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E3 2016: Hands-on with Battlefield 1

I played Battlefield 1 for five minutes after queuing for one-and-a-half actual hours after EA's E3 press conference today. This is what happened.


E3 2016: Hands-on with Battlefield 1

If anything exemplifies the farce that is E3, it's companies trying to give you a meaningful look at complex shooters and RPGs in the show environment. Battlefield 1 is as complicated and tactical as you would expect any major Battlefield iteration to be, and therefore pretty much all I can tell you about it after playing it for literally five minutes is that it's insanely beautiful and features guns.

After the queue of death of which we shall never speak again, we saw some trailers and concept art in a separate room as part of an explanation of what we were about to play. The E3 code's pre-alpha, apparently. This time it's World War 1, as you all know. Shotguns, machine guns, and flamethrowers are involved, said the screen. You can call in artillery. The Italian Alps and the fields of France are included. We saw nothing of that.

We did see enough, though, to state that this, unequivocally, is a Battlefield game. We played a single round of Conquest, a 64-player mode in which you capture and hold points. The map was French. I think. We played British against Germans.


"It's looks completely amazing. I was playing on PC, admittedly, but good grief. It's a technical wonder."

From the instantly familiar spawn screen, you get the option to deploy in one of four roles, those being Assault, Medic, Support or Scout. You're allowed to spawn in on teammates after picking your class, which does a decent job of cutting down the age-old Battlefield problem of running for miles then being shot by an invisible sniper. Or tank gun. Or plane.

Assault used a MP18-TR submachine gun as the main weapons, while the Support role brought an LMG to the fight. I didn't have time to test the dropping of health or ammo for teammates. I didn't even try the Medic. The Scout uses a bolt-action rifle for sniping. Being Battlefield, the bullets drop massively. I couldn't hit a thing (this is no indication of anything: I was jet-lagged off my ass and hadn't eaten for eight hours).

If your team's losing you get a Behemoth vehicle appear as a levelling device, in this case a giant airship. It's capable of dropping bombs and is used as a platform for multiple machine guns, but the enemy can take it down relatively easily with planes and sustained fire from tanks. When it explodes in a sea of sparks it's spectacular. I saw it from the deployment screen because I was dead again. I spawned and died and walls dissolved and the whole shebang packed more particles than an especially large star. I killed two opponents. Our team lost.


Look. I can't tell you too much about Battlefield 1 from my play-time apart from these things:

  1. It's a Battlefield game. If you've played Battlefield games before and find yourself in a cycle of running forward and dying, you'll find it instantly familiar.
  2. It's looks completely amazing. I was playing on PC, admittedly, but good grief. It's a technical wonder. I got killed several times while standing still looking at the grass textures. Genuinely lovely visuals.
  3. It's a Battlefield game. Seriously. It's a Battlefield game.
  4. The vehicle stuff's hilarious. You'll see bi-planes crashing into buildings and tanks driving in circles because no one knows how to do anything.
  5. The destruction is, as you'd expect, game-changing. I watched snipers standing in towers forced to run away as their cover was torn apart by explosives. If your weapon is powerful enough, you can destroy it.

In the full game you'll obviously get the campaign, of which we saw nothing. We didn't see any horses or any sea combat, and we didn't have any chance to fiddle with any of the detailed load-out customisation options we saw in the video before the play-time (each weapon will have six variants).

And there you have it. I stood in a line for more than 90 minutes to watch a video and play a single round of a pretty Battlefield game set in World War 1. Stuff blew up. An airship burned. I died. I then left the building, got in my car and went back to a friend's house to attempt to write something meaningful from very little. Get off my back. I tried.

Battlefield 1 releases for PC, PS4 and Xbox One on October 21. For moe from E3, check out our massive hub for all the trailers and games so far

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