Friday, December 08, 2023

First Play Review - Battlefield 1 [2016]

While WWI may have had only a quarter of the casualties of WWII its brutal and often more personal conflict somehow never really captured the imagination of game designers like its successor did. Now to be fair, there are about a hundred WWI games published, including combat flight-sims, real time strategy games and even some first person shooters but WWII games far exceed a thousand titles by comparison. No WWI game has ever been a AAA studio tent-pole franchise unlike Medal of Honor, Call of Duty, Company of Heroes, Wolfenstein or Hidden & Dangerous to name a few. That changed surprisingly in 2016 when developers DICE who had previously developed Battlefield 1942 (and then 8 sequels) declared the 10th in the series would be called Battlefield 1 and set the game firmly in WWI.

I took the opportunity recently to play "War Stories", Battlefield 1's single player campaign. DICE departed from a more conventional linear narrative and much like Call of Duty told some stories from different perspectives. While CoD usually tells one story from different perspectives, "War Stories" are interconnected, emotionally charged vignettes that explore the diverse dynamics of World War I. You play a portion of the lives of several protagonists in different situations from a unique perspective, during one of the deadliest conflicts in history, adding a layer of authenticity and depth to the campaign. From the muddy trenches of the Western Front to the sandy deserts of Arabia, players witness the impact of war on different characters, each with their own struggles and motivations offering a human look at the oft-dehumanising events they take part in.

Using EA's Frostbite engine originally developed for the Battlefield franchise, the graphical fidelity and attention to detail shines in Battlefield 1. Lighting, weather effects, and realistic character animations contributes to the overall immersion. Each varied environment is meticulously designed, capturing the grim and harrowing nature of World War I. The diverse scenarios of intense infantry combat, stealthy operations, tank warfare and even a thoroughly enjoyable aerial campaign showcase the flexibility of the Frostbite engine. I admit some segments do feel heavily scripted which does sometimes frustratingly break the gameplay, but it never really broke the immersion.

No shortage of exceptional acting talent and voice work was brought to the fore in "War Stories". Among those lending both their voice and likeness to characters were: Ed Speelers (Outlander, Star Trek: Picard), Mark Bonnar (Napoleon), Jack Lowden (Dunkirk), Agni Scott (Spooks), Luke Tittensor, (House of the Dragon) and veteran Australian actor Peter O'Brien (X-Men Origins: Wolverine). A phenomenal score was provided by Swedish composers Johan Söderqvist and Patrik Andrén,  who also scored other games in the franchise and this coupled with the authentic weapon sounds and ambient sound design served to further immerse one in an almost cinematic experience.
Final Verdict: Much like Activision's Call of Duty, EA's Battlefield franchise is also without a doubt focussed on a multiplayer experience even to go as far as not including a single-player campaign in some releases! While the single-player experience of Battlefield 1 is indeed short-lived clocking in at roughly 8 hours, it is so technically polished and delivers such an impactful narrative experience by itself that it's certainly worth picking up when discounted to <€5. 

Technicals: 8.5 hours approx on Windows 11 with an RTX4070Ti @ 3440x1440 / 175FPS.

Bugs: One mission needs binoculars. These can glitch and you may need to reload.

Availability:  Steam €39.99, EA Store €19.99. Review copy €4.79 from Steam in November 2022

Battlefield Games (mainline only)

  • Battlefield 1942 (2002, PC)
  • Battlefield Vietnam (2004, PC)
  • Battlefield 2 (2005, PC)
  • Battlefield 2142 (2006, PC)
  • Battlefield: Bad Company (2008, PS3/X360)
  • Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (2010, PC/PS3/X360)
  • Battlefield 3 (2011, PC/PS3/X360)
  • Battlefield 4 (2013, PC/PS3/PS4/X360/XOne)
  • Battlefield Hardline (2015, PC/PS3/PS4/X360/XOne)
  • Battlefield 1 (2016, PC/PS4/XOne)
  • Battlefield V (2018, PC/PS4/XOne)
  • Battlefield 2042 (2021, PC/PS5/XSX|S)

Thursday, December 07, 2023

General and Flag Officer Nominations Finally Confirmed

In March Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) stood off against the Pentagon over its reproductive health policies, which provide funds to service members to travel out of state to seek services (including abortions) by voting to withold confirmations of general and flag officers for the entire year.

He finally lifted the block this week with the press statement “I’m not going to hold the promotions of these people any longer, We fought hard.” On Tuesday The Senate confirmed senior military nominations of some 421 officers, a massive bloc that built up over months.

SECDEF Austin released the following statement:

Below is a sample of the huge amount of confirmations: