“Sharing is good, and with digital technology, sharing is easy.” –Richard Stallman
On most Friday evenings, I unwind by means of gaming, and Battlefield 1 has been my latest pursuit since November. I’ve now surpassed my rank in Battlefield 4, and the game’s proven to be surprisingly fun – as of today, I’ve just hit rank ten for the assault class and unlocked the Hellriegel. My journey with the assault class has hit a milestone, and I look forwards to seeing what the Hellriegel is capable of. My quest to reach the Hellriegel has drawn to a close, and the road to the Kolibri continues, but as of late, DICE has been continually making updates to Battlefield 1 to improve gameplay and balance. These changes are noticeable, and the two biggest updates the Spring patch brings is an updated grenade system, which increases grenade throw time and detonation time, as well as lengthening the spawn time, and limiting the number of gas grenades players can carry. Players can now carry two smoke grenades; these had seen limited use so far, although they can be tactically used to provide cover in a pinch, so having more of them might encourage their use. DICE has also made changes to their netcode, trying to ensure players with high pings do not gain an unfair advantage, although this has made it difficult to register hits: during one match, I shot a guy twice at close quarters with the M97 Trench gun while his back was turned and did not get any hit markers. He did hear my gunfire, turned around and melted my face. In another case, I emptied half a magazine of Lewis Gun rounds into someone within two meters, only for all of them to miss. This is remarkably frustrating, especially when they are not hampered by the same limitation and have normal hit detection. Fortunately, DICE has noted that they will be addressing this in an upcoming update; so far, the Spring patch brings mostly good changes to the table, adding new ribbons and four new level ten guns for unlock.
Besides the Spring update, I also had the chance to give the Premium Friends programme a shot now: Jusuhin, a fellow blogger, has expressed interest in teaming up with me to fulfil the role of a medic and support player, although as of now, he’s not got Premium. This means we cannot play on the same servers whenever I am available (which, incidentally, is not too often), or at least, not for the Premium Friends programme. A prototype was deployed, allowing players without Battlefield 1 Premium to play on DLC maps provided that they were in a party where at least one of their friends was Premium. There are limitations: players partied with the Premium players do not gain any XP, cannot spawn into the new vehicles or work towards DLC assignments, but DICE will allow players to retroactively earn back their experience points should they make the plunge. The initial setup was a bit unintuitive, but after we got rolling, Jusuchin and I entered a match of conquest on Soissons, where I decided the time was ripe to play the scout and do what scouts do best. Sticking with the squad, firing spotting flares and picking off distant targets, I was revived frequently and played a fantastic game. We won that match, and continued at Fort De Vaux. I decided to give the M97 Trench Gun Hunter a shot and work towards unlocking the Sjögren Inertial. I immediately regretted it: the weapon is quite ineffectual in my hands because I was completely inexperienced and so, I did not perform as I am used to with my favourite shotguns. I ended up KD negative that round, and we lost the match. However, over the course of two conquest matches, Jusuchin enjoyed the maps and ended up picking up They Shall Not Pass, mentioning that Premium might be worth it after all, especially once more is known about In The Name of the Tsar.
Screenshots and Commentary
- Most of the They Shall Not Pass assignments involve getting fifty kills with weapons that are not as popular as the others: the M1907 SL line of weapons is well-suited for closer quarters engagements. Of these variants, the Sweeper is capable of fully automatic fire, and it is this variant that I purchased first. I’m moderately effective with this weapon, although its capabilities mean that I’ll be less likely to use it during Conquest.
- The Model 10-A Slug fires a single projectile, but despite its damage, it can be a little tricky to use owing to a slow projectile speed. Having poor hipfire and spread, I’m actually not too sure how to make the weapon work, since it fires a single hard-hitting round as opposed to a spread of pellets. What I do know is that it is satisfying to get kills, and quite truthfully, I have a feeling that a bit of patience will likely suffice for learning the basics of this weapon.
- One of the challenges about the weapon assignments in They Shall Not Pass is that some sub-assignments can only be completed if another one has already been finished. Hence, I lost all of my five headshots in a round with the Russian 1895 Sniper because I’d not completed the “get 10 spots with the trench periscope” first. It seems that the medic and support class assignments are a little more straightforwards, although I’ve heard that the “do something in a round” components will be reset if one has not completed the cumulative tasks first.
- The next several screenshots are from the two rounds of conquest that I’ve played with fellow anime blogger Jusuchin. I’ve never actually played Battlefield 1 with friends before, and the last time I played Battlefield with friends was during a LAN party with my coworkers last September. Having an entire squad I could communicate with was absolutely amazing: we made best squad and managed to completely turn around a conquest match.
