Competitive Battlefield 1 DICE is finally ready to let the cat out of the bag when it comes to some details on Battlefield 1’s competitive game mode, Incursions. The Closed Alpha for Incursions arrives this month on PC. For this video, I’ll break down everything we know about Incursions, including some exclusive commentary from Incursions Producer David Sirland. Full disclosure, EA paid for my travel and lodging costs at Gamescom, where I got my hands on the new game mode and was able to capture some footage. There are a lot of questions around how the Incursions Closed Alpha will work, so let’s start with the basics – it’s 5 v 5 combat on small maps. In the build we played at Gamescom, the map was loosely-based on Giant’s Shadow, but to be truthful, it plays nothing like the map in conquest, only vaguely resembling it in environment. There are three objectives: each team controls the flag closest to its spawn, and start the match vying for control of the central flag.
Capturing the objective in Incursions follows the same rules as conquest – the team with the most players in the capture zone takes the flag. Like Frontlines, a team must control a flag before the next in line unlocks. In most of the games at Gamescom, only the central flag was ever contested. Scoring is similar to Tennis. Each round goes to 15 points, and the first team to 15 points win the round. After one side wins six rounds, it’s halftime and the teams switch sides. The first team to win 12 rounds wins the game.
You gain points holding the objective, killing enemies, and destroying vehicles. Controlling the majority of objectives awards a point about every 15 seconds. Wiping the enemy squad nets you an additional three points. It’s absolutely vital to understand that kills don’t count towards the point total unless the player skips the revive or bleeds out. Every point matters in Incursions, and this means deciding between waiting 20 seconds for a revive or losing the point to get back into the action. This makes the Trench Surgeon kit in Incursions one of the most valuable kits in the mode, but I’ll get into those shortly. Kills with melee weapons or bayonets instantly score a point, since those players cannot be revived. Before setting foot on the Battlefield, players on each team choose their kits during a draft. Once a kit is chosen, it becomes unavailable to the rest of the team.
There was a lot of speculation when the Incursions Alpha was announced that everyone would be running the Automatico, and the game mode doesn’t work that way. There are very specific roles available to players, and weapons are limited to specific kits – similar to games like Rainbow Six Siege. Each kit has its own special abilities, which players unlock as they rank up doing kit-specific tasks. The Incursions Alpha includes eight kits, the first five of which were playable in the pre-alpha build at Gamescom: The first is the Trench Surgeon: This is the medic of the team, equipped with either the Autoloading 8 .25 Extended or the Mondragon storm.
Secondary weapon options include the P08 and C93. The Trench Surgeon also has access to the syringe and a Sniper Shield. The sniper shield seems like an odd gadget, until you learn it heals nearby friendlies and can be used to block doors. If this is confusing to you, it’s best to treat Incursions like a different game, and forget everything you think you know about Battlefield 1. Things don’t work the same way you’re used to. The Trench Surgeon’s abilities include a passive healing aura that heals nearby players in a small radius, while Rank 1 of the kit provides a perk similar to the concealed rescue specialization – only that it triggers when you spot a downed ally – this lets you deploy it tactically. Rank 2 provides the “On Duty” perk, which reduces damage to the player when the syringe is equipped. It’s important to note that these abilities are not persistent and must be unlocked every game, based largely on performance. A major part of the gameplay dynamic with Incursions is the Trench Surgeon’s ability to revive players, and thus deny points to the enemy team.
Good surgeons in Incursions make the difference between winning and losing, so there’s a high price on their heads. Players using this kit will have to find the balance between being aggressive and supporting their squad. Just as vital as the Surgeon is the Control Leader. I didn’t get to play as this kit at Gamescom, but the Control Leader is the backbone of the squad. He’s armed with the Autoloading 8 .35 Factory or the SMLE MKIII Marksman rifle, and equipped with a flare gun and crossbow with smoke grenades.
Secondary weapon options include the Gasser M1870 or the MLE 1903. The Control Leader is the only player on which allies can spawn, so you’ll often find him hanging back to support the squad by spotting enemies and providing smoke to cover attacks or retreats. The value of this ability cannot be overstated – spawning on the Control Leader saves valuable time by getting you back in the action sooner. For abilities, Rank 1 increases the area of enveloped by smoke grenades, while Rank 2 reveals enemies on the minimap within a small radius. The Mortar Support kit is reminiscent of the support class, and includes access to the MG15 n.A.
Suppressive or the M1909 Benet Mercie Telescopic light machine gun. Players can choose from the Repetierpistole M1912 or the No. 3 revolver as secondary weapons. Gadgets include the ammo pouch and the high explosive variant of the mortar – devastating when used with the Control Leader’s spotting flares. The Mortar Support’s passive ability lets him toss grenades and ammo pouches further, while Rank 1 of the kit places a large ammo crate when a mortar is placed. Rank 2 increases the kit’s suppression efficiency. The AT Assault kit is designed for destroying enemy vehicles, which I’ll discuss in detail shortly. The AT Assault kit lets players choose from the MP-18 Experimental or the M1907 SL Sweeper as a primary weapon, and the Taschenpistole M1914 or Mars Automatic as a secondary. Gadgets include the anti-tank grenade and the limpet charge. The kit’s passive ability negates 50% of incoming explosive damage. Rank 1 gives anti-tank grenades an incendiary effect – useful for burning Battle Mechanics bailing from crippled vehicles. Rank 2 is my favorite so far, the limpet charge charge. It’s basically a bayonet charge with a limpet mine, useful for rushing enemy vehicles.
