Speaking of going back to the 'roots': spotting has been nerfed and will instead be very familiar to those who've been playing since the Bad Company series or earlier. To elaborate, audio spotting is gone altogether. No more enemies showing up on the minimap when they fire, so now you have to pay attention to the sounds around you. It was a horrendous mechanic regardless of the setting, but the World War I dressings make the 'new' design even more necessary and appropriate.
Even general spotting seems to be toned down, with enemies appearing spotted for less time, making for another great change. I take no issue with spotting as a mechanic: it has its use in making battles a little less chaotic and makes dying and killing feel less random, but if taken too far, it lowers the skill floor severely and limits gameplay options, particularly stealth and flanking, so it's good to see this isn't the case anymore.
'Levolution' has been replaced by dynamic weather: maps now feature rolling fog, rain showers, sandstorms, and so on for short or long periods of time. Apart from altering the aesthetic, gameplay changes too: snipers are forced to play more aggressive or switch to another class, and stealth or conservative play are encouraged depending on the situation, to name a couple of examples. While DICE has experimented with such mechanics in the past, it's never gone so full on with it, and I'm happy to say the implementation is excellent, and something I'd like to see in all future titles (just throw time of day into that mix, too).
DICE takes a page from its own Battlefront with Battlefield 1, adding hero pickups or 'elite classes'. You pick up an elite class kit that spawns periodically and grants you the ability to do devastating damage while being harder to kill thanks to special armor. My personal favorite is the flame trooper, which boasts maybe the most fun weapon in any Battlefield game: a flamethrower that benefits greatly from sweet special effects and a much longer range than you'd expect. Torching entire squads doesn't get old; part of me wants a toned-down version of the weapon playable at any time, but there are benefits to this approach, too.
The most concerning thing about the game right now is PC server related. The average player isn't likely to care about this, but for those that play in communities on Teamspeak and such, what EA is doing is concerning, to say the least.
In short, servers can't be rented until sometime in November, and even then, no mention has been made of procon access, so unless some new information comes out, administrators won't be able to implement specialized plugins, most notably Teamsync plugins and their ilk, which automatically group up Teamspeak users into separate squad channels, facilitating teamwork to the fullest. Teamsync alone made a world of difference for good gameplay in Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 4 on the PURE servers among others; if EA doesn't allow for such tools this time around, the community will absolutely suffer.
Some other key features that are out of the mix, at least for the time being: auto balancing, admin paging, priority queue access (for donors, community staff members, etc.), kicking, and banning. It's not difficult to see how this could go south if left as is. As for what admins can control, just ticket count, bullet damage, modes, maps, and weapons are confirmed for now, though many more are said to be in store.
Battlefield 1 is marred by a somewhat clunky interface that doesn't fit the setting at all, a vague server situation, and occasionally poor map design. However, the good outweighs the bad by a lot; most won't care about these things (especially if you play on console), and the server situation could end up working out just fine. And given DICE LA -- the primary reason Battlefield 4 became the great game it is -- is involved from the beginning this time, I expect the game to only improve.
Even as is, BF1 is the best game DICE has released in years by far, boasting tremendously fun gameplay, stunning visuals, and a fresh setting to boot. In short, I recommend it highly.
PRICING: You can find Battlefield 1 for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link below to see real-time pricing for the best deal:
United States: Battlefield 1 retails for $60 at Amazon.
United Kingdom: Battlefield 1 retails for £40 at Amazon UK.
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