“Premium account. As it happens, the maximum experience recorded happens to include the premium multiplier.” —Akeiko “Daigensui” Sumeragi on the advantages of premium accounts in World of Tanks
It’s been around three years since I made the jump from Battlefield 3 to Battlefield 3 Premium, which allowed me to gain the full Battlefield 3 experience. Battlefield 4 ended up providing all of its DLC free of charge during the Road To Battlefield event, giving me full access most of its features, and as such, I did not end up picking the Premium package up. With Battlefield 1, the question of whether or not to upgrade was a challenging one: on one hand, Battlefield 1 has a much weaker progression system and smaller playerbase than the previous Battlefield titles that I’ve played, and some aspects of the game, such as abuse of equipment like grenades and weapon balance, are still very much works in progress. However, several factors led me to decide that making the jump would be worth the price of admissions: the first was that of the announced DLC packages, three of the four have piqued my interest. The French faction, maps and weapons of They Shall Not Pass provides the French maps that I’ve become so fond of, and the upcoming In The Name Of The Tsar will feature Russian maps and weapons. Set in the cold, snowy maps of the Eastern Front, having winter maps would add further diversity to the available maps. I can’t say I’m too excited about Turning Tides and amphibious warfare, but Apocalypse looks interesting. DICE has only noted that this expansion will deal with “the most infamous battles” of World War One. While no details are known, I am hoping this expansion adds the Canadian faction, featuring Vimy Ridge, The Somme, and Passchendaele: the Canadian involvement in World War One was substantial, and it would be a brilliant touch to acknowledge the extent of Canada’s contributions. For the present, I have played several games in the new French maps and have begun the arduous trek towards unlocking all of the assignment weapons.
Opening up my experience with the They Shall Not Pass DLC was entering an empty conquest server, before I managed to find a server with people on it. That I’m coming to the party late means that empty servers are not particularly surprising: it’s a shame that the pay wall splits the community up and makes it more difficult to find a populated server for some shooting fun, but once I did manage to find a server, it was on the map Rupture, where I spawned into a Mark V tank and shot up three people before the round ended. The server then took me to Verdun Heights, a fiery infantry-only map set on the side of a hill sustaining heavy artillery fire. As the match progressed, the blue skies gave way to an apocalyptic orange, with flames licking the hills and darkening the map. Despite this, I managed to help my team win. Fort De Vaux was next, sending players to a labyrinth within a French fortress. Here, combat is chaotic, reminiscent of Battlefield 4‘s Operation Locker and the Close Quarters DLC for Battlefield 3. Soissons was a pastoral map that is set in a village on a warm summer’s morning. The site of one of the largest tank battles of World War One, the beautiful blue skies quickly gives way to a rainstorm that shrouds the map in darkness. Finally, Rupture is a map of trenches and fortifications overgrown with poppies. I’ve long held that the French maps of Battlefield 1 have been the most enjoyable to play, and They Shall Not Pass offers an opportunity to stop and enjoy these maps alone. Of course, I’ve yet to see the other maps, and the being in the premium club has not changed anything about progression and unlocks, but to be able to get some variety in my maps has been quite pleasant: I’m rather looking forwards to seeing how the other DLC will look in the days coming.
Screenshots and Commentary
- My first kill in Battlefield 1 Premium was with the Mark V, where I shot the same person twice somehow. As it’s registered in the kill feed here, it must’ve happened. The page quote comes from an answer to a query posed about World of Tanks: as a free to play title, players are incentivised to purchase their premium version, which offers multiple perks that can leave non-premium players at a disadvantage. Battlefield 1‘s premium offers no such edge, or at least, not to the same extent: players get experience depending on their contributions to their game.
- As a part of the premium club in Battlefield 1, I began playing through Verdun Heights as a medic, equipping the Selbstlader M1916 marksman variant as my weapon for a map. The shifting environments in the maps creates a very dynamic experience, and having infantry-only maps like Verdun Heights and Fort De Vaux is most welcome. I’ve always been more fond of boots-on-the-ground gameplay as opposed to vehicles, if only for the fact that an effective vehicle requires solid team communication.
- It was announced earlier this week that there is a major spring patch in the works that will bring some changes to the way Battlefield 1 works. Platoons are being introduced, along with server renting, and there are some changes being made to gameplay to ensure fairer death counting. Scoring on capture points might also shift so that players no longer get an obscene number of points for camping on a capture point, as I did here for helping out. However, the update that has me the most excited is the inclusion of nineteen new ribbons.
