The Great Illusion – Battlefield 1 Review

When the story trailer for Battlefield 1 came out, I foolishly hoped that this time the campaign would be fine. That DICE would be able to show a war not about -=SaNyA2001=-, who spent pocket money on cheats, but about real soldiers. That there would be a beautiful Hollywood drama with believable characters. Some of them might have died towards the end, and we would be amazed with tears in our eyes at the cruelty of the scriptwriters.

They did turn out to be cruel, because in the story-driven aspects of Battlefield, even in the backdrop of World War I, it remains itself. Those who know will understand that this is very, very bad.

Battlefield 1 cover

Alas, if you watched the premiere stream of the campaign, then you saw its best part. The prologue, which was shown to the public before the release, conveys the essence of the subsequent action in a few minutes. While the voiceover laments that war is terrible, under our control, amidst explosions, gas clouds, and mud, its participants die. Some hide in trenches, some reach machine guns, and some are lucky to sit inside an unreliable yet relatively safe tank. They are all different, but they will all die ingloriously, no matter how hard you try. The game immediately warns that survival should not be counted on.

For an introduction, this is an extremely powerful move – to show the horrors of war through the eyes of the fallen. Each lifeless body, over which the camera hovers smoothly before moving on to the next soldier, creates the necessary mood. We know nothing about those we play as until another name and the years of a recently cut short life appear on the screen, inevitably forcing us to reconsider the cheerful running around with a gun. In this chaos, everyone is a living person.

But Battlefield 1 somehow loses sight of this idea when it comes to specific storylines. Despite the fact that the game has five of them, there is no sense of attachment to the characters featured in them. It is a mode of disjointed half-hour scenarios with different models in the lead roles, nothing more, nothing less.

Intense dogfights

Replacing a cohesive narrative with a collection of short films has predictably affected the quality. It is impossible, simply impossible, to create a coherent story within such tight constraints. Each chapter opens with a colorful clip introducing us to the main character, and ends with attempts to develop their character, because there is simply no time for anything more. So here’s a card player who loves to fly – and there he has already flown and won. Who is he, where is he from, why is he like this, no one says. Take it as it is. Next.

Another great example is the final episode, which surely sold the game to many naive people like myself. All because it rubs shoulders with Lawrence of Arabia in the most intriguing way. This, if you didn’t know, is a historical figure known for such cinema hits as “Lawrence of Arabia”. Of course, we won’t get to play as him – his confidante, Zara Gufran, will be the one to take the spotlight, who, apart from her name and markings for plastic surgery on her face, has nothing else. Her full biography on the thematic wiki. It will not be a lie – with the same success, Mickey Mouse could have been in her place.

No wonder, in general, when mentioning Battlefield 1, “Iron Helmet” is often mentioned. The campaign seems to be made up of unforgettable sketches, caricatures, and superficial ones. Only everyone’s faces with a claim to an “Oscar”.

Join Zara's journey

All of this could be justified from a gameplay perspective. Variety, they say, is above all, and the trick with mini-plots allows you to juggle decorations and mechanics without commitments. In one campaign, they really give you the opportunity to ride a tank, soar into the sky, saddle a horse, and crawl through trenches – a complete set of entertainments from the past century.

The problem is that you can do the same thing in multiplayer, and in any proportions. The single-player mode suffers from a sharp lack of unique situations that cannot be replicated on the network fields. All missions are either tasteless corridors or poorly disguised flag captures, assaults, defenses, and other collective joys, stamped one after another.

The architecture in the places is so good that you can see Ezio.

The architecture is so good in some places that you should climb the spire and synchronize.

It is noteworthy that often the most interesting things are placed outside of the interactive brackets. In cutscenes, there are picturesque confrontations, difficult dilemmas, and simply things that would look good in a game format. Even a primitive QTE in the right place would have noticeably enlivened the process and would have eliminated the unpleasant feeling of playing a deathmatch with bots because the internet was disconnected. But no, high-polygon pre-rendering is more important.

Once, though, the game gives a boost, but this moment is anticipated by a tired thought: “If they don’t let me board the dirigible now, I’m turning it off.” And sure enough, they are generous enough to provide a whole scene of storming the zeppelin – a scene that was long-awaited and obvious, but so desired. However, this is the only advantage of the campaign about British pilots, which is inferior to Blazing Angels from a decade ago in everything except graphics.

