New map, better landships: these are the biggest changes in Battlefield 1's December Update

The dark, cold months of winter are a time for family, reflection, and letting your teammates spawn directly into your landship in Battlefield 1 (opens in new tab). The December Update for DICE's historical multiplayer shooter went live today, enacting the biggest set of changes to the game yet - even if you don't count the new Giant's Shadow map and that grenade-launching crossbow (opens in new tab). You can page through the loooooong patch notes on the official forums (opens in new tab), or read on here for the highlights.

Giant's Shadow is the first new map

This one's obvious; there's a new map! Giant's Shadow is another British vs. Germans map in the French countryside, but this one has a river and, oh yeah, the massive, smoldering wreckage of a downed zeppelin. A railroad conveniently snakes right through the crash site just in case one side needs some backup from an armored train.

Landships are now spawn points and generally cooler

Teammates can now spawn into landships directly, just like in a heavy tank, which should make it easier to keep their many turret seats occupied. The landship now has as much armor as a heavy tank and offers improved driver abilities to boot. Its treads and weapons are still comparatively vulnerable, though, so watch your angles.

Spectator Mode has Free Cam and filters

You guessed right! Now there's a fully featured Spectator Mode for Battlefield 1. You can join matches as an observer, swap viewpoints from player to player and first person or third person, observe the battle from afar in the spawn-screen Table Top Mode, or fly around as you please in Free Cam. It also offers depth-of-field and camera filter adjustments to make the most of your war photography.

Standard Issue Rifles make custom matches extra authentic

Every player picking their favorite gun to carry into combat is fun but not quite historically accurate. The new Standard Issue Rifles option for custom games lets every soldier deploy with their military's standard-issue armament regardless of kit - for instance, British troops get the SMLE MKIII. The host can enable or disable other weapon types as they see fit.

Syringe tweaks end one-medic revive trains

Medics, your syringe is no longer an unstoppable instrument of resurrection. DICE has added a brief cooldown to the tool, which will keep a single medic from being able to resurrect a whole squad nigh-instantaneously. Note that I said a single medic. If that medic has help from a support in the form of a nearby ammo crate, that cooldown goes away. So you can still keep multiple allies on their feet, it will just take a little more teamwork.

Hardcore has had its bullet damage turned down

Hardcore mode's double-damage boost made bolt-action rifles way too frickin' deadly, at any range, against anybody. So DICE has turned down the overall damage boost to 25 percent. The intended effect is that close-quarters combat with rapid-fire weapons will still feel more deadly than the standard game but snipers will have to work harder for their kills. Also, DICE walked back its "no UI that a real-life soldier wouldn't know" premise a bit for team-kill notifications so you can stop doing that, you monster.

The mortar can no longer be deployed on bushes

"The mortar can no longer be deployed on bushes".

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I got a BA in journalism from Central Michigan University - though the best education I received there was from CM Life, its student-run newspaper. Long before that, I started pursuing my degree in video games by bugging my older brother to let me play Zelda on the Super Nintendo. I've previously been a news intern for GameSpot, a news writer for CVG, and now I'm a staff writer here at GamesRadar.