Battlefield 1 Critique

Battlefield 1 by EA DICE is approaching its two-year anniversary since its initial debut on October 21st, 2016. The release came at a time where its World War 1 setting was a breath of fresh air in the first-person shooter space that were trending around a futuristic fantasy military combat experience. The campaign is derived of five war stories. Each told from the perspective of soldiers of allied powers throughout WWI. They provide the player with several aspects of WWI combat used at the time and along with each of the soldier’s narrative, sought to humanize the Great War.

DICE’s time and efforts to create an authentic WWI experience through Battlefield 1’s campaign can be seen as one of the most interactive methods to learn about 20th century military technology and weapons, but not about infantry warfare. The argument that Battlefield 1 can simulate authentic trench warfare falls flat, but it does create opportunity to discuss other aspects of WWI. Adam Chapman’s “Is Sid Meier’s Civilization History?” validates the use of video games as a type of ludonarrative capable of leading historical discourse as a counter to the empirical-analytical approach that rules out history-based games as being apart from history all-together.

When compared to the readings found in part 2 anthology of Playing with the Past: Digital Games and the Simulation of History, the readings focused more on the cultural and ethnic representations of the characters within history-based games. Battlefield 1’s campaign characters are as followed; a British tank driver, an American pilot, an Italian Arditi, an Australian message runner and an Arabain Bedouin female rebel. The most notable generalization was that of the American pilot who comes across as a young, arrogant hotshot for his ability to fly a fighter plane. There was an absence of a war story from the central powers perspective. The addition of a war story from the central powers would have been able to add a unique humanizing perspective of WWI, leaving the player with some food for thought after having completed a sincere war story like those of the allied powers.

Battlefield 1 being a Triple-A title, the priority revolves around the first-person shooter gameplay entertainment and less on the history behind WW1. The loading screens before each mission provide brief historical context to the mission the player is about to partake in. It would leave a superficial understanding to the colonialism and imperialism taking place during the war, but nevertheless its knowledge proven unnecessary complete mission objectives. The game could deliver more political contextual background via character dialogue that could be incorporated in theatrical cut scenes or as background dialogue between two non-playable characters. Leaving out the political turmoil of the central and allied powers did not stop people from playing, as just earlier this year EA announced Battlefield 1 has over 25 million users.

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