The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games, academia and life dare to converge

Battlefield 1: First Impressions of the Multiplayer

“We can have a World War, I see absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t have a World Party.” —Vanna Bonta

With the campaign now in the books, I begin playing through Battlefield 1‘s meat and potatoes — multiplayer matches with upwards of sixty-four players on large maps define Battlefield, and Battlefield 1 is no different. About twenty something hours and some fourteen ranks into the multiplayer, it becomes apparent that Battlefield 1 is a rather different beast than its predecessors, with both negatives and positives that affect gameplay. Beginning with the negatives, I’ve not been enjoying the spotting system at all: Battlefield 3 and 4 had a solid system where players on the opposing team would be visible if they fired their weapons or were picked out by friendly forces. However, because spotting has been modified with a cooldown in Battlefield 1 to prevent spamming, I’ve found that on matches where teammates don’t bother spotting, I’ve died from players who seem to always know where I am. While meant to encourage more emphasis on audio-visual cues, the new spotting system makes it very tricky to get a bead on where enemy players are: it would be appropriate to reintroduce the idea of being visible on the minimap for a few seconds after firing unless one has suppressors attached to provide a better sense of where enemies are firing from. The new battle-pack system is also something that I’m not fond of: in Battlefield 4, battle-packs are awarded for achievements players make, such as reaching a certain rank or earning service stars. In Battlefield 1, this system is driven by a random-number generator, meaning an incentive to stick with a play-style or weapon has now been removed. Finally, the medal system is similarly disappointing: in Battlefield 3 and 4, players could earn ribbons for supporting their team or making good use of their weapons, and these ribbons would count towards a medal. Battlefield 1 has made medals weekly challenges, and limits players to picking one; as well, ribbons are gone, so players are no longer rewarded for reviving teammates, getting long-range headshots or capturing a number of points in a match.

It seems a long list of complaints, but Battlefield 1‘s multiplayer has proven to be largely fun (provided that I’m not running into those one-sided matches where my teammates do not spot and where the opposing team spots appropriately to give the impression where I am dying because of people always knowing my location): the first thing that makes the Battlefield 1 multiplayer a blast is the tactile feeling the different weapons have whenever a kill is scored. Battlefield 1‘s new scoring system has also been enjoyable: kills now yield a much smaller point count, while playing the objectives yields a large amount of points. There have been matches where I had a poor KD ratio, but because I was actively supporting my teams by attacking or defending objectives and doing whatever my class can to help them, I’ve ended up near the top of the scoreboards. In other matches, I’ve made haste for objectives a squad leader has designated, then helped teammates capture it while healing, reviving or resupplying any friendlies nearby, scoring an excess of a thousand points for the sum of my actions. Battlefield 1 is a team game, and while I do not have a microphone, I still do my best to help my team. To see the game promote this style of play over having a good KD ratio is an encouraging one, since I rather enjoy the role of playing objectives rather than going for kills alone. I have the most fun in Battlefield when I know that I used my classes to help my team to victory. Beyond a point system that encourages objective and team play, Battlefield 1 also looks gorgeous. Maps are intricately detailed, and destruction is back from Bad Company 2 in a big way: buildings can be destroyed entirely with enough fire to deny players of cover and hiding spots, while artillery and explosives can dynamically put craters in the terrain that can act as makeshift cover: I’ve been saved numerous times by hiding in craters absent earlier and have lived to fight another day.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • Immediately after loading up my first match in Battlefield 1, I am greeted by a devastated town square in the map Amiens. The starting weapon for the assault class is the MP-18 Trench, a reasonably effective all-around weapon for close to medium ranges. However, acclimatising to a new weapon in a new game can be challenging, and it took me a few matches to warm up to the firing rate and recoil patterns of the MP-18 Trench.

  • I recall that in Battlefield 3, the first kill I obtained a screenshot with was with a melee weapon, and for the Battlefield 1 Open Beta, the first screenshot I had in that post was also with a melee weapon, so in that spirits, I found a screenshot of myself obtaining a melee kill and posted that as my second image. The melee weapons in Battlefield 1 are rather fun to use, and different weapons have different properties (some can cut through barbed wire, while others can deal some damage to vehicles).

