There’s (Creative) Life in World War One

Hey guys, it’s been a while. In the last few days since I last posted, I’ve been dealing with my horrible relatives (For real, Batman has an awesome life.), going on terrible dates (The latest disaster told me on our first meeting she was terrified of black people) and playing video games in my spare time. It is that last area I have to elaborate on, specifically Dice’s recent Battlefield.

Announced last summer, Battlefield 1 takes the long-running series to the often forgotten conflict that is the First World War. Not surprisingly, EA leaders initially had doubts about the concept.

And in my own view, I think that’s fair. When we think of World War One, what do we think of? Trenches, mud, throngs of men going into no-man’s land and getting mowed down, in short, not a fun idea for a video game. Thankfully though, that’s not all of what is inside Battlefield 1.

The developers wisely made the choice to not base a game around our commonly held perceptions of the conflict. Instead, we get sequences that are never seen that much in depictions of the war, be they in song, film, video game, television show or book, and the results are great.

In the campaign, which is wisely and boldly told as a series of miniature short stories instead of the clichéd journey of one or two people through the entire war that we are used to, players get to encounter all sorts of different thing that one wouldn’t assume were part of the conflict in reality.

In one episode, you play as an American volunteer in the British Flying Corps. In this mission, you pilot an experimental airplane that is capable of shooting rockets at the enemy. Now, I initially thought that this was an exaggeration, but it turns out that it’s not. On some versions of the Bristol, a pilot was capable of launching rockets in addition to using a mounted gun, neat.

To open the game, you play as various members of the Harlem Hell Fighters as they attempt to hold a position from an enemy assault. Here, I will be honest, I was a tad disappointed. This sequence is disappointingly short and only serves as an introduction to the game and basic controls. It would be nice if this had been fleshed out like the other stories. For being such a fearsome group of soldiers, it is kind of insulting that the Hell Fighters have a minute role.

Other episodes take you to parts of the Middle East and cast you as a soldier fighting in the Italian Alps. I won’t elaborate on those sequences, but they are equally exceptional and amazing. Like the episodes mentioned prior, they expertly showcase the chaos and futility of mass combat.

Ultimately, what I hope developers learn from Battlefield 1 is the following, there’s always room for any conflict to be made into a video game if designed well. In the future, I hope more studios visit World War One for a setting and maybe stop off in the Civil War at some point as well. I don’t think World War Two is fertile creative ground and Modern Combat is increasingly dull.

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