“I can do this. I have to believe.” – Fubuki
In the unlikely event that Kadokawa Games seeks to bring their flagship title up to code, DICE seems to be the perfect candidate for doing so – their large sixty-four player servers indicate stable netcode and support for multiple concurrent connections, while the sophistication inherent in the Frostbite Engine would allow for ship battles to be reproduced with incredible fidelity. Seeing Fubuki, Kongō and the others rendered with the Frostbite Engine to partake in massive thirty two-on-thirty two battles would bring the dated flash-based browser card game into the twenty-first century and would see a massive boost in the game’s accessibility for others. Of course, Kantai Collection is likely to remain within the realm of requiring a VPN, blind luck and a great deal of patience to play, but fortunately, DICE has stepped up to the plate with the second half of the Turning Tides DLC in Battlefield 1: two new maps were released alongside a major weapons patch that alters the fundamental way most weapons handle in Battlefield 1. Heligoland Bight is set around two islands surrounded by open water: this map features true naval combat, pitting a pair of Iron Duke dreadnought battleships against one another. At the same time, four L-class destroyers are available alongside numerous torpedo boats, and the constant exchange of 4-inch rounds, the 13.5-inch shells and torpedos makes for the most intense ship-based combat seen in Battlefield 1, surpassing even the likes of World of Warships in terms of ferocity: it is total chaos as the predecessors to Fubuki and Kongō slug it out on the high seas as aircraft and airships fight one another in the skies, as well as rain destruction down on surface targets. In short, Heligoland Bight has proven to be one of the most memorable maps in Battlefield 1 with vehicular combat of a hitherto unparalleled scale. Meanwhile, Zeebrugge is a night map depicting the British night raid on the Belgian port of Bruges-Zeebrugge. Under the darkness of night, the British and German infantry fight for control of control points while vehicles provide support from a distance. While not quite as grand as Heligoland Bight, the map nonetheless offers some interesting gameplay, and with the release of the two remaining maps, the Turning Tides DLC has released in full. In the open seas of Heligoland Bight and Zeebrugge, Battlefield 1 players can finally engage one another in destroyers, bringing Battlefield 1 the closest it’s ever been to reproducing the sort of naval combat that Kantai Collection players can only dream of.
Besides the two new maps, the North Seas update also introduces a long-awaited weapons update. Previously, some weapons were more favourable than others, but with this patch, the responsiveness of gunplay in Battlefield 1 has increased, while the time to kill has been decreased to yield more satisfying fire-fights among infantry. The assault class’ submachine guns deal increased damage now to bring them up to par with the Automatico M1918, while shotguns now fire pellets in a consistent pattern to ensure reliability in close quarters. The self-loading rifles medics run with recover from recoil more quickly, allowing them to be fired faster without losing accuracy, and the RSC 1917 has become a powerhouse able to bring down any opponent in two shots out to 70 metres. The support class’ light machine guns deal increased damage at range and generally hit harder at the expense of mobility and accuracy in close quarters: their recoil has been increased to lower their hip-firing accuracy, but on the flipside, an LMG with its bipod deployed will be able to put highly accurate fire downrange at volumes the other weapons cannot match. The bolt-action rifles scouts run with largely remain unchanged, save for their sweet spots: they were powerful before, and remain thus after this patch. These changes are immediately felt in the game, with the SMGs and self-loading rifles gaining a considerable boost in performance – the assault class’ MP-18 becomes useful again, and I performed quite well with it in the confines of Zeebrugge. Reduced recoil from medic rifles make the class highly competitive against snipers, and the weapons feel very satisfying to fire. The end result of this patch is that weapons for each class have a more clearly defined role than before, and with firefights now taking less time, it becomes possible to capitalise on positioning to flank opponents and achieve incredible kill-streaks: I scored a swift double-kill on two unsuspecting players on Zeebrugge with the MP-18 on my first round testing the weapon out. I would’ve lost this firefight with the old system, but the new changes have made Battlefield 1 handle more smoothly than previously.
