As you may have guessed from the fairly constant deluge of posts on the matter, Battlefield 1 has been a title close to my heart for the past year and a half. I played the open beta in the summer of 2016 and found myself enraptured by the game’s frighteningly lifelike atmosphere; I picked up the game and season pass at launch in October of the same year, and have been storming trenches and capturing objectives ever since. An accessible historical shooter that combines casual gameplay with stunning design is never something to be sniffed at, and I defy anyone to argue against the overwhelming success of EA’s least controversial – and in my opinion most enjoyable – title.
It is with great sadness, then, that I must inform you that Battlefield 1 is nearing its expiry date. Our subject today is the last of four DLC releases for the game; Apocalypse is a fitting farewell to a game that broke several long-standing records at EA and DICE without once causing anyone to suffer the Reddit equivalent of a crucifixion. Introducing some of the most recognisable battles of the Great War, Apocalypse offers the essence of Battlefield fare: it’s gorgeous, it’s chaotic, it’s frankly cinematic. In fact, it’s bringing a tear to my eye just thinking about it.
Right, enough of the eulogising. Let’s get down to brass tacks. Welcome to the beginning of the end for Battlefield 1.
Apocalypse brings us 3 new infantry maps to explore/die in – I know, it’s one less than usual, but there’s good reason. First up is Passchendaele, in the Belgian countryside. This is perhaps the most stunningly beautiful map to date, a toxic moonscape of blackened, pockmarked ground, shrivelled trees, and chlorine-infused water that glows an eerie green. Steep surfaces and torturous terrain, paired with low visibility and minimal cover, make this map literally hellish. Prepare to spend most of your time stumbling blindly, gas mask at the ready.
Passchendaele, with the RCS SMG.
Then there’s Caporetto, set in the Slovenian mountains that border the Isonzo River. The Italian army makes a long-awaited return on this sloping map that favours those fortunate enough to spawn at the top end of the hillside. It’s another pretty environment, no doubt, but being so heavily weighted in favour of one side does make for some slow-moving gameplay as the attacking team hop from cover to cover on the barren mountain slopes. Expect to be caught by enemy sniper fire and irritating fighter pilots a lot.
Caporetto, also with the RCS SMG.
Last – but by no means least – is River Somme. What is perhaps the most infamous battle of World War I plays out here among wheat fields and abandoned factories; the narrow layout of this map in particular will create some seriously cinematic moments as your entire team pushes from objective to objective. The attacking team even begins each round by hurdling the trench wall and launching themselves at the enemy, going “over the top” in a slightly chilling reenactment of the most well-known military tactic of the entire conflict. Terrific, terrifying stuff. Oh, and did I mention how good this map looks?
River Somme, ALSO with the RCS SMG. Yeah, it was the only one I had unlocked for quite a while, okay.
The three new infantry maps that Apocalypse offers are iconic battles with no relation to each other, and as such we have not been treated to a new Operation this time around. Bummer, eh? The maps instead play on either Conquest or Conquest Assault, the latter being a new mode introduced with the Turning Tides DLC of the past few months. But fear not. The Apocalypse DLC introduces an entirely new game-mode, and with it, 2 new non-infantry maps. It’s called Air Assault, and it’s a plane-only mode that offers airborne carnage with either objective-based gameplay – in sub-mode Scourge – or straight up PvP in Raiders.
Razor’s Edge is one of two new maps to accompany this game mode. A vast mountain range is the backdrop for the dogfights that ensue between British and German pilots; this map is limited to a basic team deathmatch format, using only the Fighter plane and its variants. Then there’s London Calling, which is a song by The Clash. It’s also the second of the new maps, as it happens, and offers both Scourge – involving either attacking or defending an Airship – and Raiders – all-out warfare using any and all aerial vehicles. Oh, and it takes place in the skies above The Thames.
Apocalypse treats us to 8 new weapons, of which 6 are firearms. The Assault class gains the RSC SMG, a remarkably powerful sub that works better as a close-range semi-automatic rifle than it does as literally anything else. Medics can unlock the Howell Automatic, an infantry variant of the SMLE rifle with the unusual automatic fire option; Support players might consider the LMG 08/18, mostly because it is extraordinarily good over long range and holds a sizeable amount of ammo to boot. Scouts are spoiled for choice this time around, being offered both the Ross Mk III and M1917 Enfield sniper rifles – the former of the two offers the ability to reload whilst scoped, whilst the latter boasts an iron-sight infantry variant to make scouts even deadlier in close quarters.
The Howell Automatic. Try to ignore the fact that the sight sits to the left of the barrel like an AA turret.
We’ve also got a new sidearm in the Revolver Mk VI, as well as the two new melee weapons: a meat cleaver and a prybar, for those interested. There’s even a new piece of equipment, exclusively for Assault players; the Anti-Air Rocket Gun promises to make knocking pilots out of the sky marginally easier.
The AA Rocket Gun. Not unlike the AT Rocket Gun.
With Apocalypse‘s new aerial game mode comes two new Bomber-class aircraft: the Hansa Brandenburg GI and the Airco DH10. Soldiers with boots on the ground will notice the addition of some rather unusual-looking turreted vehicles, seemingly unique to the map Caporetto. Weirdly, these are not listed in the patch notes for the update, so assume that they will serve an identical function to previous armoured cars.
See that strange looking car? What is it? HUH?
Speaking of Caporetto, have you seen the Livens Projectors? They’re an unusual, environment-specific installation that send a whole bunch of chlorine gas canisters flying from one objective to another. They’re also rather fun, if I do say so myself.
The Livens Projector, or: “Holy crap! I got a kill with it!”
Aside from the usual assortment of new achievements, dog-tags, and assignments, Apocalypse also introduces a new form of Specialisation. They’re called Afflictions, and they’re meant to be the most pretentious way of proving how good you are at the game; some drastically limit your ammo per weapon, whilst others cost you points each time you die. Good for those of you who have done all that there is to do (and then some) in Battlefield 1.
The Death Toll Affliction may cause aggravation in nearby teammates.
For a comprehensive list of game patches and DLC content, check out the official patch notes here. Other than that, all that remains is for me to say farewell to this particular run of articles. Apocalypse is a slice of what made Battlefield 1 such an enjoyable game; the perfect balance of environmental realism and all-round accessibility makes for some fantastically frantic gameplay, real ‘Battlefield’ moments that are hard to find elsewhere in the mainstream. Four DLC releases, three free maps, and two years later, we’re ready to look to the future of the Battlefield franchise, hoping – praying – that EA and DICE can get their act together and build upon what has been an uncharacteristically smooth ride for a EA/DICE production.
The Open Beta. Where it all began. *sniffs*
In the meantime, though, I ain’t going anywhere. Stay tuned for coverage of every rumour that circulates, from now ’til the launch of the new Battlefield title.
Didn’t I hear something about another World War…?