Bat­tle­field 1

DICE looks to the past to build the fu­ture of its se­ries

EDGE - - GAMES -

PC, PS4, Xbox One

Bat­tle­field 1 may have leapt back in time with re­gard to its set­ting and nec­es­sar­ily con­tem­po­rary kit, but DICE has ev­ery in­ten­tion of cre­at­ing its most tech­ni­cally ad­vanced se­ries in­stal­ment yet. “The way we look at it in­ter­nally is that Bat­tle­field 1 is a se­quel to Bat­tle­field 4, so turn­ing the clock back on time isn’t the same thing as turn­ing the clock back on de­vel­op­ment, or how we look at shoot­ers in gen­eral,” se­nior pro­ducer Alek­sander Grøn­dal tells us. The game is cer­tainly the best-look­ing Bat­tle­field yet, vol­u­met­ric fog rolling across its rav­aged fronts, and there’s a so­lid­ity to the game’s con­trols and move­ment that feels a cut above its pre­de­ces­sors.

“I would say that it’s ac­tu­ally more au­then­tic now than Bat­tle­field 4 was,” Grøn­dal con­tin­ues. “The jets, for in­stance: if they were real, they’d swoop by in half a sec­ond, drop a bomb from miles off, and you’d never see them. The bi­planes and air­planes we have right now are fly­ing closer to their real speeds, so it feels more be­liev­able.”

This re­fo­cus­ing of the scale of in­ter­ac­tions within the game also in­spired the new Tanker and Pilot mul­ti­player classes, which trans­form ve­hi­cles from tem­po­rary buffs into some­thing with greater per­ma­nence and im­pact. It’s a pro­found shift for a se­ries whose mul­ti­player rhythm has al­ways tracked more to­wards stac­cato than legato.

“When you pick a ve­hi­cle, we re­ally want to make sure that you feel like you should play that role,” Grøn­dal ex­plains. “So, if you choose to be a pilot, that’s your pri­mary weapon. We want you to feel like, ‘OK, I’m an at­tack pilot. That’s what I do. I’m not some ran­dom guy in a plane – this is my job on the bat­tle­field.’ We want to get away from peo­ple

just jump­ing out of planes up in the moun­tains to snipe.”

Tanks will also be a more im­pos­ing pres­ence, en­dur­ing a lit­tle longer than

Bat­tle­field 4’ s equiv­a­lents un­der fire and rep­re­sent­ing a chill­ing threat to in­fantry – es­pe­cially as the Tanker class in­her­its the now-ab­sent En­gi­neer’s abil­ity to re­pair ve­hi­cles, and can do so while holed up be­hind the ar­moured body pan­els of their ve­hi­cle.

De­spite this new level of sym­bio­sis, you won’t be bound to your ve­hi­cle. Pi­lots and tankers are still at lib­erty to get, or be forced, out of their charges, and will have ac­cess to their own gad­gets and weapons when on foot. All classes will still be equipped with para­chutes, too, though they’ll take longer to open and ar­rest your fall. The set­ting also means lock-on weapons are no longer part of your arse­nal, which will come as a shock to play­ers who rely on guid­ance sys­tems.

All of the game’s vin­tage kit is be­ing treated with the same at­ten­tion to au­dio that DICE’s se­ries is known for, and to that end the team have been up in bi­planes to record en­gines and wind noise, and have trav­elled the world to find work­ing ex­am­ples of as many of the weapons and land ve­hi­cles in­cluded in the game as pos­si­ble. Where an in­clu­sion’s re­al­life equiv­a­lent is no longer avail­able, DICE has used the clos­est ex­am­ples it can get its hands on, in­clud­ing WWII weapons.

It has also ramped up the level of de­struc­tible el­e­ments in its en­vi­ron­ments, though the set-piece tran­si­tions that de­fined

Bat­tle­field 4 have been sub­sumed by the new game’s dy­namic weather and con­di­tions.

“What Levo­lu­tion was to us and what Levo­lu­tion per­haps turned into was two dif­fer­ent things,” Grøn­dal ex­plains. “For us, it was ba­si­cally about be­ing a dy­namic sand­box, with ex­pe­ri­ences that are con­stantly chang­ing. That’s what we meant by the term, but peo­ple just talked about the set-pieces. So the weather and what we’re do­ing with de­struc­tion is a con­tin­u­a­tion of that train of thought. But this time we’re not brand­ing it in a way that [will make] peo­ple laugh at us again. Ev­ery­one thinks that mar­ket­ing in­vented that term, but it was ac­tu­ally in­vented by the dev team them­selves!”

In shak­ing free of per­ceived gim­micks, though, DICE risked break­ing its game. “We ac­tu­ally got feed­back at one point that we had

too much de­struc­tion,” Grøn­dal ex­plains. “We had to dial it back! Peo­ple want hard cover, so we can’t level every­thing. But we have Bad

Com­pany 2- style whole-house de­struc­tion, and ground de­struc­tion where you’ll be gen­er­at­ing quite deep craters that change the to­pog­ra­phy of the map it­self. You can use them for cover, to cre­ate traps, or what­ever you want. It’s in­ter­est­ing; it’s some­thing we haven’t dived into as much be­fore.”

“We ac­tu­ally got feed­back at one point that we had too much de­struc­tion”

As with Bat­tle­field 4, some ve­hi­cles will ac­co­mo­date ad­di­tional play­ers in gun­ner po­si­tions – the Mark V’s side-mounted ma­chine guns make it a formidi­ble pres­ence on the bat­tle­field

Se­nior pro­ducer Alek­sander Grøn­dal

TOP LEFT Trench war­fare changes the flavour of

Bat­tle­field 1’ s war­fare, the en­vi­ron­ment a more prom­i­nent con­sid­er­a­tion in tac­ti­cal de­ci­sions this time around. The be­he­moth-class train is yet to be shown in ac­tion but will be a ro­bust pres­ence when it ap­pears.

ABOVE De­spite the older tech­nol­ogy fea­tured in the game, Bat­tle­field 1 will still in­clude some sprawl­ing maps among its lineup. Ex­pect to visit, among other lo­ca­tions, western France, the Ital­ian moun­tains, and the arid Ara­bian desert

LEFT DICE has yet to let us loose on its an­i­mals, but equine com­pan­ions risk be­ing an awk­ward pres­ence on the bat­tle­field if they’re not in­te­grated with care

The Zep­pelin is brim­ming with weaponry and can rain down ord­nance on the op­pos­ing team. It can be de­stroyed, but do­ing so re­quires co­or­di­nated ef­fort

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