With many shooters moving forward into the future, DICE dials in on the Great War.

World War 1 has been the forgotten war in video game history. Not many games have been made based on this era and there’s probably a reason. When people think World War 1, they think about how slow the combat would be, how clunky the tanks would feel and the slow bi-planes with machine guns strapped to them. I honestly felt sceptical about this era mostly because I didn’t know much about it but DICE has really proven already with a match of Battlefield 1 that the Great War is something we shouldn’t just turn a blind eye to.

At EA Play, we were offered a 64-player match of the upcoming Battlefield 1. From the start, you could already see minor improvements here and there. Visually upon spawning, the map looks gorgeous and its surprising to see DICE push this already visually impressive series to the next level. The map we played on was called The St. Quinten Scar and it’s based in France and had both the German and UK forces fighting for a piece of this valley, and town. Buildings can be taken down fully and there’s more way to fight than on foot – true Battlefield style.

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Basic infantry combat was quite intense due to the fact most encounters were long and short distances. The bolt action rifles allow for quick ranged take-downs which you can easily use to pick off enemies in the distance and down long corridors but when the combat gets close – it comes down to frantic pistol and melee combat. You can also charge enemies now with the bayonet in a banzai style move which doubles your speed into a target with a one hit take-down. There is a trade-off as you can’t shoot while charging and if you miss the target or get exposed in the open, you will be taken down easily.

The St. Quinten Scar was a big map and featured plenty of space for air combat and rolling armour. I managed to grab a tank for create havoc in. One of the first things I noticed about entering vehicles is the fact there’s an actual animation. Depending on which side you enter into a vehicle or seat, there’s a proper animation of your character getting into it which was pretty cool to see. You can also pick off people getting into vehicles. In my play-through, I managed to kill an enemy German soldier as he entering denying him the firepower. Previously, the Battlefield series never had animations for entering vehicles so this help build immersion.

I didn’t get to try to try the air combat but players will spawn into the map in planes rather than jumping into one on a runway. This was something they pulled from Star Wars Battlefront which is beneficial to keeping up the momentum of the gameplay. It also stops people from spawn killing planes trying to leave the runway which happened a lot in Battlefield 4 and before.

The airship is another new addition to Battlefield which kind of acts like a big battleship in the sky. Airships have devastating power and with its mounted machine guns can easily dominate the maps and important capture points. It’s slow and humongous which is the weakest part about it but if used properly can easily hold on its own. The enemy team had control of the airship and once it was in the air quickly took out points we were holding against them. Our team however concentrated our fire towards the airship which took it down.

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The word levolution was never used in the Battlefield 1 marketing but being a player of the franchise, the key game changers were still there. When the airship dropped, it created pretty much a mess of the town it crashed on which changed the urban landscape which new paths and open buildings. Other things such as dynamic weather also plays a factor in Battlefield 1 which can drastically change the map. This makes gameplay feel more varied even for such a dynamic sandbox shooter.

While I only played a session of the game. It felt refreshing and it’s obvious the team took what worked well in previous games such as Battlefront and moved it into Battlefield 1. It feels authentic and while set way before automatic weapons and jet fighters were a thing, DICE retained the feel of the series with its vicious firefights, close up brutality and gritty open landscapes. If you’re questioning the era this game is set in, then think again – Battlefield 1 is shaping up to be a solid entry into the series.

Battlefield 1 arrives on PC, Xbox One and PS4 – October 21, 2016