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How Desert Warfare Changed the Way I Play Battlefield 1

News Bot Aug 17, 2016

  1. News Bot

    News Bot Chaos Immortal

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    The desert can be a harsh place, and in Battlefield 1, that remains true. The British and Ottoman Empires may have their own objectives; but when an armored train rolls in, a sandstorm picks up, and the cavalry arrives, things can go awry.
    Developer DICE has promised a range of locations in its upcoming World War I shooter--especially places that don't receive as much recognition as the Somme, the Ardennes, and the Marne do in conversations about the Great War. This is where Battlefield 1's Sinai Desert map comes into play. Unlike the cratered fields of Northern France, the bitter struggle along the banks of the Suez Canal seldom occupies the historical limelight. In DICE's world, however, the setting is just as sprawling and foreboding as the better-known theaters of war.
    At Gamescom 2016, I played a Conquest match on Sinai Desert, using everything from trench shovels to anti-tank cannons while assaulting a small collection of huts on a desert hill. A skirmish of varying scope played out on the map, ranging from close-quarters engagements in the town, to vehicle battles in the surrounding canyons.
    At first, the rocky passages on the outskirts of the map allowed for stealthy approaches with my Scout class, giving me the cover I needed to find enemy soldiers, account for bullet drop, and take the shot when I got the chance. But then, the enemy team got wise. What was once a quiet corner for me to camp in quickly became a stomping ground for Ottoman soldiers on horseback.

    Horses function much like light vehicles might in earlier Battlefield entries. However, Battlefield 1's equestrians allow you to fire your weapon as you ride, and jump over low obstacles as well. I got stuck more than once when trying to round a corner too quickly, and it wasn't always clear whether the leaping mechanic would be successful until my mount slammed face first into a brick wall. But there are definite advantages to mobility and versatility while on horseback.
    As my team pushed toward the town at the center of Sinai Desert--flooding in from the canyons, pouring over the rocks, and lurching forward in hulking tanks--the Ottomans fell back into their own canyons, lying in wait for the perfect time to ambush us with anti-tank rockets or well placed grenades. Despite their best efforts though, we couldn't be stopped.
    But then the sand picked up. As is the case on Battlefield 1's St. Quentin Scar map, the weather is almost as important as the terrain. It can change the momentum of the fight in a matter of seconds. And when a sandstorm came whipping through the Sinai Desert, my British teammates and I lost the upper hand--the storm gave our enemies the perfect chance to emerge from their hiding places and assault us at close quarters, using the concealment of the sand to mask their approach. A tank exploded to my right. An ally dropped to my left. Before I knew it, we were being pushed back into the village, into our own canyons, and behind the sandbags of one of our rear outposts. The tide had turned, and we hadn't even accounted for the train.
    On DICE's St. Quentin Scar map, the losing team gains an airship when they're trailing by too many points to easily cover lost ground. The zeppelins fly over the French landscape, raining machine gun fire down in every which direction, covering a variety of angles as fighter planes swoop around their armored exteriors. On Sinai Desert, the armored train plays the same role--our Ottoman enemies received reinforcements at the most pivotal moment, and a devastating war of attrition eroded our forces as time wore on.

    The train is less mobile than its airship equivalent--it's tied to railroad tracks, and in this case, they ran along one side of the map and along the bottom of the hill in the middle of the desert canyons. But it essentially cut us off from that part of the map. The iron horse's mounted turrets chewed through our lighter vehicles, and repelled our heavier tanks to boot. We were forced to stay behind the rocks toward our outposts, and if we tried to reach the village at the center, evasive maneuvers were crucial. The train added another worry to our already long list of concerns.
    In the end, after a long and brutal fight, we won. By utilizing our armored vehicles to carefully pick apart the train's turrets, and laying down fire from the canyons on our side of the village, we advanced back into the huts to capture the crucial main control point. The Ottoman Empire had fought back after being pummeled, and had almost finished the fight. But we held out.
    That's the thing with Battlefield 1: the outcome is almost never certain. The slightest shift in momentum can send ripple effects throughout the rest of the match. Next time, I'll have to be ready for the train, and the cavalry, and the sandstorm. DICE has been promising a return to form for the series, back to the days when Battlefield matches had weight to them, and every action mattered. I've only played the Sinai Desert map once as of writing this, but even now, it feels like another step in the right direction.


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