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BATTLEFIELD 1 REVIEW

BATTLEFIELD 1 REVIEW

The crude, archaic charm of World War I’s weaponry lends unique personality to Battlefield’s already strong first-person shooting.
Battlefield’s formula for large-scale, objective-driven warfare is as intense and theatrical as ever against the haunting, archaic backdrop of World War I. Battlefield 1’s single-player campaign is a short but pleasantly surprising anthology of small, human stories that does a good job spotlighting some of the key technology of the era.

But it’s the exhilarating multiplayer that most strongly capitalizes on the potential of this old-school arsenal, bringing a number of subtle changes that keep the combat balanced and smart while still allowing for the hallmark chaos that makes Battlefield such a fantastic first-person shooter series.

The Battlefield series has not been known for the quality of its single-player in recent years, so Battlefield 1’s campaign is a nice change of pace. The way each story juggles charm and tragedy in equal measure helps humanize the war and the people that fought it with quiet, welcome restraint. Overly simplistic objectives hold it back from being the memorable saga it could be, but a strong sampling of some of Battlefield’s most defining elements — like objective capturing and vehicular warfare — make it, at the least, a worthy primer for multiplayer.

Battlefield 1‘s single-player is more interested in telling the human stories of WWI.

Rather than restricting itself to one time, place, and character, Battlefield 1’s vignette-style approach to single-player allows it to touch on under-explored theatres of war that made up the nightmarish global campaign of World War I. Its short prologue and five “war stories,” each lasting about 30 minutes to an hour, took me on a harrowing journey from the bleak, muddy fields of the Western front to the sun-baked deserts of North Africa. Because of the wide leaps in both geography and chronology, the campaign never delves too deeply into the political complexities of The Great War. But interesting storytelling prevents it from feeling superficial — these vignettes are more interested in telling the human stories of World War I than delivering a bombastic history lesson, and they do so with mostly effective power and grace.

Storm of Steel, the prologue mission, sets this up with a tragic honesty. You take on the role of several members of the US 369th Infantry, an all-black regiment known as the Harlem Hellfighters. I was happy to see the historic importance of these soldiers, mostly made up of African-American and Puerto Rican-American men, recognized so early on, but I would have preferred to see their rarely-told tale saved for a full, character-driven mission.

Captures the grit and valor of battle without being disingenuous.

As you and your fellow Hellfighters desperately try to push back the incoming German forces, you’ll meet death time and time again, but it won’t necessarily be your fault. Sometimes death is awkwardly forced upon you if you end up surviving longer than the script expects, because death is part of the plan. At least it’s handled poignantly. While Storm of Steel effectively works as a way to introduce you to some Battlefield basics — how to shoot, reposition, and reload — its grim reminders of World War I’s overwhelming death toll establishes the tragic tone.

This is a sad campaign — perhaps not quite the horror game that the devastation of the Great War deserves, but still one that confidently forgoes the patriotic pomp and war fetishization seen in most modern military shooters. That’s not to say there isn’t excitement or heroism — there is. But Battlefield 1 manages to capture the grit and valor of battle without being disingenuous. Each war story is grand in its smallness.

A Weak Beginning
The first story-driven mission, Through Mud and Blood, is by far the weakest when it comes to character, and the huge jump in quality that follows makes me wonder why DICE kept this one as the opening to begin with. The answer is probably familiarity — you play as Daniel Edwards, a young, inexperienced soldier part of a British Mark V tank unit pushing through German lines into Cambrai, France.

It’s not that the story is bad, but Edwards is painfully bland, as is his mission. Capturing points along the way to Cambrai serves as an easy primer for one of Battlefield’s most popular multiplayer modes, Conquest, as well as a how-to on operating tanks, but offers little else in the way of storytelling opportunities. 

Edwards makes a cliche leap from a rookie struggling to operate the clunky Mark V to a one-man army who ends up bearing the brunt of his tank unit’s mission: going on foot to scout out enemy encampments, battling enemy infantry and FT-17s while his tank, Black Bess, demands repair, and finally holding out against waves of enemy vehicles in a wrecked trainyard. Not that the slow heaviness of the tanks isn’t fun — that last section in the trainyard is actually the first mission’s high point.

