‘What’s the Meta?’ is a new series for the PC PowerPlay website, where I’ll cover bigger patches and DLC drops for popular games (at least, for the ones I’m playing!) to let you know how the meta has changed. I think it’s normal for the player base to wander to and from games, depending on what changes are made, so this will hopefully act as a touchpoint for whether it’s worth revisiting a game you may not have played in a while (or are waiting to be fixed in particular areas).
With that out of the way, let’s move on to how Battlefield 1’s meta has changed since its last patch.
FairFight really doesn’t seem to be an effective bit of anti-cheat software for popular online shooters, at least not on its own. It’s used in two of my favourite online shooters, Battlefield 1 and Rainbow Six Siege, and savvy cheaters just seem to blitz their way around it.
For Siege, when I talked to the devs about the introduction of BattlEye—an anti-cheat service that complements FairFight—they talked about there being a time before and after BattlEye. Basically, cheating became a whole lot less rampant when BattlEye was introduced. In terms of Battlefield 1, I’ve been playing it again recently, and one of my earliest re-introductory experiences was tainted by a blatant cheater.
If you’re wondering how blatant, check this out. On the first map I played, the cheater had 112 kills as a Scout. Not impossible, but every shot was a headshot. In the next map, every kill was once again a headshot, but this time it was from across the map with an LMG. Oh, the cheater’s name was FairFight-6. This cheater bragged that they’d already been banned earlier in the day. When I started instructing other players on how to report this cheater, they finished off the explanation for me. Well beyond zero fucks were given.
On top of this, when another player pointed out how expensive it must be to purchase new copies of Battlefield 1, the cheater claimed they got their copies for free. Hardly the best start to seeing where Battlefield 1 is at these days compared to where it was at when I left it after the first DLC drop. Now, take into account that I stopped playing Battlefield 1 in March because cheating was rampant. So, please consider a new approach to anti-cheat for your games, DICE, especially with the release of Battlefront II not too far off.
Despite rumblings about Battlefield 1’s supposedly dwindling community, it’s easy to find a bunch of populated PC servers during the day and at night. There’s usually some queuing for the better servers, but the wait has never been more than a couple of minutes for me, so I don’t have any issues with that. What I really wanted to do was play the new map, Nivelle Nights.
As the map name implies, it’s the first Battlefield 1 map to be set at night. What the name doesn’t tell you, is there’s a greater emphasis on it being more of what you might consider to be a traditional World War I map. There are long stretches of trenches, not a whole lot of cover out in no man’s land, and you generally have a feeling of being exposed to attacks from any angle.
My biggest fear for night-time maps in Battlefield 1 (DICE has plans for at least one other night-time map) is how much they would encourage camping, but this hasn’t been my experience so far (with the exception of the usual proportion of campers who aren’t PTFOing). Because of the lower visibility, you’re more reliant than ever on teammates spotting enemies, or on Scouts popping off flares before charging into a darkened capture point. It also means that there are strange stretches of silence as you move between points. Because of this, sound plays a huge role in identifying nearby enemies in Neville Nights, and you know that firing a weapon is a sure way to give away your position if you can’t guarantee a kill.
The cover of night also makes it easier for sneaky flanks, or rearward attacks on enemy positions, and that rewards the kind of strategies that are less about charging mindlessly at capture points and more about tactical planning. I’m more of a fan of Nivelle Nights than I thought I’d be, but it’s hard to find a server that has it in the rotation.
Speaking of map rotation, something’s gotta give. It’s good to see that DICE has given players the option to vote on the next map, albeit apparently with only two choices. The problem is that when a map loses the vote one round, it seems to be automatically presented as one of the options at the end of the next round. That would only be 50% frustrating if the other option wasn’t also the previous map.
If you stay on a server long enough, the map choices are to either suffer on a bad map, or replay the map you just finished half an hour before. Hardly ideal. There’s no reason why this voting system couldn’t be expanded to include all maps or, at the very least, two or three more options per vote. In more encouraging end-of-round news, DICE has reintroduced the enviable ‘Ace Squad’ accolade, which shows a group shot of the squad that performed the best for the map. It’s about damn time!
One of the other bigger changes is the ability to exchange scraps for specific weapon skins or melee weapon parts. The choice of skins or weapon parts seems to be either limited or on a rotation. This is frustrating because it took me 200 hours of playing to finally score the final puzzle piece for one of the (launch) melee weapons. It wouldn’t be so bad if I wasn’t so obviously grinding for it, deliberately saving up 900 scraps for the Superior Battlepacks to give me the best shot at scoring a melee weapon part.
If I didn’t get the puzzle piece, I recycled everything received (including skins and squad XP boosts) to scrap and repeat the process. While my game currency isn’t skins—because I really don’t care how my weapon looks, just how it frags—I am interested in new gameplay unlocks. Given how Battlefield 1’s arsenal is limited, if only compared to previous Battlefield games, new melee unlocks actually present (slightly) new gameplay possibilities, even if that’s as simple as weapons that may be able to destroy barbed wire. Like with my map suggestion, it’d be nice if the selection of skins or melee puzzle pieces was expanded and/or personalised to be more meaningful.