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Battlefield 1 on Xbox One review: a franchise reborn through the crucible of WWI

Windows Central Recommended Award

Since its initial reveal earlier this year, the anticipation for Battlefield 1 has emerged to be one of the most remarkable aspects of its launch. With many of today's leading franchises still pursuing concepts set in the near future, the spotlight has shifted over to Electronic Arts and the new backdrop for its flagship shooter franchise.

Battlefield 1 takes players back to the brutal events of The Great War, alongside revised gameplay and notions better suited to the era. As a period associated with brutal, unforgiving violence, few blockbuster titles have even attempted to approach the subject, let alone with successful execution. Amidst a genre currently dominated by human augmentations and laser weapons, Battlefield 1's change in approach couldn't be more welcome to the current triple-A shooter landscape.

But with pre-release hysteria at an all-time high for the franchise, how does Battlefield 1 stack up against the high expectations?

The war to end all wars

Battlefield's focus has always laid with its multiplayer modes and while still true in Battlefield 1, an effort has also been placed on reworking the approach to a single-player campaign.

War Stories manages to capture the dynamic, sprawling gameplay of the game's multiplayer modes

In modern Battlefield games, the single-player narrative has always been an unoriginal amalgamation of years of military fiction. These timeworn tales of all-powerful soldiers have grown old, leaving much to be desired from a narrative standpoint. When presented in conjunction with linear gameplay, campaign experiences never felt memorable or truly engaging.

Battlefield 1's single-player experience, known as War Stories, follows the stories of five different soldiers who participated in World War 1. Each of these characters is presented in their own isolated narratives, which sharply defines the narrative into five missions and a moving prologue. With their own motivations and roles, each account of the conflict has differing themes and gameplay mechanics that arise.

As proven with other successful titles this year, character-driven narratives are becoming much more appealing concepts in today's industry. This approach has translated nicely into Battlefield 1's campaign, creating an appealing cast worthy of investing into.

Across all six missions, War Stories manages to capture the dynamic, sprawling gameplay of the game's multiplayer modes. While more scripted events are still present, their smooth integration into gameplay doesn't detract from its open-ended aspects.

Battlefield 1's single-player missions take place in a range of expansive sandboxes, which manage to convey a true sense of scale. This is noticeable from the outset, with a ruthless opening act, primarily intending to convey the scope of the conflict. Switching between multiple roles on the front lines makes for a memorable experience, while also subjecting the player to the horrors of early 20th-century combat.

Switching between front-line roles makes for a memorable experience, while also subjecting you to the horrors of early 20th-century combat.

And while the game isn't afraid to portray these unsettling images, Battlefield 1 is still a triple-A shooter at its core. With a need for action-packed thrills to keep players engaged, both gameplay and cinematics sometimes often diverge from the somber undertone of the narrative. Being a video game rather than a war documentary, inconsistent themes and inaccuracies in the single player are mostly justified.

Overall these changes push Battlefield 1's single player in the right direction, rivaling the developer's previously praised work in Battlefield: Bad Company 2. While the series has never been recognized for moving narratives or expansive single-player gameplay, Battlefield 1 diverges from the faults of its predecessors to become a substantial part of the package.

Into the trenches

Like other games in the series, Battlefield 1's biggest focus is on its multiplayer mode. Known for its expansive all-out warfare, the core Battlefield formula is still present across all six modes available at launch. These play out across nine diverse maps – each with a distinct flow and unique gameplay opportunities.

While Conquest has previously been Battlefield's flagship mode for large-scale warfare, Operations is a close contender

For returning fans of the franchise, Battlefield 1's roster doesn't offer a huge abundance of new game modes. Old favorites such as Conquest and Rush return for the masses, with new modes such as Operations and War Pigeons also being thrown into the mix.

Out of the two new modes, Operations has emerged as one of my personal favorites during my time with Battlefield 1. With a similar setup to Conquest, Operations pits two teams against one another in a fight for capture points. Taking place across a number of rounds and maps, the game mode attempts to imitate the progression of a long-term conflict. While Conquest has previously been Battlefield's flagship mode for large-scale warfare, Operations is a close contender with much faster pacing and a greater emphasis on objective play.

Battlefield 1's other new mode, War Pigeons, offers a twist on objective transportation modes such as Capture the Flag. As a part of this game mode, players must obtain a carrier pigeon and release it into the wild. While an intriguing concept initially, War Pigeons will likely remain a gimmick that struggles to find dedicated players after launch.

