We’ve spent some time over the past few days playing the Battlefield 1 beta. Though we came out of it entertained and relatively satisfied, something was amiss. Yes, the gameplay was on point, but so has it been with every release in the numerical series–Hardline is a black sheep that is best left dormant and away from the rest of the series.
Foregoing the future in lieu for a take on old-school combat, has so far proved to be a wise move from DICE. The games that tout modern combat are becoming ubiquitous, and the focus on verticality has long lost its charms. People were apparently more keen on playing boots-on-the-ground games, and they have been more than vocal about it. The question I asked then was: “where did all this affinity come from?”
This in itself could be explained by gamers being victims of the ever-changing, fast-paced world we live in where it’s not how good something is, but how different it is. One quick look at the comments sections of both reveal trailers of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Battlefield 1 will paint a stark image of this truth.
Both trailers were CG, neither was in real-time, and neither broke down any of either game’s mechanics. The Battlefield trailer was showered with love, while the Infinite Warfare one has all but become a lesson in the voracious volatility of the internet.
But let’s peek behind the curtains of Battlefield 1 for a moment now that we have had our hands on its beta: is it really all gamers are making it our to be? Is it going to decimate the COD franchise and instruct the gaming stratosphere on what works and doesn’t? Not really, no.
So what’s the Battlefield 1 beta all about?
The Battlefield 1 beta hosted two game modes: Rush and Conquest. The avid fan will detail the subtle differences between both, but believe me when I tell you they’re the same exact mode with a differing number of players. Where Conquest allows for 32 v 32 battles, Rush is limited to 16 v 16; both have you take control of set areas.
You are given four classes to choose from, each with their own unlockable and customizable loadouts, and vast maps to wreak your havoc on. Gone are the skyscrapers, lock-on weapons, and helicopters. What they are replaced with are past-century European architecture, weapons, and vehicles, all of which are bundled with their setbacks for the sake of originality. Otherwise, the game is the exact same.
The revolutionary changes that BF 1 is being heralded in presenting regarding gameplay is a result of a change in design, and not mechanics. Strip a sniper from his advanced scope, and offer them shorter building, and they are suddenly going through a new experience. That is not a testament of gameplay, but one that is resulted from what is available.
Ask any gamer if they would rather pilot the J-20 or the Fokker Dr.I. Now ask them if they had the choice to switch between them on the fly, how long would it take for the novelty of the latter to fade. 99 out of 100 you will get the answer that I am implicating.
Battlefield 1 and its predecessor are almost carbon copies of one another, with the added experience and community feedback since the launch of BF4. You could argue that most all series fall victim to this trap of not-straying-too-far from-the-original-source-material, but isn’t that what makes them redundant, and more tailored to their core fanbase?
For all the hate Infinite Warfare received, none of it was based on the actual game, but the mere thought of it. People resented the space element; they expressed disgust at the presence of a thruster, berated almost every design choice. But had any of them played it yet?
Over on Battlefield’s side, we saw horses, swordsmen, tanks, dog fights, and a zeppelin, but no actual gameplay. All new for an FPS game of this caliber, yes, but without the right mechanics, it would all eventually fall apart. DICE sold the game to a raving crowd who was more than happy to fill in the blanks with their own nostalgia. Good for them, but that doesn’t say much about the community that gaming is breeding.
By the way, having played the beta, the game looks nothing like that CG trailer. Where are those pixel purists now?
Yesterday’s Infinite Warfare live-stream, part of the Call of Duty XP event, presented a detailed look at what IW is setting out to achieve. Is it your average COD romp? Sure looks like it. Did it take a page from every lucrative idea in the past five years? No doubt. Does anyone really care? Only on Youtube, apparently.
I am not a COD fan. In fact, I spend a legitimate chunk of my time dodging the annual releases. Yet, every time I watch a Call of Duty trailer, my blood boils with anticipation. This is a testament of marketing skills and not game design, yes, but more times than not, the games deliver.
After such a turbulent year, even the most devout critic of the COD games will be looking forward to the beta on the 14th of October. In a speculative result of fate, people have come to expect the worst from it, and will therefore assuredly be impressed.
Maybe all the trolling it received would actually pay-off by the end of it. I’ll be seated at the sideline watching all this play out soon enough.