Above: Reddit user serendipitousserpent's three hour match.
Battlefield 1’s Frontlines mode is Operations on a diet. It takes the latter’s intensity—two armies locking horns over focused objective areas—and strings it along a bloodsoaked rope which teams fight back and forth along. The issue is that, for now, there's no limit to how long that back-and-forth can last. Some rounds have stretched well past 100 minutes, others over three hours—a few have even claimed five-hour-long matches or more. Frontlines is a mode for valiant hearts and ironclad bladders.
Here’s how it works: Two 16-man teams vie for control of a single objective. The victors push onwards to the next objective in the chain leading to the opposing team’s base. If a team reaches the last point in the chain, the objective shifts to a Rush-like finale in which the attacking team must disable two telegraph stations but with a 40-ticket respawn limit. If the stations remain standing after all the tickets are gone, the control points reset, and the slog begins anew.
Crowning everything is a Conquest-style timer counting up instead of down—which, according to the official trailer, is supposed to run out at some point. Whether intended or a bug, Frontlines’ timer isn’t an indicator of a set round limit: it simply counts how many minutes everyone has spent bitterly trading objective flips. The results are predictably ridiculous.
The Battlefield community has been comparing triple-digit timers from Frontlines matches to see just how much dedication a group of 32 strangers can devote to a single round of play. Final scoreboard tallies reach equally outrageous numbers, with some players even edging close to an absurd 100,000 points and hundreds of kills thanks to what has quickly become a go-to mode for amassing mountains of rank experience points and completing weapon unlock challenges.
Frontlines’ peculiar timer presents an interesting long-form take on typical Battlefield design. Although the 32-player limit tempers the anarchy of 64-player modes, fights feel far more desperate given the slow capture rate of each control point. The emotional drain of enduring multiple comeback scenarios from the 40-ticket finale has caused calls for both a fixed timer and keeping the timer as-is. In the end, DICE decided to re-implement a time limit for Frontlines in this month's upcoming patch, but says it’ll also consider an infinite-duration version as a custom game mode to preserve the ongoing madness.
Here are both positive and negative remarks from some Battlefield players:
”Frontlines is my new favorite mode. Matches can be either super quick (had a 5 minute one earlier where I came out on top with an 8-2 kd), or can be super drawn out and they feel epic. I love coming back from having my telegraphs assaulted to destroying the enemy team. They've definitely got more of a ‘struggle to win’ feeling than other game modes. Operations would be cool if you could push back, but the ability for a comeback here is what makes it for me.” -IrishWithoutPotatoes
”I think it's far too long. I honestly don't want to be investing that much time into a single round on a single map, and it actually just starts getting more boring rather than more tense as it devolves into a push pull between two points.” -HitchensAndHarris
”Played a 50 minute game, was doing decent, found it to be not fun at all. It was exhausting, the enemy team lost due to just giving up.” -Dokuganryu
“My best was a 2 hour match on Sunday. I went 282-71 on Verdun Heights. We were pushing down the hill and had one telegraph site destroyed in about 15 minutes, but the enemy team wouldn't let us get the last point. Eventually ended up winning. With about 60% of my kills coming with the Lebel 1886 Sniper and the other 40% coming with my Automatico Trench on that middle flag.” -Cant_Frag
“The missing time limit throws me completely off, though. I would not have a problem if the matches could take long, like 45 minutes, but when there is no end in sight there comes the point where you just want it to end. And you don't want to leave, because you don't want to miss the match bonus or your chance for a battlepack. The one match I played we got pushed back at the final telegraph like 5 times, and then it dragged on another 30 minutes, so that after 70 minutes I didn't even try to hold the other team back, and it felt like my team didn't either. I was kinda happy when they finally blew up our last objective.” -schnalkser
“We just had an insane round where the enemy took one of our telegraphs, then won A on Verdun Heights and attacked our final telegraph multiple times. We eventually beat them back all the way to their telegraphs and took them both simultaneously...it was a triumph.” -sac_boy