Complementing these game modes, Battlefield 1's roster of maps spans the globe with a range of differing environments. From the war-torn remains of the French countryside to the ruined fragments of an Arabian town - all of the game's maps have a distinct look and feel.

Unlike more recent Battlefield titles where large-scale destruction has been most scripted, Battlefield 1 introduces a more natural map dynamic. Aside from sturdy fundamental structures, these destructible assets are responsible for the ever-changing environments of the game's multiplayer levels

Consequently, each map its own changing playstyle, with environments composed of both large-scale battlegrounds and tighter spaces. These aspects culminate to produce a balanced rotation of locales, marking some of DICE's best work from the past decade.

Through mud and blood

Battlefield 1 bears a much grittier undertone after its shift to the First World War, which also extends to the multiplayer gameplay itself. From the screams of injured soldiers to the sharp sound of cocking a bolt-action rifle – every aspect of Battlefield 1 has a notable weight behind it.

World War 1 is always painted as a bloody, cruel conflict and in Battlefield 1 the period also lives up to this repute. During a period where industrialized warfare was first introduced, gameplay also reflects this transition between the featured new and old technologies.

Most of the game's weapons feel heavy and responsive, which leads so more skill based encounters with greater control over the outcome of gunfights. Despite the wide range of varied weapons and gadgets for each class, the game ultimately feels consistent and balanced. This comes down to the situational nature of most these firearms, with some weapons having a greater advantage on larger maps. Other new additions such as gas, bayonets and ruthless melee weapons, all unite seamlessly with the main Battlefield formula.

While Battlefield 1 itself is an amazing title, its biggest limitation is the hardware it's running on. We reviewed the game on the Xbox One, so we're not getting a definitive experience in terms of graphical fidelity — though PC gamers with high-powered rigs will be able to exercise Battlefield 1's full graphical potential. Nevertheless, despite Frostbite 3 having a rocky history on Xbox One, Battlefield 1 performs surprising well on the console. Unlike many recent titles on the engine, Battlefield 1 has seen a significant performance bump since its open beta period earlier this year. Pursuing a higher resolution has massively helped Battlefield 1's presentation, and adds to the overall polish of the package.

Conclusion

After years of creating expansive warzones, Battlefield 1 has emerged as one of DICE's greatest titles to date. In terms of raw gameplay mechanics, a range of new concepts has been put in play, shaping a truly outstanding first-person shooter.

Between its pacing and general approach to gameplay, Battlefield 1 feels like a return to the series' roots. Rather than a simple World War 1 skin over the traditional Battlefield gameplay, Battlefield 1 successfully adapts its mechanics to the period. With a successful character-driven campaign and a diverse multiplayer sandbox, Battlefield 1 is a timeless return to a once forgotten period in video games.

Pros:

  • Engaging single-player campaign
  • Battlefield's expansive multiplayer returns in all its glory
  • Moves away from the trend of near-future warfare

Cons:

  • Lack of variety across multiplayer gamemodes

See on the Microsoft Store (opens in new tab)

This review was conducted on Xbox One using a copy purchased by the reviewer.

Matt Brown
Matt Brown

Matt Brown is Windows Central's Senior Games Editor, Xbox & PC, at Future. Following over seven years of professional consumer technology and gaming coverage, he’s focused on the world of Microsoft's gaming efforts. You can follow him on Twitter @mattjbrown.