  • The first time I played conquest, I was assigned to the losing team and happened to join when the armoured train was deployed. I spawned into the 57 mm cannon and began laying down fire where the minimap indicated enemy presence. Aside from an interesting kill resulting from one of the buildings collapsing and taking out one of the occupants, I also got a double kill. However, in the close quarters of Amiens, the other team brought out their anti-armour weapons, and the train was destroyed shortly after.

  • The FT-17 light tank had proven a touch too effective during the open beta, and in response to the feedback from the community, the tank’s attributes were reduced. Now carrying four rounds rather than six, and requiring a much longer self-repair time, it is no longer possible to go on ridiculous kill-streaks with the light tank, although it nonetheless remains an effective weapon for denying an area to enemy infantry: here, I use the canister shells to take out an enemy before recapturing one of the objectives.

  • For the assault class’ MP-18 submachine gun, there are three variants. The Trench is the starting version with excellent hip fire, while the Optical has a sight for improved accuracy at medium ranges, and the Experimental variant comes with a three-round burst. The Trench version is the most suitable for my play-style, allowing me to fire from the hip with reasonable accuracy: having good hip-fire becomes important when one equips the gas mask, since its filter prevents one from aiming down sights.

  • The Sentry elite classes are intended for transforming players into walking tanks for pushing through infantry at close quarters. On German and Ottoman maps, they are equipped with the MG 08/15, a belt-fed, portable variant of the MG 08 that is effective for mopping up infantry or suppressing other players thanks to its large ammunition capacity. While well-defended from bullets, I’ve seen Sentry players be killed via melee attacks, suggesting that getting a kill from behind is a quick way of eliminating a Sentry.

  • Unlike the open beta, the AT Rocket Gun is unlocked for use immediately by the assault class, making them a capable anti vehicle presence right out of the gates. With a slow projectile travel speed and long reload time, the weapon is actually a 40 mm light artillery piece, and its name came from its distinct muzzle flash: the projectile is not propelled by a rocket motor. The weapon is effective against infantry, and can be used to punch through building walls. Here, I get another double kill from one shot with the AT Rocket Gun.

  • It takes 50 000 points to rank up the Assault and Support classes, while Medics level up after 45 000 points. I think that Scouts level up after 30 000 points. Leveling up a class is not the same as ranking up, and confers a set of new weapons that become available for purchase. My first move was to pick up the Model 10-A shotgun to offer more serious stopping power in extreme close quarters.

  • Playing Conquest on Sinai Desert was the mainstay of the Battlefield 1 open beta, and now that this is the released game, the map feels a little different with respect to how things are organised. While the FT-17 light tank has been reduced in efficacy, I still utilise it mainly because I’m not a particularly good driver (and dying would mean the death of anywhere from two to five other teammates). Here, I use it to destroy another vehicle and defend one of the capture points.

  • The Cei-Rigotti is the starting weapon for the medic class, being a a jack-of-all-trades weapon that is suitable for medium ranges. However, it lacks the optics for long range combat, and its small magazine size constrains its use at close quarters. These two extremities are where medics typically operate, whether its at the front lines reviving teammates, or acting as support for players defending an objective, so I was not able to utilise this weapon too effectively.

  • Once I unlocked and purchased the Model 10-A, I immediately took a liking to it for maps where close-quarters combat is king. It is capable of taking out players in a single shot at close ranges and handles similarly to the 870 MCS of older Battlefield games, but one aspect I will have to grow accustomed is a different reload mechanic: right now, I don’t think I can interrupt a reloading sequence, and it was trying to get a shot off mid-reload that lead to my deaths while using this weapon.

  • Kills score a meagre 20 points in Battlefield 1, with more points awarded for hitting an enemy. However, the bulk of one’s points will come from playing objectives, capturing points and following squad orders. There have been several cases where a combination of playing the objective and supporting teammates has landed me a thousand points at once, and doing this frequently, in addition to helping my team perform, also nets me a large number of points for leveling up my classes.

  • The support class in Battlefield 1 plays a mixed role between the support class of earlier Battlefield games by supplying teammates with ammunition, as well as the aspect of the Engineer classes that handled vehicle repair. I’ve had a fantastic time with resupplying teammates and repairing vehicles, but found the LMGs in Battlefield 1 to be under-performing; they are out-damaged by even pistols, and their low firing rate means they’re not effective at close range. In Battlefield 3 and 4, the LMGs’ high capacity and firing rates made them superb close-to-mid range weapons, so I think that it would be nice for future updates to boost their damage by one point, so that it requires three shots to achieve a kill rather than four at close quarters.

