Battlefield 1 is tackling the thorny problem of player fragmentation across its multiplayer content in a small way with an interesting new feature: Premium Friends. Set to launch as a "test run" on March 30, the feature ensures that those who spring for the game's Premium Pass — which includes access to the Battlefield's 4 expansions and their associated maps — won't have to leave any of their friends behind when they jump into new maps.
Essentially, so long as one player in a multiplayer part has a Premium Pass, then other players in that party will be able to play on the maps included with the pass. As you'd expect, however, there are some big caveats for the non-Premium Pass holders in this deal. From Battlefield 1 developer DICE:
- In a "Premium Enabled" party, only owners of a Battlefield 1 Premium Pass or the specific expansion pack will earn XP from the maps exclusive to that expansion. We will save the XP for everyone else and grant them retroactively if they decide to get the Battlefield 1 Premium Pass for themselves.
- Only owners of a Battlefield 1 Premium Pass or the specific expansion pack will be able to spawn in with weapons and vehicles unique for the expansion.
- Only owners of a Battlefield 1 Premium Pass or the specific expansion pack will track progress towards the unique medals and codexes for the expansion.
Given that Battlefield 1's first expansion, They Shall Not Pass, was only just released in full this week, the timing couldn't be better. The restrictions are a bit disheartening for anyone dedicated to the XP grind, but they seem like a fair tradeoff for getting more players into new content. And for DICE and EA, Premium Friends serves as a way to expose more players to premium content and potentially net a few more Pass purchases as a result.
There's no word on when Premium Friends will launch in full force, but players can get a first look at the feature during a test run on March 30. Presumably, DICE will take feedback from the test to help further mold the feature going forward.
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