Screenshots and Commentary
- The Maschinepistole M1912/P.16 Storm (Maschinepistole for brevity) was one of the new weapons added to Turning Tides, and since unlocking it, I’ve found it to be the ultimate weapon for one-on-one engagements: it hits harder than the Automatico M1918 and so, despite having the same rate of fire, will out-damage the Automatico in close quarters. Its firepower is balanced out with a smaller ammunition capacity and a very long reload time.
- The Browning M1917 light machine gun has the largest ammunition capacity of any weapon in Battlefield 1, making it a fantastic weapon for medium to longer range engagements, where it can put large amounts of rounds down range. I’ve long preferred playing the support class aggressively, and so, this weapon hasn’t been something that I’ve run with extensively, but with the new patch encouraging support players to operate at increased distances, it might be worth returning to give the M1917 a whirl, especially now that I’ve unlocked the Escalation skin for it through the Phantom program.
- My initial experiences on Achi Baba led me to suppose that the map was not particularly suited for snipers, but while working on an assignment, I found that the Gewehr M.95 was a superbly entertaining bolt-action rifle to use. The Marksman variant is my favourite: the straight-pull bolt allows me to fire more quickly without losing track of where an opponent is, and the weapon is balanced out with a five round magazine, which runs out very quickly.
- Of the maps in Turning Tides, Achi Baba is the only infantry-oriented map. Its passageways make for hectic, chaotic firefights, and I initially stuck with close quarters weapons, but on the maps eastern corner, there are plenty of open spaces that make sniping a highly enjoyable and viable tactic. With medic rifles sporting increased accuracy now, snipers have a considerable amount of competition against them in the long-range department.
- A year ago, Giant’s Shadow was released for free to all Battlefield 1 players: the game’s come a very long way since then. The biggest change that Battlefield 1 introduced was the fact that conquest modes on official servers run for a thousand tickets, meaning that matches consistently finish in half an hour or less. This time-frame is perfect for me, and while I’d largely played TDM in earlier iterations of Battlefield, conquest is my most-played and most-enjoyed mode in Battlefield 1. This is my second Star of Alexander, awarded for playing two matches, winning one and capturing ten flags.
- Here we are at last, on the oceans surrounding the cliff sheers of Heligoland Bight. In the seat of an L-class destroyer, I fire upon torpedo boats maligning my driver: the L-class destroyers are relatively fragile considering their size and can be eliminated by other L-class destroyers, torpedoes from the torpedo boats and stationary emplacements on the shoreline. The QF4 gun is my favourite weapon to employ, although I’ve occasionally switched over to the QF 1-pounder to drive off aircraft.
- Battlefield 1‘s L-class destroyers are modeled on the Laforey class torpedo boat destroyers: ships of this class were originally intended to destroy other torpedo boats and as such, possessed enough firepower and armour to be effective, while maintaining a degree of speed. The L-class can therefore be seen as the predecessor to the IJN’s Fubuki: like Fubuki, the L-class carries a naval cannon, torpedoes and anti-air options. In Kantai Collection, folks often skip over the Fubuki in favour of other ships, but in Battlefield 1, there’s a great deal of fun in operating the L-class.
- Infantry combat on Heligoland Bight is a bit more challenging, since the map was designed with large-scale vehicle fighting in mind, but along the cliff edges of the islands, players can still be effective in helping their team out with capturing flags. Whether it be providing ammunition or reviving allied players, infantry who make use of cover and are aware of where the vehicles are can be very effective in capturing enough flags to turn a match around. I’ve not used the Selbstlader M1916 for quite some time, but with the patch, the weapon’s become an excellent option for medium range combat.
- Here, I’ve switched over to the Mondragón sniper variant: it is superior to the Cei-Rigotti for longer range engagements, and the long, linear paths in Zeebrugge mean that medic rifles really shine here. The map’s linear design evokes memories of Battlefield 3‘s infamous Operation Metro for some, but as the infantry pier in Zeebrugge is surrounded by ocean, gameplay is anything but linear, as the attacking British forces can use vehicles to capture flags in any order of their choosing.