It’s a thrilling battle that had me desperately weaving my clunky Mark V in and out of cover, hopping out to repair with a wrench (a quicker, but consequently riskier alternative to repairing from inside), and swerving around my opponents to get a better shot of their tanks’ less-armored rears.

But perhaps more disappointing than this first mission’s story is its bugginess, something that was thankfully absent from the rest of the campaign. My first time through, I spent 15 minutes running around an empty battleground attempting to trigger whatever event would move me on to the next scene.

Eventually I realized that an enemy tank had gotten stuck on a trench near the edge of the level, halting the mission’s script. Another segment where you control a carrier pigeon should have served as a thoughtful diversion from the horror of war, but thanks to the weird controls, camera, and collision (I clipped straight through a building), it was sadly comical.

High Points
A decent series of adventures with a handful of memorable highlights.

At first, I thought this bird segment was meant as a way to teach you how to operate biplanes, but that comes later, in the much stronger second level, Friends in High Places, which excels in both gameplay and storytelling. It’s a level that’s full of high points — figuratively and literally. You spend most of your time in the air as a cocky American pilot who has infiltrated the British Royal Flying Corps for his own amusement, and the chance to fly the Bristol F2.A biplane fighter. Flying any of Battlefield 1’s biplanes, in single- and multiplayer, is a freeing experience. They cut through the air smooth as butter and control with ease and precision.

As the American troublemaker narrated his escapades with his unsuspecting British co-pilot, I tore through the sky shooting down German aces, leading them full-speed towards barrage blimps before pulling up and watching them crash, while still taking the time to swoop down and bomb the anti-aircraft trucks below.

But Friends in High Places is great even after you bring your biplane down from these exhilarating dogfights and crash land behind enemy lines. I played this on-foot section multiple ways, first stealthing my way through the trenches with satisfying melee-only kills, and then again going in guns-blazing. Each single-player level is large and relatively open enough to give you more than one option for confronting an obstacle, but still tight and focused enough to keep you on track without limiting your freedom. An approach like stealth is made viable by the ability to throw bullet casings to distract enemies, but also by poor AI that makes it extremely easy to just run from point to point undetected.

Each character is fighting for something much smaller than the war itself.

As for the guns-blazing approach: ammo is extremely limited but weapon crates are numerous, and you can always grab guns from fallen enemies, too. I found that playing this way was unsurprisingly the best. Battlefield isn’t really built for stealth, and getting the chance to experiment with a wealth of World War I-era weapons (like the newly invented submachine guns or the simple, but effective bolt-action rifles) and changing up my tactics depending on what I could salvage from enemy encampments was a more gratifying experience. 

This brief, stealthy trudge through the trenches and then the muddy graveyard of downed Mark V tanks, bodies, mangled trees, and barbed wire that made up this No Man’s Land area was a haunting break from the epic dogfights preceding it, a transition that Battlefield 1 handles with grace. While most military shooters attempt to make some grand statement about war while making the horror of it a fun adventure, Battlefield 1 uses clever storytelling to maintain a balance.

Later levels preserve this balance in their own way. Your adventure as an elite Italian soldier braving an enemy fortress to save his brother is recounted with quiet sadness from father to daughter. In the last, and most pleasantly surprising level, you take on the role of a Bedouin rebel as she fights alongside Lawrence of Arabia for freedom from the Ottomans. Each character in each war story is fighting for something much smaller than the war itself, and that shines through most vignettes with a beautiful, sad power.

Overall, Battlefield 1’s single-player campaign is a decent series of adventures with a handful of memorable highlights, but serves mostly as a way to sample some of the vehicles, elite classes, and firearms you’ll be using in the much more interesting multiplayer.

 
 
Naturally, Battlefield multiplayer is what we’re all here for. This is where large-scale skirmishes unfold as emergent stories, and where things really shine.
Out With the New, in With the Old
Battlefield 1’s guns are distinct, varied, and customizable where it matters.

Battlefield 1 stands out from its more recent predecessors thanks to its outstanding selection of World War 1 weapons. While Battlefield 4’s arsenal suffered a bit from having too many samey firearms and an overwhelming amount of attachments, Battlefield 1’s collection of SMGs, LMGs, rifles (semi-automatic and bolt action), carbines, and sidearms are distinct, varied, and customizable where it matters. The old-timey charm and weightiness of each one also lends a lot to the look and feel of its chaotic multiplayer.