  • Anti-air guns in the multiplayer are considered “too effective” against enemy aircraft, but I’ve found them to be balanced sufficiently; a good pilot can evade the guns by making use of the terrain, and being stationary leaves one exposed to sniper fire. While intended for use against aircraft (and I have damaged aircraft with the anti-air guns), there are some cases where they can be used in an anti-personnel role.

  • Compared to the Assault or Support class, leveling up medics seems to be much simpler even though I was uncomfortable with the Cei-Rigotti’s small capacity because of their ability to heal and revive teammates. By spawning on teammates who were capturing a point after clearing it of enemies and dropping medical patches left and right to heal them, or else keeping back far enough to survive a tank assault and bring downed squad-mates back, I accumulated points.

  • Back in November’s BattleFest event, I participated in the missions that were advertised as yielding some cool virtual stuff, landing a skin for the M1911 and some dog tags. I also played through the Operations game mode with the aim of unlocking the PTFO skin, and helped my team successfully defend their sectors to a full victory, but even after the event ended, I’ve still not gotten the skin.

  • I’m not too bothered if I don’t get the skin, and the Operations mode was remarkably fun. It’s essentially a mix of conquest and rush at a large scale, allowing for shifting frontlines that some classes can utilise to really shine. I had a fabulous time in Operations with healing and reviving teammates, but the close quarters frenzy in the trenches of St. Quentin Scar, the assault class is also lethal. Here, I would get a kill with a grenade before following up with two kills using the Model 10-A.

  • Here, I spawned into a heavy tank that found itself stuck in the terrain, got a kill, exited it to take out another soldier, then re-entered to find the tank abandoned, so I exited again and got another kill. My Battlefield emblem is visible on the vehicle here: it’s an older Ooarai logo dating back to my Battlefield 4 days, and it’s only as of late that I found that many of the Premium-only symbols and shapes from Battlefield 4 seem to be available for use in Battlefield 1. This means it’s time to go to town on creating anime icons for amusement.

  • In a harrowing few moments where I noticed a land ship on the next hill hammering away at my team, I ducked for cover and fired two rounds from my trusty AT Rocket Gun, destroying the vehicle and its inhabitants. It’s one of the cooler kills I’ve gotten with the gadget, and with one fewer vehicle shelling friendly positions, our team managed to retake the remaining capture points, drained off the remaining enemy tickets and won the match.

  • The one downside about Operations is that games do take quite a while to complete, and with rare exceptions, I don’t usually find the time to sit down for a long session on account of all the other stuff I’m doing. The Operations match I played lasted around fifty minutes, while Conquest matches last anywhere from twenty to forty minutes. Here in a game of TDM, which usually last only ten to fifteen minutes, I manage to find a Sentry Kit and grab several kills before another player had the presence of mind to knife me. While Sentry classes can be considered unnecessary for something like TDM, they aren’t invincible, and teams working in a coordinated manner can take them out.

  • In spite of my inability to use the Cei-Rigotti, I have managed to get some kills with it, clearing out two players here that had spawned close to my position. One of the challenges about Battlefield 1 at present is simply recognising and remembering how to spell the names of the different weapons; this was not a problem for this post, given that I’ve only gotten four weapons unlocked on top of the base ones each class comes with, and in future posts, I’ll probably be more familiar with spelling the names of weapons I use frequently.

  • During one particularly chaotic match on Argonne Forest, I managed to pick up the flame-trooper elite kit, and promptly killed five people within a twenty-second span before succumbing to yet another well-placed melee attack. Similar to the Sentry elite class, the flame-trooper is limited by being only effective at close ranges, although the extreme power of the flamethrower has led me to wonder why the weapon is not given limited fuel, or a limit on how long it can fire before it requires a cooldown.

  • One of the cool things about Amiens is that capture points can be taken from under the bridge, as well. The screenshots in this post are dated between October and December, so it’s been almost two months since I bought the game: time is flying, and yesterday evening, at a lobster boil my start-up’s CEO was hosting, he remarked on how quickly time had passed. The idea for a Newfoundland-style lobster boil had been floated around since late August, and back then, the idea was, if the start-up was doing well, we would host a lobster boil.

