“European nations began World War I with a glamorous vision of war, only to be psychologically shattered by the realities of the trenches. The experience changed the way people referred to the glamour of battle; they treated it no longer as a positive quality but as a dangerous illusion.” —Virginia Postrel
Nivelle Nights was first announced back in April, before I’d even begun packing for my trip to Japan, but even then, I’d been most excited that Battlefield 1‘s first night map would also feature trench warfare. The footage shown in April was of a beautifully designed locale quite unlike any of the other maps, although my excitement was tempered by the fact that this map is only for Premium players. Regular players do not have access to this map unless they join a party with at least one Premium player, and this in turn has meant that it has been a little tricky to find and join games on Nivelle Nights – I was only able to play one match of TDM because populated servers simply do not exist and had to queue up in order to join conquest servers. I imagine that Nivelle Nights matches will become increasingly rare with time, so I’m hoping that the “They Shall Not Pass” servers add this map to the rotations. For the matches that I did play through, I found a spectacularly-designed map whose darkness added a new depth to gameplay. Lacking IRNV and FLIR optics, the shadows offer cover to move under and make use of flanking routes that would otherwise be completely exposed by day. However, the map is not totally dark: besides torches and electric lights placed in the trenches, open ground is illuminated by a full moon, casting the land in a blue light. However, the dark that so readily conceals my position also hides other soldiers, who can remain hidden and ambush me as I try to make my way between different destinations on the map. While not worth making the jump to Premium, once players overcome the this particular barrier, Nivelle Nights yields combat with a different pacing and experience compared to the other Battlefield 1 maps.
According to the developer notes, Nivelle Nights is intended to capture the battle at Chemin des Dames in 1917. Details in the map are stunning: the Germans have a well-organised system of trenches and even electrical wiring to provide lighting, while the French have hastily erected their trenches and fire-pits, capturing the disparity in both sides’ readiness. As a conquest map, Nivelle Nights starts with two points already captured, with two points at the map’s center awaiting capture. This map offers land vehicles only, a welcome change from maps with aircraft and infantry-only maps: I’ve never been particularly good at flying in Battlefield, preferring land vehicles and infantry combat. The varying trenches and plains of Nivelle Nights is surprisingly fun for vehicle combat: after spawning into St. Chamond Assault tank, I went on a kill-streak in clearing out capture points with little fear of retaliation from other vehicles. The biggest threats come from well-coordinated infantry with dynamite and anti-tank grenades hidden in the darkness. Wide open spaces between the map make bolt-action rifles and LMGs more viable, but close-quarters weapons dominate combat in the trenches. Playing through the different classes, it becomes clear that each class serves a specific role in Nivelle Nights. Regardless of what one’s play-style is, there is something for everyone in Nivelle Nights.
Screenshots and Commentary
- Although trench warfare dominates our perspective of World War One owing to prevalent imagery of trenches in the Western Front, Battlefield 1 featured a surprisingly small number of trench maps, and nothing of the most famous battles (such as the Somme, Vimy Ridge, Passchendale and Ypres). Nivelle Nights represents a step towards more trench maps: the details of the map are superb, and on the whole, I’ve never been too concerned that Battlefield 1 does not faithfully re-create trench warfare.
- The combination of double XP in conjunction with squad-mates who employ squad XP boosters allowed me to level my medic class exceptionally quickly, to the point where at the time of writing, I cross the level ten mark for this class. I’ve yet to try out the Selbstlader 1906, but it’s similar to the Autoloading 8 .35 Factory – I’ve tried the latter for the medic weapons assignment, and while powerful in one-on-one engagements, it’s a highly unforgiving weapon that demands precise and accurate shooting, making it a high-skill weapon.
- On the other hand, the Selbstlader M1916 is easily the best medic weapon for medium range engagements: it’s my go-to weapon for the medic class, and in conjunction with the typical medic gadgets, I am able to perform quite well. In fact, during one match prior to the Nivelle Nights update, I made MVP as a medic simply by dropping health packs and reviving everyone I could reach. The medic class is immensely rewarding to play, even though most of the weapons are more difficult to use.