 What’s special about Battlefield 1’s handling of this archaic arsenal is that it leaves little to miss from the “tacticool” weapon line-ups of most modern-day military shooters. Take the Assault class’s MP 18 submachine gun and its distinct side-mounted snail drum. If you don’t like the default iron sights you can select from a small list of improvised “red dot” sights (a glass lens with a red dot charmingly painted on), crosshairs, and more.

And while a lack of recoil-reducing, spread-controlling attachments means you can’t custom tailor each weapon to your exact liking, it does end up demanding more careful experimentation and intimacy with the inherent strengths and weaknesses of the firearms themselves.

 I found myself leaning toward the light machinegun-wielding Support class, especially the MG15 n.A., and the Medic class and its sharpshooting semi-automatic rifles like the Mondragon Sniper. Most of Battlefield 1’s guns are very inaccurate if used without discipline, and because it takes a lot more damage and patience to bring down enemies than in previous Battlefield games, the moment-to-moment first-person shooting is a lot more skill-based.

Spray-and-pray tactics are obviously not effective unless you learn how to handle each weapon’s unique spread and recoil. The semi-auto rifles, for instance, recoil sharply up each time you fire — try to fire as quickly as possible without giving the recoil time to settle and you’ll likely only hit the first shot. But stay patient, track the enemy, and fire in moderated bursts, and you’ll hit your target every time.

Balancing Act

Vehicles are more fun than ever and serve a more long-term function on the battlefield.

Like the guns, the line-up of gadgets available in Battlefield 1 are also tailored to the times. For instance, instead of the defib units from modern Battlefields, the Battlefield 1 Medic carries a large syringe, which once again adds to the crude, almost comical charm. Mustard gas, a much less charming but very useful addition, works as both area denial and a clever way to level the playing field by denying anyone wearing a gas mask the ability to aim down the sights.

And you need to put on that gas mask, which is quickly accessed with the default T key and conveniently available to all classes. I found mustard gas especially useful as a last-ditch effort to clear enemies out of tight spaces and make a stealthy escape, to fog up telegraph posts in Rush and delay the enemy’s attempt to defuse the bomb, or to momentarily disarm snipers camped out in a particularly troublesome spot.

 
So much of Battlefield 1 is balanced in this risk-reward sort of way.

Vehicles, from the lumbering moving fortress that is the A7V tank to the speedy fighter and bomber biplanes, are more fun than ever and also serve a much more important, long-term function on the battlefield. This is an era incompatible with a class like Battlefield 4’s Engineer, who could whip out an RPG and take out vehicles with ease. Instead, classes like Assault and Scout must now work together to counter vehicles, creating more interesting interplay between class-specific gadgets and the wealth of field guns on most maps. Assault can lay down anti-tank mines or use the rocket gun, which delivers a moderately powerful blast balanced by the risk of requiring you to go prone to use. Scout can make use of armor-piercing K bullets, which don’t do a devastating amount of damage to vehicles but can cancel and reset the enemy’s attempt to repair, creating crucial openings for your team to move in.

New vehicle-specific classes, which can load directly into available vehicle spawns, can conveniently repair tanks and planes from the inside. Hopping out to repair like in previous Battlefield games is much quicker, but also the riskier option, making teamplay and squad dynamics more important than ever. Vehicle spawns are also much more spaced out over the course of a match, preventing them from being overpowered and making them much less disposable in the long term.

 So much of Battlefield 1 is balanced in this risk-reward sort of way. Perhaps one of my favorite changes is how DICE has limited the spotting function. Previous Battlefield games let you spam the “spot” button to pinpoint enemies in-game and on the minimap, giving you bonus points with each enemy spotted. It made it much easier to target opponents, but reduced some direct firefights down into a game of “shoot the triangles.”

In Battlefield 1, marking enemies requires you to be more precise and the highlighting effect doesn’t last as long, demanding more caution and smarter positioning from both teams and resulting in more unpredictable and fun firefights.

Operations feel more like a “real” interconnected campaign.

