To some, the reveal of Battlefield 1 might come off as one great, big joke. Barring some exceptions, the first-person shooter genre is largely traveling in the same direction. Futurism is the name of the game and advanced weaponry and space travel are all the rage. Titanfall, Destiny and Call of Duty all have some flavor of space travel or far-off planets, and I don’t expect any of these franchises to change course any time soon.
And then there’s Battlefield 1, set over a hundred years ago during World War I. It’s a bold design choice to say the least, though there’s bound to be a vocal minority who will lambast this new direction for some time. Personally, I haven’t been more excited for a Battlefield game since Bad Company 2 over six years ago.
It’s important to understand why the setting for this game is key to its appeal. Don’t get me wrong; World War I has been covered to death (no pun intended) in other media. Some of the greatest films of our time have been set against the backdrop of the Great War. When it comes to video games however, the pickings are rather slim. Some recent titles (Verdun comes to mind) are set in World War I, but there haven’t been many (if any) titles that try to merge the setting of World War I with the more frantic and epic style of multiplayer that Battlefield is known for.
While we don’t know much about the game itself, there’s a lot to discern from the initial reveal trailer. In a move I commend wholeheartedly, it looks like developer DICE is shying away from the ever-popular Euro-centric depictions of World War I. While the game will take place in France and Italy, DICE is also focusing on the Middle Eastern theatre and the Ottoman Empire, as evidenced by the sandy dunes and Middle Eastern soldiers shown in the trailer. There’s also going to be combat on horseback, which is just a whole new level of awesome.
This change in setting might seem trivial to some, but it’s a welcome addition to anyone who grew up on the Call of Duty series, which for the most part, focused on the European theatre of World War II. While the subject matter of war might be a touchy subject for some, but there’s a lot of untapped locales and events that rarely get any mention in films and games alike. While we don’t know much about the game’s plot, we do know that the Harlem Hellfighters will be the focus of at least a part of the game’s campaign. For those who don’t know, the Harlem Hellfighters (or officially, the 369th Infantry Regiment of the United States Army), was an infantry regiment consisting of African-American and Puerto Rican soldiers. With the contribution of minority soldiers often going unmentioned in the depictions of the war, I’m personally more interested in this game’s campaigns than the rather underwhelming ones from the last couple of Battlefield titles.
There’s still a lot to learn about, as details about the game are just starting to roll out. DICE has a big task ahead of them, though at this time it’s unknown if they are aiming for realism or are basing the game on ‘alternate history’ in an attempt to keep the gameplay mechanics modernized. Still, the reveal trailer and information has piqued our interest. Consider us excited.