There isn’t a lot of need for improvement in Battlefield 1. Honestly speaking, the game, as it stands, is still interesting and fun on its basic level. The maps and modes that came with the non-premium pass gateway is rich with gameplay design and non-stop action that puts first-person online competitive shooters on an entirely new level, even with the most remedial weapon and vehicle lineup. You’ve heard me crow about this game before with last year’s review of it, so let’s move on to the real reason you’re reading this, which is the They Shall Not Pass expansion.
First and foremost, you should know that the They Shall Not Pass expansion does not go with the flow of conquest in BF1. It’s not just another huge set of maps and gamplay, where you get to relax in awe of the gameplay designs, all while scoping out how you’re going to take a territory with your team. This expansion is not that.
Instead of big, it gives you small. They Shall Not Pass provides a claustrophobic set of maps that are multi-tiered, really nicely multi-tiered (can’t stress that enough), a new Frontline mode that brings about a tug-o-war FPS mentality and gameplay design that puts a maximum amount of people in spaces to battle for territory (via A-D flags) quickly. If I could put in a single word the description of the They Shall Not Pass overall experience, then it would be ‘hectic’. Beautifully hectic, but hectic nonetheless.
The gameplay design doesn’t give you time to think, which is what drives this game into enormous amounts of fun and stress (good stress, not bad stress). It simply throws you to the wolves and asks you to survive the moment the best way you can. Imagine Battlefield 4’s Operation Locker, but restricted to just the center portion of OL, where the chaos goes on. That’s what you’re getting with the gameplay design of They Shall Not Pass, but with a bit more expansion than OL around the edges (lots more), as well as depth.
Anyway, the design of this expansion works well and is a repeating theme in all its attached facets. It really makes you think on the fly in a bevy of chaos and is constantly pressing the experience into a state of uncomfortable, regardless of map that you’re sitting on or mode you’re playing. There isn’t a visibly comfortable place to sit and wait for the enemy, as everyone is scattering around like ants sitting on a small plot of land with a magnifying glass hovering over them. It’s crazy, it works well, if you like running and gunning (and I know this will bring in some Call of Duty folks), then this expansion is certainly a change of pace when compared to the large maps and gameplay of conquest.
So, what about the maps? Here’s a breakdown:
Soissons: French countryside map that brings the battle into a small village. Lots of craziness on this map, though there are some nice hills to lay down (briefly) for sniping. Not my favorite of the bunch, but if you need a bit of a breather, then this is the map for you.
Verdun Heights: A forest area that is on fire. Flames surround a village and overcasts fog through out the landscape, making it difficult to see and creepy as hell. It’s a small map, but the multi-tiered-ness of it makes it a big place to hide and shoot. There were quite a few moments on this map where the fog really helped out snipers, as well as ground troops sneaking up on snipers. This is my favorite map of the bunch.
Fort De Vaux: Need a bit of Operation Locker in your life? Well, step the hell up for this one. Tough to see things in this map, but damn fun to play.
Rupture: The first map I was thrown into with this expansion. It is trench warfare at its finest, but also with a bridge thrown into the mix, as well as a hillside farm to buckle down in. When vehicles are added to this map, there is literally nowhere to hide — you have to keep running and running. This is my second favorite match of the bunch.
All-in-all, I enjoyed the variety of maps that this expansion offered. Again, the tight confines of the map make the gameplay work so well. The thickness of the multi-tier layout also helps when it comes to really getting into the moment and the map. These are fantastic additions to the BF1 family.
Maps aside, this expansion also brings about some new vehicles. One of the biggest and best of the bunch is the Steel Behemoth, which is essentially a giant-ass tank. This thing is massive in scale, fits quite a few people and it’s hard as hell to take down (as it should be). It appears the same way the zeppelin does in the original BF1 release and is just a beast to use. In addition to that vehicle, you also get the Assault Tank Gun, which is a nice flat tank-esque vehicle. It’s tough to take down and the firepower, guns on all sides, is impressive. Really enjoyed the addition of both vehicles, as they add a lot to the gameplay variety to the mix, as well as the maps they are played on.
You also get a new mode in the expansion called Frontlines. To be quite honest, I haven’t dug into it enough to give you a firm impression, but it’s certainly an interesting and competitive mode. I’ll add more to this in the coming weeks, but for right now just know that you get it is tug-o-war-esque.