- Zeebrugge is a fairly distinct map meant to depict the Zeebrugge Raid in April 1918; the British aimed to blockade the Bruges-Zeebrugge port to stop the German U-boats, but ultaimtely, the raid was unsuccessful, as the Germans managed to open up another route for their U-boats later. Set at night, Zeebrugge is the third of the night maps in Battlefield 1, with the weather shifting between calm and rainy. Raindrops can be seen on my screen here.
- Owing to their weapons, I have not made extensive use of the medic class, which is only rank twenty-four at the time of writing, but the new update looks to change that. The Mondragón and Selbstlader M1916 are the two best weapons for long range engagements on account of the fact that they have large capacity and good optics. A quick glance at my stats show that my scout class is the furthest ahead at rank forty-one, and the assault class is rank forty. Support is currently sitting at rank twenty-seven.
- Vehicle operation in Battlefield 1 is a matter of skill, boiling down to positioning, situational awareness and an understanding of what the different weapons are intended to do. Players who know their vehicle’s strengths, weaknesses and intended role will therefore perform consistently against their opponents: there is no such setup in Kantai Collection‘s ship-to-ship combat, which uses a random number generator to determine the outcome of an engagement. While some may argue that knowing how to set one’s ships up is a matter of skill, when the chips are down, there is a non-zero possibility that one’s well-configured fleet could still let them down because of the random number generator.
- By comparison, destroying enemy vessels in Battlefield 1 using the L-class destroyer is determined largely by skill: knowing the shell trajectory and travel speed allows one to determine where they should aim in order to hit and destroy a moving torpedo boat or destroyer. The waves on the map give boats an additional element to consider, since the bobbing can throw one’s shots off, but landing shots with the 4 QF is incredibly satisfying, especially against torpedo boats. Owing to the limited rotation the torpedo launchers have, I use them against other destroyers: fast-moving torpedo boats can be destroyed in two shots.
- Through the update, weapons that I once previously dismissed for being ineffective suddenly make a return: the MP-18 was one such weapon, and after I unlocked the Hellriegel, the MP-18 became an SMG that I stopped using. Its slow rate of fire was its main weak point, but with the new patch, SMGs now have similar TTKs, making all of them viable. This is apparent in the MP-18, which is now devastating at close quarters and is remarkably enjoyable to use.
- The North Seas update released on the same day as the infamous “Super Blue Blood Moon” lunar eclipse event and here, my curiosity gets the better of me – I ask other players if they’re going to be checking the event out, and they replied no, they’d rather be playing Battlefield 1. I was salty about the fact that it was completely overcast in my area when totality occurred, and immediately returned to bed upon noticing the fact. The next event of this magnitude is apparently in 2037, but the distinctions are largely irrelevant, and so, the next lunar eclipse will be next year. This one will only be visible from the Western Hemisphere.
- There is a single fortress gun on Heligoland Bight at Flag charlie, and it’s no joke when I say that whoever controls this flag and its fortress gun controls the match: I’ve gotten more killtactulars here with the fortress gun than anywhere else in Battlefield 1: from hammering a behemoth to blowing destroyers away and swatting torpedo boats, this weapon’s been an absolute blast to use against all sea-faring craft on this map.
- In fact, the weapon was so frighteningly powerful that players on the other team, new to the maps, were utterly frustrated that that they had no counter for it. After I scored a killtacular, the other team’s saltiness was noticeable in the text chat. During my time on Heligoland Bight, aircraft can destroy the fortress gun, and a coordinated squad could storm point charlie to take out the operator. I usually run with a repair tool when attempting to take back point charlie, so that I may repair the weapon and hop in should the need arise.
- The C-Class coastal airships are a new vehicle added to the North Seas maps – fulfilling the role of helicopters, these slow moving vehicles can loiter over the battlefield and rain destruction from above: pilots have access to bombs and can call in an artillery strike, while three other seats are available for gunners. Besides the QF 1-pounder anti-air gun and 20mm auto-cannon, there’s also a 76mm gun that is devastating against ground targets. The disadvantage about the airships are that they are incredibly fragile: a single strafing run from attack planes with the airship buster loadout or firing the ground-based QF 1-pounder AA guns will destroy one.
