Small issues aside, Battlefield 1 marks an impressive, risk-taking reinvention for the series. That the multiplayer is as good and distinctive as it is is less surprising than a campaign that takes a difficult setting and navigates it with skill and invention. The end result is a shooter than succeeded far beyond my expectations, and one that exists as the best, most complete Battlefield package since 2010.
Since 2010, EA and Battlefield developer DICE has seemed determined to take their multiplayer-driven large scale shooter in the direction of its competitors. With Battlefield: Bad Company 2, the series embraced the progression and unlock system of more popular games. With Battlefield 3 and 4, the series structure resembled the systmes and goals of its rival more and more, even as it tried to find the thing that would set it apart. As the console generation transitioned over, DICE struggled to find a happy balance in Battlefield 4 between the destruction Bad Company introduced and the big playspaces and big player counts the series started with.
Then, of course, DICE struggled to make the game actually work.
Subsequently, DICE took some extra time with Battlefield 1 and took it somewhere the series hasn’t been: World War I. And with that distance from modern warfare, rhetorical or otherwise — it seems the series has not only found something it’s been missing, it found stories worth telling.