Battlefield 1: Gamescom 2016 Hands-On
There's a dull thump in the distance. Through my scope I can see a man on horseback riding alongside a slow moving tank, pelting it with anti-tank grenades. This one seems to have struck the mark, and shortly after the explosion the tank bursts into flames, with soldiers pouring out of it like angry ants.
A bomber flies in low, dropping its payload over the whole scene and everything I was watching turns into a fireball, the moment lost like tears in the rain. Battlefield One captures that magic feeling of chaos and distils it into an action-packed experience. These sound like buzzwords, and I'm sure EA used them liberally to describe that Battlefield feeling, but here's the thing, Battlefield Hardline didn't have that feeling; Battlefield One does.
When Battlefield One really hits its flow, it sings. The combat is a bit slower paced now, due to its reliance on World War 1 era weaponry, and as a result fights feel like they have a bit of ebb and flow to them. I already miss holding down a bombed out building with my M249, but there's really something special about taking cover on one of the sand dunes that make up Sinai Desert and pinging shots at distant enemies.
Sinai Desert was the only map shown at Gamescom, but it plays well, with a mix of rock formations, buildings and detritus providing cover. The game feels scaled back from the feature creep and excesses of more recent Battlefield games. There are no squad bonuses, no hefty attachment system, just combat.
Sadly, the dizzying highs occasionally peter out to lows fairly often, and for each incredible battle you'll find yourself running for several minutes without a single engagement. It's probably atmospheric, but when the game is this fast-paced it breaks the tension, especially when you get sniped after a five-minute jog without ever seeing your assailant. DICE's own Star Wars Battlefront, although no doubt a worse game, nailed the pacing better.