“One needed, she saw now, only a few belongings, just as one needed only a few close friends, and a single passion – it need not be a person, necessarily.” ―Daphne Kalotay, Russian Winter
DICE timed their release of the Łupków Pass Update to coincide with the 2017 North American Total Eclipse; at around 1130 MDT, when totality was projected for my area, I walked up a nearby hill with coworkers and a pair of eclipse glasses in hand, watching as the moon partially covered the sun. Without the glasses, the only hint that an eclipse was occurring was the fact that shadows cast by the leaves were doubled, as well as very minor dimming of the land as the sunlight hitting the surface was reduced. The air became very calm and cool as the eclipse reached totality, and we stood under the eclipse; even if it were a partial eclipse from where I am, it was nonetheless an incredible experience. We subsequently returned to our meeting, and when the workday ended, I returned home and loaded up Origin to pick up the update. Within minutes, I was running through the snowy ravines of Łupków Pass, watching as explosions and gunfire tore through the fog-covered forests. I sprinted over to some cabins underneath a railroad bridge to meet my teammates and cleared the capture point. I cannot quite recall the outcome of that particular match, but I vividly remember a match where I set a personal best in kill-streaks using the armoured train’s direct-fire 57mm cannon. My team was losing, and the driver’s seat was taken, but I managed to defeat twelve consecutive opponents with the armoured train before the match ended, turning my KD ratio around entirely and also unlocking me a service star with the behemoths. In a later match, I was attempting the Support challenge and reached rank ten with the support class; with this achievement, I’ve reached rank ten for all of the classes.
As a map, Łupków Pass is DICE’s comeback from the disaster that was Prise de Tahure. Unlike Prise de Tahure, Łupków Pass is an immensely fun map to be on. The details in the environment, from muddy hilltops to fallen trees and protruding shrubbery serve to add an incredible aesthetic to the map, while the verticality of the map means that players are forced to be mindful of attack from unexpected directions. Players can camp, hidden amongst the trees and shrubs, but the careless camper can sneak up behind them from an unexpected directions to net an easy kill. Similarly, a lack of awareness for people hidden amongst the terrain leads to death. The dynamic of mobile, aggressive play and a play-style characterised by remaining in one spot are balanced in Łupków Pass, where neither has a distinct advantage or disadvantage; it is here that the map truly shines. The presence of cliffs and ravines keeps players on their toes – players who are always mindful of their surroundings will perform well regardless of their play-style, and like Neville Nights, Łupków Pass has been designed to fit a wide range of play styles. Łupków Pass represents a fantastic entry into the In The Name of The Tsar DLC, which is set to release next month, and having spent around three hours on the map so far, I’m all smiles, a far cry from the frustrations encountered with Prise de Tahure.
Screenshots and Commentary
- The Łupków Pass update actually is not the first time I’ve played on this map: Battlefield 1 marks the first time I’ve had a full Battlefield game close to launch, and this means I’ve got access to the Community Test Environment (CTE), where DICE developers allow premium players to test maps and provide feedback. For me, admittedly, it means being able to get a sneak preview of the new maps and guns. Consequently, when I entered Łupków Pass, I already knew how to get around and here, I nail a player with the Selbstlader M1916 Marksman, a weapon I’ve not used for quite some time.
- The Selbstlader M1916 line of weapons remains my favourite weapon for longer-range engagements with the medic class: the optics allow the weapon to be viable at long ranges, and the weapon’s large magazine size means that it can be hip-fired at close quarters to get out of a pinch. Easily the best medic weapon in Battlefield 1, the upcoming In The Name of the Tsar DLC introduces the Fedorov Avtomat, a fully automatic medic rifle with the same magazine capacity as the Selbstlader M1916. Its unlock requirements do not look too steep: only forty kills with the Cei-Rigotti trench and a number of heals are required.
- My CTE experiences on the maps themselves were quite fun, although for a period, there were only European servers, making it difficult to play normally on them. Here, I come out of a firefight with another player who managed to make me empty out my Selbstlader, but I fell back onto my sidearm to best them in single combat after entering one of the houses on the map, earning an even ten kills. The player in question here had a name which piqued my curiosity; they have a 0.656 W/L ratio and a KD of 0.254, but have nearly double my hours.
- Łupków Pass has a very Christmas-like feel to it on account of the snow and blue skies; one of my favourite pastimes during the winter, especially near Christmas, is to take walks in the nearby hills when the temperatures are not too disagreeable. The lower angle of the sun in winter means that even mid-afternoon, there’s a golden glow in the air that gives the sense of evening, and of course, nothing quite compares to sipping a cocoa after returning from a brisk walk.
