Battlefield 1's first expansion, They Shall Not Pass, is just around the corner. It’s not about 32 Gandalfs fighting 32 Balrogs for 32 eternities, unfortunately, and instead focuses on the long-awaited French army.
The expansion introduces the French army with four maps set on the Western front of World War 1. Fort de Vaux is a close-quarters-focused map with intimidating forts and plenty of trenches, Soissons is green, open, and great for vehicles, Rupture is dotted with red flowers and bloody bunkers, and Verdun Heights—easily the most immediately arresting map—is a series of sloping hills that are on fire.
Two new operations accompany the maps: The Devil’s Anvil, which is all about getting up-close and uncomfortably personal, and Beyond The Marne, which is a tank-centric vehicle-fest. I got to try them during a recent event at EA’s Redwood City, CA studio, and they’re both chaotic fun.
Beyond The Marne is about what you’d expect from tanks and planes colliding on verdant hillsides, but The Devil’s Anvil is more subtly impressive. Hunkering down with your squad in some bombed out ditch as smoke and inevitability close in all around you, and you know you’re about to get skewered from all sides, but you’re gonna give ‘em hell anyway—it’s thrilling. Devil’s Anvil exceeds at creating great moments before Moments, sights and sounds that signal shit is about to go down, and it’s gonna be ugly. Those are the bits that make Battlefield 1 truly special, and They Shall Not Pass emphasizes them nicely.
There’s also a new game mode, Frontlines, that mixes Conquest and Rush. Then, of course, there are a handful of new vehicles and weapons, as well as a new elite class, the club-wielding Trench Raider.
It’s a decently sizable package, and there’s a lot of variety in the maps and operations. It’ll be out on March 28 for regular folks and March 14 if you’re a dedicated BattleFan (TM) who spent BattleBucks (TM) to buy a BattlePass (TM).
Here are some pictures: