EA’s Gamescon Live Broadcast of Battlefield 1 showed us a never before seen map: The Sinai Desert. This massive desert map is completely different from the French countryside in the St. Quentin map shown at this year’s E3. It features a small town surrounded by open sandy terrain with a railway running through it. This is a stunning map with a balance of close combat spaces and open tank battle spaces.
We got to see a lot of new gameplay mechanics in this stream. Other features included two new armies (the British and Ottoman Empires), a new behemoth, new weapons, and new weather threats.
New Behemoth – A massive armored train is the behemoth on this map. It is fitted with mounted cannons and machine games and, as it runs through the map, it can be controlled by the driver. It can be reversed and even stopped to dominate capture points. Similar to the Zeppelin of the previous map, the behemoth is generated to support the losing team to help keep the fight balanced.
New Combat – The early trailers of Battlefield featured a number of weapons and vehicles, but an interesting one for those gamers experienced in mechanical vehicles was the horse. DICE said they would indeed be playable in the game and we got to see horses live for the first time on the Sinai map. Players can select to play as a cavalry class and will spawn with one. Abandoned horses can also be found on the battlefield and will show up on your minimap. Players can see if they are available to be ridden and mount unmanned ones. They offer players extra speed and agility, which is useful on an open map like this one. Players can use their normal offensive weapons and even run other enemies down. However, they are (clearly) not as safe as armored vehicles.
We got to see flamethrowers in action as well. An elite class that lumber around with a mask permanently equipped, which means they resist gas attacks. The flamethrower is a powerful weapon, but only useful in close combat. The anti tank rifle was also hinted at. Hidden in a distant corner of the map, this rifle is massively powerful. In order to balance it, DICE has made it so this weapon has such severe recoil that it can only be used while prone or using cover. You need to deploy the gun’s support to use it.
New Weather – The sandstorm is a unique weather event for this map compared to the St. Quentin map. It rolls in from a distance, looking daunting and almost completely obscuring your visibility in the open parts of the map. This refocuses battle in the center of the town, where visibility is better. The sand on the map was particularly impressive. Not only was it affected by the weather (from light wind to full on sandstorms), but it reacts to player movement.
The gameplay was fairly impressive. These streams have done a good job showing how balanced Battlefield 1 is. Everything has a counter, and the changing nature of the maps encourages players to change strategies. With 64 players on the map, there is always something going on and always something different.
The open beta will be available August 31st. You can sign up now to be a Battlefield Insider to be first in line. Battlefield 1 will be available October 21 on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.