- The age of self-loading rifles being the only primary option for the medic class may soon be at an end. In some preliminary footage I’ve seen of the “In The Name of The Tsar”, the medic class might gain access to an automatic rifle that handles more like an assault rifle. If this is the case, the medic could be viable at close quarters, which is where most medics find themselves as they rush in to heal or revive teammates. Eleven new weapons (excluding variations) are slated to be included in “In The Name of The Tsar”, and it’ll be exciting to see how they change things up.
- The St. Chamond Assault Tank presents a slightly smaller profile and has a forward facing gunner in its default loadout. While defending capture point alpha, I use the tank to go on a small kill-streak here under the cover of darkness, and generally have found the tank to be quite fun to use: with a lower profile than the A7V and Mark V, and more durability than the FT-17, this tank fits my play-style more so than even the FT-17. A careful glance at this image also finds one of my emblems pasted onto the back of the tank. I’ve got a variety of emblems now, and I’m running an Imperial one akin to the one that Akeiko “Daigensui” Sumeragi is so fond of at present.
- Here, I finally got onto a TDM game mode in Nivelle Nights and took to using the Sjögren Inertial Factory, resulting in a rather fun match where, even though I’d lost, still ended up topping the scoreboard. The wide open spaces of the map in conquest make using close-quarters weapons inadvisable unless one can close the distance and enter the trenches, but in TDM, the shotgun becomes a powerhouse, leading one player to wonder if I was using ESP to find them. The truth is that, under a full moon, it’s not terribly difficult to spot other players, and the shotguns’ one-hit-kill potential make them a terrifying weapon to fight against.
- In Battlefield 4, I stuck predominantly to the pouches rather than crates: capable of being thrown a considerable distance to heal or resupply teammates, these provide players with a high mobility option that allows them to replenish their provisions without being bound to a single spot. The disadvantage is that ammo pouches cannot resupply grenades after they’re picked up, but otherwise, they are a solid option that I found to be more useful in Battlefield 1 come game modes where players move around frequently.
- At the time of writing, it’s become more tricky to find Nivelle Nights servers now that the initial hype about the map’s release has passed, although it’s still on some map rotations on servers. This is my biggest gripe about the maps being premium-only: the player-base is already split into Premium and non-Premium camps, so offering extra content, while bolstering the value of Premium, also means a decreasing amount of content standard players can access. This in turn hurts the Premium players, who cannot play on new maps as their population counts are much lower.
- The M1909 Benét–Mercié is a weapon I’ve died to plenty of times in Battlefield 1 against support players, and while the LMGs have not been weapons I perform with, playing them as they’re meant to be used makes them much more manageable (especially by hunkering down somewhere with a bipod). Said to be one of the more accurate LMGs at range, the telescopic version of the M1909 Benét–Mercié is involved in one of the assignments for the support class: if I can manage fifteen kills in a round with it, I can unlock the Chauchat optical.
- The support class remains the only class I’ve not reached level ten with at this point in time: besides the assault class, it is the only other class in the game to require fifty thousand points per rank, and unlike the assault class, I’ve not been particularly effective with the support class and its weapons. Having said this, double XP events have contributed to my leveling this class up; dropping ammunition and playing the objective has earned me more points than straight up shooting at opposing forces.
- For the assignments that involve getting fifteen kills in a round, conquest or operations is probably the best place to do so: I’ve not seen too many rush matches, but war pigeons, domination and TDM run too quickly to accumulate all of the kills required for the assignment. Ideally, one would join at the beginning of the match and go from there, although better players (or folks with a better mouse) than myself will likely have no trouble with these assignments.
- Double XP events are a part of the fun with Premium, and here, I reach rank 61. Since this image was captured, I’ve hit rank 64. Battlefield 1 marks the first time where I’ve been playing the game close to the launch of new content and updates: it’s certainly a different experience to be playing through a game as it changes and improves. With previous games, I entered the scene after the games reached their final states, and there were also fewer events to participate in.
- I’ve heard that by rank 70, players will have unlocked all of the war bonds needed to buy weapons, meaning that in due course, I will be able to purchase every single primary weapon, sidearm, melee weapon and gadget in-game. The system of unlocking items as players progress in Battlefield 1 has been a better approach than the approach taken in Battlefield 3 and 4 – some weapons would simply require a considerable time investment to reach, whereas in Battlefield 1, accumulating enough in-game currency means offering players a chance to begin playing in their manner of choosing.