Battlefield 1 ups the tension in another way with an awesome new game mode called Operations, which combines the large-scale, long-term intensity of Conquest with the close-quarters action of Rush. In Operations, two teams clash head-on in an intense push for dominance across an entire map. Unlike Conquest, where firefights occur in bursts among strategic sprints between objectives, Operations is structured more like the relentless fury of frontline combat. Attackers and defenders meet in the middle as they battle to control a handful of posts, elevating the stakes of every shootout with a dramatic urgency. If the defending team fails to expel the enemy, they fall back to the next point. Once they fall to the final sector of a level, the battle actually continues with all the same players on an entirely new map. Cutscenes lend interesting historical narrative to the transition by placing the outcome of each battle in the context of World War I. That, combined with the multi-map, hour-long battles, makes Operations feel more like a “real” interconnected campaign than the abstract, isolated skirmishes of Conquest.

But the lengthy Operations mode won’t replace Conquest, which still serves as the best, most immediate way to experience everything Battlefield 1 has to offer, with the added freedom of a wide-open map.

Theatres of War
Battlefield 1 captures the horror, grit, and tragedy of World War I’s many fronts in riveting detail.

The one area where Battlefield 1 hasn’t impressed me as much as previous games has been in map design. Few offer compelling points of interest, like the massive radio dish in Battlefield 4’s Rogue Transmission, or high-activity chokepoints like the dank tunnels of Battlefield 4’s Operation Locker. Right now the close-quarters maps are especially weak, with levels like Fao Fortress offering little else than major camping opportunities. A round of Deathmatch on Ballroom Blitz had virtually no players wandering the open courtyards inside or outside the French Chateau at the center because everybody was climbing to the balconies up top and waiting, sights trained on each ladder.

That said, the large-scale approach still works well in this new World War I setting in Conquest and Operations. Amiens is a particularly strong map, set in a ruined city full of crumbled facades, alleyways, and bridges with a railroad running through it, which creates a ton of varied environments for compelling firefights. Perhaps my favorite close-quarters map is Argonne Forest, an extremely dense, green wooded area full of snaking ravines and with a wrecked train at its centerpoint.

 
Meanwhile, Sinai Desert offers a sprawling playground of wide-open desert surrounding a handful of dense, city-based objectives and capped to the right with a huge arching cliffside. This map was the best to take advantage of the fun new cavalry class, since the relative lack of barbed wire and other obstacles means lots of unimpeded charging into battle, sabre in hand.

Landing a sabre kill or even a clean headshot with the rifle is extremely satisfying thanks to the speed and risk of riding in on horseback, but unfortunately there are very few maps where horses are preferable to an armored car or the compact convenience of the FT-17.

 
But even Battlefield 1’s most boring maps are bolstered by the addition of Behemoth class vehicles like the daunting zeppelin and the devastating armored train. These spawn in Conquest, Domination, and Operations for the losing team once a significant difference in points is reached, offering an exciting way to turn the tide of a battle and make the remaining push for both sides more interesting.

The removal of Battlefield 4’s concept of “levolutions” and an increase in dynamically destructible environments means that the physical transformation of each level is an exciting, emergent, and ongoing activity rather than a manufactured event. Strategies will change as cover and key camping spots are destroyed, but in different ways every time. Getting sniped at from a natural rock formation on Sinai Desert? Blow up the ridge leading up to it and deny the enemy (and yourself) that position.

 
Despite the map design lacking anything special, Battlefield 1 is a hauntingly gorgeous game. It captures the horror, grit, and tragedy of World War I’s many barbed wire-laced fronts in riveting detail. Ghostly barrage blimps hang dauntingly large in the sky above the black, muddy scars of the trenches in St. Quentin Scar. An ostentatious French mansion becomes the center of a grueling battle for power as biplanes spiral and crash in the distance. A crumbling city’s railway is taken over by a monstrous, cannon-mounted train of death. Everything is dust, mud, barbed wire, and rubble.

Dynamic weather also serves the visuals well, from moody rain to the much more detrimental fog and sandstorms. Smoke effects in general look fantastic, from the dreadful yellow plumes of mustard gas to the misty gunsmoke of the trenches, all adding to the grimy, rugged mood and style that so distinguishes Battlefield 1 from any of its predecessors.

The Verdict
Battlefield 1 does an amazing job of transplanting the fantastic chemistry of the series’ traditional multiplayer action into the weaponry and vehicles of World War I. The era brings with it not only a visually striking backdrop for classic game modes like Conquest and the compelling new Operations, but a distinct personality that touches everything from its rich lineup of archaic and distinctively designed weapons to the somber anthology of character-driven stories in its brief but surprisingly poignant single-player scenarios. While maps are not its strong point, Battlefield 1’s dynamically destructible environments and the minutely balanced mechanics of its classes and gadgets keep the moment-to-moment first-person shooting varied and engaging.
 

