Experience Lives Unlived in Battlefield 1’s Campaign

Posted on 14 Oct 2016 by
Kyle Johnson

Previously, we brought you the preview of Battlefield 1’s campaign, and the stories found within. A couple of weeks ago, DICE and EA released some footage of what appears to be the prologue, where men young and old make their last stand in what appears to be the remnants of the French countryside. Of note is that during this sequence, when dying, the perspective switches from one soldier to the next, likely in a set order, as the frontline slowly collapses around the forces of the Triple Entente. While a video game cannot even come close to capturing the sheer scale of the ~17 million deaths as a result of combat, it is certainly a unique gesture.

Despite my ruminations on the catastrophic natures of war, Battlefield 1 does look to tell more directed stories, than brief looks at the lives of men cut short by other men. Enter this week, EA releases a series of five 20 second vignettes for each of the five different tales. Let’s take a quick look at each of the stories, taking place across the fronts of the First World War. Official summaries courtesy of DICE are followed by my own commentary:

Nothing Is Written

In the Middle East deserts, Arab tribes rebel against the oppression of the Ottoman Empire. The Empire’s devastating artillery engage rebel forces wielding rifles from horseback. As a Bedouin warrior working alongside the legendary Lawrence of Arabia, you must find a way to take on the technologically superior enemy and destroy a deadly railgun.

One of perhaps the more unorthodox-sounding tales, sabotage across the Arabian deserts could result in some extended stealth sequences, and wide-ranging open combat. Knowing what I do about the Lawrence of Arabia film, this story could end in a rather heart-breaking way.

Avanti Savoia

Italy and the Austro-Hungarian Empire are deadlocked among the Alps. Braced by snow-capped mountains, neither side can find a way to dislodge their enemy. Meanwhile, the Italian mountaineer regiment Arditi prepares an unorthodox assault. Don your Arditi armor and head up a mountainside as Italian and Austrian forces clash over a strategic fort.

A couple of notes on this one: first, the Arditi regiment was a group of highly trained Italian shock troops that primarily used hand grenades and daggers to sow fear and confusion in enemy lines, opening up the way for a broader infantry advance. They also made use of 37mm and 65mm cannons on fortifications and flamethrowers for further fear. Second, the term “avanti savoia” is a rallying cry, not dissimilar to a banzai charge. Both usually resulted in mass casualties on both sides.

Friends in High Places

The allies are losing the war in the air. Britain struggles to compete with the German aces and the average lifetime of a combat pilot is 17 days. You must face these bleak odds and take to the skies for a noble fight over the western front. Intense dogfights, unexpected encounters and a story of friendship await you.

Apparently, we get to take on the Red Baron as a pair of British pilots. Based on the foreshadowing used by the character’s friend in the clip. I’m not expecting this story to be a particularly victorious one.

The Runner

The British Empire intends to open a new front to the war with an unprecedented naval invasion of the Ottoman homeland. The ships gathered for the Gallipoli Landings — the D-Day of World War 1 — carry over half a million men. As an Anzac runner you’ll witness the heat of epic bombardments and a beach landing, as well as covert deliveries of urgent life-or-death messages across the frontline.

Curiously, the only time we get to play as an ANZAC soldier is in the campaign so far. Nevertheless, this one reminds me of Valiant Hearts for some reason. With the historical failure of Gallipoli looming in the back of my mind, I’m not expecting particularly cheery things from this story either.

Through Blood and Mud

In the autumn of 1918, British forces prepare for a mass assault on the town of Cambrai, France. With tank support, Allied Command believes a breakthrough is a certainty. But the Mark V tank has one major flaw: it is not reliable. Join a dysfunctional tank crew who battle their way behind enemy lines as they learn to work together.

A chauffeur turned Mark V driver turned potential war hero, I’m expecting at least mildly positive things out of this story, if not because the others seem terribly bleak by comparison.

And there’s your extended look at the stories and world of Battlefield 1. Not exactly upbeat content, but then again, the material itself isn’t exactly chipper, either. Regardless, we’ll know just how each story plays out when Battlefield 1 releases on October 21st.

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