Everyone knows how much computers, the Internet, social media, and smartphones have changed the way we communicate and socialize. But not everyone understands how much playing video games has done the same. Playing video games (on consoles or PC) has been a favorite pastime of many kids, teens, and adults for decades now. However, what was once deemed a hermit-y habit changed when multiplayer came about. Now, millions of gamers are enjoying playing their favorite video game with friends and strangers all over the world, but it seems none more than those playing Battlefield 1.
The Social Evolution of Video Game Playing
For years, playing a video game often involved one person playing solo against a preprogrammed intelligence. If there was more than one person in the house, they had to wait for their turn to play. It was always fun for the player and still enjoyable for those who had to watch and wait.
Some games allowed two players to compete against each other—which upped the fun in a big way and extended the lifespan of a game. A real-life competitor offered them so much more than a preprogrammed game could. Boredom over game predictability was nullified thanks to a live opponent’s unpredictable actions and reactions. In other words, “sh*t just got real!”
Eventually co-op/multiplayer modes came about. These modes allowed for several players to play together as a team or against each other from the comfort of one’s couch or from across the globe. Couch co-op provided friends and family members with hours of fun as they drove, jumped, fired, flew, kicked, shot, etc. through game after game via split screen on one T.V. and console. It allowed them to laugh, talk, and trash talk their way through Madden NFL, Mario Kart, Halo, Call of Duty, and more. The rise of high-speed Internet took those games to another level, letting gamers play with and against multiple individuals from all over the world.
As video game technology became more sophisticated, so did the experience. In my humble opinion (or as everyone online says, “IMHO”), EA’s/Dice’s Battlefield 1 is the epitome of cooperative gameplay. Its state-of-the-art design, game mechanics, and reward system allows for the best strategic gameplay around. And it’s a huge hit with gamers of every age from all over the world.
According to an IGN review, which came out when BF1 was released: “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….”
Battlefield 1’s Teamwork VS Call of Duty’s Run-and-Gun
What separates Battlefield 1 (and its BF predecessors) from other first person shooters (or fps to those in the know) is its expansive maps and realistic play. Unlike its closest competitor, the Call of Duty (or COD) series, BF1 is geared to a more relaxed mode of gameplay. COD games cater to the modern-day, ADD lifestyle of many smartphone using gamers.
They promote a run-and-gun style of play through their ultra-fast character movements, small maps, and near-instantaneous respawns.
BF1 slows the shooting world down. Yeah sure, there are still many players just running and gunning and respawning right away, but the whole experience is still markedly slower than a COD game. It’s made for gamers who want to work together. It provides a fulfilling experience to those who strategize and run their class. With large, beautifully rendered maps, BF1 gives teammates time to plan and follow each other from one point to another without getting immediately shot upon spawning. Yes, spawn-deaths do occur, but really only when one picks a player who is already under fire or being targeted.
A Battlefield 1 Father and Son Bonding Experience
BF1 player Jim Hastings doesn’t consider himself to be a “gamer” per se. “I’m too old for that—and too busy,” said the 48-year-old. “I have a wife, two young kids, and a full-time job. I also do a lot of freelance work—basically every evening and on the weekends. I also coach my son’s baseball and basketball teams and have spent the last year teaching myself guitar…. That being said, I do try to play Battlefield every night when my family is all settled down and doing their own thing.”
Jim said that he used to play video games regularly before his children came along, but not online or with multiplayer. “Campaigns. That was it. I used to play a lot of shooters—primarily Call of Duty. But then the kids came….”
Years later, when his son got older, Jim found himself getting back into video games. He started playing Nintendo Wii at first, because it was something that they could play together. They eventually graduated to the Halo franchise on Xbox as his son aged.
Things got even better for the pair when they joined Xbox Live and took advantage of the multiplayer aspects of Halo. They also started playing COD. “I loved playing co-op with my son. And he was so excited to move from battling aliens to something more realistic. However, the campaigns got boring. The AI was always predictable. Multiplayer really upped the excitement of playing a video game together.”
Jim said that he and his son would play together constantly for years. He talked about what a bond it was for them, that is, until some of the newer games began to omit multiplayer couch mode. “We were so bummed when Titanfall came out. The game was spectacular, but we couldn’t play together on the one system. And I wasn’t going to fork over $400 for another Xbox, video game, and Live account.”
Things continued to devolve with the release of other games. Couch co-op was available only for AI-based matches on some titles. Or there was no split-screen option at all. “That’s basically the one thing I don’t like about Battlefield 1…. I can’t play it with my son. Now, he barely plays it at all.”
A Digital Doctor without Borders
That hasn’t deterred Jim from playing BF1 though. With a grin across his face, he told me that his dedication to the game has placed him incredibly high up in the standings. “I run Medic basically 95% of the time. I’m a horrible shot, but I’m insane with healing and reviving. I’m running around each game throwing out bandages and jabbing teammates with the syringe all the time. I make the Highlights board most games because of that and end up near the top of the scoreboard with, like, 6 kills and 3 deaths. Other guys go 24 and 8 and are below me…. It looks ridiculous, but the fact is I’m doing my job. Playing my class.”
In fact, Jim was playing his class so well in a recent Team Deathmatch game on BF1 that he broke his old record of 27 revives. “It was on Cape Helles. We took one of the towers. The one on the lower right corner of the map. The one with the ladder. I just kept reviving and healing. 37 revives and 110 or 120 heals! On TDM!”
