I recently purchased the smaller of the Xbox Series, and it came in a bundle with three months of Game Pass Ultimate. As part of Game Pass Ultimate, you get access to EA Play games and, therefore, some of the Battlefield franchise. Since I have never played this game before, and I was in the mood for a simple shooter, I wanted to try it out. I am only interested in the single-player campaign and have no interest in the multiplayer modes. Hence, I base my thoughts on the single-player experience.
The idea of the introduction is not bad. You find yourself trapped in a car with the rest of your squad. It is apparent that there was an accident, and one of your buddies is badly injured or trapped and cannot get out. The situation is intense because the car is sinking in a lake or river or some other large body of water. Panic starts to break out, especially since your leader wants you to leave him behind. He hands you his handgun and orders you to shoot the windows so you and your fellow soldiers can get out. They, on the other hand, do not want to leave him behind. And from there, the game rewinds to where it all began.
As with many other games, the first sections teach you how the game mechanics work. Battlefield interrupts the game so you can read the on-screen help text. While this is good practice, I also think it is a lazy design. I can overlook that if that is employed sparingly. It should be evident that doing it like that interrupts the flow of the game. I have not counted how many times the game threw some information at me, but it annoyed me pretty quickly. The text boxes are short, so you do not have to read a novel. Unfortunately, they are frequent, and I prefer when a game explains how it works as "part of the story", for example, when one of your mates describes it to you through dialogue. This way, it feels less interruptive and more natural.
Another thing I found odd early on was the talk of a score and rewards for higher scores. This system sounded suspiciously like an online service game and less like a single-player experience. It may have only been how the developers phrased it, but it threw me off pretty early. I was not interested in getting high scores. I wanted an entertaining and suspenseful campaign.
The first encounter was a non-event, i.e., nothing to complain about. Then the game introduced how you can command your squad to engage a small group of enemies. After reading the interrupting text, I let them start the party, and hell ensued – a lot of shouting, and shooting, and generally the noise of war. What was missing throughout that mayhem was the sound of bodies dropping. Your comrades seem to be members of the Galactic Empire. Many a big talk, such few kills. Since it was the first more challenging skirmish, I noticed hints of that but did not yet think much of it.
I continued through a few more sections until I came to a wide-open area of what seemed to be several large-building construction sites. The first thing Battlefield did there was handing me binoculars and a command from the squad leader. After the notorious interruption of text, I either missed the exact instructions of my mate (thank you for that) because I was still processing the binocular manual, or they were unclear in the first place. Either way, I stood there, used the damn thing, and did not know what to do. I looked, and looked, and kept looking, but no mission indicator popped up, or somebody told me what to do. I like it when a game wants me to do something but isn’t clear about it.
Whatever happened there, I just started walking toward the enemies, and after some time, someone talked about being careful. It looks like I was just supposed to continue to the evac zone, and on my way, I can use the binoculars to spot and mark enemies. Could’ve told me from the start, but okay. Because I like the option of silently taking out enemies if it exists, I figured the elite soldier I was probably playing is capable of that. Thus, I snuck behind one of the bad dudes, and I waited for an indicator of which button to press or another help window that teaches me how to do it. Nada. So much for being careful and quiet. Shooting it is, then. Should I have just avoided conflict?
During this section, you have air support provided by a helicopter. You can instruct it to attack a group of enemies just like you were taught earlier with your squad. In comparison, it seemed to hit things for a change. However, because it was an open area, enemies were coming in troves from afar, so I couldn’t determine how effective it actually was. Either way, there was a lot of shooting. Why the helicopter did not pick us up before we even got close to the first enemy, only AI knows. It’s not like there was no place to touch down quickly and let a few supposedly elite soldiers climb in and fly away happily ever after. Well, the game was released before all the AI hype, so I guess that’s why.
Moving on, I came into a situation where my squadmates caught up with me and even passed by me. That was when they turned out to be Storm Troopers in disguise. Despite all the shooting, I was the only one making the virtual killing. Enemy soldiers just walked past my "teammates", right in the middle of them, and nobody was hitting anything. When you have friends like that, you do not need enemies. And that is where I disappointedly quit the game and uninstalled it. Thank you very much. I am not interested anymore.
That’s too bad because of all the EA catalog that was one of the more intriguing game franchises. I already own all of Dragon Age or Mass Effect. Need for Speed was great in the early days, but the newer games have been a mixed blessing. Through some research, I may be able to pick the good from the bad. Sometimes I just don’t want to have to do research. I was also one for sports games in my younger years, like Fifa, but that was during the Fifa 98 era, where Blur’s Song 2 was the main soundtrack. But I digress. From a single-player perspective, Battlefield was a wasted download. It did not even bother to take a screenshot.