At the same time, it is difficult to say that there is anything outstanding in the visual component of Battlefield 1’s single player. Technically, everything is polished to perfection, but the visuals… lack artistic enthusiasm, so to speak. Ordinary fields, ordinary mountains, ordinary deserts, ordinary explosions – the game only uses the beauty twice, the rest of the time not paying any attention to them.

As a result, the storyline of Battlefield 1 is not even a tech demo, but a prolonged tutorial for multiplayer. The latter, in turn, adheres to a familiar palette of emotions, adding new colors only at the edges.

Battles on the Sinai Peninsula

Lootboxes and skins

Boxes! With skins! Again…

I don’t know about you, but for me, the online aspect of Battlefield is always associated with annoying sniper rifle clicks. You can’t escape it in any game in the series, it will always be there. That stupid sound coming from every other bush on the hill. Ptsch! You’re dead, try again. Ptsch! Respawn. Ptsch! This. Ptsch! Is. Ptsch! Very. Ptsch! Fun. Even its textual imitation is disgusting, yuck!

Here’s the same problem – a bunch of snipers, scouting for easy targets from above. You eitherYou become one of them.You learn to live with it, crawling from stone to stone, or you go crazy and forget about all the modes except for the new “Operations”. But honestly, it is what Battlefield was invented for.

“Operations” effectively combat the aforementioned ailment. In fact, it is a combination of familiar “Assault” and “Conquest”, implying a shifting of the front line whenever the attacking side manages to hold all the points of the current sector. Such dynamics do not go well with a stationary playstyle, so the hard workers of optical sights are not highly regarded here. They exist, but they don’t have the opportunity to dig in for long.

Don Quixote did not think about this.

Don Quixote never even thought about it.

Well, the “Operations” maps are several times larger than usual and can accommodate up to 64 players, one of whom is sure to kill any annoying camper, if there are any left at all. In most matches, people were much more eager to rush to the front lines and fight as they should, side by side with their comrades. Isn’t this the Battlefield of dreams?

Playing this mode is simply wonderful. The huge battlefields, along with the insane number of server slots, create the illusion of a massive conflict: there will always be 5-10 people nearby, a couple of planes will surely whiz by in the sky, an awkward but deadly tank will appear on the horizon, scattering the frightened infantry – despite the vastness, there is intense confrontation at any point on the map. You never feel detached from the battle, as it used to happen before.

There is even some semblance of coordinated teamwork, which you would never expect from Battlefield, where chaos has always reigned. Both defense and siege require minimal interaction, so in “Operations,” medics are more likely to heal than trample over your corpse, squads try to stick together, and enemies are diligently marked for the benefit of all allies. There have been times when tactics were discussed in the chat. Nonsense.

Here, there are armored trains, airships, and battleships coming to aid the weaker side. They didn’t bring about a stunning revolution – they are just bulky vehicles showering the surroundings with a barrage of special effects – but when used skillfully, they can easily turn the tide of the match, not to mention how damn cool they look.

Warfare with gas

The picture also transforms in such moments. No wonder – when fifty people shoot, cut, and explode each other with genuine excitement, the generator of impressive frames must work from time to time. From the online battles of Battlefield 1, the most vivid celebration of death is obtained compared to all similar ones.

And yet the most significant difference is undoubtedly the setting. Thanks to it, the pace of the battle has slightly slowed down, the technology has become more dangerous, gas grenades and gas masks have appeared, limiting visibility and shooting accuracy, and overall gameplay has managed to change while remaining the same. They can’t be called new impressions, but they can be called updated ones.

Taking flight

Let some historians and military experts grumble, saying that things are not right here and there. There is no need to doubt their words, but for the average person, the difference between accuracy and spectacle based on real motives is likely to be insignificant. The realism of Battlefield 1 lies not so much in precise reproduction, but in immersion, in the feeling of direct involvement. The praised Verdun may be good three times over, but only DICE can make the First World War convincing with its miraculous resurrections and silly physics bugs.

It turned out interesting. The eternal conflict between the beaver and the donkey in the faces of Battlefield and Call of Duty respectively did not take place this year, as the shortcomings of both turned out to be mutually beneficial. From Activision, we have… outdated, but beautiful campaign with a crazy multiplayer. From EA – the opposite: a boring story mode and a powerful online component that changes slowly over the years. And we don’t mind.

Battlefield 1
PC, PS4, Xbox One
Action, Multiplayer
Electronic Arts
EA Digital Illusions CE
Release Date:
Editor's rating:
Is it worth playing? (If the score is more than 70%)



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