Battlefield 1 gives you the freedom to play completely hud-less, but is it any good? Is it a viable option for players? I brave the Deserts of Sinai during the beta to find out.
We’re pinned down. The three of us are lying prone inside the house. Machine gun fire shreds the doors and shutters the moment we try and take a peek outside. There are five maybe six soldiers and they’re surrounding us. We don’t have long. I hear shouting from outside, a second later an explosion rocks the building. Then another. The walls are still standing, dust falls from the ceiling and my ears are ringing. We get to our feet and brace our backs against the walls. We’ve got to be ready. My squadmate hands out some ammo, this will be our last hurrah. Go out fighting like everyone else.
With the hud? A very forgettable moment. Without it? A war story I’ll be telling the grandkids.
So Battlefield 1 is out in a few days and I for one cannot wait to get my hands on it. The beta was a lot of fun, so much so that I spent twenty hours with it, and while it solidified my purchase it didn’t satisfy my appetite, I just wanted to play more. When the beta ended I actually felt lost, I have hundreds of games I could play but I didn’t want any of those, I wanted Battlefield 1. During the beta, I spent about half of that time playing without the hud to capture footage for the music video you’ll find below.
I only had one goal in mind and that was to run into the thick of it and show just how crazy this game can get. I half expected it would ruin the experience for me, instead of playing the game for funsies I was going to be shot in the face repeatedly and get nothing. However, instead ofa frustrating ten hours of respawn simulator, I had ten hours of cinematic and immersive experiences. The simple act of turning off the hud removes all distractions allowing you to take in the moment to moment gameplay. It significantly changed my perspective on the game.
Now. that’s not to say it wasn’t frustrating because at first it really was. The lack of feedback can leave you feeling a little lost, you don’t know what objectives you own, how much ammo you have, or if that tank coming over the hill is the enemy. Like a fresh-faced soldier coming into the fight, the only time you get some intel on the match is from the map screen before spawning. It sounds cool though – “This is the situation right now, objective Butter is ours but Charlie is overrun. go get ‘em lad”. Once you’ve adjusted to a hud-less play style it’s exhilarating to jump into the unknown.
And that’s exactly it. There are plenty of disadvantages you place on yourself and it takes time to get used to it. You have no minimap to identify the threat level and spotted players aren’t a thing. Health? Forget about it! You’ll also have no idea how much ammo you have. It’s all about figuring it out as you go. I’ve been a fan of the Battlefield series since the beginning so I know how that sounds. If you only play to win and improve your stats then it’s not a viable option for you. But it’s refreshing to do a one-eighty on the extremely UI heavy Battlefield 3 and 4. Small moments that you would previously shrug off become memorable. Laying in a ditch, low on ammo just watching a stream of bullets fly overhead has a magnified intensity about it. If there were a hud I’d be checking my health, ammo and looking for a clear path on the minimap. I’d be ignoring this gritty, war-timey moment in front of me.
Overtime you grow accustomed to having no real idea how the match is progressing, you just jump in and do your best to fight the good fight
I also noticed that I became a lot more cautious, conserved ammo, and would stick with my team more often. After a few hours I was finishing matches in the top five, and when I turned the hud back on I felt like a T-1000 with my diagnostics and recognition software online. It’d be interesting to see if the hud setting can be set server-side, that’d make for one hell of a Hardcore mode. With this simple graphics option, you get to choose how you experience Battlefield. It’d be easy to assume that only content creators would be interested in this feature, but lurking around subreddits and comments sections it seems that gamers of all types are interested. You can still rule the leaderboards without the hud but I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re not willing to let that K/D drop from time to time. Give it a try if you’re curious.