequences. Further hampering the game’s campaign is the AI.

Battlefield 1’s enemy AI is completely dumbed down and literally had me laughing at points. Sometimes the enemy takes cover, other times the will just stand in the open and wait to be killed. In one instance, while wearing a suit of ‘experimental armor’, I was so unkillable, I simply walked around knifing people. THEY STILL WANTED TO FIGHT ME. Enemies are super predictable and lack in variety. There are a few ‘heavy’ style characters which require a bit more nuance to take out, but they are few and far between. I also experienced times where the enemies spawn in from what seems to be thin air. No closet or anything. I assume this can be problematic when attempting to win a war, and your enemies can simply phase into existence.

There are Some Bugs

Stability wise the game ran pretty well out of the box. I ran into a few instances of mid mission bugs where my character would fail to load or get stuck in place, but the checkpoint system is rather charitable and had me back in action quickly. I had a bunch of issues with EA’s Origin, but I will address those in the more applicable multiplayer review.

Battlefield 1 screenshot.
Don’t mind me. Just failing to load in.


Campaign gripes aside, Battlefield 1 looks gorgeous. There have not been a lot of games recently which have visually hit me, but Battlefield 1 sure did. The backdrops you monotonously trudge along through look incredibly realistic. One particular War Story had me attempting to cross No Man’s Land at night and the contrasting lighting, night sky and general level design really immersed my experience. So kudos to Dice.

Another area Dice deserves credit is in the sound design. The soundtrack is haunting at times and the overall sound effects are eerily similar to reality. Guns sound like their real world counterparts which enhances the overall experience. Screams and explosion ring out across the battlefield and have a deafening impact when wearing headphones.

Is Battlefield 1’s campaign and abysmal failure. No. Does it take the series into a whole new, better storytelling direction. No. The game sticks closely to the genre and really only decided to mess with narrative delivery. Unfortunately this does not resonate, especially when dealing with World War 1. With a game like Battlefield 1, players are expecting tight controls and gunplay and Dice delivers. However if you are looking for anything deeper, look elsewhere.

5.5/10

Thoughts on my Battlefield 1 campaign review? Drop them in the comments below.

enricofairme

Enricofairme is the pioneering founder and chief author of holdtoreset.com, a premier platform for discussing and analyzing video games. His illustrious career spans six years, during which he has consistently produced high-quality content in the video gaming niche.

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3 responses

  1. EasyJesus says:

    Campaign is way too short and the enemy AI really just allows itself to be killed. Battlefield will never top its Bad Company storytelling and should just shelve the Battlefield franchise

  2. FartDungeon says:

    I came here for a 10/10 review… I can’t believe that you would let me down.

    Maybe the multiplayer review will shine through

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