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Battlefield 1 Review: You are not expected to survive this

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Battlefield 1 delivers the game first-person shooter fans have been waiting for. EA DICE took everything fans love about the series and packaged it in an exciting, challenging and gorgeous experience. Old and new multiplayer game modes offer variety to keep you playing for hours on end, while the single-player campaign adds War Stories that are unique, gripping and an absolute must play. 

However, the fact that some players are forced to bring a 200+ ping to a gunfight limits the experience of what could've been the best shooter I've played in years.

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Battlefield 1 - The Good

Battlefield and Call of Duty have always focused on multiplayer as the core experience, with a single-player campaign thrown in as an afterthought. In Battlefield 1 EA DICE achieved the perfect balance as both sides of the game deliver an equally satisfying experience.

War Stories takes you from a dense jungle, to a beautiful village, to the vast open stretches of the desert, and a flight over snow-capped mountains. Each story takes you on a unique adventure, and it's not a case of using the same assets with a few changes here and there - it's six entirely different experiences. 

My favourite thing to do in Battlefield has always been to engage in combat as a tank driver, and I've always avoided coming near a cockpit. In the "Friends In High Places" campaign you have to pilot a plane - and so far it's been my highlight of War Stories. The introduction section simplified flying, and it gave me the opportunity to experience something I've always avoided. What a thrill it was.

The protagonist of each War Story is so well defined, that it makes climbing into their boots a delight. You also engage in combat that wraps itself around the backstory, missions, and character traits. For example, when playing the female Arab rebel in "Nothing Is Written" I completed all the missions (except where the story demanded otherwise), using stealth, knife kills and silenced weapons. It just felt right that way. The character in "Friends In High Places" is completely different, and lends himself to bold and risky combat.

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Before we move to multiplayer, one last thing - I replayed one of the stories on easy, medium and hard to see if there are any significant changes. (Take note, you have to restart the mission if you change the difficulty setting). Easy is a walk in the park and doesn't provide any challenge whatsoever. Medium provides the perfect balance, while hard can be incredibly frustrating - yet equally rewarding. On hard mode, your timing for melee attacks has to perfect, and things, like sneaking and avoiding line of sight must be executed to perfection. Enemies are harder to kill, and once alerted they could even follow you around the whole camp. They also aim better, and when you make mistakes (like alerting a sentry), you will probably die a few times before succeeding in completing the mission.

Battlefield 1's campaign truly gives the player a taste of six very different War Stories, and it sets a new standard for the franchise. I hope fans will not brush the campaign aside and only play multiplayer as they'll be missing out on an extraordinary achievement by EA DICE.

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Battlefield 1's multiplayer is to die for - and with a 200+ ping (I have a 4 meg line), you'll be doing a lot of just that. However, you can adjust your play style, select classes that better compliment your latency, and just play a smarter game. I found that playing medic and support gave me the best overall experience while sniping and assault led to much frustration. I highly recommend you grab every chance you get to drive a tank as it compensates for the precision and reaction time required by the aforementioned roles. If one of the super classes like the flamethrower or sentry spawn, then jump on it as you'll get more protection as well as bigger hitboxes. I had fairly good scores when I was lucky enough to grab those kits. If your ping is closer to the 100's, then you'll probably be able to pull of playing a good sniper; just be smart about it.

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Operations is a brand new mode for the Battlefield series, and I found it extremely challenging. One game plays out over several maps where you either attack or defend. Playing Operations felt like participating in a grand dance - there's a continual change of pace, and you have to be on your toes and attune to the beat of the battle.

Operations rolled out with four sets of maps, each playing off during a different stage of the Great War, and with a different set of enemies. Kaiserschlacht (Germany), Oil Of Empires (Middle East), Iron Walls (Italy), and Conquer Hell (France). The different maps demand a continued change in pace and play style, and things happen very fast. EA DICE succeeded in giving players a fresh experience for war on a grand scale. The in-game sound effects further compliment the sense of chaotic, large-scale warfare.

Quick Match includes favourites Conquest, Domination, Team Deathmatch, and Rush, as well as a new mode which was unique to World War 1 - "War Pigeons." The maps all look stunning, offer variety, and is exactly what fans wanted. Pigeons Mode is a thrill to play as you traverse across the terrain, trying to survive until a wild pigeon appears! Then it's a race to catch it - and release it with the artillery strike details, while the other team scurries for a hiding place.

It's fast, fun and formidable. I included a short gameplay clip of Pigeons Mode at the end of the article.

If you play Battlefield 1 with a full local squad, then I can recommend the game - even with a high latency. I'll hopefully try out rent-a-server when it launches, so keep an eye on GameZone for that review. Proper strats and communication with a local group will significantly improve the overall experience by reducing the frustration caused by lag - which brings me to the bad and ugly of Battlefield 1.

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Battlefield 1 - The Bad and the Ugly

The bad is obviously EA's decision to host the servers to "Give everyone the same uniform experience." It's definitely not the case, and there is no way EA can justifying making that claim. As you'll see in the video below, my latency is about six times that of the rest of the players, and if you think it has no effect on your game, then you're naive.

Players from South Africa fit right in the opening credits warning of "You are not expected to survive this."

Another annoying thing was that in some areas of War Stories there was a very noticeable lack of assets. Although beautiful, some sections were deserted, and I even had to restart a mission because the story couldn't progress as the enemies were missing. At some stages, you can hear them talking, but they're not there, and would suddenly appear when an action triggers the response. It's a minor annoyance, and nothing compared to the one ugly thing about Battlefield 1.

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The price - over R1000 for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The latency issue coupled with the price and rent-a-server concerns make it difficult to recommend the game. One does not bring a bad ping to the Battlefield and expects to survive.

However, overall it's one of the best first-person shooter experiences I've ever enjoyed. If you can grab it at a lower price - and if you can play the game with mates - then it's a must play.

Below is a gameplay clip from Pigeons Mode. Please take note that my PC specs are above minimum and below recommended (i7-4790K & R9290 OC), so push that quality up to HD.

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"The maps all look stunning, offer variety, and is exactly what fans wanted"

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