E3 2016: Battlefield 1 Gets World War Right – Hands-On Preview

If you love FPS games and may not be quite ready to jump into the distant sci-fi future with Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, then the next installment in the Battlefield franchise might be for you. It's taking the timeline back, way back, to where modern warfare all started: World War 1. Say hello to Battlefield 1.

With most fans expecting the team at DICE to have Battlefield travel a similar route as the Call of Duty franchise, they’ve actually decided to go back in time. Like me, you might be wondering will we still have access to vehicles? Will you be limited to the types of weaponry that are from that era? Let me tell you that it plays very much like a Battlefield game, and that means variety and scale are no stranger.

The demo I got to check out was the ever-so-fun 64-player conquest mode. My teammates and I had to capture and secure six different areas on the map. The map called “St. Quentin Scar” was set in the remains of a quaint town in the French countryside. It has a combination of wide-open spaces, ruins of structures that had been destroyed during the ongoing battle.

As with previous Battlefield games, before the match starts players get to choose from a variety of different classes including medic, scout, assault and heavy machine gunner. You can also choose to start in either a ground-based vehicle or bi-plane. Depending on the vehicle type you can have up to five players in a tank taking on all positions from driving to manning machines guns to blasting away with heavy artillery.

As you’d hope, all the vehicles in Battlefield 1 are era appropriate. The tanks move much slower than their modern counterparts and are more susceptible to mines, grenades and heavy machine gunfire. The bi-planes were difficult to fly but were fun to engage in dogfights with the enemy. It was also a lot of fun to try and take out the huge enemy support zeppelin with machine gun strafing runs.

Melee combat is another area I noticed had some interesting changes. In previous Battlefield games you had a trusty knife you could use in those instances where you could get behind your enemy and take him out silently. In Battlefield 1, you’re expected to charge your enemy and impale him with your rifle’s bayonet, or perhaps beat your enemy to death with a trench shovel. It's violent, there's no doubt about it.

With the historic take the franchise has taken, it once again ups the bar in the visuals department. It sure didn’t hurt that we were playing on kick-ass high-end PC’s. The visuals don’t fail to impress with the environments having extremely detailed textures from old cobblestone roadways to holes left in the ground from heavy ordinance to the glowing embers of burned out structures. The Frostbite engine is still top dog.

Battlefield 1 might embellish on the actual realities of war from days gone by but somehow it feels fresh in a sea of sci-fi futuristic shooters. The best part is, even with my short amount of time with the demo, the game still felt like a lot of fun and my teammates seemed to come away feeling the same way I did.

Battlefield 1 is coming to PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on October 21, 2016.