- A year ago, I wrote about Flying Witch the day before I was set to take off for the ALIFE XV conference in Cancún, having spent Canada Day in Banff. This year, I spent the nation’s 150th at a wedding, and by evening, watched fireworks over a lake of the restaurant where the wedding banquet had taken place. Because it is the nation’s 150th Anniversary, celebrations this year have been numerous and well-attended, translating to long lines. Plans to visit the mountains have been arranged to minimise days where large crowds are present, and with the Canada Day festivities over, it’s very nearly time for the Calgary Stampede.
- This year at the Calgary Stampede, while there are no exotic meats such as the rattlesnake or kangaroo I’ve had in previous years, there is lobster poutine is on the table, which means I will naturally be making an effort to attend. This overlook here between charlie and bravo is an example of why I’m particularly fond of the Nivelle Nights map: there’s a blazing fire in the distance, and looking down the optics will find distant enemy soldiers sprinting on the horizon. Subtle, it’s nonetheless a nice touch that adds much character to the map.
- My scout class has overtaken my assault class level now, and so begins the journey to reach rank fifty. I’m actually not too sure if I will play enough Battlefield 1 to reach such a rank. While the elite codices are intriguing, and I love playing Battlefield 1, my library of titles has grown over the recent Steam Summer Sale, meaning that I will probably take a step back from Battlefield 1 and continue with some of my older games, such as Far Cry 4.
- One of the upcoming updates to Battlefield 1 is that soldier specialisations will be returning with “In The Name of the Tsar”. Developers have stated that they will not be introducing damage modifiers such as Bad Company 2‘s magnum rounds or Battlefield 4‘s defensive field upgrade, which respectively increase and decrease outgoing and incoming damage. Instead, field upgrades will focus on sprint speed, ammunition carried, gadgets carried and the like. I also hope they add updates that bolster the effectiveness of gadgets, so that medics and support players can have increased effective radii for crates and restoration speeds for pouches.
- While player reception to specialisations have been mixed, I found that field upgrades in Battlefield 4 were a nice way to encourage teamwork, allowing players to unlock more perks by playing the objective and supporting their teammates. Battlefield 3‘s system only allowed players to apply a single specialisation to their squad, and while this let the squads to tune their play-styles in a minor way to best fit their style, lack of communications meant that this was not always effective (an infamous example is a squad running ammo boosts exclusively). Bad Company 2 only has soldier specialisations.
- I’m actually not too sure which system I liked the best, but Battlefield 4‘s field upgrade system in conjunction with emphasis on team play, rather than squad play, would work nicely. It certainly will be nice to have this feature return. This year, with no packing for a conference imminent, the second of July’s been rather more relaxing, and I’m rocking this post following some fried chicken while the setting sun basks the land in the golden rays of light I’m so fond of about the summer.
- Now that another Battlefield 1 post is in the books, it’s time to look ahead and see what is in store for July: besides Prise de Tahure, Your Name is coming out in twenty-four days. In addition, Washio Sumi Chapter Three: Promise is coming out in a few days. Thus, there are a handful of larger posts for this month, and in the meantime, I will be looking at Hinako Note, which I enjoyed for its own uncommon take on things. As to what these elements are, that will have to wait until the Hinako Note post proper.
Coupled with double experience conferred by the Nivelle Nights event, I’ve now reached level 64. The total amount of time I’ve actively spent in a match approaches sixty hours, and against the word of vocal commenters at various video sites, I find that the game remains consistently enjoyable and fun. The prospect of additional content in July and August leading up to the “In The Name of the Tsar” release keeps my interest in Battlefield 1 alive: July will see the release of Prise de Tahure, another French night map in an urban setting. I do not believe there will be heavy armour or aircraft in this map, so it will be more conducive towards infantry gameplay. In August, the Polish map Łupków Pass will be added to the game ahead of “In The Name of the Tsar”, featuring a lance for the cavalry class that can skewer enemies. The mountainous terrain and design bring to mind environments from Skyrim, and here, only aircraft and infantry can traverse the lands. According to DICE, this is the tip of the iceberg – “In The Name of the Tsar” is set to be the biggest DLC ever in Battlefield, and if this holds true, the worth of upgrading to Premium will easily become apparent.