This week, DICE released the latest patch for Battlefield 1 alongside the game’s first paid DLC expansion They Shall Not Pass, which introduces the French Republic to multiplayer with four new maps based on famous French battles that took place during the Great War. It also includes a completely new line of French weaponry to collect by completing assignments on the battlefield, two new Operations revolving around the DLC maps, four new melee weapons, a new behemoth for players to use in combat, and most importantly: a brand-new game mode called Frontlines.
Unlike Conquest or War Pigeons, Frontlines was designed to bring the tactical stalemate which often came with trench warfare in World War I to life in Battlefield 1’s multiplayer experience. Players push the line while holding their own, and while the game mode does come with its fair share of problems, that hasn’t stopped it from becoming one of the best multiplayer modes available in Battlefield 1 so far.
Frontlines essentially combines the capture point mechanics of Conquest with the base defense element of Rush to make a game of tug of war come to life on the battlefield. Like Operations but on a smaller scale, players are dropped into a symmetrical conflict along a narrow map and given the task of capturing a single flag objective in the middle of the map. Once captured, you’ll push the enemy team back to the next flag, thus moving the line up one step closer towards their base. This process will continue until you’ve pushed through every single defensive line and reached the enemy base, where two Telegraph Posts will need to be destroyed. Here, Rush mechanics kick in, and your team has 40 tickets to eliminate both Telegraph Posts to claim victory. If you fail, your team is pushed back to the previous defensive line where the process starts all over again.
Thanks to the narrow maps you’ll be playing Frontlines on in Battlefield 1’s DLC, engagements with enemy players are extremely focused and intense — unlike Operations which tend to spread the action over a much larger line with two objectives at once. Because of the single objective point required to capture each subsequent line in Frontlines, dozens of players will always be swarming around its location on the battlefield, keeping the action up close and personal throughout the duration of the match.
Honestly, these desperate battle tactics are what make Frontlines feel so damn good. During my time with the game mode over the last few days, I’ve encountered more coordinated bayonet charges from the enemy team and more gas grenades being used than my entire playtime in Battlefield 1 since launch. While these scenarios certainly don’t make up most of the fighting present in Frontlines, there’s just something thrilling about hearing a dozen enemy soldiers scream a battle cry as they rush towards your defensive position, which is an experience you won’t find anywhere else in a modern multiplayer shooter.
The one concern I initially had about Frontlines was that armored warfare would fall into the same pit it did in Operations, with players all swapping to the Assault class to lob anti-tank grenades until the artillery exploded before pulling back into their trenches or buildings. Thankfully, that isn’t the case here, as many of your allied infantry players will always have your back because of the narrow map design. Basically, Frontlines funnels enough of your team into a bottleneck against the enemy that you don’t have to worry about consistently asking for support most of the time, unless you push directly into enemy territory with your tank before you team moves up to the next objective at your side.
Even though many players from the Battlefield 1 community seem to be against the idea, DICE made the decision to refrain from placing a time limit on Frontline matches in multiplayer. This means you can be playing a game of Frontlines that lasts for hours provided you don’t take the enemy team’s Telegraph Posts or lose your own, pushing back and forth over the objectives located across the entire map. While I certainly understand the frustration of playing a single match which can last well over an hour, I can’t help but appreciate DICE’s decision to keep time limits from the game mode in favor of accurately representing the tug of war-style battles the mode is built to represent. So far, my longest match has been nearly two hours long, during which my team was pushed all the way back to our base before rallying and pushing the enemy all the way across the line to claim victory. These comebacks take a ton of work to pull off, but they also deliver some of the most satisfying moments Battlefield 1 multiplayer has to offer.
As a complete package, Frontlines is easily the best addition included in Battlefield 1’s They Shall Not Pass expansion because of the unique take on multiplayer it presents. Instead of taking the push-and-pull concept or narrow map design and throwing it into the game without polish, DICE clearly took the time to make Frontlines into something worth experiencing regardless of what type of player you are. Like Giant’s Shadow, Frontlines delivers, and if this is just the first new game type included in paid DLC, we can’t wait to see what’s coming next.
Photos via Nicholas Bashore