The open beta for the awkwardly titled Battlefield 1 came out yesterday, the series first foray into a First World War setting or indeed the first time this setting has been used in a AAA first person multiplayer shooter. After playing for a couple hours last night and a couple hours today, here’s what I think.
First off, in the beta, there is only one map, the Sinai Desert, which is quite large that has an urban zone, an outpost, a train station and of course, rocky outcrops and open desert. And the game looks beautiful. From the detail of the sand to the buildings, the production value is up to the standard of the series, and I’d say on par visually with last years Battlefront. And not only does it look great, it performs great too. I’m running it on high preset at 1440p resolution and getting 60+FPS on average. I had a look at the ultra preset as well and while it didn’t seem to degrade the average performance too drastically, but when drops did happen they were more severe than at high and the increase in visual fidelity wasn’t noticeable in moment to moment playing, so I’d advise just keeping it on high.
The amount of graphics settings are also the normal amount and clearly explained and there are a plethora of display options outside the regular graphics settings, such as resolution scale, colourblind options, the ability to turn the HUD off, crosshair settings and a FOV slider that goes up to about 110 for both on foot and vehicle, minimap scale and opacity. Battlelog is also gone and the server browser is back in game, so you’re not stuck with matchmaking, which is always a plus. So on these basic levels, this PC version is so far very good and bodes well for the final release.
As far as the game itself, for better or worse, it’s Battlefield. It has Rush and Conquest modes and the same game flow. If you’ve played any of the Battlefield games since at least 3, playing this will be like slipping on a comfortable pair of gloves. There are a couple changes to the formula however. There are horses that allow for quickly getting into the heat of battle, sniper rifles can zero in their range in 3 increments, gas grenades and gas masks that prevent you from using ADS but fully protecting from gas attacks,etc. There is also a bayonet charge. But at it’s core, it’s still the same modern Battlefield series that you either love or don’t. Oh, there is also dynamic weather and map events, in the case of the beta, a dust storm can kick up where you can’t see shit. It’s great.
The game also doesn’t quite do too great in terms of historical accuracy, which is a sacrifice for the game flow as most of the weapons here are automatic or semi automatic stuff and prototypes that weren’t around until the end of the war, or were at least not widely circulated. It’s probably best to just think of it as “what if the war went on for another year or two” if this is the kind of thing that bothers you. Tanks also seem far too fast here, as fast as they are in other Battlefield games. Since there don’t seem to be grenade or rocket launchers or any sort of anti tank rifle, I think the speed of tanks need to be slowed down a little bit.
One thing that really pissed me off is the netcode. Most of the time it’s fine, but I often got random lag spikes which were quite radical and almost always screwed me over. It would go from 50 ping to 500. Sometimes with this it would wrest control of my character and freeze him for a moment and then I would get control. Once the game also locked my computer up for about 2 minutes. And even when my ping was fine, I faced plenty of rubberbanding issues. I noticed these problems became more frequent the longer I kept playing a single session and performance would also become less stable too so I think there might be some kind of memory leak. There’s also a couple other bugs like class kits not levelling up properly and vaulting over certain objects not seeming to work properly. Point is, even though the performance is great there’s still some serious bugs to be over come. Oh, and as far as the amount of kangz goes, they seem to be your default character in the beta, but the full release seems to have some type of character customisation, so there this issue will be less grating.
Now, this open beta, which is really more like a demo is supposed to make us want to buy the game. So, based on this beta, will I be able to recommend the full game to you? This is very difficult because the actual game is good, but being published by EA and EA being EA, the pricing structure for this game on release can only be described as extortion when you take into account the premium pass, which is basically a necessity for major releases like this and Call of Duty to get the full experience.and to ensure longevity and not being kicked out of lobbies all the damn time. Full pricing structure is pictured below, but the ultimate edition, which is the game plus season pass, costs A$170 if you buy directly from EA’s digital distribution service, Origin. For a double whammy, microtransactions are also going to be present. As a game, the game is really fun. But it’s surrounded by a shitty business model and so based on the current prices, I’d advise to wait until you can get the base game for quite cheap or wait until the inevitable complete edition retail release and see if the game is still active.