The Battlefield 1 beta is over and we’ve gotten some time to digest our week-long time with what we assume will be the last chance to enjoy the product before launch. Having that extra time to digest everything we’ve played, we can now discuss some of the good and bad things we’ve found within the beta.
Before we begin, our time with the Battlefield 1 open beta was positive. We had a great time playing and kept coming back for more despite the fact there was only one map available. Overall, the open beta was a huge improvement over the Alpha build we played a few months back. Battlefield 1 has that addictive quality past games have had, and we can’t wait to see how the final game shapes up when it finally launches this October. Still, Battlefield 1 is not without its faults and drawbacks. Let’s dissect what the open beta got right, and what it got wrong in the hopes that Dice can fix these issues on release.
The best place to start here are the graphics. Dice continues to be at the forefront of pushing graphical boundaries with each new release. Battlefield 1’s visual fidelity is impeccable with highly detailed models and textures, horses, vehicles, and environments. Even on consoles, which don’t run at a native 1080p, Battlefield 1 is extremely impressive to look at and listen. Dynamic weather, which was impressive in the Alpha, continues to impress on Sinai Desert thanks to a new sandstorm. These changes in weather encourage players to switch up their strategies, keeping the game fresh even after several matches, but the sandstorm and fog do overstay their welcome. Weather changes should be more frequent and not last more than a few minutes.
Battlefield 1 is swapping Levolution for more organic destruction. While Levolution moments were cool in Battlefield 4 the first few times, they never ended up adding much to the gameplay. The organic destruction that first appeared in the Battlefield: Bad Company games are much more capable of affecting gameplay, and it feels great to have it back in Battlefield 1. Now, not everything is destructible, as key pieces of the environment are needed to keep things balanced. However, what is destructible is not only impressive to watch, but also affects how you play. A house near the C flag may provide excellent cover to capture the point, but a few tank shells will blast it to smithereens. Players now have to find a different way to capture the objective. It’s that kind of emerging gameplay that makes playing a new match so exhilarating.
While Rush has found itself at the center of controversy during the open beta, we still stand by our initial assessment. The design of the Sinai Desert map fits perfectly with the game mode and all classes feel like they have an opportunity to shine. However, after extra matches in Rush, I do see that the mode does have some problems. For one, there are way too many tanks allowed in this mode, especially once the battle gets to the most intimate sections of the map, especially with only 24 players on the map. Dice needs to either decrease the amount of tanks that can spawn or up the player count to the traditional 32 players. Other than that, Rush mode can still be great again in Battlefield 1. Speaking of the classes, all the different weapons feel good and seem well balanced. There are problems with the Medic and Support classes, but we’ll be discussing that later.
Finally, what impresses us most is just how focused Battlefield 1 is on teamwork. The switch to World War I means no more lock-on weaponry. To truly be effective on the battlefield means working as a team. Tanks and planes are no longer the effective one-man murdering tools they were in previous games. The Heavy Tank and Landship need those extra riders to cover all angles. A plane needs the gunners to shoot down enemies behind and to the sides. To destroy a tank, infantry needs to coordinate to distract, sneak, and bomb them. Sure, you can try soloing this, but you’ll likely end up dead. The only exception to this rule is the overpowered FT-17 Light Tank, which Dice has already confirmed they’re nerfing.
Every good must have its bad, and there were plenty of bad things in this beta. It is fundamental to remember that the open beta is likely an older version of the game and that some of these issues may have already been fixed. Probably one of the most glaring problems are the recurring Frostbite Engine legacy bugs. Frostbite may be very capable of outputting some truly impressive visuals, but it’s also infamous for its many issues. From vaulting glitches that force players to vault four-to-five times, to floating debris, and even vehicles spontaneously blowing up after hitting small rocks, Battlefield 1 has all the issues previous Frostbite games have had. Considering these have all been issues from years ago, it’s downright sloppy that Dice has yet to fix them.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a major AAA game without some form of controversy and debate. The debate unfolding in Battlefield 1 is the change to Conquest. The ticket system from previous games has been replaced with a score system. It would appear that Dice made this change to try and force people to play the objective, and the internet has erupted in debate over which system is best. After much thinking, and replaying some Battlefield 4 Conquest, we’d have to say that the original system trumps the new one. In Battlefield 1 deaths do not matter, which is creating some significant problems. Players are randomly killing themselves to deploy closer to an objective, Medics have no incentive to revive players (though the Revive Icon is very glitchy at the moment), and there the planes have no impact on the game.
On top of this, the new score system is not having the desired impact Dice likely wants. Plenty of people are still running around just looking for kills, snipers still stay away from objectives, and those piloting the FT-17 Light Tank and the planes are just going for kills. Switching back to the original system would make deaths matter again. The original system, also, makes for a more exciting game. In Battlefield 1, once a team managed to pull ahead that team usually won. However, going back and playing Battlefield 4, it was always possible for the losing team to come back after capturing a few extra flags and earning more kills. Switching back to the old system appears to be something Dice is taking seriously. The post-beta survey specifically asks which system players like better, which indicates that it is possible we’ll see the old system return for launch.
Going back to the classes, each of them is enjoyable in their way. However, there is one class that currently feels useless, Support. The support guns are pretty fun to play with, but the lack of useful gadgets makes playing as one a real chore. Players currently aren’t putting down ammo pouches for a few reasons. They either A) don’t know how to do it or B) won’t because so few players run out of ammo. Smart players end up just picking up a fallen player’s kit to replenish ammo. Probably the best way to remedy this problem is by giving the class an anti-vehicle weapon. While Assault has the best anti-vehicle gear, both the Medic and Scout classes have at least something to use against a rampaging vehicle. Heck, the Support class in Battlefield 4 had both the mortar and C4 explosives, the former being especially effective if the Support could get in close. Right now, Support is a class most are skipping.
Finally, we have spawning. Spawning was an issue back in the Alpha where the system would spawn players far away from an objective, and in some cases, closer to a different objective than the one they wanted to spawn on. That doesn’t appear to be a problem on the Sinai Desert map. What is a problem is how often the game will spawn players into harm’s way. Spawning on an objective, especially at the A and B flags, is often a death sentence. Battlefield 1’s spawning system has a habit of dropping players into wide open areas with no cover, making them easy targets to be picked off. Dice either needs to clean up the system or provide more cover in these wide open areas. Spawning just to die quickly becomes infuriating, especially when put in unwinnable situations.
Battlefield 1 is out October 21 on PS4, Xbox One and PC. The game is out October 18 for those who purchase the $80 Early Enlister Edition. Be sure to let us know what you thought of the open beta in the comments below.