55 Comments
  • im gonna get it next week.so excited
  • I'm in iran,exchange rates will make it so expensive for me :/ but ill get it any way
  • Love the game! It looks great on X1. Obviously, my PC has it looking better...but it looks great on the console, plus Xbox Live, to me makes it overall better. I will be playing this for hours and hours and hours...
  • Thats all that matters. Play it where you enjoy it most. I'm only getting it on PC because I have 2 or 3 friends that will and we can play together.
  • I've actually purchased a second copy for my PC. While I'd prefer to play on there for the improved graphics, I'm better with a controller and have friends on the Xbox platform. Honestly, the game looks amazing on PS4, Xbox One and PC, so it's mostly just down to personal platform preferences.
  • "i have purchased a second copy" no ofeence to you bro !! 
    but, i feel these are the instances where, play anywhere steps in & is needed a lot !! 
  • Yeah! Hopefully we'll start seeing third-party adoption soon! The only problem is that Play Anywhere uses the Windows Store, which most publishers aren't hugely keen on right now...
  • I'm just getting it on my Xbox One - Is the campaign and multiplayer running with a 60fps target or 30fps on consoles? Still getting it on Xbox One anyway so I can use a controller that I prefer without having a disadvantage but just curious. Going to try some of the 10 hour EA Access trial later since I won't be buying it until 28th October
  • XBOX 60FPS unlocked https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6cy7wfv8To Pixel counts indicate that conquest mode in the pre-release version of Battlefield 1 on Xbox One uses a dynamic resolution. The lowest pixel count found was in the region of 1100x620 and the highest pixel count found was approximately 1780x1000.
  • Awesome sauce
  • PS4 has some serious frame and resolution problems. it goes downs to 160x90 here the link from VG Tech https://youtu.be/s8S4cIUb3Y0 Pixel counts indicate that conquest mode in Battlefield 1 on PS4 uses a dynamic resolution. The lowest and highest pixel counts found during regular gameplay were approximately 1100x620 and 1807x1014 respectively. There also appears to be a rare bug that causes the resolution to drop to an extremely low pixel count for a short period of time as can be seen here http://imgur.com/a/jHoB2. The lowest pixel count found during this drop is about 160x90.
  • BF1 still needs to be properly optimized. Tons of people with recent i5/i7s on forums have capped 100% CPU usage and this is not normal. Hopefully next patch will fix things up. DX12 is absolutely unplayable for me while DX11 is about 40% better. That being said, this game shows some promise, I have pre-ordered it and played the 10 hours on trial. However, I would like a lot more customization like BF4 had. You can barely do anything to these guns (muzzle/scope/grips/bipod/bullet variety). I will have to disagree on "Most of the game's weapons feel heavy and responsive, which leads so more skill based encounters with greater control over the outcome of gunfights."  There is so much recoil and RNG with these guns that many times its more luck based compared to BF4. I could take out numerous enemies from behind if done properly. BF1 guns have such poor accuracy and rate of fire, it is nearly impossible to do these kinds of feats. Also jumping prevents you from shooting for 1 second, basically a death sentence.
  • Battlefield 4 was over complex with the CoD type customizing. Im glad they went back to their roots and made the weapons pretty straight forward.
  • While I get this, the game is set in world war 1, technically the guns either need to be predominantly bolt action or jam constantly, anything other than that and you have an advantage.
  • While that's more immersive, DICE has also got to create a balanced game at the same time. It's still great to see the franchise going out of its comfort zone, but they don't have full creative freedom.
  • You don't have to like the guns, but in truth WW1 tech was not nearly as accurate as modern weapons so ...
  • This just makes it more realistic in my eyes. And the no shooting after jumping is even a greater news, this prevents a lot of the bunnyhopping.
  • I've watched all the graphical reviews from several different sites. Sounds like you have a Nvidia graphics card.  All reviews so far a unanimous in showing that Nvidia suffers big time on this game from DX12 and AMD does well with DX12. Get used to it, Nvidia has a flawed DX12 software implementation and unless they do some big time driver updates it wont be getting better anytime soon.
  • I am using an RX470. I thought it would work better on DX12 but DX11 is surprisingly a  HUGE improvement
  • Maybe is your videocard. AMD is doing better in this game using DX12. NVIDIA needs an updated driver for sure Battlefield 1: GTX 1060 vs RX 480 DX11/DX12 Gameplay Frame-Rate Test https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxsIOV2AjMc
  • the price will bomb in a few weeks, gonna wait till then...
  • Why? It has been rather successful among gamers so no reason to "bomb" the prices.
  • It can already be bought for under $50 on PC.
  • That's always the case with PC though - I could pre-order Mafia 3 for around £27 on my PC but it's £55 on Xbox One and PS4. I would prefer to play it on my Xbox One, even with worse visuals and framerate (just comfier there) but with the price difference I'll probably get Mafia 3 on PC at the reduced price just for the single player since there's no disadvantage if you don't play online
  • Normally it does for a mid year game, but not with the holidays around the corner. They know they will still be able to command top dollar with the gift season.
  • Battlefield 1 is expected to sell pretty well, so I wouldn't bet on that. Unless EA have aggressive holiday sales, the game will be staying at that price for a while I'd assume.
  • I loved the idea behind the game but the heavy focus on multiplayer ended up cancelling the deal. I'm not into multiplayer games and those I do play in multiplayer I rather do it on the PlayStation since that's where all my friends are. Maybe when the price drops significantly I'll get it but at present I can't justify paying more than 20€ for 6 single player missions.
  • same with me. 53 is too much for single player. But with ea access I will have it soon for free. I did the trial and it was awesome (at least the single player) and operation multiplayer was fun. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • "I rather do it on the PlayStation since that's where all my friends are" Maybe you should get better friends. Ones who play on XB1. Or perhaps they play on PS so they don't have to play with you.
  • I live in Europe. PlayStation rules supreme here. In my country it accounts for over 80% of the console marketshare. In fact, I myself have been with PlayStation for years. Getting the Xbox One over the PS4 was the first time I didn't went with the PlayStation. And to be honest, if Sony hadn't f*cked up with the PS4 Pro by not including a UHD player, I would be on my way back to it (because Xbox continues to not support BD-R discs). As it stands, I'm continuing with the Xbox One and skip multiplayer games on it. Eventually when the Scorpio and the PS5 (or whatever Sony's answer to the Scorpio will be) arrive next year, I'll re-evaluate it.
  • PS4 or Xone ... not even a disucssion for me. Shooters must be controlled with keyboard and mouse (or some not yet invented input method). Controller is nice for some sorts of games (Flying, arcade driving ...) but shooters? No way. It's like playing Dwarf Fortress with a Joystick ;-)
  • You could argue there's way more skill involved with us console gamers then... ;) It's what you're used to. I'm used to how a controller works and since I'm playing against people with the same input method, it evens up and works out as the same fun.
  • D....David?
  • That's pretty dumb lol, change your friends because they don't have the same console as you. I'm pretty sure this was a joke though and not to be taken seriously lol
  • I can get what you say about the missions, though I imagine they'd be decently lengthy ones - more like the length of three or four chapters in a book, I suppose. If you stick them together, I presume it'd equal the same amount of content as any other campaign, just with more lead characters. Any other commenters able to verify?
  • Bought it, still playing the ea access trial, like it a lot so far. The one thing that pisses me off is games release on Tuesday, it released today for "deluxe edition owners" everyone else can get it starting Friday. So in essence you get a 3 day wait for being a "cheapskate" and buying the $60 version.
  • heh yeah it seems to be the new alternative to the Multiplayer unlock codes in boxes. Forza, BF1, GoW 4 I like the 10 hour trial for EA Access members though, that's fantastic and lets you play a good chunk of the game up front. I will buy it at the end of the month around payday and use the trial until then
  • Love it, and I welcome the slightly increased destructability of the maps. Couple of things I would like to see improved include the player customisation options. Needs to be done outside the games as well, they have given us 3 slots per class, which is perfect, but allow me the chance to review all the options when out of a game. Also, the weapons and abilities need detailing better. I am used to the layout of the options, but I imagine new players find it quite daunting, especially those coming from COD et al. Be nice to get some tutorials on the weapons and pros and cons.
  • Just picked up the Battlefield companion for mobile. Looks like the external site and app both allow you to customise loadouts outside of the game! Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Yeah, and emblems too!
  • Damned thing does not save my loadouts... Any idea why? Seems pretty pointless just to be there to fiddle with, but not save.
  • Also half the equipment are missing from the App
  • Just got it in the mail, can't wait to play it, after I get off work.
  • Tell me what you think of it!
  • Just got it today, great game so far.
  • I played the EA early access and purchased it based on the campaign. Great game!
  • Campaign beatable during the trial? I'll be buying it at the end of the month but going to use up the trial time between now and then
  • Only the opening prologue and first mission are playable in the trial. I personally feel the first mission is actually my least favourite, with 4 additional short stories in the full game. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Ah i thought all the EA Access 10 hour trials contained full access to the game for those 10 hours. do you need to re-download the full game after purchasing or does it just"unlock" once you buy it from the store?
  • Nah it literally downloads the entire game and just blocks off content. When you purchase the game, you can start playing the full thing instantly with progression transferring forward! Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • That's great. I'll do the first mission and prologue and then spend the rest of time on Multiplayer until end of the trail
  • Must depend on the game - Star Wars Battlefront's free trial allowed you to do anything - though as a multiplayer-only title that may be why.
  • Do you know if they 100% fixed the weather issues from the beta? In the beta the weather seemed to be triggered client side and sometimes you'd be in the middle of a sand storm but another player had a perfectly clear view of the battlefield.
  • reborn? BF never died. Is the best FPS so far... Sorry COD Fanboys. I lov to see COD runners getting sniped in BF...
  • .