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Battlefield 1 E3 review - hands on, news, trailers and release date

Nathan Spendelow Katharine Byrne
14 Jul 2016
Battlefield 1
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Battlefield 1 Closed Alpha test starts, here's everything we know about the WW1 shooter

Following rampant leaks, rumours and speculation, the next Battlefield game has finally been officially revealed by EA. Dubbed Battlefield 1, it will follow the conflicts and stories of the First World War. While Call of Duty is ever expanding towards future fictional battles, the Battlefield franchise has taken a step back, focusing on “the birth of modern warfare”. What info do we have so far?

Release date

Battlefield 1 is set for a worldwide release on the 21st October this year for PC, Xbox One and PS4, but if you buy the Early Enlister Edition, you’ll be able to play three days earlier, on the 18th October.

Battlefield TV adaptation announced

While TV and film adaptations of popular video games have typically been a bit mediocre at best, we look set to see a TV series based around the Battlefield franchise in the future. Announced on 11th June, Paramount Television, responsible for Charmed and Sabrine the Teenage Witch, have optioned the rights along with Anonymous Content to produce a Battlefield TV series. While we don't have any proper conclusive information just yet, we don't know what era it'll be set in or when it will air, at least we do know that something is in the pipeline.

Amy Powell, President at Paramount TV said: “EA’s Battlefield has an incredibly dynamic narrative, coupled with a loyal fan base, which will allow us to bring this exciting and unique property to the small screen. We look forward to working with EA and Anonymous Content and thank Michael Sugar for his tenacity in bringing us this exciting project.”

Having gained around 60 million players since the franchise first launched in 2002,  it's no surprise that we're finally seeing Battlefield spill out into other forms of media. If it's anything akin to HBO's Band of Brothers or The Pacific, we're more than up for it.

Closed Alpha test codes sent out

EA has started inviting players to test out the current Alpha build of Battlefield 1. Access codes for the Alpha test were sent out to a select few users on 5th July, yet EA hasn't provided any information as to how many players were selected.

According to a screenshot of the email posted on Reddit, the test will be taking place up until 19th July on PC, Xbox One and PS4. The email reads, "Help us test Battlefield 1. Experience the dawn of all-out war in the Battlefield 1 Closed Alpha." Players will be able to try out the St. Quentin Scar map, which has been heavily featured throughout the abundance of promotional material we've been shown so far. 

Testers are encouraged to share their thoughts on the game via a private message board in the Battlefield Forums. The email concludes by reminding players to not share any information, screenshots or videos relating to the game, so don't expect to see any new footage anytime soon.

If you didn't receive a code, it looks like you're out of luck, but you can sign up for the public beta that's due to take place later this year, though, via the Battlefield Insider program.

E3 2016 - first gameplay footage 

We've finally been given our first proper look at what we can expect from Battlefield 1 when it launches later this year. New destruction elements mean each battle you play will be different, with airships falling from the sky and buildings crumbling to the ground. There's also dynamic weather, too, with battles going from bright sunny days to harsh fog and heavy rain affecting your visibility.

The new operations multiplayer game mode features a series of interconnected battles across multiple fronts, where your actions have consequences beyond a single match, like some kind of tug of war style game. You can also call in the Behemoths, large fully player-controlled vehicles that roam the battlefield and rain fire on your enemy. Expect to take control of the Armored Train, the Zeppelin-style Airship, or the Battleship as you fight across land, air, and sea.

The new trailer also seemed to showcase the singleplayer side of things too, with in-game cutscenes running on the gorgeous Frostbite 3 engine. While details are scarce, the trailer features a tank filled with soldiers, dogfighting and horse-based combat too. 

Hands on with the E3 demo

It's a good thing you start way back in your own trenches at the start of Battlefield 1's huge E3 multiplayer demo, for instead of charging into battle with the rest of our 32-strong squadron, we're stuck gazing at the mud pooling around our boots. It's gorgeous, viscous stuff, and the rather glacial pace at which we try to sprint through it only reinforces its thick, gloopy texture. Rainfall glistens on the surface, tire marks churn it up, and mortars will blow it wide open, offering a small crater in which to hide in.

It's a real sight to behold, but with the first bomb sounding way off in the distance, we know it's time to get going. As we clamber through the trenches and over the fences, our main battleground is a small French village of the St Quentin Scar, where six objectives need to be captured from the enemy. It's a fierce battle, with shouts of 'We've lost Objective Charlie!' and 'We've lost Objective Duff' filling the air. 

