They Shall Not Pass. It’s not a misquote from a classic fantasy movie franchise, it’s the title of EA DICE’s first expansion pack for hit multiplayer shooter Battlefield 1, and it’s out now on console and PC for anyone who splashed out on the premium edition. I’m just going to dispense with the pleasantries and jump straight into what the DLC offers, because we’ve got an awful lot to get through…
4 new maps make their way onto Battlefield 1 as a part of the new content pack, all located in sunny France (more on that later). Soissons is a mid-sized map with an upper and lower portion that converge on a hectic train yard. An odd mixture of close streets, fields of no-man’s-land, and long sniper lines means that infantry have it tough, particularly considering the emphasis on tanks in certain game modes.
Rupture is the largest map on offer, rolling from poppy-strewn tank graveyards to small town on either side of a small river. Broad open environments belie long trench networks that offer little solace for soldiers hoping to avoid sniper fire. On another note, this is a damn pretty map.
Verdun Heights is the exact opposite of Rupture: the smallest map not only on the DLC but on Battlefield 1 in general, expect insanely frantic objective gunfights and not a vehicle in sight. A zig-zag layout moves from a destroyed village through to one huge dug-in fortress of a bunker, which provides some extraordinary gameplay in modes like Operations.
And last, and perhaps least, we’ve got Fort de Vaux. Most of your time will be spent within the walls of the fort; brace for endless grenade warfare in a medium-sized map reminiscent of a certain mountain-top prison from Battlefield 4.
3 game modes arrive with They Shall Not Pass: 2 additions to the Operations roster, and one brand new mode. The operations divide the four maps in half, with Soissons and Rupture on the one hand – that’s the Operation Beyond the Marne – and Fort de Vaux and Verdun Heights on the other, making up the Devil’s Anvil Operation.
The new game mode is called Frontlines, and the premise is an interesting one: like a game of tug-of-war, you’ll need to push through each consecutive objective (and prevent the enemy team from doing so) in a chain before reaching the enemy HQ point, at which point 2 telegraph poles will have to be destroyed (or defended) a little like Rush.
Weapons and Vehicles
No fewer than 9 new weapons grace the roster as a part of the They Shall Not Pass expansion, of which 6 actually require ammunition. From the assault class, the Sjogren intertial and Ribeyrolles 1918 cover shotgun and rifle loadouts respectively – the Ribeyrolles in particular is one to watch for its integrated bipod and reduced recoil.
medics are offered a new single action rifle: the RSC 1917, in two variants, a gun that also happens to be the French Standard Issue Rifle (if you’re into that sort of thing). The support class gets a shiny new machine gun in the Chauchat, again in two variants; this one is another to keep an eye on, because support class weaponry is always deceptively good and the reduced weight and chunky magazines will give opposition players plenty to moan about.
The scout class is fortunate enough to be graced by the Lebel Model 1887, which seems to fill the upper end of the range spectrum with a scoped and infantry variant. The MLE 1903 Extended is the latest addition to the secondary weapon roster, alongside 3 melee weapons: the Cogwheel Club, Nail Knife, and Trench Fleur. Nice.
We’re also introduced to 1 new vehicle, 1 behemoth, and 1 piece of stationary artillery unique to the They Shall Not Pass maps. The St Chamond tank is described by DICE as the most heavily armed tank of the war, but what they don’t tell you is that it’s also the fastest, and the most jacked up on its suspension. Expect to see it hurtling toward you, lurching side to side down the Soissons valley.
The new behemoth is also a tank, as it happens: the Char 2C is a super heavy vehicle with enough room for half your team and then some. I notice that being in control of a behemoth like that – as opposed to being airborne or limited to tracks – sacrifices some protection, which means you’ll have to keep an eye out for enemy assault players.
And lastly, the Siege Howitzer. A monstrous machine that fires a little like a mortar in a top-down aiming interface, the Howitzer is surprisingly effective, dealing a ton more damage than a mortar at a much greater distance.
A brand new elite soldier class is also available with They Shall Not Pass: the Trench Raider is melee-and-grenade based, so brace yourself for a whole lot of grief every time you see those goggles and Raider Club come barreling your way.
There are also a ton of new medals, dog tags, codex entries, and all that paraphernalia now available for unlock by playing the DLC, as well as 10 new ranks (which I assume is relevant for anyone who has hit the fabled rank 100).
Oh, and the French army have also been introduced, in what I’ll concede is a fitting dedication to their thorough but as-of-yet unrecognized (by DICE, at least) involvement in the war. Spot them by their blue uniforms and fantastic accents.
I’m feeling a little light headed from all that waffling on, so I’ll shut up now, and leave you with some very important information. The They Shall Not Pass DLC expansion for EA DICE’s Battlefield 1 is out as of March 14th on console and PC for premium members. The pack is scheduled for release two weeks from that date for the rest of you, so hold tight. Prices start at USD $15, with the season pass coming in at $50.