Battlefield 1 Hands-On Preview [E3 2016]

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As you might have expected then, the engineer class has been done away with. Instead, we now have the medic class, which has taken over the healing responsibilities that the assault class used to be in charge of. Usually wielding submachine guns, the medic can both revive and heal teammates who are downed or injured, and a rather useful ‘alert’ feature allows downed players to ping for nearby medics.

On the other hand, both the support and scout (recon) classes have remained largely untouched. Supports still have the ability to lay down suppressive fire with large machines guns, and resupply teammates with ammo when need be. Scout classes still excel at long range sniping, and intel gathering when the need arises.

These changes might seem minute to some, but the rebalancing and retooling of classes provides each with complementary abilities and skills, which keeps the game going at a brisk pace. Similarly, the emphasis on more focused styles of play allow for newcomers to ease into an online game with much more grace. During our hands-on time with it, we saw some players who weren’t very skilled at running and gunning, but did well when tasked with reviving and healing players, for example.

Still, even with these new changes, there are plenty of moments in Battlefield 1 that feel familiar. Having played a few rounds of Conquest (the series’ flagship mode), it was clear that DICE was not planning touch and tinker with systems that are tried and true. Squads are back in full force, allowing you to create smaller groups of four within your team, with the benefits being that you can spawn on squad members and more easily work together to complete an objective.

Vehicles make a strong showing as well, with World War I era planes, trucks and tanks leading the charge. Planes have received a noticeable overhaul, mostly in order to fit in with the types of planes that saw combat during World War I. Vehicle specific classes (both pilot and tanker) are used when piloting land and air vehicles, and with planes, some are outfitted to allow two players to take to the skies, with one piloting while the other handles shooting.

Vehicle-wise, the biggest addition comes in the form of tide-turning Behemoth vehicles. Taking the form of giant zeppelins, ships, and armored trains, these vehicles can be used to quickly turn the tides if your team finds themselves falling behind. The zeppelin for example has the ability to rain down fire on infantry and combat vehicles, while simultaneously being able to defend itself from attacking planes. Although they do have the ability to change the tide of a battle, these ‘behemoths’ also attract a lot of attention (and fire), so they never feel overpowered or unfair.

While we have yet to see any footage or gameplay from the single player campaign, Battlefield 1’s multiplayer offering is by far the most polished and well-designed online offering from DICE to date. We can only hope that the full game includes the same level of destruction and team play that made earlier titles stand out.