SNIPER ELITE 4 REVIEW

SNIPER ELITE 4 REVIEW

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A smart, strategic shooter that empowers you to make your own path.

You know those elaborate machines built to make simple tasks more complicated, like striking a match or springing a mousetrap? They’re called Rube Goldberg machines, and they now have a shooter equivalent in Sniper Elite 4.

Rebellion’s stealth shooter shares the weaknesses and strengths of these contraptions. It’s long and complex, and taking your time to use all your gadgets can feel silly when blasting away at baddies often works fine. Just pick up the darn match and strike it yourself, right? However, Sniper Elite 4 doesn’t only give you the tools to kill Nazis in its (mostly) realistic World War II setting; it gives you the means to stalk them, scare them, and utterly dismantle them if you have the patience. Setting up traps doesn’t feel crucial outside of higher difficulty modes, but playing puppet master is always intuitive and rewarding. It’s by far the thing Sniper Elite 4 is best at. I found myself putting in the effort not because I had to, but because I wanted to.

 
 
 

If you’re going to put “Sniper” in the title of a game, you’d better put serious thought into your weapon mechanics. True to its name, Sniper Elite delivers options galore, but its single-player and co-op campaign wisely doesn’t force you to consider all of them all the time.

One Shot, One Thrill

Before you pull the trigger, here’s a handful of things you might think about: Will you use regular ammo or more precious silenced ammo? Can you score the kill quickly, or will you need to hold your in-game breath to steady your aim? Have you considered the effect gravity will have on your bullet? Is your weapon’s muzzle velocity high enough to hit a moving target with only a small lead, or will you need to aim a few feet further in front of your target to land that heart shot?

Few shooters pack so much consequence into each copper casing.

And that’s just for the standard difficulty. If you crank up it up to “Authentic” mode, you’ll also have to contend with wind speed and direction, weapon spread, more scope drift, ammo scarcity, realistic magazines (losing the bullets you didn’t fire from a clip when you reload early), and more. All of these factors matter, and they make each long-range shot into a miniature math problem. It sounds like it could be cumbersome or tedious, but the satisfaction of learning the systems and, eventually, intuitively “feeling” the bullets makes it gratifying to experiment, fail, and improve. Few shooters pack so much consequence into each copper casing.

There is a side-effect to Sniper’s smorgasbord of options, though. The difference between difficulty modes is astounding, and that corresponds heavily with the level of effort you’ll need to put into your play. As I mentioned at the beginning, Sniper Elite 4 often asks more from you than it actually requires. On normal mode, if you miss a shot and blow your cover you can gun down foes with a pistol or an SMG and you’ll probably be fine. On hard, escaping this scenario becomes much more painful because sniping is harder and enemies are tougher, and on Authentic, every tiny bit of caution is warranted because your HUD is limited. So, unless you’re bent on playing like a masochist, a healthy chunk of Sniper Elite 4’s ideas fall into the “take it or leave it” category.

Lands of Opportunity

Sniper Elite’s humdrum World War II story is spread across eight huge campaign levels. I didn’t finish a single one in under an hour, and many took closer to two. This is far longer than most shooter missions, but because you make your own path and do only what you want to do, they didn’t drag at all.

 Every mission begins with a few primary objectives – Nazis to kill, generally – and a smattering of secondary tasks, such as destroying a downed spy plane or blowing up an ammo cache. Your map is marked with large, non-specific circles to point you toward your goals, and… that’s that. Sniper Elite 4 lets you put on your grown-up pants (fatigues?) and solve these problems however you see fit. I spent most of my early time in each mission crouched in foliage, tagging enemies, vehicles, ammunition, explosives, and more with my binoculars. Once spotted, you can see their icons at all times and move through the battlefield with more confidence.

It may not sound like much, but hunting for every single mark is step one in your upcoming reign of terror; when your plan inevitably goes to hell, your preparatory efforts will keep you alive. Having so much control over your fate turns what should be a menial task into something fun and worthwhile.

…When your plan inevitably goes to hell, your preparatory efforts will keep you alive.