- The 76 mm forward-facing cannon can lob shells a considerable distance, although one must similarly compensate for the shell’s trajectory and gravity in order to hit targets. Owing to their low durability, the pilots I’ve supported usually are reluctant to use them for their intended purpose of flying over capture points and allowing me to clear them out with the 76 mm gun; a future path should increase their health so that it takes more runs from aircraft or ground weapons to finish them off. This would allow pilots to use airships in their intended role, and while powerful, teams working together would still be able to take them out.
- It goes without saying that I’m having an incredible time with the stationary weapons in Turning Tides: previously, I made use of the coastal guns and FK 96 n.A. to shell destroyers at Cape Helles. With the number of stationary weapon kills I have had in the North Seas maps, it was a serendipitous turn of events that the Order of Fortitude Medal came into the rotation: it requires fifteen kills with any stationary weapon, five vehicles destroyed and ten kills in a round. Previously, this would have been a challenge, as I never really made extensive use of stationary weapons like the FK 96 n.A. or heavy machine guns on account of exposing myself to snipers.
- The weather in Zeebrugge varies between rain and clear skies: the map is beautiful during the latter, and a full moon (possibly a supermoon) peeks out from behind cloud cover. It’s a far cry from the weather back home – while the skies mockingly cleared out the day after the Super Blue Blood Moon, a major snowfall and windstorm blew into the area this morning. Days like today are the best sort of day for staying indoors with a hot drink, and second to nabe, a dinner of fried chicken is also one way of keeping warm on a night as such as this.
- The weapons patch has left me somewhat ineffective with the Parabellum MG 17/14 low-weight, and since I had difficulty finding North American servers with low ping, I did not initially have a chance to test out the TTK updates as infantry. However, as the opportunities presented themselves, I began trying out the LMGs and found that the Madsen MG Storm to be superbly effective. The recoil isn’t uncontrollable, and the increased damage has made it more powerful than before. I’ve always enjoyed using this gun for its design, and now that I’ve built the saber (which took a bunch of scraps I’d accumulated), I can finally run with the Perrine H. Clostermann loadout in Battlefield 1.
- To run the Perrine H. Clostermann loadout, I would run with the Madsen MG storm to stand in for Perrine’s Bren LMG, which similarly has a top-mounted magazine, the sabre as her rapier, and the HE crossbow in lieu of her PIAT. This particular loadout would be quite versatile and effective: the Madsen MG has been very consistent post-patch at medium range, and the HE crossbow could be used as a quick way to prevent vehicles from repairing, similar to how Perrine used the PIAT to distract the Neuroi during the third of the Operation Victory Arrow OVAs.
- Shotguns are now consistently good at close quarters and can be counted upon to drop opponents quickly as expected without the occasional misses or occasional unexpected long-range kill. It’s been a while since I picked up the Model 1900, but using it again reminded me of just how entertaining the weapon is. While not as versatile as the Model 10-A Hunter on account of only having two rounds to work with, the Model 1900 is incredibly satisfying to use: this is a skill weapon that requires a good understanding of reload time and the environment. Of course, if I am intending to help my team out more aggressively, then the Model 10-A is my go-to weapon – despite all of the changes applied to it to balance the weapon out, the Model 10-A remains the dominant shotgun.
- Back at Heligoland Bight, I take to the skies in the C-Class Airship with the goal of securing the ten kills needed for the Trident of Poseidon medal, which involved getting ten kills with the L-class destroyer, C-class airship, and then destroying one of each. The Battle of Heligoland Bight in 1914 marked the first naval engagement of World War One, and owing to the superiority of the British Royal Navy, which was then the world’s largest and most sophisticated, the British won the battle, forcing the Germans to re-evaluate their naval strategy. The subsequent blockade imposed by the Royal Navy also led the Germans to develop U-boats.
- I’ve noticed that as of late, I’ve found myself dying to low level players more than I have the higher-level players. The influx of new players likely comes from the sales offered during the winter season, and I’m not the only person out there who’s been frustrated at being killed repeatedly by these players. One of the most well-rationalised explanations I’ve heard for this phenomenon is that new players behave in unexpected ways and move about the map in an unconventional fashion, allowing them to blind-side and surprise experienced players.