Jim is currently ranked in the top 1% of his Medic class. However, that list is thousands deep. “I don’t have a top Medic score—which adds up all the points of kills, games won, etc. But, I am #17 in total heals and #58 in revives at the moment—on Xbox.”
It should be noted that Jim’s Xbox ranking is in the entire world. That’s pretty impressive. Even more impressive, is that across all platforms (Xbox, Playstation, and PC combined), he is currently #109 in heals and #318 in revives—that’s out of over 66,000 active players according to Battlefield Tracker.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
“One of the only reasons I’m so high up is because of the people I play with,” Jim stated. “I rose up with an elite squad of killers—some of the top BF1 guys on Xbox. We called ourselves ‘DOOM platoon’. They helped me level up fast—and vice versa. You can’t rack up a lot of kills and wins without a good medic saving your ass. And you can’t be a great medic if no one is watching your back and clearing out the enemy.”
Just like most, Jim started out green. “I was horrible when I started. Complete garbage. In fact, I still feel like a noob at times,” he said while shaking his head. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been schooled. Every damn day in fact! There are guys out there that are just so much faster and accurate than I am. On days when my squad isn’t around? I totally get wrecked. Sometimes I wonder if they’re hacking.”
Note: While hacking does occur, it’s more rare on Xbox than on PC, where it’s easier to spot and catch a cheater.
Jim parted with DOOM several months ago because of negative personalities—particularly the platoon leader. “He was a good guy, but he was constantly screaming, cursing, and rage-quitting all the time. Meanwhile, he’d be going 32 and 6 every game and still be bitching about how there’s no way some level 12 kid should take him down. This, after running and gunning his way with a Hellriegel around a map. He took all of the fun out of the game. And no one seemed to be enjoying themselves anymore. So, I quit that platoon.”
After DOOM, Jim (who is from New York) took up with a few gamers he met along the way and some former DOOMers. They eventually formed a new team: FOXY platoon. “FOXY is great. We’ve got one of the few female gamers I’ve encountered on here. She’s from Oklahoma. We also have a teenager from Texas, two guys (including a Deacon) from Illinois, a few guys from Ireland, one from the UK, another from North Carolina—everyone’s from all over. They’re fun, enthusiastic, and relatively calm. We’re always laughing.”
According to Jim, having a well-rounded squad illustrates exactly why Battlefield 1 is the best multiplayer video game around. He believes that the ideal 5-man squad lineup—depending on the map—has 2 medics (carrying bandages and syringes), 1 support (supplied with an ammo crate), 1 assault, and 1 scout. If the map is big and flat (which cater to snipers), he recommends a second scout.
Battlefield Medic Recommendations
When it comes to advice on how to “git gud”—as they say in the video game playing world—Jim admits he doesn’t have an answer. “Like I said before, I’m a terrible shot—but I’ve gotten better. I’ve messed with my character controller sensitivity (how he turns, aims, etc.) and still can’t seem to find the right balance. Honestly, I think it’s just that I’m older. One of my FOXY friends and I talk about that all the time. All I can tell you is that if you’re not doing too well, give it time. Change a few things—not too extremely—and try them out for a few days. Maybe even a week.”
As for loadouts, Jim says, “If you’re gonna be a medic—be a medic! Carry a syringe and revive people! I can’t tell you how many medics just walk over a dying teammate and ignore them. It’s maddening.” As for a secondary item, Jim prefers bandages over a medical crate. “Crates are great for healing a large number of teammates, but they don’t work if the guys are engaged. However, a crate can heal through walls and from above, so it works great in buildings.” Still, Jim says bandages are the better way to go for most situations. “You throw them at teammates—like Gambit with his cards—and they heal fully and instantly. The only negative is that you can only dole out two in a reasonable amount of time. That can be trouble when your team is under heavy fire—but that’s why you carry an effin syringe! You can revive the guys who are bleeding out while your bandages replenish.”
He also has something to say to everyone on Battlefield. “If you are ‘dead’, don’t fuckin’ respawn right away! This isn’t Call of Duty. Wait for a medic. I can’t tell you how many stupid run-and-gunners get me killed, because they respawn as soon as I get to them. They leave me standing there with my syringe in hand and no weapon to defend myself. That makes me angrier than medics who don’t revive.”
As for weapons, Jim is currently using the RSC for most battles nowadays, but switches to the Fedorov for close quarters. For longer range he goes back to the Mondragon. He wants it to be noted that his choice of using bandages over crates, and the weapons mentioned above, were all recommended by teammates throughout his time on multiplayer.
The Battles of Battlefield 1 Continue
It’s not too late to join in the BF1 fun. Even though it was released over a year ago, the video game is still going strong. Dice spread out the release of the game’s premium DLC maps and is still doing so. The latest two maps came out at the end of January—and more are coming at the end of February with the Apocalypse expansion. Along with the new maps are new weapons and skins and subtle changes in existing maps. The developers continue to amaze and surprise regular players by adding new dialogue to soldiers who get shot, request help, or say thanks. Other things such as plumes of smoke in the background, planes flying overhead, and silhouetted figures appear in the video game where they once weren’t. And there’s a really cool and eerie alarm sound that occurs on one of the new maps, Zeebrugge.
“Battlefield 1 is a fantastic video game. I love playing it. I don’t really play anything else, because it’s just near perfect—even when it’s not,” said Jim laughing. “I’m gonna be a little sad when the game dies out, but a new one will come along and I’m sure I’ll enjoy that too.”