Why Battlefield 1 Triumphs Over Other FPS Multiplayer Games

Before all micro-transaction hell broke loose across the genre, there was a little shooter set during The Great War that stood firm on the podium.


Released before we were blessed with David Fincher’s Mindhunter series on Netflix and before we witnessed EA’s catastrophic downfall with Star Wars: Battlefront II, the holiday season of 2016 graced us with something rather special.

On October 21, 2016, Battlefield 1 deployed itself onto shop shelves, digital storefronts and through people’s letterboxes with full force. After an exceptional response following the announcement trailer, Battlefield 1 was set on becoming a big success for DICE and EA. The main competition being Call of Duty’s Infinite Warfare which failed to rally as much spark of excitement (but still performed relatively well in the first week of sales), driving a significant amount of hype and actual measurable sales – reaching approximately 3.46 million copies sold on consoles within the first week.

We’re now 14 months into Battlefield 1’s lifetime. We’re halfway through the dispatch of the season pass’s third (of four) packs. 80,000 people are still playing the game on a regular basis. There’s no sign of letting up. Battlefield 1 is nothing short of a success, which is probably why I still find myself drawn to it despite having new games with under 10 hours of play waiting patiently for me on the side.

I got LA Noire and Dead Island Definitive Edition recently, dabbling here and there for some hours before the craving for intense FPS action began to emerge. Don’t get me wrong, I adore LA Noire and have plenty of skull-smashing fun with Dead Island, but for me, holding the frontline with a bolt-action rifle at my side and grenade primed just feels all too familiar. But familiar in a good way. In a way that your favourite sweatshirt fits snuggly, not too tight or too loose. Battlefield 1 challenges me in a fair way that doesn’t leave me cussing at strangers but respecting and being impressed with the person who killed me with a headshot 300 metres across the map. I laugh when I get impaled by a lance-wielding horseman, I don’t cry and rage quit, a behaviour that seems all too common in other FPS multiplayer games.

That’s not all; Battlefield is notorious for its incredible destructible environments (Levelution, people), player-controlled vehicles, higher amount of players in matches and epic sprawling maps packed with immersive detail and intense atmospheres. Something you don’t find in Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, nor the latest WW2 instalment. It’s an age-old battle between the two franchises. I remember when I bought an Xbox Magazine several years ago how it was packed with ‘Team Battlefield” and “Team CoD” freebie badges and stickers. It all seems a bit immature these days, but back then, during a time when I played every Call of Duty instalment, I had already made up my mind. I am Team Battlefield.

My older brother plays Battlefield 1, he doesn’t get much time to play anything, but when he does he goes straight to Battlefield 1. Why? Because it’s intense, set during an interesting period (although slightly fantasised in the game) and it’s fun. Although, he does have one problem with the game, and that’s the interesting season pass model. Separating new map releases across a couple of months, the model arguably ensures that players hang around for a longer time, so there aren’t significant spikes in player count. In contrast to traditional season passes, which would release all maps and content in one swoop, Battlefield 1’s season pass has been releasing one or two maps, including new weapons and such, almost a month before the remainder of content is released.

I still can’t tell if I like it or not. I think I do. Being able to demo new features before the final release almost feels like early access; it also incites the feeling of getting more bang for your buck, giving paid content a longer lifetime than a regular flash in the pan. Premium players are encouraged to play new maps thoroughly, which means I never felt like I missed anything that was released. The fact that I’ve put 200 plus hours into the game already justifies the price I paid for the season pass. Of course, everything has changed since then…

We’re now 14 months into Battlefield 1’s lifetime. We’re halfway through the dispatch of the season pass’s third (of four) packs. 80,000 people are still playing the game on a regular basis. There’s no sign of letting up.

EA and DICE have at the time of writing scrapped season passes for free seasonal content, as first demonstrated in Star Wars: Battlefront II. We all know how that went. It’s almost concrete to assume that EA intended to make lost money from micro-transactions, however, that plan got completely ripped to shreds by fans, press and just about everyone across the globe, apparently. It didn’t go well, and as mentioned in my last post, the game has been left fundamentally broken.

Battlefield 1 is the last true example of an FPS done right. Ok, the season pass is kinda expensive, yes it does dilute the player base somewhat, but overall the game worked. Will the next entry into the Battlefield series feature a return to old season pass roots? Unlikely. If it attempts the free seasonal content model it needs to get it right – no pay-to-win controversy, please. It really destroyed a game I had the highest hopes for, and I don’t want to see Battlefield fall victim to the EA money-making machine. They can make money from micro-transactions, a plethora of game do it, that’s no problem. They just have to do it right.

