In what may be unintentionally the best-timed marketing reveal for the Battlefield franchise ever, publisher Electronic Arts and developer DICE finally announced and unveiled the first official look at the successor to Battlefield 4. Titled Battlefield 1, the graphically impressive shooter series is going back in time to World War I.
And that's exactly why the timing is so perfect since earlier this week the brand's primary competitor and genre leader - the Call of Duty series - had its 2016 installment revealed as another future-based set piece driven action game that takes place largely in space. Rumors and leaks had pointed to that reality but when it hit, reactions were mixed to Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, and that buzz is helping bolster appeal for Battlefield 1 since every game as of late seems to be set in the future.
But first, enjoy the Battlefield 1 reveal trailer up top. It's fun, different, and looks great - all to the tune of “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes (The Glitch Mob Remix). There are few things to consider here about why the Battlefield vs. Call of Duty rivalry is so entertaining to observe this year in particular, especially in a year when their respective first-person shooters couldn't be more different. It's nothing new, but the buzz and "controversy" (if you can call it that) hit a bit of boiling point again this week when after the the Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare trailer released, a few devs from the Battlefield team took shots at its graphics and trailer editing, using the moment to hype up their Battlefield reveal coming later in the week.
That ended up in some deleted tweets and apologies, but the community of gamers took it to another level when launching a "dislike" campaign against the Infinite Wafare trailer where at the moment it's well over half a million dislikes
Update - May 7, 11:59 pm EST: Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare's trailer has 11,690,658 views in six days with 229,097 likes and 782,503 dislikes. Battlefield 1's trailer in less than two days has 13,204,910 views with 712,306 likes vs. 13,753 dislikes.
Even with three developers taking turns pumping out annual Call of Duty games for publisher Activision, every single one of them on the current-gen consoles is set in the future. And given the history of rushed releases frequently criticized for not evolving much or offering much new, there was a growing desire (and speculation) that either or both franchises could return to their respective roots and re-explore WWII, something no triple-A shooter has done on the current-gen systems, shockingly. Even a new take on the modern setting would be refreshing if done right since Battlefield: Hardline failed to deliver last year and the closest thing to that coming from each series in the near future is a re-release of the original Modern Warfare game (that you can only get by pre-ordering a special edition of Infinity Warfare).
Anyway, despite the cool factor of going deep into space in the next Call of Duty game, the campaign to destroy the like vs. dislikes ratio of its new game's first trailer forced Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg to address the issue to investors:
On the second part of your question related to Infinite Warfare, first of all you got to love the passion of gamers. This is an industry like no other, and a fan base like no other and we love that our fans treat this franchise like it’s their own and have such strong points of view about it. There just aren’t many entertainment franchises on Earth that can generate the kind of passion that Call of Duty can and that’s a good thing.
Secondly, of course we know that there are people in our community who are nostalgic for the boots-on-the-ground-style gameplay, and that’s why we made Modern Warfare Remastered. But we also have millions of people in our community who want to have new innovative experiences in the game each year and Infinite Warfare is going to deliver that. And the good news is this year we found a way to deliver both in one package while keeping our community together.
And while of course we see the passionate opinions online, we also look at other measurements. And the fact is, while it’s very early, pre-orders are off to a very strong start. Views of the reveal trailer that you referred to are up and in fact the number of likes per view on the Infinite Warfare reveal trailer are also the highest we’ve ever seen.
We’ve seen this in the franchise before. The reveal trailer for Black Ops II, which took the franchise into the future for the first time, had the most dislikes of any reveal trailer we had ever made at that time. And that, of course, went on to become our most successful game ever.
And right now, the franchise has never been stronger. We have more people playing Black Ops III, a game that takes place in the future with boost jumps and fictitious weapons and all the rest, than any game in our history. So what we know for sure is that if we always just did what worked in the past and never took any creative risks, we wouldn’t have a franchise. The day to worry is the day we stop trying new things.
He's not wrong either since the most vocal "haters" of Call of Duty are very likely its most active players so the hater efforts are laughable given the continued success and popularity of the series and its eSports appeal.
As for Battlefield 1, the response is overwhelmingly positive and it makes sense for EA to debut a period-set shooter this fiscal year when they also have new content coming to Star Wars: Battlefront (this very same developer as Battlefield 1) and new sci-fi shooters in Titanfall 2 and Mass Effect: Andromeda, not to mention other potential Star Wars shooters. The live-streamed BF1 announcement event started very slow to the point of almost ruining the moment, but once the trailer debuted, it didn't matter. We have the first ever WW1 game from either series coming out this October. As for specifics, they'll be slowly revealed over the next few months but expect plenty of new details next month at the EA Play event which is Electronic Arts' solution to skipping E3 this year.
Some of the confirmed basics:
At a glance, the horses and sword gameplay so far seems to be the legitimate major change. With so many of the tech, gadgets, and HUD elements likely lost due to the setting of the game, we're curious what that means for innovation in features in mechanics. The core weapon groups, including grenades, and vehicle types otherwise remain the same but re-skinned. Will there be a whole new layer to environmental destruction? Will players no longer teleport in and out of vehicles and emplacements? That's what we're curious about beyond the obvious visual spectacle.
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Battlefield 1 releases October 21, 2016 on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.