Matthew McConaughey once said that sometimes you need to go back to move forward. The team at DICE must have been very moved by that sentiment. Taking it to heart and pushing the Battlefield series nearly 100 years back into World War I for this year’s release of Battlefield 1 was a gamble. It has largely paid off.
The Battlefield first-person shooter series has incrementally embraced modern warfare and its technology ever since 2005's Battlefield 2. Only smaller projects like Battlefield Vietnam explored the series’ potential for diverse historical settings. By 2013's Battlefield 4, players may have been exhausted with all the attack choppers, AK-47s, and Abrams tanks. Suffused in the same military fetishization gleefully exhibited by its rival series, Call of Duty, Battlefield was wasting away.
Battlefield 1 reinvents the tone of the series, retaining the awesome turbulence of war while emphasizing a human element. The game shows the storming of the beaches at Gallipoli but also takes time to have a young soldier vomit with dread as he observes the mass of dead bodies. Battlefield 1 maintains an impressive balance between emotion and spectacle. All the better for a series that was starting to feel a bit too clinical.