- While I’m loving the map, I have a feeling that by Christmas, the In The Name of the Tsar servers will largely be empty because most premium players will have begin playing the Turning Tides DLC, the third of four. One of the biggest challenges facing Battlefield 1 is the fact that placing new maps behind the premium pay wall splits the community, leaving DLC servers severely under-populated or even depopulated in the weeks after a DLC is released. My previous experience has found that They Shall Not Pass lasted for roughly a month and a half after release before the number of players dropped.
- Consequently, I imagine that In The Name of The Tsar will likely endure until around mid-November, although if we’re fortunate, the impending release of Turning Tides in December could keep people playing on DLC servers for a bit longer. Here, I spammed revives left and right while my team was pressing forwards on a rush to capture points D and C. The other team had dug in and were firing down the narrow way, creating a choke point that killed many teammates. As I was on hand to revive them, we maintained our momentum and continued to push forward.
- I ended up with twenty revives in the match’s first ten minutes and subsequently changed my role, playing the objectives and supporting teammates as best as I could with both covering fire and health packs. The team managed to maintain a solid pacing, and soon, the opposition was given an armoured train. There’s a railroad running through the Russian third of the map close to points F and E, and on Łupków Pass, the armoured train’s 57mm mortar is an obscenely powerful weapon: I went on a 10-killstreak with it, hitting opponents as far away as capture point A from F during the CTE.
- This moment was featured for a reason beyond the contrast of a medic ribbon on the blues and greys of the landscape: the composition brings to mind the reconnaissance image for “Malachi and Bane 2” in the Enter the Matrix strategy guide during the sewers mission. A game I played extensively eleven years ago on both GameCube and PC, it’s a title I tremendously enjoy, and a part of the reason why I enjoyed Enter the Matrix were the settings. The sewers mission is set in a vast underground sewage network to find and defend Zion rebels after their meeting is interrupted by agents. In the cavernous network of pipes and tunnels, a faint fog obscures passages. This aesthetic enhances the setting, even if it was a result of limited draw distances in an older game.
- I will be returning at some point in the future to write about Enter the Matrix, and for now, we continue on with considering winter maps in Battlefield 1, which bring to mind Brave Witches, and I remark that the Brave Witches OVA released on BD yesterday. Having said this, there’s not been an opportunity to actually watch the OVA itself, and while there’s a possibility that my review of it might follow the timing of the Amanchu! OVA, I definitely will be writing about the Brave Witches OVA when the time comes.
- Today also marks the one-year mark after Your Name was released; a year ago, I was making my way through DOOM‘s opening missions and noticed a surge of in-bound traffic from searches for Your Name. At the time, I remarked that more information was not available and continued to play DOOM, although it was a bit frustrating to know that there was a wait of indeterminate length for the film. A year later, I’ve gotten my review out, and it seems that the hype surrounding Your Name has begun dissipating.
- Here, I take out one of two behemoths on Łupków Pass with a well-placed AT Rocket Gun shell, eliminating the behemoth and scoring nearly two thousand points in a shot that also netted a triple kill, producing some impressive fireworks. Both kills were using the assault class’s weapons, and both attempts ended with my narrowly escaping death after earning the thousand point bonus for the kill. On the topic of fireworks, earlier this evening, I attended the GlobalFest Finale Fireworks show. Unlike last year, where the show was rained out, the weather tonight was remarkably pleasant. Arriving early at the venue, I enjoyed some melt-in-your-mouth mini-dougnuts, which are popular as a summer fair food in my region, while waiting for the show to start. Owing to the comfortable weather, the fireworks show this year proved most enjoyable, being choreographed to Canadian music and lasting for half an hour.
- Returning to Battlefield 1, the open spaces of Łupków Pass means that overall, shotguns actually can be a disadvantage, so when I switched over to the assault class in order to help eliminate an enemy behemoth, I spawned in using a submachine gun. The two behemoth kills here, coupled with a rather serendipitous one using the FK 96 77mm field gun that led to a spectacular killtacular a few weeks earlier, means I’ve doubled my total number of behemoth kills in Battlefield 1 to a total of four.
- Overlooking the majestic mountains in Łupków Pass evokes a memory of the sort of mountains seen in Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and Half-Life 2: Episode 2, which I played in the depths of summer a few years back. I’ve yet to finish Skyrim‘s campaign, and as for Half-Life 2, I’ve beaten it and the episodes several time over. Yesterday, retired lead writer at Valve for Half-Life, Marc Laidlaw, published an open letter about Half-Life 2: Episode 3 and one of the proposed stories for what this third episode was intended to follow. Episode 2 ended on a cliffhanger ten years ago and Valve has been even tighter-lipped than Toho (Your Name) and Actas (Girls und Panzer) with regard to release dates surrounding continuations of the Half-Life franchise.