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Rogue Content: Star Wars Battlefront II’s Missing Features

Planet-specific skins and Starfighter arcade are among the MIA


Delving into Heroes versus Villains mode for the hundredth time, waiting patiently for players to join the showdown – a worrying sign of lacking activity – upon loading the character selection screen, the mode feels improved. Yet, I can’t help but feel like something is still lacking.

Stepping back, why does Heroes versus Villains feel better? Well, this is the result of the introduction of two shiny new heroes; Finn for the light, and Captain Phasma for the dark, providing 16 total heroes split between the two sides. Alongside a brand-new Galactic Assault map, Crait, and a Starfighter Assault map, D’Qar, these new slices of content arrive for free to all players as part of ‘The Last Jedi Season’, the first batch of content in place of a season pass. Releasing adjacent to the debut of the latest blockbuster Star Wars Episode XIII, the content intends to uphold EA and DICE’s promise to maintain a unified player base by bringing fresh experiences and making them available to all.

Following micro transaction controversy early on, efforts to rekindle excitement in Battlefront’s sequel have, to some extent, failed. The damage is already engraved deep beneath the core, with the in-game Crystal currency pretty much redundant, and a page that clearly meant to operate as a place for buying more with hard-earned cash empty and blank. It’s almost poetic, really. Areas of the game that have been cut as a result from sincere hatred towards pay-to-win structures, a failure on EA and DICE’s part, leave a sour taste. In a way, the game almost feels broken without it.

As a die-hard fan of Star Wars and the Battlefront series, I can’t help but compel myself to soldier on. I defended the 2015 reboot with the hope of seeing similar visually stunning Star Wars titles land onto my Xbox Dashboard, but it’s hard to feel amped for a game that’s been torn apart by the press and players, rightly so in most cases. It’s led to significant adjustments by EA and DICE as they backtrack and attempt to recover from a media sh*tstorm. Unfortunately, I believe they’ve already lost.

Where’s old man Luke? Draped in a fraying grey cloak, grey beard and grey Jedi ways (kinda), wielding his green lightsaber and shooting witty and grumpy comments at his foes. I’m not even kidding, where is he?

Battlefront II is in serious need of skins. Skins, arcade content and more seasons. At the time of writing, there are no announcements for the second season, leaving fans half excited to see what’s coming (Grievous, Grievous, Grievous… Come on!) and half concerned that the damage inflicted early-on has impacted development for upcoming content packs. It’s embarrassing that the community is being forced to create mods for skins and characters before the developers do. In the last week alone I’ve seen skins for Kylo Ren, Rey, Darth Vader, Boba Fett and new heroes such as Anakin and Count Dooku – all of which make me more excited than any official announcement from DICE. That’s just not right. It can’t seriously take that long to implement Han’s Hoth outfit and Leia’s Endor attire, two skins that already exist in the first game.

Has the backlash damaged the game’s reputation as well as planned seasons? Is there any point in adding new maps and heroes if the player base is already in rapid decline (evident in my experience by the lack of players when match finding)? The situation might be more complex – involving blunt conversations between EA, DICE and Disney of which we, the public, will never hear. The Battlefront II community eagerly awaits for a spark of hope.

In the meantime, I’m going to continue to force push Captain Phasma off Wookie platforms on Kashyyyk…


 

Binge-Flix: Big Mouth, Jack Whitehall Travels and Toast of London

Quality television. It entices us, it confuses us, it unites us and it divides us. Despite this, there’s no denying that everyone is obsessed with it. Be it us little folk with our little opinions on Reddit, or the multitude of streaming services, such as Netflix and Now TV. The former block-buster service strives to achieve “quality television” status with many of its Netflix Originals shows. Shows in which I seek to test their Quality mettle with rigour and ruthlessness. And maybe some humour. You decide…

In Binge-Flix I will force myself to watch at least ONE Netflix Original show. Be it the next reality-bending series of Stranger Things, or a vomit-churning kid’s cartoon reboot, I will sit down and watch it.

Accompanying whatever exciting (or dreadful) programme the people at Netflix have pumped onto their service will be a selection of shows that have caught my eye. Happy reading!


