Last year, Battlefield 1 brought a combat series into a little used war – World War I. It was praised for many things, including having period accurate designs, a big multiplayer system and for having everything from blimps to fighting on horseback.
In the Name of the Tsar brings the series to Russia. It falls into the 'sequel must have snow' trap many games make, introduces armored train 'behemoths', new horse units with lances to skewer fighters and brings in new terrain. And that's about it. Kudos for going to Russia, but this is turning into a carbon copy of game play by this point. You go around, capture checkpoints and hold them in random places. Real wars were not fought like that, and it's the same tired concept games like the Star Wars series have used over and over and over again.
In the multiplayer demo a couple of dozen people played, it was Russia vs. Austria-Hungary. The battles themselves were fun initially, but you could get bored quick. You're just dropped in somewhere and it's off to fighting. They're really pushing the multiplayer aspect, and it showed. Even the video before the demo had Twitch players going nuts over the game and how good the multiplayer was. While some in the audience were cheering, a few game journalists around me put down their pads and said “Seriously? They're actually doing this?”, and not in the good way.
I could see what they meant. The expansion is only adding a few new options. There are a few good things – a women's battalion in the Russian Army, gorgeous snow graphics and what looks like a god single player campaign.. But a lot of what they're adding is set dressing and characters, along with that odd focus on multiplayer.
In the Name of the Tsar is fun to play, and there are plusses, but it was a very mixed playthrough. It looks like a decent expansion, but it's starting to over do it on multiplayer focus and under do it on innovation.