So, the non-disclosure agreement for Battlefield 1’s closed Alpha has been lifted, and the internet is awash in game recordings.
Having watched hours of gameplay, I have a few observations on what Battlefield 1 gets right and what it gets wrong. To start, let’s examine six things the Battlefield 1 Alpha does right.
If you can’t watch the video:
Battlefield 1 nails destructibility. Nearly everything on the map can be reduced to rubble. Shell and bomb impacts create craters and change the face of the battlefield. The green of the St. Quentin Scar map is slowly eaten away by all of the explosions, replaced with the muddy, barren wasteland that was the No Man’s Land of World War I. It’s amazing the accuracy in which this occurs, and how it’s showcased in Battlefield 1. If you look at the in-game map near the end of the match, it actually does resemble aerial photographs of battlefields during World War I.
Battlefield 1’s sound design is fantastic. Yes, the guns sound amazing, but it’s the little details that matter here. The way the sounds of the guns change based on their surroundings, adds another level of realism to the game. Guns sound different based on if they’re fired in the open, next to obstacles, or inside of a building. Also, whoever was responsible for recording ricochets, fantastic job. Other small audible details make Battlefield 1 come to life, like the sound of spent artillery shell casings clinking into each other when you walk over piles of them, or the sound of reloading one of the mark V’s guns.
Battlefield’s User Interface is excellent. It’s clean, although some players had anticipated a more antiquated look. It’s easy to read and navigate. In particular, the spawn selection and overhead map view is fantastic, and a significant improvement over previous Battlefield games. You’re able to see your surroundings before selecting a spawn point. You have some indication if cover is still available, and the topography of the map at that point. It helps reduce that situation where you spawn on a teammate, only to die instantly, and also makes for a more immersive experience.
It’s nice to have some proper vehicles in Battlefield 1. I missed having tanks in Hardline. The tanks also inadvertently provide a new experience, since most are based on designs we’d now call antiquated, except the Renault FT. The Mark V and A7V are perfect for squads to work together. Airplanes are more maneuverable, and armored cars provide a way to keep the battle mobile. Behemoths are also a game-changer. The massive airship on St. Quentin Scar draws everyone’s eyes to the sky, and makes you feel terribly small and expendable – Appropriate for a World War I game.
The way Battlefield 1’s classes are designed is a significant improvement over previous games. I say this, because they are more unique and dedicated to an individual purpose, like healing, sniping, or anti-vehicle warfare. I am hopeful this sticks in the final version of the game. I don’t really want a repeat of the Battlefield 3 M16A3 / useless medics debacle.
Lastly, weather plays a huge role in Battlefield 1’s Alpha. When the rain or fog roll in, players are forced to adapt, which makes for a much more interesting and dynamic gameplay experience. Some people dislike this, but I like the idea of war being as unpredictable as the weather. The way the weather impacts the weapons should also be praised. Raindrops collect on your gun, and if you’re using a scope, the tell-tale scope glint disappears. The sound of the rain is chilling, and masks smaller movements of nearby players, making it easier to sneak up on enemies. These kinds of changes can completely alter the feel of a map.
Overall, DICE seems to be doing a great job with Battlefield 1’s alpha – but there are a few things that could use some work. Again, I’ll focus on six of them.
If you can’t watch the video:
I really appreciate the research DICE has done into the available technology of the time, and adding interesting apertures and scopes, but I really want to see some more iron sights. A lot of the advanced sights are rather clunky and impractical, and I’d really like the option to just use the standard iron sights.
This was a great addition to the Battlefield franchise in Battlefield Hardline, but it doesn’t appear to be in Battlefield 1. If you’re unfamiliar with it, you can approach a player who is either an assault or support class and take a health pack or ammunition from them. This helped remedy one of the worst parts of Battlefield 4, which was dumb blueberries who didn’t play their role. I could be there all day asking for ammo, chasing someone playing a support class, only for both of us to die from a tank I couldn’t kill, because I didn’t have enough RPGs. The idea that everyone who plays a Battlefield game actually knows how to be useful is laughable, so I really hope DICE finds a way to work this mechanic in. It was a lifesaver and reduced a lot of frustration in Battlefield Hardline.
I really like that gas grenades will be in Battlefield 1. I loved using them in Hardline. But based on my observations, the gas disperses too quickly to be useful. It should hang around longer to have a greater effect on a battle, especially since everyone appears to have a gas mask to counter it.
I also really dislike that gas does not affect players in vehicles. Tanks didn’t have special ventilation systems or keep a positive pressure to keep gas out. Tankers were issued gas masks like everyone else, and would have to put the on in the presence of gas. There’s probably no real easy way for DICE to remedy this, but I’d like them to consider it.
I love that DICE added an animation for entering a vehicle, especially since the players entering the vehicle are vulnerable at that time. You can kill someone attempting to get into a vehicle. I don’t like that there isn’t an exit animation. Why you would have one without the other is beyond me.
One of the more annoying parts of any Battlefield game is playing tank carousel with an enemy, or being killed by someone who just magically pops out of a tank or other vehicle. Having an exit animation makes it a more tactical choice to exit the vehicle. This would also reduce the situations of being robbed of kills when the enemy player bails out at the last possible second.
Yes, I’m aware this is the Battlefield 1 Alpha. A major reason companies have Alphas is to help balance the game. So, there are a few things DICE needs to work on. Most stationary weapons in Battlefield games are woefully underpowered to the point that they are completely useless. I really hope that isn’t the case with Battlefield 1.
Some people have said Tanks are overpowered, though I disagree. The assault class is more than adequately equipped to take out a heavy tank – as long as teammates play their role. – and it’s this kind of teamwork DICE wants to foster. Other players have complained the submachine guns are overpowered, or the semi-automatics have too much recoil. I’m sure DICE is pouring over tons of data to work out a satisfactory solution.
Again, Yes. This is an alpha. I’ve spotted several glitches in Battlefield 1’s closed alpha, and some are not new. Trying to mount obstacles, but not actually jumping over them, and the stuck suppression effect are still present from previous games. There’s also a variety of graphical glitches, and some are more entertaining than others.
By far the most interesting is a physics bug with one of the game’s tanks, which causes it to fly into the air. I’m not sure what the issue is, but it certainly destroys the gritty, realistic look Battlefield 1 is going for. There are a few other examples of glitches out there, but again, this is the point of an alpha: to identify and then rectify the known issues.
After talking about a few things Battlefield 1 got wrong in the game’s alpha, I feel it’s important to note I don’t see anything particularly concerning that would cause me to cancel my preorder or to not purchase the game. I have seen significantly buggier betas.
What are your opinions on Battlefield 1’s alpha? What do you think DICE should change before the game’s full release? What do you think they got right?
Tell us in the comments!