- As we’d discussed, Jusuchin took on the role of a medic while I sniped, and here, I got my second-longest headshot of all time in Battlefield 1 using the SMLE Mk. III. At a range of 204 meters, it was only a bit shorter than the 226 meter headshot I got using the Russian 1895. Well outside the range of the SMLE Mk. III’s sweet spot, headshots with a bolt-action rifle nonetheless deal instant death
- A large number of players had accumulated on the ridge above the village in Soissons, and I managed to get a few more of them before ordering my squad back to delta, nailing another headshot at a cool range of 198 meters here. Some of the players on the opposing team had the presence of mind to return fire, and I died here, but with Jusuchin as medic, I was revived and found myself on my way to delta. As of now, I’m still trying out the other bolt action rifles, none of which seem to have the same magic as the SMLE Mk.III does.
- It’s almost obscene as to how many points one can get by fighting their way to a capture point and pick off other players while making the capture. Against ordinary players, I tend to do modestly well and will float around a KD ratio of 1.0 or similar. There have been some matches where I’ve encountered cheaters getting nothing but headshots, and when confronted, they are, unsurprisingly, quite flippant about it even when other players are constantly calling them out for it. It would be nice if DICE implemented a hardware ban approach, similar to how Blizzard handles cheating bans for Overwatch.
- Ribbons now add 500 XP rather than 300, so acquire them in the course of a match will further increase one’s ability to level up. Since the winter patch, the maximum class rank was increased to fifty from ten, after which one will unlock an elite dog tag and a special kill card, but this seems to be quite a bit of work for a small return. There are no unlocks along the way, making it a very empty journey to rank fifty, and it would be nice if there were things to obtain, whether it’s extra cosmetics or accessories, along the way.
- Thankfully, we live in a world where assists counting as kills exist: dealing substantial damage to an enemy and gaining credit for it towards an assignment is perfectly acceptable. This was my second match, and the other team wiped the floor with me since I was not used to the M97 Trench Gun Hunter. Looking at the stats, this is not too surprising; the Sweeper variant has more pellets and therefore, a much higher amount of potential damage it can deal if each pellet hits. The Hunter is slightly more effective at range, having a tighter cone, but shotguns are about power over range, so I generally prefer stopping power at extreme close quarters. Jusuchin performed very well this round, resupplying teammates left and right, while I was dying left and right trying to learn the M97 Hunter.
- I arrived at twelve out of fifteen kills when the round ended and managed to comeback from an extremely negative KDR, but it was not enough. I turned in for the evening, and Jusuchin would later pick up They Shall Not Pass. A few days later, I decided to reattempt, and while I succeeded, I lacked the requisite kills with the Model 10-A Slug, so I’ll need to get the Model 10-A Slug kills first before re-attempting this challenge, which, ironically, feels more straightforwards than the one for the Ribeyrolles 1918’s “get twenty headshots with the MP-18 Optical”.
- It turns out that the Lewis Gun Suppressive is actually more tricky to use than the Light Weight variant, having higher recoil in exchange for a larger magazine. Fortunately, this weapon is one of those that requires only fifty kills for the assignment, and I’m doing modestly well with it. Here, I earn my first resupply ribbon: in Battlefield 4 and Battlefield 3, I earned resupply ribbons in abundance because the support class was superbly entertaining to play: LMGs were much more powerful and entertaining to run with primarily owing to their good firing rate.
- In Battlefield 1, LMGs fire much more slowly, and some models have reduced damage: the Lewis gun requires at least five shots at close quarters to take out someone compared to the LMGs of Battlefield 4, which required four shots at close quarters. Coupled with their slow firing rate, LMGs require much more finesse and skill to wield compared to their modern counterparts, and as such, I’ve not been using the support class nearly as much as I’d like: the Lewis Gun lightweight was not a gun I was fond of when starting out, and while I’ve got kills with the Suppressive variant, each kill seems like a lot of luck is involved.
- Being a mobile spawning point was not available in Battlefield 3 or Battlefield 4‘s TDM, so it was always a draw of the luck to spawn somewhere. In Battlefield 1, all squad-mates are fair game when it comes to spawn points, so I can drop in quickly to assist on a firefight in TDM as required and here, I end up getting one of the new ribbons for having squad-mates spawn on my position.
