“World War I broke out largely because of an arms race, and World War II because of the lack of an arms race.” —Herman Kahn
Released free to all Battlefield 1 players on December 20 along with a new patch, the Giant’s Shadow update also brought into Battlefield 1 a new gadget for the support class, alongside a host of updates to the core game mechanics that were intended to balance the different weapons and vehicles out. The center-piece of this update was the map Giant’s Shadow, which is inspired by one of the levels from the campaign: it’s a large, open map with fields, river banks and a train depot of the Le Cateau-Wassigny Railway set underneath the early morning skies. Set during the Battle of the Selle in October 1918 as part of the Allies’ Hundred Days Offensive, the map features a crashed Zeppelin at its heart, offering the only substantial cover on the map outside of the farmhouses and buildings of surrounding settlements. For the first few days after the map was released, I was unable to find any matches, but over time, I managed to play several rounds of conquest on the map, whose open terrain makes it suitable for scouts and medics equipped with weapons for long-range combat. Since I unlocked the Selbstlader M1916 Marksman, I’ve been well-prepared for longer range engagements, and the map is also quite fun to play for the support class: I tend to stick close to the objectives and keep my teammates stocked on ammunition as a support class, so the lack of an appropriate long range LMG with optics and bipod has not been a concern. While perhaps not particularly innovative as a map, the overall design brings to mind the sort of architectural features seen in Strike Witches‘ Gallia; for me, Battlefield 1 is essentially Strike Witches in the Frostbite Engine, and watching DICE bring these environments to life is very enjoyable.
Aside from the new map, the update brings to the table a major patch. I’ve never been around for any major Battlefield patches until now, having purchased the games well after their release, and so, I can see how patches can be a substantial turning point in the Battlefield games. Of the updates that I’ve noticed, I’m finding most of them to improve my enjoyment of the game. The patch accompanying Giant’s Shadow balances out the shotguns so the Model 10-A is no longer the powerhouse it once was, which prompts me to try the other shotguns out. The light machine guns also gain an increase in performance; although their damage has not been increased as I was originally hoping, but their first-shot accuracy has been improved, and the damage falloff is now increased. The sum of these changes are noticeable, and these weapons are now viable: I’ve even gone on a five-kill streak with the MG15 Storm while hip-firing the weapon in close quarters against assault players wielding SMGs and shotguns. The medic’s syringe has also been given a slight decrease in capabilities: there is now a cooldown in its usage to prevent “revive chains” unless the medic is in the proximity of an ammunition box. This balances out the medic class, stopping them from single-handedly reviving an entire squad at once, while simultaneously encouraging team play in the form of support players being able to improve the medics’ performance. Finally, the last and best change I’ve noticed is the improvement to the Mark V Landship, which now allows players to spawn directly into a landship. I’ve made use of this in several matches, and it is an unbelievable capability that allows me to be more useful as a secondary gunner. Overall, the patch brings some welcome updates to the game, and on top of fixing several bugs, making the game feel much more polished and increasingly fun to play.
Screenshots and Commentary
- The faded colours of the sky and the presence of a mist on the ground suggests that Giant’s Shadow happens in the early morning. These cues, I picked up from reading The Sky Longing For Memories, and the different lighting elements of each map make them each unique. By this point in Battlefield 1, my most-used weapon is the Model 10-A factory, with the MP 18 being close in second place. However, all of my coolest, cleanest kills come from the Selbstlader M1916 Marksman.
- There is a very large thread on Reddit where one Zer0Cod3x claims that the Selbstlader M1916 is the weapon choice for a mediocre medic who is unable to decide for themselves what their playstyle as a medic is, arguing that its performance as an excellent all-around weapon with a large magazine, short reload time and manageable recoil shows that a player using it is unwilling to improve their aiming. However, YouTubers with rather more credibility, such as Matimi0, find the weapon to be an excellent general-purpose medic weapon that is forgiving to use and effective.
- At the end of the day, I’m playing Battlefield 1 because it’s fun, not because I intend to become a world-class medic for competitions. I have the most fun when I’m helping my team out, and the Selbstlader M1916 Marksman variant allows me to do exactly thus. I consistently score in the ten thousands or close to in a match that I play through from start to finish when using this weapon, and truthfully, it is petty to be dismissing different play-styles from players who are actively helping their teammates. Conversely, it is perfectly okay to disparage those who only care about their KD ratios and will avoid front-line combat, sitting in the distance and spamming artillery truck fire. Hence, while Zer0Cod3x has done his due diligence in backing his claims up, I personally would disregard his claims that players using the Selbstlader are “mediocre” and suggest people play the way they are most comfortable with in helping their teams out.