- I’ve gotten some of the other medic weapons, including the Mondragón Sniper, M1907 Sweeper and the Autoloading .35, but the Selbstlader M1916 remains my all time favourite, being the most forgiving for missed shots. Here, I pushed up onto a hill near point bravo and scored a kill to earn a medic ribbon. The ribbons are separate from medals, but nonetheless are very entertaining to earn. One change I would like to see made to medals is that, instead of weekly challenges, players should be able to minimally pick one medal to work on at any given time. For players who spend hours upon hours playing Battlefield 1 each week, it may be fine, but I only spend around two to three hours a week on average, making it quite difficult to unlock the medals.
- AS matches on Verdun Heights progress, the blue skies give way to smoke and flame as the fires ignited by artillery shells move towards the village. Last year, on May 1, a wildfire began in Fort MacMurray in the northern reaches of my province, and within a matter of days, became a large enough conflagration that it forced the evacuation of the entire city. The Red Cross immediately began accepting donations, and I contributed to the recovery effort. The footage on television revealed devastation beyond words, and while the residents returned a month later, the recovery effort is still ongoing. Moreover, the wildfire is still burning in the deep layers of the ground.
- The wide open spaces on Verdun Heights meant an opportunity to try out sniping here. While I’ve become more proficient with the bolt action rifles and can land shots within sweet spots with reasonable accuracy, I’ve yet to improve my game at longer distances where bullet drop and muzzle velocity become a factor. At longer distances past 250 meters, hitting moving targets is quite difficult unless one understands their rifle’s attributes, and lacking this experience, I’m not too effective at the extreme long ranges.
- Looking back, if Noshahr Canals was my go-to map for Battlefield 3, then Operation Locker took on this role for Battlefield 4, and interestingly enough, there hasn’t been a single map that I play inordinately in Battlefield 1. If and when I’m asked, St. Quentin Scar and Amiens are my favourites for their design. They Shall Not Pass introduces the maze-like Fort De Vaux, whose tight quarters make it a chaotic gong-show where grenade spam, Automatico M1918 fire and shotgun pellets make movement next to impossible.
- On the infantry-only maps, there are no behemoths, but losing teams will have access to four elite classes in an effort to turn the game around. The ruins surrounding Fort De Vaux are a challenge to fight around, and opponents with LMGs make short work of me as I try to flank my way around the fortress walls. However, in the company of some teammates with better suited weapons, moving around is more straightforwards, and once I get back inside the narrow hallways, the Model 10-A reigns supreme.
- The upcoming Spring patch will reduce the efficacy of anti-tank grenades against infantry and also increases the delay that a grenade can be thrown. While a means of getting some easy kills (I often throw them into a capture point where I know there are at least one or two opponents), they are also abused frequently, making it quite difficult to move around. More infuriating than the fragmentation grenades are the gas grenades, which will be reduced in their effective duration in the upcoming patch. They’re the second most irritating weapon to die to, only topped by artillery trucks.
- In this particular match on Fort De Vaux, I performed modestly well with the Model 10-A. The Hunter and factory variants only differ slightly: the hunter has longer range, while the factory has better recovery from recoil. Because both are solid one-hit-kill weapons at closer ranges, the Hunter is slightly superior for having a tighter pellet cone, allowing it to remain effective at longer ranges (in a relative sense). By comparison, the Model 10-A Slug is a very difficult weapon to use, and I’ve found myself shredded while trying to unlock the Sjögren Inertial’s first bit, which involves fifty kills with the Model 10-A Slug.
- Completion of the assignments will require a considerable amount of patience: the requirements that can be fulfilled in a round can be tricky as well, on the virtue that the assignments involve weapons that I’ve previously not used to any real extent. The assignment to unlock the Ribeyrolles 1918 Factory has been similarly diabolical: there is no good reason to ever pick the Automatico M1918 factory variant over the trench variant, and this is the easier part of the assignment. The second part involves getting twenty headshots with the MP-18 Optical, which has terrible performance when aiming down sights.
- Taking to the air over the skies of Soissons, I admire the beautiful French countryside as a teammate pilots a bomber high above the battlefield. I immediately switch over to the Becker Type M2 and begin hammering ground targets, scoring an assist as my team draws closer to victory. The skies here immediately bring to mind Perrine’s residence in Strike Witches, and I note that, with an unlockable sabre, I could potentially run Battlefield 1 with the Perrine H. Clostermann loadout.