Repetition fatigue is also countered by the fact that Sniper Elite 4 packs tons of variety into its eight levels, both visually and functionally. Your European tour takes you to a remote island, a radar facility, a fortified mansion, and a viaduct in the woods (among others). In a game where you spend lots of time staring at the environment and waiting for someone to do something foolish, such as moving, it’s great to always have a refreshing new location to scope out. More importantly, most levels have a mechanic or a geographical feature that differentiates them from the others. For example, one map has a massive railgun that periodically fires off into the distance, and if you synchronize your shots with its blasts you can mask your rifle’s sounds and stay hidden, like real snipers are known to do in thunderstorms. Another map has heavily armed gunboats patrolling its edges, making the typically safe outskirts a riskier route. These modifiers complement the already varied gameplay in a way that keeps you alert and improvising.

Toys and Terror

dir=”ltr”>In Sniper Elite 4, you don’t have to just take out enemies with wanton aggression. You have the tools to go full Dark Knight on these guys.

dir=”ltr”>Once you’ve played enough Sniper Elite to understand its options you can set up kills like dominoes with incredibly satisfying results. For example, a quick, favorite technique of mine: after killing a Nazi officer I planted a grenade on his body that would explode when jostled. Once a guard on patrol came near I tossed a rock to make a sound that would draw his attention and lure him close to the body. When he checked the body, it exploded and drew over a handful of other enemies. They all rushed over to check on the commotion, but they didn’t consider the fuel tanks right behind them. The placement of the body hadn’t been random.

 That’s just one example of the dozens upon dozens I concocted. In addition to good old rocks, you have a whistle, trip mines, TNT, regular and adhesive grenades, and more. Once you’ve gotten a lay of the land with your binoculars, you can set up traps and purposely blow your cover, letting enemies funnel toward your explosives. If diversion is more your style, you can plant TNT on a truck, snipe it from afar with silenced ammo, and go about your business in a newly vacant area as everyone rushes away to investigate.  Sniper Elite 4’s levels, combined with your gadgetry, make on-the-fly deathtraps a pleasant possibility. Constantly outsmarting the enemy AI in new and, interesting ways keeps even the longest levels from growing stale.

Most engagements become much more than whatever you originally planned them to be…

It’s an odd thing to say, but after only a level or two, I began to see Sniper’s maps as a giant spider web. Motion on one side will register far and wide, for better and for worse. Most engagements become much more than whatever you originally planned them to be, and scrapping old plans to deal with new problems is tense, exciting, and a good test of your skills – even more so in later levels when tanks and airstrikes come into play.

It’s a shame not as much variety was extended to your weapons themselves, but they’re sadly limited by history. Several rifles, SMGs, and sidearms are available as part your starting loadout or on the bodies of fallen enemies, but the differences between them are generally so slight that swapping doesn’t feel necessary or meaningful outside of higher difficulties when one type of ammo is running low but another type is plentiful. I used the same rifle for almost the entire campaign, and I never felt the need to change it up.

I Spot, You Shoot

dir=”ltr”>Sniper Elite 4 has a handful of ways to play alongside a friend – and if you have a chance to play it with a buddy, I highly recommend doing so.

dir=”ltr”>Playing the campaign missions as a pair is much like playing alone in that you can do whatever you want. If you both want to go guns blazing, go for it. You have twice the firepower! But splitting up is a much more interesting and entertaining option, especially when playing with friendly fire enabled.

If you’re both together, you’ll probably make more noise and draw more attention. If you’re split up, you can take turns causing a ruckus, forcing the map’s enemies and vehicles to ping-pong back and forth between you the two of you. Sure, the risk of getting hurt and bleeding out is higher, but that’s a chance you can take. That said, there’s no blueprint for how to “best” play co-op. So many things are possible within the mechanics available that two brains can dive in, dig around, and have a great time. The hands-off approach doesn’t feel lazy; it feels respectful, like a challenge to try something new.

 

My favorite use of co-op in Sniper Elite 4 is Survival, which is a variant of Gears of War’s Horde mode. Played with up to four, enemies come at you in 12 waves, each more difficult than the last. The action is faster and more focused than the campaign, but it focuses the experience without giving up the great experimental nature of this wide-open toybox.

