Bookmans Plays: Battlefield 1

Battlefield 1, released this past October, is a historical first-person shooter game based on various events that took place during World War 1. The action is tense and fast paced, with plenty of tactical strategy to be had, as is to be expected from a Battlefield game. The guns feel realistic and true to the era, and the UI is well designed. I have no real complaints with the multiplayer gameplay at all. That being said, where the game really shines is in its storytelling…
According to Xbox, only 9% of players have actually completed the Battlefield 1 campaign (and only 1% have completed it on the hardest difficulty). This really is a shame, because I feel that DICE (the studio behind BF1) really went all out this time with the campaign.
The campaign is split up into 5 “War Stories.” Each War Story is a stand-alone chapter highlighting a different aspect or facet of World War 1. For example, the first War Story, “Through Mud and Blood,” puts the player in the role of a young soldier charged with driving a tank through enemy territory in order to reunite his crew with the British forces. Other War Stories put the player in the shoes of an American fighter pilot, a Bedouin woman fighting alongside Lawrence of Arabia, and an Australian “Runner” scout.  Sure, the stories aren’t 100% historically accurate, but they do a great job of capturing the era and delivering it in consumable, playable, slices. Each War Story feels unique and though there isn’t much time to devote to character development given the shorter format, each story feels fully fleshed out and complete with a beginning, middle, and end.

Now if you’re anything like me, you’ve played first-person shooters all throughout your childhood. You’ve probably killed a billion insurgents, de-fused millions of bombs, and saved the world time and time again.  Right now you’re saying “Okay, so the story is ‘good’. But why should I care?  If I wanted a story I would go play Final Fantasy. I play shooters to shoot stuff.”  I totally get that. I was thinking the exact same thing before I got my hands on a copy of BF1 and gave it a shot.
What really sets Battlefield 1 apart from the countless shooters I’ve played in the past is it’s ability to instill emotion. While it is a shooter, it’s not a game about killing hordes of aliens, or faceless “terrorists.” The game does a great job of making you realize that you, just like the enemy, are a person.  A person with loved ones who are counting on you to come home. Not having studied very much of the history surrounding The Great War, Battlefield 1 really opened my eyes to the horrors of the war and just how many people lost their lives in the terrible conflict. Never have I felt such overwhelming empathy while playing a video game. There were times when I had to remind myself that I wasn’t really in a trench, I was comfortably sitting in my living room. But knowing that most of what I was experiencing and playing in this game was actually lived out by millions of real people, was enough to rattle me a bit and really make me stop and think. Battlefield 1 is not by any means a game endorsing war or violence, it’s a memorial to those who lived through it.
If you haven’t had a chance to try Battlefield 1 yet, give your local Bookmans a call to see if we have a copy for your console in stock.  If you have played it, what did you think? Does our assessment hold up? Drop us a comment and let us know!