It sounds silly, but it’s all about risk versus reward. The Battle Mechanic is the only kit than can use vehicles in Incursions. He’s equipped for infantry combat with either the Frommer Stop Auto or the Pieper M1893, and the Howdah Pistol or the MLE 1903. Gadgets include the Bandage pouch and repair tool. The Battle Mechanic has a choice of two vehicles, the Armored Car or the FT-17 light tank. It’s important to choose the right vehicle for the right situation. The Armored Car is nimble and effective against infantry, while the light tank can go toe to toe with enemy armor and demolish buildings. You cannot steal vehicles in Incursions and there is no quick repair. You must exit your vehicle to repair it, exposing yourself to enemy fire. If your vehicle is destroyed, the wreckage stays on the map and can be used as cover or a roadblock. There is a cooldown phase before using another vehicle.
The cooldown after using the armored car is significantly less than after using a light tank, so bear that in mind. The Battle Mechanic’s passive ability offers increased vehicle repair speed and wrench damage. Rank 1 will slowly repair the vehicle outside of combat, but also provides bonuses to the Armored Car and FT-17. At this rank, the Armored Car can drop a medic bag and ammo crate, while the tank can pop smoke to cover repairs and block spotting. Rank 2 increases your vehicle reload speed, but also gives the Armored Car a 20mm Auto-Cannon and the FT-17 a case shell secondary weapon. You can freely alternate vehicle choice as the match progresses, selecting a light tank early, and switching to the upgraded armored car later on.
Three other kits have been announced for Incursions, here’s how they’re detailed on the Battlefield 1 website. Raid Leader: Getting up close and personal, the Raid Leader can place spawn beacons for reinforcements. Shock Assault: Packing a punch against both infantry and vehicles, the Shock Assault is well-rounded in their ability to make things go BOOM! Proximity Recon: which excels at obtaining information for the team, and using that intel to dispose of enemies up close. DICE is expected to reveal more about these three kits this month. Again, once a kit is selected it cannot be selected by another player. That means one Trench Surgeon, one AT Assault soldier, and so forth. You’re not going to have medic revive trains, or multiple enemy vehicles on the map at once. Incursions Producer David Sirland says DICE wants the game mode to be “Easy to Pick up, and hard to master,” adding “the gameplay and depth needs to work at the very top levels of play… but it also has to make sense to the general player interested in competitive, and delving deeper into a more intense tactical and teamplay oriented way to play Battlefield.” Based on my experiences with Incursions, there is tremendous depth potential and space for competitive players to test their mettle against others.
Interplay between kits is vital, and unless you communicate, your team is going to fall apart quickly. The Incursions closed alpha does not yet support a ranking system, but Sirland acknowledges such systems are “important pieces in the general competitive feature set,” indicating there are plans in place for a proper system. Another part of what makes games like Rainbow Six Siege competitive is the more structured nature of engagements, and limiting the factors at play like weapons and class skills to make things more predictable.
Incursions does that, but without totally losing those “Only in Battlefield” moments. In fact, the more intimate nature of 5 v 5 combat with Incursions made those clutch moments even more special, since they have a greater impact on the outcome of the match. Because of this design, Incursions matches can also be fun to watch. Competitive players will be happy to hear spectator mode will be supported in the future releases of Incursions to support broadcasting of the game mode on websites like Twitch and YouTube. Much has also been said about the inclusion of vehicles in Incursions, and many are apprehensive. I was as well, but in the games we played at Gamescom – vehicles were not indestructible behemoths. They’re useful when used appropriately, but a determined squad or lone AT Assault can easily end a light tank or armored car. Each team also has access to an AT field gun near their spawn, offering them another tool to destroy vehicles.
In my experience, vehicles fit the mode well, and a skilled Battle Mechanic can go a long way in supporting his team. Sitting on the edge of the map in a tank in Incursions is a sure way to cost your team the match, since most of the points come from controlling objectives. As for my general impressions of Incursions, I really enjoyed the game mode – and I was admittedly skeptical of whether or not the concept would work. I didn’t think DICE would be willing to break the mold of traditional Battlefield games and introduce the structure and interplay needed to build a proper competitive game mode. I was expecting a toned down version of domination, and was thrilled to see a game mode that mashes together aspects of some of the most successful competitive games, like Rainbow Six Siege and Overwatch, while retaining what makes Battlefield special.
If you’re still on the fence about Incursions, or wonder if it will work, the only thing I can say is play it when you get the opportunity and do so with an open mind. It was tremendous fun. If you want to watch a full match of Incursions, you’ll find a link in the video description below. An important thing to remember about Incursions, is that it is an Alpha – still in the early stages of development. Sirland says DICE is looking closely at feedback as development moves forward, and the best way to get involved in this process is to join the subreddit and discord! Which you’ll also find a link to in the video description.
Although the Incursions Closed Alpha is only available on PC, Sirland is aware many console players are interested in trying the mode, but says DICE is not yet ready to talk about plans for console. Regarding the future of Incursions and its long-term role in the Battlefield franchise, Sirland says “The idea of making a competitive experience in Battlefield, and doing it right requires dedicated support from the development team. It is key we both build, expand and include the players feedback from the closed alpha into what we ultimately become, with the long term in mind. We are only just starting out, and the direction and where we end up will very much hinge on the interest and play time we can amass!” What are your thoughts on incursions? Tell me in the comments, and if you have specific questions, I’ll try to answer them.
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