With Battlefield 1’s first DLC release, the French army finally makes an appearance on the battlegrounds of the Great War. They Shall Not Pass offers plenty of new content, with every area of the game receiving some kind of extra stuff for players to get to grips with. The DLC is live now for Premium Pass customers, so let’s go through what’s new, and see what each addition brings to the overall Battlefield experience.
Every existing standard class in the game receives at least one new kill-stick, with each new addition requiring a challenge to be completed to unlock it for use in the game. This little obstacle is included for a couple of reasons. Firstly, warbonds, the in-game currency, have become pretty much obsolete now for anyone who has played the game consistently since release, since they’ve likely unlocked everything they wanted to in the game, and are probably now just sitting on a huge pile of that redundant currency. Pricing the new weapons with warbonds like their base-game counterparts would thereby be pointless, as everyone will most likely have enough right away. Secondly, it looks like developers DICE are pushing players to play with weapons that don’t get as much use globally. I don’t see half the weapons required for the challenges in-game on a regular basis, and most of them were weapons I hadn’t bothered to unlock personally. It’s a strategy that worked with me; I found myself appreciating a couple of weapons I hadn’t even given a second glance before.
A new SMG is now available for the Assault class in the shape of the Ribeyrolles 1918. This can be fitted with a bayonet and uses a bipod, so is a good pick if you prefer to take out enemies from prone, where its accuracy is excellent. There’s also a new shotgun, called the Sjögren, which surprisingly, is semi-automatic, meaning it has an unmatched rate of fire. Add this to its powerful damage output and long range, and you have a very enticing package for Assault players who like to get up close and personal.
Support players can now equip two different variants of the Chauchat light machine gun. This weapon’s stats betray its highly specialized nature -- its twenty-round magazine isn’t the best for suppression play, and its low rate of fire means it probably won’t be a favorite for run-and-gunners either. What the Chauchat does offer is excellent accuracy at long range with its bipod deployed, which is a rarity in this class of weapon, and may lead to some interesting tactical play.
The RSC 1917 is the new toy for Medics and is available with optics or without. This semi-automatic rifle has a decent damage output and good ranged accuracy but will be less likely to find favor with players due to its high recoil and disappointingly long reload time. It only has a six-bullet magazine, too -- another potentially deal-breaking weakness.
Last but not least is the Lebel Model 1886, the new bolt-action rifle for the Scout class. The sniper variant comes with optics and a bipod, while the infantry version offers iron sights only. The rifle boasts a relatively fast action and punishing damage output that makes it comparable to the Gewehr 98, but while the Lebel has a larger 8 round magazine, the Gewehr has the edge in reload speed.
New elite class
A brand new elite class comes in the form of the Trench Raider, and what a (literal) change of pace this new class is. The Raider is equipped with a pistol, a variety of grenades and even a medkit, but the real kicker is the Raider Club, a devastating melee weapon which delivers a one-hit kill to any enemy unfortunate enough to get too close. The biggest difference when using this class is just how amazingly quick movement feels. The mobility of the Trench Raider is significantly better than any other class, elite or otherwise, and when you get to grips with its unique feel and the kills start to roll in, you’ll truly feel like an indestructible harbinger of death.
It may not technically be a vehicle, but the Siege Howitzer will still surely have a significant impact on matches. This huge artillery gun can kick out munitions at a much faster rate than the existing field gun, and with its various shell types, could end up turning many a battle.
Tank enthusiasts can rest assured that they’ll have something new to play with, too. The Chamond Assault tank sits somewhere between the light and heavy tank, functioning in a similar way to the landship. There are some key differences, though, such as gas and tank-killer variants, and two separately-manned forward facing weapons: a cannon and a machine gun. This new vehicle feels a little flimsy compared to both the landship and heavy tank but makes up for this lack of durability with the increased mobility granted by its tracked drive, which is tailor-made for traversing the trench networks that grace a large proportion of the new maps.
Another new tank trundles into battle in the shape of the Char 2C. This ridiculously armored beast is available only as a behemoth and is appropriately bristling with cannons covering most of the vehicle’s field of vision. It takes a concerted effort to put this monster down, with its thick armor and huge health bar, but the opposing team is going to want to want to do just that -- this thing is kryptonite to enemy armor, able to take out tanks in just a couple of good hits.
New games mode
Frontlines plays like a symmetrical cross between Rush and Conquest. Both teams fight over the same flag, with the winning team pushing the other back towards their base. Once the enemy has been pushed back enough, an endgame begins where two different telegraph sites must be bombed before a winner is crowned. This mode felt much more evenly pitched than matches in Rush, which often tend to become one sided very quickly, with little chance to recover. The only downside is matches can sometimes be a little too evenly matched, descending into pure attrition as territory is won just to be lost again a couple of minutes later. It’s very appropriate to the theater of war, but it does mean that matches frequently last an hour or longer, making this mode ill-suited for quick sessions.
Each of the four new maps showcases a part of the war-torn French countryside. There’s the green meadows of Soissons, a hilly map with trenches and plenty of space for epic tank battles. Fort De Veux’s muddy trench filled landscape is perfect for close quarters combat, while Verdun Heights has opposing forces facing off in a partially-destroyed mountain crevasse. It’s left to Rupture to steal the heart with its lush green shrubbery and beautiful poppy-covered fields. These new maps are also stitched together into two new operations for those who prefer a longer campaign experience.
There’s certainly no shortage of newness in They Shall Not Pass, and this is only the first of four planned DLC drops over the course of the year, so expect much, much more to come. Only time will tell how the meta will change with the addition of these new features, and which ways players make use of the new goodies over the course of the next couple of million hours of gameplay.