- In the letter, Gordon Freeman and Alyx Vance visit the Arctic and locate the Borealis with the goal of retrieving its technology, only to find the Combine already there. The letter makes it clear that things end on another cliffhanger: the Combine are so far ahead of humanity that a victory at this point is not something to be entertained. While the letter offers some insight as to one path Episode 3 may have taken, it is by no means an official narrative, nor does it offer closure for the franchise. For the present, as a friend and I have noted in conversation, “all we can do is see what happens, when it happens”, which means focusing my attention back to Battlefield 1, which is quite real.
- I normally don’t spend that much time in behemoths because for all of their power, they take some skill to operate, and most people tend to steer clear of the behemoths. This corresponds to a low kill-per-minute metric for the most part (i.e. it’s quite slow to get kills), but in Łupków Pass, the armoured train becomes a monstrosity. The driver’s mortar is downright lethal owing to its range, and a well-coordinated team could hypothetically clear points as far away as A and B with support from the armoured train. I’ve never had too much success with being in seat two with the direct-fire 57mm cannon, but during one match of conquest where my team was being spanked, I spawned into the second seat.
- What happened next was incredible: I got the equivalent of a running riot from Halo, killing twelve opponents in a row with the 57mm cannon, including two cavalry units by scoring direct hits on opponents. This eclipses my longest killstreak in Battlefield 3 (10) and Battlefield 4 (11); my typical style in Battlefield is completely team-oriented, and I have very little regard for KD ratio. The killstreak landed me four of the behemoth ribbons, as well, and when I had spawned into the match, I was 4-8. When the match ended, while we had lost, I had a KD of 16-9.
- While the other team was evidently more coordinated this match, they did not seem to have concerted their efforts onto killing the behemoth, allowing me to survive until the round ended. The killstreak also unlocked the service star for behemoths. Behind the behemoth, the St. Chamond Assault Tank is my second most-used vehicle, overtaking the FT-17 Light Tank ever since I upgraded to premium.
- The ravines and hills of Łupków Pass are not particularly conducive for aggressive sniping at closer ranges, as trees and boulders impede a clear line of sight. It feels that longer-range snipers, such as the M1903 and Gewehr 98 are better suited for this map: the team controlling point D has access to vantage points that allow them to hit players at points E and F. Having said that, the scout class is definitely useful on this map; spotting flares are an essential asset on this map.
- I’ve finally reached level ten for the support class, as well, and with this, it means that I’ve reached at least level ten for each of the classes in Battlefield 1. It’s been an enjoyable journey to this point, and with this milestone reached, the next big goal is reaching rank fifty with the classes. I’m not too sure whether or not I’ll target this role, but at the time of writing, I’m almost rank twenty with the assault class and after a gruelling trial, finally unlocked the Ribeyrolles 1918: the Automatico kills were not difficult, but getting twenty headshots with the MP-18 Optical was an exercise in patience.
- During one match on Łupków Pass, I found that the BAR Storm was falling short owing to its twenty-round magazine, and switched over to the MG15 n.A. Suppressive, which has a 200-round magazine. The weapon will overheat when fired for extended periods of time, but it’s surprisingly effective at longer ranges, allowing me to perform reasonably well and help my team to victory. With this post now over, we are nearing the final days of August, and while I’m hoping for a chance to write about the Brave Witches OVA, I’m not holding my breath for it: upcoming posts, besides the possible Brave Witches OVA, will include a special talk on Yosuga no Sora and Far Cry 4 now that I’ve finished liberating South Kyrat.
Only available to Premium Pass players at the time of writing, if DICE had intended for Łupków Pass to promote excitement about the upcoming In The Name of The Tsar DLC, they’ve definitely got my attention so far. DICE is marketing In The Name of The Tsar as the biggest DLC in Battlefield’s history, and in the CTE, I’ve had the chance to try out two superb weapons for the medic and support class: the medic gains access to the Fedorov Avtomat, an automatic rifle featuring a 26-round magazine and firing an intermediate cartridge with the same RPM as the MP-18, while the support class receives the Parabellum MG14/17, an LMG with an incredible firing rate. These new weapons make close-quarters engagements with the support and medic classes much more viable now, and while I’ve learned to adopt to medium range engagements, I absolutely love close-quarters. To be able have increased survivability against the best assault weapons in Battlefield 1 is encouraging; I look forwards to being able to play the medic and support classes at the ranges that I’ve grown accustomed to in Battlefield 4 and earlier. Access to the CTE has also given me a sneak-preview of some of the other maps in the DLC; they look beautiful, capturing the immense beauty of a Russian/Eastern European winter. There’s also a map that allows me to say that In The Name of The Tsar is Brave Witches in the Frostbite Engine.