In Now Playing articles PC Gamer writers talk about the game currently dominating their spare time. Today, John wings it in Battlefield 1's feathered slant on Capture the Flag.
Well, I’ve rebooted my router, reinstalled Origin and tried joining my pals a dozen times. My first half hour with Battlefield 1 is spent listening to its stirring music, arsing about in loading screens and drinking tea. I’m looking forward to joining the game, and it’s a big moment, given that I’ve been in the same clan with these guys for years and ploughed thousands of hours into the Battlefield games.
I spawn, and I’m killed instantly. The camera pans out over the battlefield. I look at the scoreboard to see if I’ve landed on the same team as the chaps on Discord. "What, where are all the clan tags?" I ask them.
It turns out that at release, Battlefield 1 has no way for players to show a tag in front of their name, no platoon system or even custom clan servers. Did EA snub clans on account of how we play so much but pay so little? Given that I’ve got to know these fellas through the clan, some of whom even came to my wedding, I’m a bit sad. But who cares about clans, right?
"Strike, you pigeon rapist," one of them shouts on Discord. Before I can think of a counter-insult, I realise he’s talking about the game mode we’re playing—we have to capture or shoot a pigeon. "Am I going to get court-martialed by Stephen Fry for this?" I reply. There is silence as nobody gets the Blackadder gag at all.
War Pigeons is a bizarre new game mode, and it’s rather fun. Both teams have to scrabble around the map trying to grab an unlucky pigeon, then protect whoever’s carrying it until they can release the bird with its message. We’re playing a map called Ballroom Blitz, set in grounds and corridors of a beautiful French manor house, littered with old crates and war machinery. The guns pop and snap as we all charge toward the enemy player carrying the pigeon. Suddenly the room fills with dramatic plumes of green gas, and the masks go on.
"God damn it, who did a fart?" someone shrieks. This time the Discord channel erupts with laughter. I sigh. For the next few moments my headphones are full choking and spluttering, and I can’t tell if it’s the mustard gas in-game or one of the guys coughing up a lung into his microphone.
Suddenly someone starts singing; "Fly on the wings of love, fly baby fly-ey", and I can only presume it means the pigeon got away. It’s two birds apiece, so the next one wins the match.
"Right guys stop pissing about, let’s win it!" I order the team. Not that I even know where I am on the map or what gun to use. As the new pigeon spawns we group together and attack. Bullets whiz past as I grab the bird and run. It releases more quickly when prone, so I find myself lying behind some crates adjacent to the ballroom.
"Hang on, isn’t this thing just going to fly into the ceiling?" I ask, just moments before it’s ready to go. Nobody knows. I flee out into the courtyard just in case, taking some hits, and then the bird’s up and away. The game’s over, but I can’t help but puzzle over what the hell just happened. I wonder what 2017’s playable seagull DLC might be like, and if it will involve stealing sausage sandwiches from the hands of unsuspecting Germans.