Another great thing about Survival is the way your footing changes as the rounds go on. On each map you have a supply station that constantly gives you ammo, mines, and other supplies, but you have to protect it; if the enemies invade your base for long enough, they’ll deactivate it for several rounds. Until this happens, Survival feels like a game of fortification that encourages you to hunker down and hold out. Once you’re overrun, it changes things so drastically that it can feel as if you’re playing a different mode. Without the supply station you’re much more reliant on scrounging ammo and gear from enemies’ bodies, turning it into a game of guerrilla warfare. You run, take shots when you can, and run again before an airstrike blows you to bits. Getting to a high wave number is no small feat, and the one-life-only nature of the mode (there are no revivals in war) makes for bold rescues, necessary sacrifices, and lots of tension all around. It’s a wonderful take on what easily could have been yet another Horde copy-and-paste job.
Sniper vs. Sniper
Sniper Elite 4’s multiplayer feels more “hit or miss” than its other modes. Taking out targets feels the best when you have ample time to scout, plan, and prepare. This works best against enemies that are unaware they’re being hunted, and competitive multiplayer is obviously not the same scenario.

There are a few game types that stand out, the best one being a mode that requires you to kill from range to win. At the end, whoever has the highest total kill distance wins, meaning patience and long-range shots are what really count. In this mode, most players find a decent spot, go prone, and search for a target. It sounds like this could grow stale quickly, but there’s a thrill to knowing that, at any second, your slightest movement could tip you off to an enemy sniper. Likewise, when you catch someone moving in some foliage and you line up a perfect headshot from across the map, there’s nothing like it.

 Control mode is essentially just a capture and hold the point mode, but it does a great job at facilitating different styles of play. On one hand, when everyone is funneling into one area, the obvious decision is to sit back and pick off enemies with ease. However, you won’t be able to capture the point for yourself, so you’ll need to coordinate with teammates who will rush in and do the dirty work. It keeps the action fast, focused, and tense, without favoring one play style too heavily over another.

FOR HONOR REVIEW

If you showed a historian footage of For Honor, a game in which samurai, vikings, and knights fight each other, they’d spit their tea out and politely ask you to leave. It makes no sense for these chronologically distinct factions to be fighting for control of the same continent, but it doesn’t really matter. They’re fighting because it’s cool, and there’s something endearing about the way the game takes a gleaming broadsword to historical accuracy to make it as enjoyable a celebration of medieval combat possible.

There’s not a trace of cynicism in For Honor. You can tell the developers earnestly believe that burly warriors decked out in ornate armour pummelling each other with deadly weapons is as good as it gets. There’s a lot going on, from a confusing faction war metagame that sees players working together to conquer territory, to modes like Dominion where you fight to capture and defend points on a map. But, really, it’s all just noise. A flashy distraction from the game’s true, beating, ironclad heart: the combat.

It’s when you’re locked in battle with a single adversary that For Honor’s blade is sharpest. Each fighter can attack and block in three directions: left, right, and high. If your opponent goes for a high attack, an arrow indicating its direction will flash on the screen just before it connects, giving you a brief window to block. Sounds simple enough, but the skill lies in second-guessing your foe and waiting for precisely the right moment to block, attack, or dodge. As you slowly circle your opponent, eyes fixed on their sword hand, wondering if they’ll make the first move, it’s genuinely tense. Especially if they’re human.

 
Nothing beats the unpredictable thrill of facing another player online.
You can play For Honor against surprisingly competent and disarmingly ruthless AI bots, but nothing beats the unpredictable thrill of facing another player online. And doing so forces you to dive deeper into the combat system, which goes way beyond mere strikes and blocks. Advanced tactics include feints, which let you begin an attack, then suddenly cancel it. So your opponent will see the arrow indicating a left attack and go to block, but then you feint and quickly change to a right attack and catch them off guard. It takes some mastery, but fooling someone with this trick is enormously satisfying.

Then there’s parrying, stamina, throws, guard breaks, and class-specific special moves, which deepen the game further. Rickety bridges, cliff edges, and spike traps are particularly dangerous if you’re next to one and your opponent transitions from a guard break into a throw. Strike too often without pausing and your stamina will drain, making your attacks slow and laboured, which an aware opponent can exploit. There’s an impressive amount of depth and nuance to the fighting, which may be daunting for casual players. It demands time, dedication, and patience that some people just won’t have. And this may result in less committed players slowly drifting away, leaving a small, impenetrable community of hardcore players behind.