Battlefield 1 train

There's so much to take in that we almost forget we're part of a smaller, five-man squad, as following your leader's objectives will lead to greater rewards once the battle is over. There's barely any time to think about that, though, as it's not long before Assault and Sniper-class soldiers are on our tail. We dash into a nearby barn, the gloom slowly dissipating as we get used to the comparative darkness. We wouldn't advise standing against the windows, as the sheer force of the light coming in is absolutely blinding, so you'll need a few precious seconds for your eyes to adjust before you can see outside. 

Still, with our enemies lost, we creep out and venture toward one of the lost checkpoint up on the hill. It's a stone windmill, but it turns out our comrades have thought one step ahead, as a tank suddenly draws up beside me and starts pelting it with gunfire. As we scramble up the hillside, it suddenly gives way, bursting open in a deluge of stone and dirt. The tank retreats but we carry on to mop up the stragglers, reclaiming the post before heading back down to the fray in the valley below. 

Battlefield 1 destruction

We eventually catch up with that tank and slot ourselves into one of the spare open side guns. It's pretty snug, but with two additional gunners (one on the top and another on the opposite side), it probably makes for a pretty fearsome sight on the ground. It's not much good against the opposing team's Airship, mind, but given the lack of running gunfire littering the battlefield, we suspect it's probably not quite as well-armed as our beloved tank. 

Eventually, though, we leave the comfort of the tank after our driver gets stuck in a rut and go it alone, only to get cut down seconds later by another Assault class. You can request revival from nearby medics, but if they take too long it's back to the Deployment Screen, which gives you an overview of the battlefield and lets you spawn on certain players or captured checkpoints. 

Battlefield 1 airship

We go in as a Sniper next time and hold up in the attic of a nearby house. We don't have a particularly good view, though, and our poorly-aimed shot at a 'blink-and-you'll-miss-it' enemy leaves us reeling from the powerful kick of the rifle. The Medics also have their own rifles, while Support can resupply you with additional bags of ammo, but with the entire battlefield an utter free-for-all, there's not much teamwork to be seen at all. 

Still, even with dozens of Assault players running about, Battlefield 1 is brilliant fun, and the sheer number of people really lets you take advantage of all the different vehicles types without feeling like you're taking too many soldiers off the ground or limiting your line of attack. It certainly makes a great first impression, and we can't wait to play more come October.  

Multiplayer weapons

A recent Q&A with weapon designer, Julian Schimek, has shed some light on details about weapon variation we can see in the multiplayer. Schimek confirmed that there will be weapon customisation in the game, with the option to equip bayonets and alter the handling. You’ll also be able to change your weapon’s sight magnification and even add weapons skins too.

Schimek says that melee weapons are a big focus in the game, adding: “Getting up-close and personal with your enemies was much more common in World War 1 than in other wars of the 20th century. We designed a number of distinct melee weapon types to take advantage of this, each featuring different attack speeds and damage output.”

Trailers and gameplay

Three years since Battlefield 4 launched in 2011, Battlefield 1 will yet again let you fight in 64 player multiplayer battles, this time with the option to bring a horse to a tank fight. Despite plenty of early speculation, the game isn’t going to involve an alternate history timeline, focusing purely on the conflicts that ensued during the war, albeit a slightly glorified version for our entertainment.

DICE told us that the game will be a lot more destructible than previous installments, with plenty of locations in France, Italy and the Arabian Desert. As the game includes old weaponry, there will also be more of a focus on skill, rather than lock on weapons that were prevalent in modern Battlefield games. The series’ class system has also been changed, although that was only mentioned in passing, with more details expected soon.

We don’t know a whole lot about the single-player mode in the game yet, but at least we've got one, unlike last year’s Star Wars Battlefront. What we do know is that the singleplayer will focus on different stories and personalities in the conflict, which will apparently “more accurately reflect Battlefield’s open sandboxes”. The trailer does show a Bedouin woman riding a horse into battle too, who at first glance looks to be a singleplayer character.

Collector's Edition and DLC

As with most EA games nowadays, Battlefield 1 will also be available for EA Access starting on 16th October. Pre-orders have currently gone live, with prices starting from £49.99 for the base game. 

There's also a Collector's Edition of the game, priced at £179.99 that includes a 14in statue of the soldier on the box art, playing cards, a cloth poster, a patch and an exclusive DLC code in a messenger pigeon tube.

Battlefield 1 Collector's Edition

If you want to play the game even earlier, you can sign up for the public beta, via the Battlefield Insider program. While we don't know any details yet, it's nice to know there will be a beta and a chance to try out the game, before release.

It wouldn’t be a modern game announcement without details about DLC, either. If you pre-order the game you get access to the Hellfighter Pack, which focuses on the Harlem Hellfighters, the first African-American infantry unit. You’ll also get seven days early access to a free map drop, with the Lawrence of Arabia and Red Baron DLC packs also mentioned.

Pre-order Battlefield 1 now from Amazon