- The sabre, saw-tooth knife, bartek bludgeon, kukri and billhook are unlocked by means of a puzzle piece system, which are randomly dropped when a battlepack is opened. At present, I have a handful of puzzle pieces, although none have dropped for the sabre as of yet. It will be a while before I unlock the sabre, and correspondingly, it will be quite some time before I can attempt the Perrine H. Clostermann loadout. The Charlotte E. Yeager loadout, on the other hand, requires the Bowie knife. The knife appears in Battlefield 4, but isn’t in Battlefield 1: itself designed in 1830, it’s a little strange not to include it, and consequently, I’m hoping that future DLC will add the Bowie knife: together with the BAR, M1911, an ammunition pouch and repair tool, I could replicate her loadout authentically.
- One of the things noticeably absent from Battlefield 1 that I’ve neglected to mention (much less notice) were kit specialisations that allowed soldiers to carry more grenades or ammunition, run faster, or absorb more damage. It would be interesting to have these field specialisations that could enhance a certain playstyle: Battlefield 4‘s approach encouraged squad actions, since they would unlock different ranks for the chosen specialisations that conferred different combinations of perks (e.g. running faster, carrying more ammunition, remaining on the mini-map for shorter periods, etc).
- Battlefield 3 had the perfect amount of unlocks and customisations: I could understand and get into it on a very short order, and initially found the system in Battlefield 4 to be overly complex. However, once I had acclimatised to the customisation system of Battlefield 4, I definitely enjoyed the variety and options that it offers. I still play Battlefield 4 on some occasions and find myself unlocking new weapon attachments or weapons on occasion. I’ve heard that by Rank 70, war bonds stop dropping, as players will have accumulated enough in-game funds to buy everything that can be purchased.
- There are no words to describe how impressive the visuals in Rupture are. Here, on the far edge of the map near capture point A, I admire the play of light on the landscape abloom with poppies. The poppy became a symbol of World War One in 1921, inspired by John McCrae’s poem “In Flander’s Fields”. A Canadian physician, he witnessed the death of fellow Canadian soldiers as they held out against the German forces, and noticed the blooming of poppies where the fallen’s graves were. This led McCrae to write his poem, speaking for the dead and their command for the living to continue with their fight.
- “In Flander’s Fields” has since become the most iconic poem in Canada about World War One, and the poppy is a symbol of respect for those who had fallen. Here, I reach rank forty-three, and with this, I have eclipsed my level in Battlefield 4. I actually have more hours accumulated in Battlefield 4 than I do in Battlefield 1, but this is because in Battlefield 4, I predominantly play TDM on virtue that conquest matches would last upwards of an hour on some servers.
- While the best long-range anti-vehicle option the assault class can carry, I field the AT Rocket Gun in situations where I need to pick off targets at medium ranges. The projectile speed is quite low and it’s not as effective as a dedicated self-loading or bolt-action rifle, but in a pinch, can be quite useful in dispatching infantry owing to the damage it deals. As this match drew to an end, I saw a wave of enemy soldiers moving over the hill. Far out of the range of my Model 10-A, I switched over to the AT Rocket Gun and managed to take out two opponents before the round ended.
- In one of my more impressive moments as a sniper, here, I shoot out one of the gunners in a bomber with a headshot that can almost certainly be attributed to blind luck. The plane had flown overhead, I took am for the pilot and pulled the trigger, but the round missed the pilot and killed his gunner instead at a range of 93 meters. I’m now reasonably comfortable with taking shots out to 120 meters with the bolt-action rifles, making the time ripe to learn how bullet drop works in Battlefield 1 so that I can start taking on targets beyond 250 meters.
- After trying out my usual medic and assault classes on all of the They Shall Not Pass maps, it was appropriate to hop over to the scout class, and armed with my SMLE Mk. III Marksman, I set out to see just how well playing the aggressive scout would fare on the newer maps. As it turned out, Verdun Heights proved to be a sniper’s haven, featuring plenty of open spaces to snipe from, and cover to hide behind. In conjunction with the spotting flares, this is actually one of the better maps to be an aggressive sniper on.
- Closer inspection of this image finds me amidst trying to unlock the Ribeyrolles 1918 Factory: using the Automatico M1918 Factory was the simpler half of the assignment, although there’s actually no reason to use the factory version over the trench version. The second half is an exercise in patience: I bought the MP-18 Optical and tried it during a match of TDM. Try as I might, the weapon’s spread is insane when aiming down sights, and I ended the match with exactly one headshot.
- Curiously enough, the scout and medic assignments seem to be more straightforwards to complete: the medic assignment weapon, the RSC 1917, stands apart from the other medic self-loading rifles for having a higher maximum damage, as well as a very low rate of fire and small magazine capacity. The weapon appears to be a high-skill weapon, rewards patience and accuracy, compared to the other weapons that were designed for faster semi-automatic fire.
