I was fortunate to be able to spend some time with the Battlefield 1 open beta today. My thoughts to this point are a rather mixed bag. For reference, footage and impressions are from the Xbox One version.
First the positives. The UI, while sharing a lot of similarities with Star Wars Battlefront, is clean and well designed. The amount of options for customizing your experience have been expanded including much needed FOV and motion blur sliders on console which are very welcome. While I would like full customization of button layout, overall the UI is an improvement over previous titles. Gameplay is smooth and it’s apparent immediately the focus was frame rate over resolution (which I’ll touch on in the negatives). The single map we get to experience in the beta is large and relatively well designed with room for all gameplay styles. At times a sand storm sweeps through and severely limits visibility. While I found this enjoyable and technically impressive, it can also last for extended periods of time thus rendering sniping and vehicle play almost non-existent. Otherwise, vehicle play is varied and enjoyable with tanks being a very powerful asset to a team. Playing in a squad is efficient and encouraged with a squad specific performance screen post-match and a familiar balance between the classes from previous Battlefield games.
So what didn’t I like? While the UI is cleanly designed, the menu performance is very slow and unresponsive. I would assume this will be corrected prior to launch but for now it’s near impossible to make changes during a match. The resolution, at least on Xbox One, suffers with substantial aliasing and muddy textures. This can greatly affect long distance play and the ability to quickly diagnose a situation. Weapon balance seems a little off, at least from my early impressions, with sniping being too powerful and low risk. Tanks can dominate a match especially if a full squad is commanding one with all angles covered. In the last match I played, my squad mate went 41-0 and held a single tank the entire match. Of course this is not terribly unusual in BF games before people work through the counters to vehicles, but it is something I’ll be keeping an eye on. Spawning can still be problematic at times and as with other BF games if you don’t want to risk dying immediately it’s best to spawn further away from the action. However, even with spawning at my team’s bases under full control, I would at times be killed immediately by an enemy who had just arrived. My largest gripe though, is the overall feel of the game. It definitely feels to me as if DICE has gone with a softer approach to BF this time around. Movement speed is fast and less weighty, kill times seem low, and overall the game feels less realistic and more fast paced. While some will welcome the change, it feels a little foreign for a BF game to me.
As a large Battlefield fan, I’m sure I will acclimate and I’m looking forward to spending more time with the game over the course of the next week. For now, I’ve put together a few clips of my early play for you. Enjoy!