  • So, we must be doing okay, since the lobster boil happened yesterday evening. After a chilly drive, I arrived and helped prepare the live lobsters for cooking: they were absolutely delicious (especially with the accompanying Italian herb butter, home-made rolls, and two different salads). Discussions about the company’s upcoming directions and the future followed, accompanied by chocolate fondue. Back in Battlefield 1, a quick kill on a player with a particularly interesting name here, in conjunction with capturing a point, defending the point and avenging fellow players is sufficient for me to almost score a thousand points here.

  • There are some times where so much is happening in Battlefield that I do not notice something cool until I take a gander at all of the screenshots I’ve managed to collect over the course of my gameplay. This moment is one such example: I reached rank thirteen by killing a sentry to capture a point. As of now, I’ve got a win-rate of fifty-two percent as as consequence of helping my team out; in fact, it is usually in TDM where I find myself losing.

  • Curiously enough, it was while flying as a tail gunner in an attack aircraft and getting a passenger assist for another kill that gave my medic class enough points to reach rank two, unlocking a treasure trove of useful weapons for the class. My mind immediately drifted towards the Selbstlader M1916 Marksman, but I looked at the scoreboard and realised that our team was losing here. With the difference in score at the right threshold, an armoured train was inbound.

  • Hence, I immediately hopped into the seat for the anti-aircraft gun and began firing on enemy aircraft, destroying a plane here and neutralising its pilot, as well. The anti-air gun, though performing similarly to its incarnation in the open beta, looks completely different now, being equipped with a different barrel and set of sights. Even with the train, however, the score gap between the two teams was too much, and we proceeded to lose the round.

  • Before the train exploded from concentrated enemy fire, I managed one final kill on a foot mobile before ditching the train. Battlefield 1 manages to make matches fun even for the vanquished team in Conquest by means of the behemoths. By this point, I’ve ridden in the armoured train and helmed a dreadnought, but have yet to enter a Zeppelin. Since Behemoths are common in Operations and Conquest game modes, I imagine that playing enough of either will eventually allow me to see what a Zeppelin is like.

  • The medic class suddenly becomes my most favourite class now that I’ve got a weapon that can deal decent damage at long ranges: unlocking the Selbstlader M1916 Marksman and learning that it fits with my play-style perfectly was one of my best moments in Battlefield 1, and even though I would lose this TDM round, I had a blast with the weapon. Closer inspection finds that my Ooarai emblem can be seen on the gun. Initially, I thought that emblems were depreciated in Battlefield 1, but they’ve been modified to be more subtle now, being normal-mapped to the weapon to give the sense that the emblem’s engraved into the weapon.

  • Investigation of the earlier screenshots in this post will also allow for the emblems to be found on my other weapons. The addition of a long-range optic means that I was able to take out a distant sniper with the Selbstlader M1916 Marksman, and it was this kill that convinced me the weapon is exactly what my class needed. With the medic class now in a configuration I’m comfortable with, my next goal in Battlefield 1 is to get the Assault and Support classes to rank three so I’ve got most of their weapons, before figuring out my difficult journey towards unlocking the Kolibri pistol.

Overall, Battlefield 1 does some things more effectively than its predecessors, while other areas could stand to see substantial improvements. I’ve heard that DICE has no plans to release another Battlefield game until at least 2018, and if this holds true, it means that they will have the resources to support and improve Battlefield 1 over the next few years. This marks the first time I’ve picked up a Battlefield game shortly after launch, and it will be interesting to see how the game matures with the passage of time. For the present, the medic’s quickly become my favourite class, allowing me to provide a vast amount of support for my team while simultaneously allowing me to equip the versatile Selbtslader 1916 marksman, which allows me to hold my own at medium ranges on larger maps. Of course, I will need to get familiar with the other classes, and while it’ll be challenging to rank them up until I have access to the weapons I’d like (especially for the support and scout classes), it’ll also be an interesting journey to see whether or not leveling up will allow me to support my teammates more effectively and perhaps, die less frequently even when the enemy forces seem to always know exactly where I’m hiding out while waiting for my health bar to recover whenever I’m not using the medic class.

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