- A cursory glance at my statistics show that the SMLE Mk. III is now my most used weapon in terms of time spent with the weapon out and the number of kills I’ve gotten with it. This weapon is simply fun to use and fits my play-style very well. I’m more effective with shotguns and the submachine guns with respect to kills per minute, but the combination of long-range firepower in conjunction with helping my team spot has allowed me to really make use of the scout class that I’d never really appreciated back in older Battlefield titles.
- There is some additional news about Battlefield 1; coming in June is a new map called Neville Nights, and as per its name, it’s a night map that looks plenty exciting, offering some serious trench-warfare style gameplay. The caveat is that it’s only been announced for premium players so far, and this decision will almost certainly limit the number of players who will be on the map, which is a shame because the map itself seems well designed and has some fantastic atmospherics.
- Even though I’m a part of the exclusive premium club now, I’d rather have free maps available for players so they don’t get left behind. Having said that, the premium model in Battlefield (and by extension, Battlefront) has always been a bit of a more polarising one, especially when held in comparison to models such as those used in Rainbow Six Siege, where players have access to all operators and maps, only paying for cosmetic bonuses, or World of Tanks, that offers players the equivalent of experience bonuses and queue priority on a subscription-style model.
- One of the advantages about Battlefield‘s Premium setup is that it caters to folks who are in the game for the long-haul. These are the individuals who tend to act as team players, with an eye on the objective and a good understanding of how to play their classes. Simply put, in They Shall Not Pass maps, I’ve been revived, healed and resupplied much more frequently than when playing a game of similar duration on servers where folks just have the base game.
- For some inexplicable reason, I’ve become quite out of touch with the BAR Storm and found that I’m much more effective in general with the Madsen MG. On a losing match of conquest here, I was performing quite poorly with the BAR Storm: in one of the patches, the recoil values have been modified, making it harder to consistently land shots on opponents. That changed completely when I switched back to the Madsen, which seems to remain effective at medium to closer ranges.
- The special weapon for the support class is the Chauchat, which hits harder than the BAR and is more versatile. The light weight variant looks to be easier to unlock, requiring fifty Lewis suppressive kills and seventy-five resupplies, whereas the telescopic version requires fifteen M1909 Benét–Mercié telescopic kills and ten mortar kills. It will be interesting to try out two LMGs that I’ve never used before: so far, my attempts to conquer the assignments is met with death mainly because I’m not used to some of the weapons.
- For the “n kills in a round” assignment sections, however, playing a nice match of conquest usually offers enough time for me to accomplish what I need to for that particular component, and here, I’m actually performing modestly well with the support class, having run the entire match with the Madsen MG storm even though our team was losing.
- The new bolt action rifle, the Lebel 1886, is said to be most similar to the Russian 1895 in performance, although has a lower muzzle velocity and longer reload time in spite of its slightly larger magazine. Here, I begin the task of unlocking the Lebel 1886 by using the Russian 1895 Sniper to nail five headshots in a round, and my first kill was achieved at 226 meters, which currently holds the record for my longest headshot. I would go on to complete this challenge, and will be working on the trench periscope component to unlock the first of the DLC weapons.
I’ve sunk quite a bit of time into the They Shall Not Pass maps since I upgraded to Battlefield 1 Premium, and through a combination of PTFO-style gameplay and the occasional squad XP boost that is provided, I’m now inching closer and closer to my aim of reaching rank ten for both the assault and scout classes. At the time of writing, I’m a mere 700 points from rank nine for the assault, and the scout class has now overtaken my medic class in terms of rank. This is something that I was not expecting, and it speaks to the surprises that Battlefield 1 can hold for its players. Of course, for the folks who’ve already reached the maximum rank for their soldier and classes as a result of doing nothing but play Battlefield 1, of course the game will grow stale! From my end, I only play few hours per week at most and as such, things never stray into the dull territory. I’m glad to have purchased Battlefield 1 Premium, and as I did three years ago, I made the upgrade during the Easter long weekend, playing an upgraded Battlefield while waiting for the Easter turkey and ham to cook. It never ceases to amaze me as to how quickly time flies. When I purchased Battlefield 3 Premium, I was remarking on the challenges for that summer; I was set to learn Unity and lend my knowledge towards building the Giant Walkthrough Brain. This time around, I am working my hardest to develop useful, stable and enjoyable apps for the iOS platform, all the while learning more about good software design paradigms and practises.