- I’ve actually not purchased any pistols for any of my classes yet, preferring to run with my stock M1911 pistol; I only use sidearms to finish off an opponent or if I find myself in a pinch, where I have no ammunition (or time to reload) left for my primary weapon and there are opposing players hanging around. Having looked at all the pistols available, there is quite a bit of variety and I will probably do a bit more digging before I spend warbonds on them, to ensure I pick the one best suited for my style of play.
- It is not uncommon for me to score an excess of a thousand points simply by taking out a few people on the capture point that has been marked by an attack order, and then proceed to capture it. Playing the objective, coupled with supporting teammates, is my preferred style, even if it does result in an inordinate number of deaths; there have been a few games where I’ve turned around the outcome of a match simply by constantly reviving and healing allies, giving them a chance to continue fighting when they might otherwise head back to the spawn screen for a lengthy trek back to the objectives.
- I scored one of the most glorious triple kills in Battlefield 1 on New Year’s Eve: I spawned into a landship as one of the gunners and my driver had parked us onto a contested capture point. A bomber was approaching, and I opened fire with the 6 pounder 57mm gun’s HE rounds. The first shot sailed clear of the bomber, and I realised that the bomber was probably coming in on an attack run. I readjusted my aim and fired a second time. Moments later, a hit marker appeared, and the bomber was ripped apart, killing all three occupants instantly. It was one of the biggest “wow” moments I’ve had in Battlefield 1 and brings to mind a similar kill I made in Battlefield 3, where I shot down a scout helicopter with the M1A2’s main cannon.
- In my first Battlefield 1 post for the multiplayer, I only had a handful of screenshots for the St. Quentin Scar map. With its village in the centre surrounded by countryside, half of which is burnt out and covered in trenches, it is probably the most authentic of the maps in the game in capturing the World War I feel; its design makes it my favourite and here, I run through muddy trenches en route to a capture point.
- While the Model 10-A has been adjusted to deal less damage at range, it nonetheless remains highly lethal at close quarters even though it fires one less pellet than it did previously. The M97 Trench Gun has been upgraded to fire one more pellet than the other shotguns — in conjunction with its higher rate of fire, it’s now a viable alternative to the Model 10-A, and as I’ve had my face melted by the M97 on more than one occasion, I’m curious to give it a whirl now.
- In Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 4, it was quite rare that I would get any kills in the gunner’s seat of a transport, since the pilots’ manoeuvres made it exceedingly difficult to train my mini-gun on any ground targets. However, in Battlefield 1, I’ve made some nice air-to-ground kills as a gunner in an aircraft, and here, I manage to shoot out a ground target on one of the capture points.
- Having reached rank one for the support class, I immediately unlocked the Madsen MG Storm variant and modified it to feature the anti-air sights. The Storm versions of the MGs tend to be the best all-around performers, and I’ve managed some pretty cool kills with the Madsen MG; because the weapon is quite similar to the Bren Gun in that both weapons have a top-mounted magazine, I’m tempted to run with it and do a standalone post for the Perrine H. Clostermann loadout, although the support class is unable to equip the sabre (which stands in for Perrine’s rapier).
- I imagine that, being unable to fully replicate Perrine’s loadout, I’ll have to settle for a few screenshots, and in the time I’ve used it, the Madsen MG has quickly become my favourite LMG so far, handling similarly to an assault rifle from older Battlefield games. I’m quite interested to try the Browning Automatic Rifle Storm soon: I’m 32 percent of the way to reaching rank three for the support class, and at present, I’ve hit rank three for the medic, which remains my favourite class in the game despite remarks that it’s ineffective compared to its Battlefield 4 incarnation.
- In one of my conquest matches on St. Quentin Scar, my team had fallen behind, and a behemoth was slated to be deployed. I died shortly after, and waited to spawn into the L30 Zeppelin. When I entered, I spawned into the gunner seat, but I decided to let a more capable teammate helm the behemoth, switching out into a gunner seat carrying the Becker Type M2 automatic cannon, which fires explosive rounds. I’ve grown to like this weapon by using it in the bombers, and managed to get several kills before the Zeppelin fell to enemy fire. Here, I managed to kill a tank hunter elite class who was on the ground. Shortly after, a fog rolled in and, being unable to see threats on the ground, the Zeppelin was destroyed.