October 12th, 2017

This week is jam-packed with awkward humour, goofy humour and just plain rude humour. All of which can be found in some shape or form in Netflix Original no-way-is-this-for-kids show Big Mouth, another Original, Jack Whitehall: Travels With My Father or rough gem Toast of London. This is humour week. Enjoy…

Big Mouth (Netflix Original)

Big Mouth

Oh boy. Where do I even start? If someone asked me to describe Big Mouth I’d tell them to imagine sex education lessons in school – now make it a cartoon with hormone-raging kids. Oh, don’t forget the surprisingly explicit nudity, crude language, awkward boners and of course, the Puberty Fairy. Wait, I mean Hormone Monster…

This show has NSFW written all over it. And it’s actually pretty good. That’s coming from someone who doesn’t really take to South Park‘s particular flavour of jokes. I say that, because after watching the trailer for Big Mouth that’s likely to be the show you think of. I can confidently say that Big Mouth is very much it’s own.

From the get-go you’ll be thrown into extremely awkward coming-of-age situations and relatively explicit visuals, when all is considered. It’s simply bizarre seeing any ounce of nudity when watching a cartoon, but then again, The Simpsons Movie did it. Not that it makes any less weird. It’s a meandering journey of highs and lows, obsession and forgiveness, and don’t forget the dreaded Pornscape.

Moving on from the fact that I can’t remember the characters names (probably just me), I did find myself grow close to each of the teenagers. As they survive through their rather fruitful happenings, you can’t help but feel sorry for them all and with that you kinda begin to relate. Teenager angst and frustration is the worst, after all.

The Good: Without being of utterly bade taste, Big Mouth did a fine job of pushing boundaries in a cartoon. More please, Netflix.

The Bad: Some more ‘filler’ episodes took a lot of time to repeat points made in previous episodes. These lead to some scenarios where I felt I could leave the show to play in the background while I did something else.

The Ugly: The art style is not my favourite. Some of those faces are too strange for my liking…

Jack Whitehall: Travels With My Father (Netflix Original)

Jack Whitehall travels

Jack Whitehall is venturing off on a special two-week “gap yah” with his dad in this blend of comedy, travel and family feuds. There’s stunning visual work with panning shots of Taiwan’s vibrant markets, Hanoi’s beautiful rivers and Cambodia’s enticing, erm, minefields… Of course, there’s some funny bits, too.

It’s just how you’d imagine it with your own father; you’re young, you know the latest crazes and you understand that people don’t need to be talked to in an inappropriate “We. Are. From. England. What. Is. Your. Name?” voice. The dad on the other hand, well, he does just about the opposite. Jack Whitehall: Travels With My Father is 3 hours of this hilariously awkward sitcom of  father and son misunderstandings with the stunning backdrop of Asia.

With six 30 min episodes binge-watching through this series is relatively easy. It helps that they re-locate almost every episode to keep it fresh, and the activities, although feel slightly slotted in, show off some really interesting cultural differences between East and West. Of course, when Jack’s dad Michael orders Welsh lamb from one of the fancier hotels it really juxtaposes the whole “experience”. But that’s the joke, and it is funny.

I’m looking forward to where they go next, assuming there’s a series 2 and Michael Whitehall isn’t put off by the whole thing. I guess we’ll see.

The Good: I just can’t get enough of those gorgeous camera shots. Seriously, they are Planet Earth kinda good.

The Bad: Not enough. 6 episodes? I don’t want to stretch poor Michael too far, but come on, they are short and juicy and I want to binge more.

The Ugly: The activities, as well as some of the awkward moments, felt pretty darn staged. It’s a real shame that they couldn’t have blended better with the rest of it, because there are some genuinely funny truffles in here!

Toast of London

Toast-of-London

Bloody Ray Purchase. Bloody Clem Fandango. Why is that so fun to say? Putting on Matt Berry’s character’s voice for Toast and saying just about anything is great. Go on, try it now. Don’t know how? Watch this complete gem of a show and you won’t be able to stop.

I stumbled upon Toast of London while digging into the dark crevices of Netflix’s long list of shows, and I’m so glad that I did. Fans of The IT Crowd will feel at home with this extremely goofy and outrageous comedy. Matt Berry does a brilliant job of maintaining his IT Crowd blunt and silly humour in Toast of London, yet, he’s not the only one. Everyone in this show is crazy. Most of them are more crazy than he is. Funnier still, Toast often seems like the most sane person in the programme.

This show should definitely be on your watch list. Out of the three programmes I watched, Toast of London was the one I had myself laughing out loud, constantly. At the time, I was sharing a hostel room with two other people, who I had to apologise to for laughing so much. Then again on the train home I did the same thing. Couldn’t help but giggle like a little girl at some the really goofy situations. I just love it.

