The latest update for Battlefield 1 released alongside the game’s first paid expansion They Shall Not Pass last week for Premium Pass owners, introducing the French Republic to multiplayer alongside a few other additions. In total, there’s four new maps, two new Operations, a new game mode called Frontlines, two new armored vehicles, and Battlefield 1’s first set of assignment-based unlocks which give you access to some of the most famous French weaponry from the Great War. Honestly, it’s a lot of new content for players to dive into, but it won’t be available to everyone until March 28 without the purchase of the Premium Pass. If you haven’t had the chance to check out the new content yourself on your platform of choice, however, the good news is that Battlefield 1’s They Shall Not Pass delivers two of the best close quarters maps DICE has ever created.
When I first got wind of the development team’s decision to build each of the new maps included in They Shall Not Pass around both armored and close quarters engagements, I was immediately concerned that the Battlefield community would be facing another Operation Métro from Battlefield 3 or Operation Locket from Battlefield 4. While both maps started out as a great infantry-focused concept that pulled players away from the mix of infantry, vehicle, and plane combat that the rest of the multiplayer maps revolved around, they didn’t provide enough breathing room for players to flank or outmaneuver their opponents throughout a match.
Regardless of the game mode you were playing in Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 4, Operation Métro and Operation Locker featured numerous chokepoints scattered around key points of the map players could lock down by using explosives. Consistently tossing frag grenades, using the under-barrel grenade launcher, and tossing C4 became commonplace, with Support consistently resupplying them to the point where standstills became the main event of every match. And the worse part was that you had no way to push through, keeping the match locked at a standstill which resulted in a frustrating match every single time.
Thankfully, this isn’t the case with the two infantry-focused maps introduced in Battlefield 1’s They Shall Not Pass DLC. Both Fort de Vaux and Verdun Heights were clearly designed to counter the chokehold problems which ruined maps from previous Battlefield titles with the same goal of creating chaotic, infantry-packed combat without vehicles present. While it’s true that both maps are prone to being abused by squads of players packing loads of explosives to hold down chokepoints, they offer a quaint solution to the problem in the form of flanking opportunities, which can be used to get around the entire map and eliminate the groups of enemies who are aggressively holding the doors from behind.
What’s great about Fort de Vaux and Verdun Heights is that these flanking opportunities are everywhere too, meaning that a single team won’t be able to cover every possible flanking opportunity from a chokepoint unless they thin themselves out. Not only does this prevent two squads of players from spamming explosives on a single door, but it provides the grueling and intense experience for both sides when fighting over a chokepoint like the ruins in the center of Verdun Heights or the barracks around the back side of Fort de Vaux.
During my time with They Shall Not Pass over the last few days, I’ve particularly enjoyed seeing the small terrain elements such as the smashed rock surrounding the entrances into Fort de Vaux or the exposed pillboxes lining the trenches of Verdun Heights as well. These were clearly implemented to give the attacking team a fair line of protection against the inevitable explosive spam from the team working to push them out of the position, which really sits well with me consider how poorly DICE has catered to the attacking forces on maps like Argonne Forest and Monte Grappa included in the base rotation for Battlefield 1.
Either way, the organized infantry chaos you’ll have the chance to experience on both Fort de Vaux and Verdun Heights is well worth the wait DICE has put the Battlefield community through for They Shall Not Pass. Even though some of the previous map updates for Battlefield 1 have been more experimental (like Suez, for example), and the free map Giant’s Shadow wasn’t implemented without a few concerns from a design standpoint at release, it’s clear that the development team worked extremely hard to make sure They Shall Not Pass’s close quarters engagements were balanced and fun for players interested in taking a break from the vehicular combat. If this is just the beginning of DICE’s DLC map design, we’re excited to see what’s coming later down the line for Battlefield 1.