“In the Name of the Tsar” Impressions

Below is an overview for “In the Name of the Tsar”, the new Russian DLC for Battlefield 1.

Disclaimer:

I only played Operations mode as a scout (I did try Albion on Conquest because it looked amazing, and it is). If you think this limits my impressions, you don’t have to read any further.

The GOOD

The setting and aesthetic crackle with new excitement. The barren snowscapes of the Eastern front add a new and electric atmosphere. The tone is less adventurous than it is far more serious. It felt as though there was a greater sense urgency and desperation to these Operations matches. This DLC seems more concentrated compared to the game’s previous content. While I appreciated the variety which the base game released with, it felt somewhat casual because it spread so wide. The French DLC, They Shall Not Pass, was a nice addition but just felt like an add-on. In the Name of the Tsar feels like a completely separate package.

Galicia is a map which I specifically want to mention. Offering little to almost zero cover, this map strongly revives the scope of how a Battlefield game should feel. It seems to remember what made the franchise good in the first place. It’s big, flat, and wide open (not to mention gorgeous). What little cover there is comes in the form of muddy trenches which finally create the head-on war of attrition which the more historically-inclined players seem to have been asking for.

Other than that, you have, at most, shallow dips in the ground and various mounds of earth amongst sparse tree clusters or a cabin out in the middle of the open with as many people as possible trying to cram into. You will desperately hug the earth as you get to witness an endless plane of bullets whizzing in every direction just above your head. Up until this DLC, I’ve spent as much time zig-zagging through buildings and alleys (which I’ll discuss further in a moment) as having this sense that I’m in a space as big as the name “Battlefield” implies. In Galicia, you are exposed.

The BAD

I would estimate that about almost 70% of the Operations matches never progress beyond the first zone of the first map. I have never attacked Brusilov Keep.  Team balancing doesn’t seem to occur either, which often initiates such disparities between offense and defense. I have yet to see sufficiently balanced gameplay for this mode. There was one game where where the defending force had twice as many players as the attacking. When unbalanced lobbies finish one operation and start another, nothing is corrected and the imbalances carry over to the new match.

TAKEAWAY

Call of Duty and Battlefield dominate the tug of war between first person military shooters. Each have taken cues from the other. Call of Duty lead the direction to the modern military era (and then about another ten steps too far) and then Battlefield lead them both back to a more historical one.

By becoming so focused on competing with Call of Duty, Battlefield has changed things here and there to align itself to be more like its rival. I’ve always found CoD multiplayer to be small-scale, room to room type gameplay with its few key firing lanes per match. Battlefield seems to have shifted its focus to be more like this. It’s still big, it still has vehicles, but I think the vast expanse of a battlefield has been somewhat forgotten.

In the Name of the Tsar does away with the claustrophobia which was slowly creeping over the franchise. For instance, the narrow streets of Amiens were an exciting new locale, but the gameplay was restrictive and didn’t encourage too many different styles. The new Russian DLC will certainly satisfy those who seek a familiar Battlefield feeling in a brand new and gorgeous frozen wasteland.

 

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