- One particularly chaotic game on Monte Grappa that I joined on a quiet afternoon following New Year’s Day also turned out to be one of the most epic I’ve had. I had a day off and had spent the morning doing some work from home. After sitting down to a lunch of noodles and shrimp-filled fish balls, the early afternoon’s itinerary included playing Sim City 4, shovelling the walk and going for a walk. Having watched the earth’s shadow slowly creep across the land, I returned home and decided to play some Battlefield 1.
- The game began ordinarily enough; I had spawned into a tank to help capture point Charlie, then sprinted up to Butter to help with its capture. With the point secured, I immediately ducked underneath into the bunker and neutralised a player who had been using the fortress gun. I subsequently took control of the gun, and found a bomber entering my sights. In a moment of déjà vu, I adjusted my aim and opened fire. A hit marker appeared, the bomber exploded, and I yelled in jubilation at having managed another bomber kill using slow-firing heavy weaponry: the Fortress guns are essentially stationary battleship guns that can deal massive damage but are limited by their coverage and firing rate, as well as leaving operators vulnerable to attack (as the fellow operating the weapon found out seconds before I seized it).
- When I noticed that I was only a few points from reaching rank two for the assault class, I switched over, spawned into a heavy tank and managed to get those points by capturing point Charlie. Reaching rank two gives me access to a range of new melee weapons, plus the M97 Trench Gun Sweeper and 12G Automatic Backbored. The factory versions recover quickly from recoil, while backbored guns have less recoil at the cost of a reduced range. Sweeper guns have a wider spread, making them suited for extreme close quarters, and the hunter variants have a tighter spread. It will be interesting to utilise shotguns in different roles based on their pattern, and I’ll probably end up picking out an M97 variant once I figure out which one works best for me.
- This screenshot enters the collection for this post because of some insane ragdoll physics: I threw a grenade here that took out an enemy and sent his ragdoll spinning about, but even this is minor compared to what has been presented in some of Matimi0 and JackFrags’ videos, where explosions cause enemies to be tossed high into the sky, or perform acrobatics while flying through the air. I’ve gotten more than my share of “random” grenade kills, where I throw a grenade at random into a spot where I think there will be an enemy presence. After turning away and focussing my attention on something else, I get an unexpected, but highly satisfying hitmarker and kill notification.
- A large group of enemies climbed over the ridge to recapture point Butter, and while I had been trying to shoot down aircraft and a behemoth attacking allied positions, I trained the weapon towards the ridge, opening fire and getting hit marker after hit marker. I managed to get a kill and noticed the behemoth was directly overhead.
- While I had begun by shooting at the turrets to disable them, I soon recalled that disabling the zeppelin’s cockpit would immobilise it momentarily. So, I turned all of my fire towards the pilot’s gondola, and sustained fire from the anti-air gun was enough to kill the operator (his ragdoll can be seen falling from the exploding cockpit here), as well as exploding the driver’s seat. The remaining gunners caught on and focused their fire on my position; while I managed to escape, the anti-air gun was destroyed, and other players on my team would bring the behemoth down. We would go on to win the match.
- It won’t be a complete talk about Giant’s Shadow unless I got at least one kill with the crossbow launcher: a new gadget for the support class, it fires grenades silently, and the fragmentation variant, intended for anti-personnel use, is the most effective (I’ve heard the anti-vehicular one does only eight damage to armour). It’s useful for lobbing grenades into hard-to-reach areas, but here, I use it in a direct-fire situation to take out a guy who surprised me when I’d entered a room. I typically run the crossbow when I’m engaging infantry in tight maps: otherwise, it’s the repair tool if I’m playing conquest or the airburst mortar on maps with more hilly terrain.
Some preliminary calculations show that I’ve now around sixteen hours of time in the Battlefield 1 multiplayer, and from a strict performance standpoint, I’m slowly acclimatising to the game’s mechanics from the differences in Battlefield 4. While my KD ratios probably won’t reflect that, I’m consistently scoring well in conquest: it’s become my most played game mode now for bringing together everything that makes Battlefield fun, with its combination of large scale maps, chaotic infantry combat and vehicles. Coupled with the fact that matches consistently last around half an hour, I know I can join a game and end up with thirty minutes of enjoyment; even in games where I’m experimenting with new loadouts, I somehow manage to do reasonably well from a scoring perspective despite ending up slightly negative in the KD ratio. This stands in contrast with the large discrepancies in Battlefield 4‘s conquest matches, which could last for an hour or more in some cases. As I am enjoying Battlefield 1 quite a bit by this point in time, I’m going to do as I did for Battlefield 3: if I manage to reach rank ten for at least two classes by November, and the DLC adds maps and weapons that prove to be amazing, I will upgrade and purchase a Premium Pass on the next Origin Black Friday sale.