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All Is Definitely Not Quiet on the Western Front in Battlefield 1

The scope of Battlefield 1’s undertaking is, when you step back from the fray and get the wide view, incredibly impressive. Epic 64-player battles on massive maps. An honest-to-goodness attempt to bring the Great War to an interactive experience. Graphics that will knock your gas mask off. And that freakin’ zeppelin!

At E3 2016, we got a chance to play a huge team deathmatch session, and the experience was nothing short of eye-popping. From flying around in a tri-plane, gazing down at the fields and village below, to piloting our own personal mini-tank, to the hardscrabble clawing of small-arms combat, Battlefield 1 delivers fantastic action all the time. While we played on a map that was equal parts idyllic country hamlet and terrifying war zone, other locations will include the Alps, the Arabian desert, and the trenches on the Western Front.

Gameplay balance feels right, even with the huge number of players in our game, with neither team easily wiping the floor with the other – even when one side gets the all-powerful zeppelin (which functions similarly to the AT-AT walkers in Star Wars: Battlefront – an on-rails beast packing a powerful artillery weapon).

One new feature for Battlefield 1 is the ability to join “squads” with other players during deathmatches. Squads match you up with teammates that complement your skillset, and allow you to join and leave servers together as a group, rather than floating around individually. These squads can consist of your friends, strangers you meet and join up with during play, or a combination of both – and playing multiplayer in 64-player matches will be significantly more difficult if you don’t take advantage of Battlefield 1’s squad system.

While we only got to play the team deathmatch mode (and believe us, it was a huge, deep experience), Battlefield 1 will have a campaign with multiple characters to control, and larger, more open levels than in previous Battlefield entries. Players will have the ability to choose their path through these levels, at least to some extent, according to developer DICE.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention just how great this game looks, even in its pre-release state. Volumetric fog effects swept over the battlefield in the middle of our match, swathing everything in lower-visibility cloud-cover, from the ground to the skies. Explosions and destructible walls demonstrated, over and over, the power of Battlefield 1’s engine to render combat in realistic detail – and even to affect the way matches play out in real-time. And draw distance from the cockpit of a tri-plane to the foot soldiers’ helmets on the ground was nothing short of astonishing. This will be one of the best-looking shooters ever on the Xbox One, mark our words.

Aside from the graphics and size, tons of new mechanics have been added this time, too. Melee fighting has been completely redone, with all sorts of new weapons, from trench clubs to scimitars replacing the usual pistol-whipping. Gas and flamethrowers are present, each with their own physics-rendered attacks (which look to be devastating in the right hands). But we’re really just scratching the surface; releasing October 21, Battlefield 1 looks to be one of the most exciting shooters, from both a gameplay and a historical perspective, that we’ve seen in a long, long time.  And don’t forget, as was announced last week at E3, you can play it first, exclusively on Xbox One, with EA Access beginning October 13.