The Good: Probably everything. Yes, that’s right, everything.

The Bad: Probably nothing. Yes, that’s right, nothing.

The Ugly: Oh wait, there was one thing: CLEM ‘BLOODY’ FANDANGO!

Alexander Jones

Will the new Tomb Raider film suck?

Alicia Vikander stars as the new Lara Croft

Alicia Vikander might consider Angelina Jolie the true Lara Croft, but with 20% on Rotten Tomatoes, I think she’s got a better chance at becoming the crypt ravager fans deserve.

There’s a hot-off-the-press official poster for the 2018 instalment circulating the web, pictured below, that has sprung a fairly divided discourse among fans of the series.

TRposter
Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft

It turns out, if you share something you’ve probably poured your heart and soul into for the last couple of years on the internet, someone’s going to mock it. You’d think people would be desensitised to it by now, but on and on the wheel spins…

Anyway, ignore that detour, people have been seriously vocal about the upcoming Tomb Raider film, based on the video game. WAIT, this film isn’t just based on the titillating game series, it’s actually following the story-arc of the 2013 reboot. Arguably, a much more respectful embodiment of the character, and by that I mean less sexualised and OTT body proportions. But, Tomb Raider, undoubtedly, has been under-siege ever since it was announced.

You can’t always blame people for being concerned; films based on video games are notoriously awful – I recently watched the Assassin’s Creed adaptation, and my god, I couldn’t help but laugh. AND I’M A FAN OF THE SERIES. I really thought we’d have gotten a decent video-game-film by now, but alas, we continue to wait.

Screen Shot 2017-09-18 at 18.40.35
Well that escalated…

But THIS is it. Well, it could be it. Come on, it has to be?

I do believe that Tomb Raider 2018 could be it. No, seriously, this could be it. Why would it go wrong? Alicia Vikander is a beautifully talented (and beautiful) actress who’s proven to be the one to watch in the future – just give Ex Machina (Mak-in-ah) a watch and you’ll see for yourself this lady’s talent. The photos leaked from the set also give the impression that costume design and locations are on-point for this film, so I’m fully optimistic about it all.

I guess we’ll just have to wait and see, but I’m going to say it now: Tomb Raider 2018 will be good.

Alexander Jones

 

Lens flares are the WORST

Can you see what’s going on? Because I can’t…

Some things really grind my gears.

People who talk with their mouth full of food, plug sockets left on without anything plugged in and people “borrowing” my stuff without my permission. Grr. But, nothing quite annoys me like lens flare. It’s the bane of TV and film. No, it’s not arty to obscure what’s happening on-screen with blinding light, it’s stupid.

What brought this ridiculous technique back into the limelight for me was BBC’s new Trust Me drama series, starring the newly announced 13th Doctor, Jodie Whittaker. I sat down with my parents out of interest to watch Jodie play a ‘doctor’, before becoming THE Doctor, and it all seemed tame and enjoyable, until we moved to the operation theatre. Oh my god, my eyes. My poor, relaxed eyes. Lens flare, lens flare and lens flare. Every light becomes a blinding beacon of burning rays directly penetrating your eye sockets and resulting in a migraine. I wish they warned me to wear my sunglasses before sitting down to a relaxing drama programme, jeez.

It’s not just BBC’s Trust Me series that is guilty of trying to permanently damage the audience’s eyes, either. Nope, the most well-known perpetrator is the new series of Star Trek films. Jesus, Abrams, what were you thinking? I’m still uncertain as to what 80% of the first film entailed because I couldn’t see who was talking and what was going on. Does anyone even know what the inside of the Enterprise even looks like? Is it just walls of light? How aren’t the crew burning up? These are the crucial questions on my mind.

This amazing video on YouTube really justifies my gripe with lens flare. It’s not a “small” thing that I can ignore or just move on from, it’s so fundamental to the film that all three Star Trek films feature the style. J.J. Abrams has attempted to explain his excessive use of lens flare in his films, saying that “I love the idea that the future that they were in was so bright that it couldn’t be contained and it just sort of broke through…”. I can kind of see where he’s coming from? Nah, not really, he’s crazy. No matter what you say J.J., lens flare will never prevail!

I would love to discuss with you the fine details of using lens flare in film, but the thought of doing so makes me angry. So, instead I’m going sit in a dark room, close my eyes, and wait until the next episode of Game of Thrones comes on.

 

Alexander Jones