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Battlefield 1 is Doing World War 1 Right - Two Left Sticks

Battlefield 1 is Doing World War 1 Right

As the October 21 release date for Battlefield 1 approaches, DICE has been giving players more and more glimpses of the upcoming World War I-based shooter. However, they have been pretty quiet when it comes to single player content.

That was until Tuesday. In a Battlefield blog post, DICE revealed some surprising details about the single player portion of the game.

According to DICE, the campaign won’t follow a single protagonist like in past Battlefield games. Instead, the player will be able to play as several characters in what DICE is calling War Stories.

This is Personal

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The War Stories will be like vignettes, following the experiences of several characters from different sides of the war. DICE really emphasizes that these War Stories are meant to be personal.

These stories are “personal stories focusing on different protagonists with unique backgrounds and skills,” DICE wrote in the blog post. “They’re about people rather than history or battles.”

DICE made a move towards a more sophisticated narrative in last year’s Battlefield Hardline, relying more on bombast and action than strong characterization and drama.

Knowing how Battlefield games play, there will definitely still be a lot of explosions and intense action in the War Stories. However, DICE seems to be focusing more on engaging the player both viscerally and emotionally with Battlefield 1. Using cinematics that show the player their character and contextualizing the action has helped the developer.

“We wanted the player to see and feel what the characters are going through, rather than just experiencing it from behind their eyes. That has really paid off for us not just in storytelling ability, but in emotional engagement,” DICE wrote.

Putting it in Perspective

This move towards anthologized storytelling is also in line with DICE’s overall approach to depicting World War I. The developer has stressed over and over again that they want to show players an authentic vision of World War I. Part of this means that DICE has to cover multiple perspectives on the Great War.

By splitting the perspective among several characters, DICE can show the many sides of World War 1. They can also offer players gameplay variety in a more organic way, since these characters each have their own strengths.

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One character DICE sites in the post is Danny Edwards, a former chauffeur who finds himself fighting with a British tank crew. According to the developer, he “has no experience of these modern war vehicles and needs to learn – and learn fast.” He’s totally unfamiliar with his squad, and he “is also struggling with earning the trust of his fellow crew members, so there’s a social dynamic in the story.”

All of this sounds very promising and seems to emphasize character and personal conflict over the broader strokes of history.

War Sometimes Changes

DICE is also taking a different approach to how these War Stories play. DICE is avoiding the scripted sequences that the last few Battlefield game have used. Instead the developer will offer players the freedom they usually only find in Battlefield’s multiplayer.

In the blog post, DICE uses Danny Edwards story – titled “Through Mud and Blood” – as an example of their approach. There is a portion of the story where heavy fog hinders the player’s visibility.

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DICE uses this as an opportunity to let players loose: “Due to the low visibility you’re moving ahead of your tank on foot, clearing camps of enemies. If you like, you can use explosives to blow up the enemies’ anti-tank weapons, or you can sneak up and do melee attacks.”

The choice to approach situations in a variety of ways is familiar to most who play Battlefield’s excellent multiplayer. However, adding this level of choice to the single player proves that DICE is really experimenting with Battlefield 1.

Between the anthologized War Stories and open-ended gameplay, DICE is giving players reason to be excited about more than just Battlefield 1’s multiplayer.

Cody Mello-Klein
Cody Mello-Klein is a writer, gamer, part-time baller, and full-time shot caller from Boston. He's a sucker for a good story and is still waiting for another Cormac McCarthy novel. He has worked as a narrative designer and has an interest in the ways games can tell unique, emotional, and provocative stories. Follow him on Twitter @Proelectioneer for occasionally witty remarks.

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2 thoughts on “Battlefield 1 is Doing World War 1 Right

  1. Battlefield 1 should no doubt be the best FPS of the 8th generation because its taking a risk. Its not contributing to the singularity of FPS gaming unlike every other modern FPS released today. There is a generation of gamers now that simply play the brand, not the game. We’ve never seen this in gaming history. Back in the 16/32/64 bit days, the quality of the game dictated whether it was popular or not. We can see this in sport games where a football game like Madden was dethroned for a 1-year period and new franchises were born. Now? Gamers are like brainwashed sheep. Look at FIFA and PES. PES is the better soccer/football game this year from a gameplay perspective and FIFA is still going to reign supreme simply due to brand propaganda. COD is ripping off every single FPS franchise and gamers don’t even care and turn a blind eye. Gaming communities are turning into a joke. Battlefield 1 took a risk to differentiate itself. Unlike COD-Halo-TF-Destiny, etc…..these games are all contributing to the singularity of FPS gaming, where every game has the same basic/general design and gameplay. We’ve never lived in a more embarrassing period of gaming.

    1. Too true. A lot of FPSs these days are stuck in a creative rut. I have no doubt that Battlefield 1 will still have all the trademarks of a Battlefield game (with that comes all the AAA FPS design choices). But it’s nice to see DICE taking a risk and exploring an area of history that games of this size have ignored.

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