I've been playing the Battlefield 1 open beta for the last few days, with some truly great 'only in Battlefield' moments that had me screaming with either glee or pure anger.
DICE has really amped up the feeling of presence in Battlefield 1, something that is crucial to VR gaming, but I felt it in BF1. There are so many things that are happening around you, that the improved graphics lend an even more lending hand to making you feel like you're right there in the middle of the desert, or in a room, or laying down in a ditch shooting and dodging fire from all sides.
Battlefield 1 is definitely some of the most fun that I've had in a Battlefield game so far, but also some instant classic gaming moments that most refer to the "Battlefield Moments", of which there are plenty in Battlefield 1. Do you know how many times I've been killed or hurt by a horse in BF1 so far? More times than I'd like to admit.
The weapons in the game feel heavy and old, and not like the super-light, over-powered guns and rifles we have today and in games like Battlefield 4. Tanks and planes are slow and cumbersome to move around in, and it all feels freakin' awesome. You can't just drive around in a tank owning the map easily, but as infantry - you don't just have rocket launchers to take down tanks like your grandkids did in Battlefield 4.
DICE has always been ahead of the game when it comes to the audio in Battlefield games, with Battlefield 1 hitting a new peak in more ways than one. Firstly, the score of Battlefield 1 is absolutely incredible - hitting emotional highs when you win, and you-better-win-it-now intense lows. I found myself stopping and enjoying the score in one of the matches as my team was losing, just because it was so great to listen to.
Each gun has it's own individual sound, with DICE spending time with real guns from the World War 1 era to capture near-perfect sounds to reproduce in Battlefield 1. I used machine guns, sniper rifles and pistols which all sounded amazing - with a nice punch and reloading sound to the sniper rifle feeling quite orgasmic to my ears. Bullets whizzing past your head can feel more real than it should, and explosions from tanks and grenades had my subwoofer in a workout.
I'm a graphics enthusiast, and have a high standard of where I think graphics should be on the PC - and in general - and Battlefield 4 was one of the best looking games of the past few years. DICE has really stretched the Frostbite engine with Battlefield 1, and the results are incredible - it's not just the best looking Battlefield yet, it's one of the best looking games on the market - and this is in beta form.
There are little details that you tend to notice, but the detailed textures are akin to the ones in Star Wars Battlefront. Highly detailed surfaces that immerse you in the environment and Battlefield world even more, on top of the animations on infantry and the vehicles and planes. It's all top notch stuff.
Dynamic Weather Effects
DICE promised that dynamic weather effects would totally change the way a map was played, as well as the feel of the environment - and man, did the weather effects really change everything. With just one map to judge it from, the dust storms that it would create were enormous, completely changing the game by rapidly decreasing your view distance.
You can't see through dust storms in real life, and this is translated into Battlefield 1 perfectly. If you were a sniper before the dust storm, your play style completely changes with a dust storm. Rushing? You're going to be more careful because you can't see 50-100m in front of you, so you change the way you play thanks to the dynamic weather. It really makes it feel like a more dynamic Battlefield game, where myself and my team mates had to change our play style on-the-fly.
Thoughts So Far
I'm loving Battlefield 1 in its current beta form, and think that DICE have nailed it. If you remember the troubled launch of Battlefield 4, this is a new direction for the company. We don't have half-baked game with online issues, as the open beta was stable for the most part. There were some server issues, but it wasn't as bad as the official launch of BF4.
I can't wait to try out the rest of the maps, as they'll all have a truly unique feel thanks to the Frostbite engine, and most of all - the dynamic weather effects. The dynamic weather effects in Battlefield 1 are the best I've experienced in a game so far, as it truly wraps you in the world when all of that wind is hurling around and there's dust absolutely everywhere, completely obscuring your view of the battlefield.
The graphics are top notch, something I expected from the team at DICE, but they've outdone themselves here. I can't wait to see what the full game looks like as I'm sure there's still a little more they can squeeze out of Battlefield 1 before it launches next month. The audio, is a pleasure to listen to, and I found myself sitting in the menus a fair bit just admiring the score.
It's going to be a fun few days before the open beta ends, but Battlefield 1 will definitely be a game I pump over 100 hours into when it launches next month.
Notes: I was playing Battlefield 1 on the AVADirect AVATAR VR gaming PC, but I switched out the included EVGA GeForce GTX 980 Ti VR Edition graphics card, to the new Pascal-based Titan X from NVIDIA. I'm using an Acer XB270HU monitor which has a native resolution of 2560x1440 and 144Hz refresh rate with NVIDIA's G-Sync technology.
I'm running Windows 10, and had Battlefield 1 on the Ultra preset but disabled AA, and then enabled DX12 mode. I was hitting around 120FPS minimum, with roughly 130-140FPS average. It would drop below 120FPS at times, but for the really intense battles with smoke, tanks, and a lot of on-screen action.