- A lucky shot with the C-class airship’s 76 mm cannon annihilates a destroyer here in spectacular fashion: during the darkness of Zeebrugge, destroyers explode with a brilliant light. The fact that the C-class airships can be easily destroyed made getting the ten kills for the Trident of Poseidon medal the trickiest, and this was not particularly helped by pilots who were still getting the hang of flying – they would turn the airship at the worst moment, preventing me from lining up a good shot and more often than not, subsequently see the airship explode as the ground and air forces wised up to our act.
- Now that I’ve gotten my ten kills with the airship, it is unlikely that I will fly in one again until they are fixed, or if pilots become more accustomed to maximising their effectiveness – destroying one C-class airship was the most straightforward part of the assignment, and I earned another killtacular after firing on one at Zeebrugge. The highest possible multi-kill in Battlefield 1 is a six-kill (killtrocity in Halo 2), earned when one destroys a fully-occupied AV7 Heavy Tank, L30 Zeppelin or Armoured Train, and five-kills (killfrenzy in Halo 2) for destroying fully-occupied Assault Tanks or the Mark V landship. I’ve not encountered many heavy tanks since the introduction of the Assault Tank and updates to the Mark V, and for the most part, people tend to bail out of vehicles when they begin sustaining damage, so for the time being, my best multi-kill in Battlefield 1 remains the killtacular.
- The RSC 1917 has been improved so that its two-shot kill distance extends to seventy meters up from its original forty. I was never interested in this weapon until recently owing to my lack of skill with iron sights, but since playing with the Martini-Henry, Gewehr 98 infantry and Arisaka Type 38, I’ve found that getting kills with iron sights was unexpectedly satisfying. Upon giving the RSC 1917 a whirl, I learned that the weapon is actually quite fun, providing a new way of playing the medic class that I’d not played previously. The weapon has been counted as overpowered by some, but I contend that it’s only in the hands of the most accurate shooters where the weapon is unparalleled: missing shots with the RSC 1917 will lead to death, as the weapon is balanced out with its small ammunition capacity.
- There are numerous SK 45 Coastal Cannons located on the piers of Zeebrugge, giving infantry players a powerful weapon against ships. I used one to great effect, taking out one of the destroyers firing on allied forces to earn the Trident of Poseidon medal. The North Seas maps and the updates have been fun for introducing opportunities to play in a way that I’ve previously not tried, and I’m thoroughly pleased with how Turning Tides turned out, even if the releases were longer than anticipated. With this post in the books, I’ll be returning to write about Yuru Camp△ and Slow Start as we reach their respective halfway points in the near future.
In the short timeframe that I’ve spent playing on the new maps, I am immediately impressed with the naval combat: Zeebrugge allows L-class destroyers to slug it out with one another, and Heligoland Bight allows dreadnoughts to engage one another on top of this. Coupled with the air combat and plentiful stationary emplacements that allow infantry a fighting chance, this sort of all-out vehicle warfare occurring simultaneously with infantry combat illustrates the sort of capabilities that Frostbite is capable of. It means being able to convey the scale of World War One’s battles to players, immersing them in the intense, unforgiving way of fighting that had arisen from technologies developed in the Industrial Revolution. It means players are able to wield Fubuki against other destroyers and torpedo boats in a battle of skill, rather than chance. The end result is exceptionally satisfying, as is wielding the fortress gun to put Battlefield 1‘s equivalents of Fubuki and Kongō on the ocean floor: the prevalence of stationary weapons mean that vehicle operators must be mindful of land-based threats in conjunction with other vehicles in the air and seas. The naval combat introduced in Turning Tides has, in short, far exceeded expectations, and beyond providing the most fun I’ve had with the stationary weapons in Battlefield 1 since its launch, the North Seas DLC also shows the versatility in the Frostbite Engine. With the new Battlefield title in discussions, it is difficult to not be excited (or at least, curious) about what the new Battlefield game will entail. With this in mind, there remains Apocalypse, the final of the Battlefield 1 DLCs that is supposed to release later this month – major changes made in the CTE are promising, as DICE have begun to address some of the issues encountered in the new maps and weapons’ first iterations.