- Quite honestly, it’s a miracle I’ve even gotten forty-two of the fifty kills: while I didn’t notice with the other classes, I spent a fair portion of my past few games getting pranked by the new netcode system. There were numerous occasions where I was standing right beside the target, emptied half a magazine into them only for the rounds to miss because of my ping. They turned around and spanked me as a result. The new ping system is, for the lack of a better word, terrible, and I heard that DICE is trying to fix it, but I think that on my end, I should be less lazy and use the server browser, rather than quick-joining games through matchmaking.
- I’ll have to take on the Lewis Gun challenge when I return from my travels. Eight more kills, so a few more rounds of frustration, and it’ll be behind me. My performance on the whole has dropped since I began attempting the assignment challenges, and to blow off steam, I will play some conquest with a loadout I’m more comfortable with. Here, I partake in a particularly chaotic match on Fort de Vaux as a medic. I was dropping health kits left and right, earning a pile of healing ribbons. It is nice that healing ribbons make a return to incentivise healing: these ribbons first appeared in Battlefield 4 and were absent in Battlefield 3.
- The insanity that is Fort de Vaux makes it a haven for reviving fallen allies, and I must’ve gotten five or six reviving ribbons alone. Unlike my Battlefield 3 days, I play a little more carefully now, making sure an area is clear before reviving downed players. The chaos in Fort de Vaux is reminiscent of Battlefield 4‘s Operation Locker, although it’s only available in They Shall Not Pass, and I do wish that the base game would have included at least one close-quarters, infantry-only map for conquest game modes.
- At the time of writing, I’m around twenty percent of the way to getting all fifty kills for the RSC 1917 Factory. The M1917 SL Sweeper is actually quite well suited for close quarters combat, and while it is outperformed by any assault weapon (for obvious reasons), it can hold its own quite nicely, making it highly suitable for fulfilling the role of a combat medic.
- I ended up near the top of the scoreboard despite only having some ten kills and eight deaths owing to the number of people that ended up requiring health and reviving. I’m very nearly rank seven for the medic class, and ranking up every forty-five thousand points, I could probably reach rank ten in a few more months (recall that I only play weekends and Fridays for the most part). The prize awaiting the medic class at level ten, the Selbstlader 1906 Factory, is an interesting weapon. It looks like a skill weapon, since it’s got a small magazine size and the same damage model as the Selbstlader M1916: inferior on paper, it shines when a shooter is accurate and allows them to output slightly more damage owing to a higher firing rate.
- Playing around in the frenzy that is Fort de Vaux leads me to wonder if a support armed with a supply crate could accumulate a large amount of points just by supporting teammates without too much direct action. It is definitely something worth trying, and I’ll probably do that once I finish the Lewis Gun suppressive challenge. If I do this, I will likely pair it with the MG15 suppressive, which has the most impressive ammunition capacity of any LMG, or I may even try out the new Chauchat low weight that will be awarded for completing the assignment.
- Today, in a rather frenzied conquest match back on St. Quentin Scar, I entered a tank at the halfway point in the match, shot out two people as an assault, saw that I had achieved rank ten and promptly exploded as a pair of AT grenades detonated beside the tank. Returning to the spawn menu, I purchased the Hellriegel and got two kills with it. It is every bit as powerful as I’ve heard it to be, even after all of the modifications made to it to reduce its efficacy: I promptly wiped two players on my way to capture point charlie. Having reached rank ten for the assault, my sights are now set on achieving rank ten for the scout class. I’m “only” some fifty thousand points out, so the goal is no longer seemingly impossible.
Although the test seems to be over now, Premium Friends is pretty clever and could reduce the divided community by allowing players to try the Premium maps: it certainly provides incentive to try out for oneself and see if the Battlefield 1 Premium Pass is worth dropping some coin for. I’ve certainly been enjoying Battlefield 1, and it feels like the Premium edition was definitely worth it; the upcoming content and amount of support in the game illustrates that Battlefield 1 will continue to improve in terms of both gameplay and content. I’m not seeing the “Battlefield 1 is dying/dead” that some vehement folks on YouTube or Reddit are claiming: while DLC servers are decidedly rarer, I’ve no trouble finding populated matches to join, where I may either continue on my ever-going journey to the Kolibri, as well as begin the arduous task of unlocking the DLC weapons that will almost certainly cost me my performance as I acclimatise to the guns that I would otherwise never use. If the assignments are Battlefield 1‘s means of encouraging players to try new guns out, it’s working: the weapons, though frustrating to use in the beginning, offer some moments of triumph when I finally get a kill with them. Perhaps over time, I’ll improve with these weapons (such as the M97 Trench Gun Hunter or the Model 10-A Slug) enough to enjoy them, as well.