 
But before charging headlong into multiplayer, it’s worth playing story mode. These missions, flanked by largely forgettable cutscenes, teach you the basics of combat, as well as how to deal with certain classes when you finally go online. There are a few fun moments specific to the story, including a boss that fights alongside a pack of wolves and a cinematic battle on a frozen lake that’s being broken apart by catapult fire. But if you were thinking of buying For Honor just to play solo, don’t bother. The intricacies of the combat system only emerge when you’re fighting a living, thinking opponent.

In multiplayer there are 4v4 deathmatches, the aforementioned Dominion mode, and 2v2 brawls, but it’s the duels that kept me coming back. The purity of fighting one-on-one without any distractions—or other players stabbing you in the back—is where For Honor shines brightest. Duels are as much about waging psychological war on your opponent as besting them in combat. Lulling them into a false sense of security, wearing them down, taking advantage of their impatience. Every fight feels intimate and personal, which you don’t often experience in online multiplayer games. And it helps that the community the game has attracted is, by and large, well-mannered and respectful.

Outside of the fighting, however, For Honor is a needlessly bloated game. There’s a lot of tediously granular customisation, a tacky free-to-play-style storefront selling in-game currency for real-world money, and a tangle of ugly, confusing menus to wrestle through before you can get into a battle. And as time goes on, and those stalwart, hardcore players continue to hone their skills, it’ll be even more unwelcoming to newcomers. Stick with it, though, and you’ll find a rich, tactical fighting game with wonderfully weighty combat and hidden depths to uncover. But if you want something accessible you can easily dip in and out of, you may want to swear fealty to another lord.

GTA 5 Online: Rockstar 2017 update plans REVEALED as fans get map expansion news

GTA 5 ONLINE fans have been given some more information on what to expect from Rockstar this year on PS4, Xbox One, and PC, following the reveal of new map expansion progress.

 

GTA 5 Online will see a slowdown of PS4, Xbox One and PC content in 2017

ROCKSTAR

GTA 5 Online will see a slowdown of PS4, Xbox One and PC content in 2017
In terms of new GTA 5 Online updates, it appears that 2017 will see a slowdown of production from Rockstar for PS4, Xbox One and PC content.Recent reports indicate that while the game will not be abandoned this year, the team isn’t going to be releasing as many DLCs.Trusted GTA 5 Online source Yan has given an update on the situation at Rockstar, which appears to show why fans may be a little disappointed by what is to come. It appears that the Import/Export DLC released late last year was supposed to be the last big hurrah for the game, plans have since changed due to the popularity of GTA Online. It means that the content releases from now on will probably reflect the change in emphasis, that they will not be as expansive and will probably not bring any new mechanics to multiplayer. “I talked about the devs being “out of resources”, but what does that mean? Well, apparently Rockstar North is “divided” in 4 parts as of right now,” Yan2295 writes.  “Some people are helping San Diego with RDR2, some people started working on the next GTA, and some people are working on another game. 
We already know that the Western shooter is set to have a big online emphasis, meaning that parent company Take-Two interactive will be hoping for a repeat success of GTA 5 Online. If follows news that the group of modders who have taken on the mother of all challenges by attempting to bring Liberty City from GTA IV to Los Santos have now posted an update on their project. Having worked on the new map expansion since GTA 5 was launched on PC in 2015, the modding team OpenIV recently launched a teaser trailer.

See Halo Wars 2 running on Windows 10

See Halo Wars 2 running on Windows 10

343 Industries’ Dan Ayoub walks us through some gameplay at the PC Gaming Show.

Earlier today at the Xbox conference, Microsoft announced that Halo Wars 2 is releasing February 21, 2017. Later in the day, 343 Industries’ Dan Ayoub stopped by the PC Gaming Show to talk about the Windows 10 version and walk us through some gameplay.

According to Ayoub, Halo Wars 2 will include classic multiplayer modes “that RTS players want and expect,” but also some new modes that “more casual” players should gravitate to. On balancing the hyper-competitiveness of RTSes and accessibility, he says 343 will be focusing on both experienced players and newcomers as individuals. And thankfully, whatever our experience level we won’t have to put up with console controls in the PC version. Check out the full interview and gameplay above.