With so many games to play at this time of year, there’s really only time for one or two online shooters amid the other multiplayer (and single-player) games. For me, I thought that’d be PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Star Wars Battlefront II. While I’m still regularly playing PUBG, I can’t say the same about Battlefront II.
It’s actually kind of a relief, truth told, because it means I’ve been able to balance my online shooter hours between PUBG and Battlefield 1. While I enjoyed the free night maps and the last DLC drop, In the Name of the Tsar, for the most part, I was really pissed at the steep weapon unlock requirements. In my article, I called it “gun grind”, and it was the biggest con for Battlefield 1 alongside the disturbingly frequent presence of obvious cheaters.
Fast-forward to today, and things have improved. First and foremost, in the handful of hours I’ve played of Turning Tides DLC for Battlefield 1, I haven’t once come across hackers. That’s a great sign that DICE has been able to counteract the cheats, which I wasn’t honestly expecting. This is not a dig at DICE as much as it is a comment on the reality of online cheating nowadays. Unfortunately, cheats are now a multi-million-dollar business, with reports that blocked cheats can be up and running again within a matter of hours.
Sadly, it makes a lot of sense. When a cheat creator’s livelihood is on the line, understandably, they’re motivated to fix things ASAP to protect their bottom line. And considering anti-cheat systems feel more reactive than proactive, something needs to change. But I digress.
My time with Battlefield 1 of late has been without obvious cheaters, and that’s made for a tighter gameplay experience. Couple this with 60Hz custom servers, and Battlefield 1 has never felt better. It’s sad that DICE was late to add Operations to the server browser, because it seems the fantastically sprawling mode has been relegated to empty servers. It’s a damn shame for the mode, and sad in a specific way to Turning Tides because I haven’t been able to find a game of the new Gallipoli map which, given the ANZAC link to Gallipoli, is really unfortunate. They’re all just empty servers. I’ll update this copy if I can get into a game over the holidays.
What DICE has clearly listened to is the unlock requirements for the DLC weapons. To put it into context, one of the LMG unlocks for In the Name of the Tsar required you to shoot down two planes with an LMG. That means you need to get the last hit on the plane, assumedly competing against other players trying to complete the same objective. On top of this, In the Name of the Tsar introduced a super bomber that soaks up damage from AA guns, let alone LMGs.
Anecdotally, during one of my rounds on the Turning Tides maps, a player was begging the other team to fly over a particular capture point so he could score the In the Name of the Tsar LMG unlock. For this DLC, though, weapon unlocks are easier and more logical. For Support players, 25 kills with the BAR M1918 Trench and 250 vehicle damage with explosives is all that’s required to score the M1917 MG Low Weight. This can be done in a round or two, which makes it feel a whole lot less grindy.
To unlock the Telescopic variant of the same LMG, you need to perform 50 kills with the M1917 MG Low Weight, plus 1500 points of suppression. That suppression milestone can be achieved with any LMG, but given the 50-kill requirement with the M1917 MG Low Weight, and the 250-round capacity of the belt-fed drum, DICE is basically encouraging you to use the Low Weight. This is a good thing for incentivising players to use the new LMG for a decent amount of time before writing it off and reverting to what they know. It’s also a great gun once you get used to it.
Of all the LMGs in BF1, the M1917 MG Low Weight feels most like, well, an LMG. It reminds me a lot of playing the machine-gunner role in Day of Defeat, where it’s better to adopt start/stop tactics of advancing and holding an area before moving on. From the hip, the spread is a bit all over the place, but prone or with the bipod contextually deployed on waist-high cover, the M1917 MG Low Weight is a beast for scoring kills, suppressing enemies and, generally, locking down an area.
It rubs against my usual run-and-gun tactics as a Support player, but that’s not a bad thing that DICE is encouraging meta changes with its DLC weapons. Considering how brutally effective suppression is now, especially when it’s coming from a Support player, your biggest threat adopting these start/stop tactics is long-range snipers or being flanked. If you’ve got a supportive squad—and I’ve had the pleasure of playing with multiple, mic’d up players working together on pub servers—this is less of a threat than you’d think.
A similar unlock logic applies to the Medic class. It’s relatively easy to score the 25 kills with the M1907 SL Trench and 10 revives in a round (I did this my first attempt without breaking a sweat) to unlock the Farquhar-Hill Storm rifle. It holds 20 rounds, which is great on paper for how I like to play my frontline Medic role, but it feels really inaccurate, both from the hip and aiming down sights. You have to take more time between shots but, in my mind, that defeats the purpose of running with this type of rifle. I’d take lower damage and greater accuracy any day.
This is why I much prefer the Autoloading 8.25 Extended or M1907 SL Sweeper for this role: they’re both more accurate than the Farquhar-Hill Storm and allow for run-and-gun multi-kill potential. Because of this, I’m finding it more grind than rewarding to unlock the Farquhar-Hill Optical, which requires 25 headshots with the Storm variant, and the completion of 20 squad orders. That latter objective is a cinch, especially when I steal the squad leadership from lax leaders—just request orders and you’ll get it within a minute if they don’t mark a capture point—but scoring 25 headshots with the inaccurate Farquhar-Hill, even when I’m aiming at the head, is incredibly frustrating.
This inaccuracy is made trickier by the reality that headshots don’t always kill in Battlefield 1, which means you need to try land the killing shot on an enemy’s noggin, which is easier if you’ve caught them napping, but the majority of my fights in BF1 are head-to-head. Assault has two weapon unlocks, the Maschinen pistole M1912/P.16 Storm and the M1917 Trench Carbine. The latter is unlocked by scoring 15 sidearm kills (so it can be done across classes) and five multi-kills.
The M1912 is a little trickier, with a requirement of 50 kills with the Automatico M1918 Storm and the destruction of five boats with an AT Rocket Gun. I haven’t confirmed this, but I suspect you can fudge the boats one, but the Automatico SMGs really are one-kill-per-mag weapons, which can make 50 kills feel a little grindier than it should. I haven’t toyed with the Scout unlocks, but that’s mainly because they incentivise camping, and that’s not my jam. If there was a Scout rifle unlock that allowed me to play with more of a run-and-gun style, apart from the M1903 Experimental (with its 41-round magazine), which doesn’t do enough damage to feel viable.
DICE has also mixed things up a bit when it comes to the new maps. The plan is for there to be four in total, but two have been released already, and the other two are set to land in January. Cape Helles and Achi Baba both feel really different but, at the same time, fit into the solid line-up of Battlefield 1’s map rotation (especially when you can vote the odd bad ones away). Cape Helles mixes brutal trench warfare with long lines of sight to the A point on the beach, which can be effectively covered and bombarded by a well-organised fleet.
Achi Baba feels more open in parts, but with natural trenches, and well-placed shrubbery for sneaking up on enemies or hiding tripwires. It’s got some natural barriers for shifting between points, which forces you to take one of a few routes to shift between points, and these chokepoints tend to be stacked with memorable battles, and the potential for awesome flanks. For the most part, it’s another solid DLC drop from DICE, and I can’t wait to see what the two new January maps bring to the battlefield. Now, if I can just make it to the new Infiltrator elite class—which is disturbingly overpowered at the time of writing—I reckon I could score some YouTube-worthy kill streaks.