I’ve gone off Battlefield 1 in recent weeks. It’s not that there’s anything majorly wrong with it, I’ve just had my shooter attention grabbed by other games like mainstay Rainbow Six Siege and Ubi newcomer Ghost Recon Wildlands . Ahead of the release of Battlefield 1’s first DLC drop, They Shall Not Pass, I was keen to dive back into the digital muddy trenches of World War I to see what might have been patched since the last time I played.
As it turns out, not a whole lot. Weapons still sporadically failed to fire after you’ve been revived or, at the very least, temporarily lost their reload animations. Hit registry may well have somehow become worse: I had several instances of shots against unaware enemies passing right through their avatars without registering damage. And, in the ultimate FFS, the spawn system was still terrible.
It’s strange because Battlefield games have gone from having mostly fantastic spawn systems in recent history, to some of the worst spawns in Battlefield 1. Thankfully, the option to spawn by clicking on squad names has returned (I don’t know why that disappeared in the first place), but players were still spawning on squad-mates after they’ve died.
The frustration of this was compounded by the (very) temporary damage buff they received, which meant it took more shots to take them down. On top of this, the limited spawn zones that are universal to Battlefield 1 meant it was possible to accidentally stumble on an enemy spawn area, or to get killed by people camping known spawn zones. If you want to know more about how the spawning has changed between subsequent (recent) Battlefield games, you can check out XfactorGaming’s video that I’ve embedded just below.
Now for DLC talk. There were two downloads for Battlefield 1 when the DLC went live earlier this week for season pass holders: the first was a 2.04GB patch, and the second was (assumedly) the 5.88GB DLC. I was fortunate enough to download it at full speed on launch night (around 12.5MB/s; yeah, Origin is pretty damn fast for me), but some of my regular squaddies complained about slower-than-usual downloads. That’s to be expected, though, given that all season pass holders would have likely been thrashing that Origin download bandwidth.
The other reason I wanted to play Battlefield 1 (apart from seeing what might have been patched), was to compare the pre-DLC launch state to the post-DLC game. As it turns out, those hit-registry issues, spawn woes, and frustrating overcorrections when it comes to shuffling teams between rounds still exist. The spawn stuff isn’t as noticeable when you’re learning new maps, but that also brings with it the potential of stumbling into enemy spawn zones, which I did on more than one occasion.
In terms of content, They Shall Not Pass is great. The great news is I’ve yet to meet a map that I hate. There are two new weapons to unlock for each class (okay, so technically it’s only one but with two variants that both require separate unlock requirements), and those unlock requirements are half-good, half-annoying. The interesting thing about unlock requirements tied to weapons/gadgets is that it forces you to play differently; the bad thing is when you’re a PTFO player like me, some of those less-than-stellar guns you have to use to unlock the new stuff can prove downright frustrating. I’m having an incredibly frustrating time with some of the guns I have to use for unlocks, and it doesn’t help that one of my completed tasks was inexplicably cleared the next time I logged in. Boo!
Like with the rank 10 weapon unlocks for each class, it’s about a 50/50 affair in terms of the paths to new class weapons. For instance, Medic is okay for fans of the automatic-firing M1907 SL Sweeper (I’m a fan for the most part), but only if you’re the kind of player who likes to get up close. The Sweeper is mostly useless beyond mid-range engagements, even if you tap-fire, and the Autoloading 8.35 Factory is one of the most frustrating Medic rifles in the game. I hated having to score 15 kills in a round with it (it just doesn’t match my play style), and I had to resort to playing the new mode Frontlines to score it (you’ll see why later).
Before we get into Frontline mode, I’ve unlocked a couple of the new weapons, and they’re different beasts compared to Battlefield 1’s launch arsenal. The RSC 1917 for the Medic (I have both Factory and Optical variants) is great in that two solid chest shots will take an enemy down, which means you can technically score three kills per clip (it has six rounds) if you have solid aim. It fires slower and, at least as far as I can tell, appears to take longer to reload than the other Medic rifles, though. The lack of ammo in the clip is a deterring factor for me, but that doesn’t stop the RSC 1917 from being a solid unlock.
I’ve also unlocked the Chauchat Low Weight for Support, and this new LMG breaks the mould. I haven’t used it a whole lot because it has a 20-round magazine, slow rate of fire and kicks like a mule. It’s selling factor, though, is that it does the most damage of the LMGs (even the BAR), but the logic of sustained fire improving accuracy—like all other LMGs in Battlefield 1—doesn’t apply to the Chauchat. I think I’ll end up loving it, and may end up preferring the Telescopic version once I’ve unlocked it but, at this stage, it feels weird stacked next to the other sustained-fire muscle memory I have for the other LMGs.
It’s worth noting that the individual class ranks have been extended beyond 10, but even though I’ve hit higher ranks with some classes, it doesn’t appear to unlock anything. Now, back to Frontline.
Like with other modes DICE has released in past DLC—and Operations in Battlefield 1—Frontlines combines the best bits of mainstay modes Conquest and Rush into a single offering. Unlike Operations, Frontline isn’t a matchmaking-only affair, which should ensure it has some longevity. For anyone familiar with the best part of the ill-fated Homefront game, the Ground Control multiplayer mode, they’ll get what Frontlines is about. For everyone else, here’s the spiel. Like Conquest, Frontlines a fight over capture points, but you only battle over one at a time.